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Posted on January 21, 2012
Darren Heath

Yesterday the boss of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz, said that “Sebastian (Vettel) has improved and is stronger than ever. He has prepared during the winter break like never before and he will certainly not let us down.”

With just two weeks to go until the wraps come off the new cars from the challengers for the championship, attention is building on what kind of season we will have and how close the racing will be.

Mateschitz went on to say in the same interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, that he thinks the closest challenger this year will be McLaren, then Ferrari and then Mercedes. Before any of the cars turns a wheel that is also my assessment of what lies in store. If that is the case then Vettel’s superiority over his team mate may be a crucial factor in the battle with the two McLaren drivers, who are likely to take wins and points off each other. I’d also expect Lewis Hamilton to shake off the malaise that affected him last season and be on top of his game again.

Fernando Alonso enjoys an even greater superiority over his Ferrari team mate and is very clearly the Scuderia’s favoured runner in any tight situation.

In a close title fight these could prove the decisive factors. And I expect a closer title fight with car development again a crucial factor throughout the long season.

Red Bull ended the 2011 season in very strong form with a 1-2 finish in Brazil and there is every reason to expect them to pick up in Melbourne where they left off, despite the banning of the exhaust blown diffusers on which they led the way in collaboration with Renault.

But Mateschitz choosing this moment to suggest that Vettel has taken his training and preparation to a new level in anticipation of the new season is interesting.


Vettel is young and, despite saturation levels of success in the last 36 months, he’s still hungry. That’s one key message here. Another is that he still has more development and maturity to come as a driver.

The success in 2011 was all about the team reaching the highest levels in all areas; design, development, operations, strategy, tyre management, crisis management and above all driving.

Keeping the momentum of a large organisation going at such an extremely high level is very hard, especially when winning becomes a habit and your well funded rivals are gunning for you. But the inspiration comes from the man who holds the steering wheel, the rest of the team follows.

At this early stage I’d suggest that Vettel starts favourite and will step up another gear in 2012, both in terms of driving and team leadership in search of the third world title that would put him among the greats like Senna, Prost, Schumacher and Stewart in the record books, even if many fans still deny that he merits that status.

He’s the man to beat.

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Vettel to step up a gear in 2012?
191 Responses

  1.   1. Posted By: Andrew Kirk
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 11:39 am 

    Hopefully the Ferrari, Mclaren and Mercedes will be stronger therefore giving us a cracking season and a real thrilling title hunt. James what would you say are Vettel’s weaknesses? Every driver has some: Lewis can be headstrong and make errors, Alonso needs to feel like everything is pointed for him and him alone etc. Vettel still must have one or two gaps that his rivals will be aiming to widen.

    [Reply]

    Spinodontosaurus Reply:

    Doesnt seem to handle in-race pressure to well. He was rarely under such pressure in 2011, but in 2009/2010…
    His overtaking is not abysimal like some people like to claim, but of the other top 4 I would rate him as the worst of them, but this has definately improved since 2010.

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    he matured a lot since 2009. you hardly see him make those mistakes anymore.

    [Reply]

    Raymond S U Reply:

    To be perfectly honest I think the maturation process happened after Spa rather than after 2009. 2010 he was the unluckiest driver in terms of reliability; but he also had a few massive brain fade moments.

    shane Reply:

    To be fair he was out front alot. He made a race losing mistake in Canada….a few mistakes in Germany. If racing is closer, I think we’ll see more mistakes.

    Spinodontosaurus Reply:

    Like I said, he hasnt been put under that kind of pressure much recently.


  2.   2. Posted By: Sri
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 11:42 am 

    I like Vettel and do agree that he has talent to be a WDC if not two times. But to be third time, it will be very worthy if his car is similar to other cars. We do not want a repeat of 2011!

    [Reply]

    M Reply:

    In 2011, at 9 races at least the Mclaren was at least as fast (4 of them faster) on Sunday than RBR. They won 6 of them.

    This isn’t just about the car, it is also Vettel.

    [Reply]

    Kris Grzegorczyk Reply:

    Certainly true about his being about Vettel as well as the car – nobody needs reminding that webber had the same equipment, either Vettel was perfect last year or webber became a very poor driver. The truth is somewhere in between.

    Regarding mclaren having an as-fast or faster car, this often only showed after the race started on Sunday. Qualifying is normally the best indicator of out and out speed and we know RBR had that covered. What last year showed is that if you have a composed and intelligent driver, then having the car to be first on the grid – and so able to avoid the need to overtake, etc. – seems to provide a much bigger advantage than being stronger after the race has started.

    [Reply]

    Nick Reply:

    Yes, agree. Otherwise he (Vettel) was like Webber and Macca took the WDC.

    [Reply]


  3.   3. Posted By: Iwan
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 12:16 pm 

    To be perfectly honest I wouldn’t mind THAT much who takes the crown in 2012 (as long as it’s not Schu). All I want is a tough battle between at least three teams. Four will be better.

    No use having a season where we have a fairly good idea who’s going to win before the race even started. Give me another Alonso vs Schu or Senna vs Prost season, but this time a Vettel vs Alonso vs Hamilton vs Button vs Rosberg with Kimi doing the odd surprise visit to the podium.

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  4.   4. Posted By: Nathan
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 12:34 pm 

    James as an Aussie in 2010 I disliked vettel because to me i felt his side of the garage was favoured I thought he was very cocky then at the end of that season I couldn’t believe he won the title then towards the end of 2011 I could understand why rbr backed him over webber even though I wish they wouldn’t because I believe he doesn’t need it and as for 2012 I believe he will join senna and Prost and become the greatest f1 driver that I will get to see ok yeah he has got a great car but I think in 2010 him driving a Ferrari he wins the title 2011 driving a mclaren he wins the title in my opinion

    [Reply]

    Kevin Green Reply:

    Yeah Nathan I also wonder if Webber had been restricted one way or another within or outwith his control I just cant see how the margins between the two of them could appear so massive from one year to the next. to me it did almost seem like the cars may have been different to a certain extent or at least the effort and concentration to develop/set up of the cars to the drivers be it equal or very biased on one driver heavily is very questionable.

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    The gap increased from 2010 to 20110 between them for 2 reasons.

    Vettel made a couple of costly errors in 2010, at Turkey and Belgium. He arguably made a few more errors too. By cutting those out, he gained himself 40-60 points.

    Then the RB7 was more relaible than the RB6. Webber had no DNFs in 2010 due to car failures, while Vettel not only had two, but dropped from 1st to 4th in Bahrain. Another 60-plus points. And remember that Webber actually scored more points in 2011 than 2010.

    The Vettel able to dominate F1 was there in 2010, but he was just lurking behind a few mistakes and car failures.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Green Reply:

    Firstly are errors not one of the factors that define driver quality?? And also like i pointed out favouritism and effort towards one srivers car and side of the garage think that would be the most likely reason for the sudden difference and by that i mean races they BOTH finished!

    Chris Reply:

    “Firstly are errors not one of the factors that define driver quality??”

    Yes, and clearly Vettel improved as a driver in 2011. He combined the obvious speed he had, with more consistency. Webber was never going to get close to that.

    “And also like i pointed out favouritism and effort towards one srivers car and side of the garage think that would be the most likely reason for the sudden difference and by that i mean races they BOTH finished!”

    Webber finished ahead of Vettel in only 5 races in 2010 where they both finished, and 2 of those required a mistake from SV. So if Vettel was to mature as he did in 2011, that number would be even lower.

    [Reply]

    kevin green Reply:

    sorry but i seriously doubt he came that much better a driver over the Winter period running into the start of the 2011 season in comparison to Webber. As the margin was very immediate when the 2011 season started. One thing for sure time will tell lets see how things balance out this season and onwards. Dont get me wrong i believe he is a good driver just question how good a driver other than the factor of his timing of being with Redbull and the team he has around him. My very point with the f3 was there is a far closer comparison accross every team and likelyhood of any team showing up the better drivers than there is in F1 2006 with far far lower behind the scenes financial backing De rista beat him food for thought as to where he would be by now given the same chances and financial backing as Vettel and also where De rista is going to be in the future.

    Chris Reply:

    My point was that SV’s performance relative to Webber (especially in the races) in 2010 was better than the points standings showed. I think MW was fortunate to only be 14 points off the title. So I wasn’t surprised that with a few less mistakes, and higher reliability, Vettel would beat Webber in points more convincingly.

    We’ll never know what Di Resta would have done with more backing, but he has to grab opportunities given to him with both hands. Vettel did so with BMW then STR, impressing hugely. Di Resta did okay but lost out to Adrian Sutil, so he needs a better second season if he’s to prove that he can move up the grid.

    [Reply]

    K Reply:

    As an Aussia or not, you are still writing English, it might help if you add punctuations, Nathan

    [Reply]


  5.   5. Posted By: Rach
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 12:35 pm 

    Vettel can win however many titles he likes, he’ll never be a “great” champion in my eyes.

    [Reply]

    Liam Reply:

    And that opinion is based on what exactly?

    [Reply]

    Jez Reply:

    So if Vettel wins another three WDC you won’t rate him? Strange…

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    very strange in deed.

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    Time to get those eyes checked?

    [Reply]

    Raymond S U Reply:

    I’m sure he’s losing a lot of sleep over what you think of him

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    What a ridiculous statement, surely you have to back that up with something, o wait – you can’t!!

    Races – 81
    Championships – 2 (2010, 2011)
    Wins - 21
    Podiums – 36
    Career points – 773
    Pole positions – 30
    Fastest laps – 9

    A driver who has won a quarter of the races he’s started, been on pole in over a third of them, been on the podium nearly 50% of the time, and done a season in a car he couldn’t do much in (still won a race from pole though) is nothing short of phenominal

    [Reply]

    Jez Reply:

    A comprehensive reply to a strange statement from the OP. Thanks.

    [Reply]

    Rach Reply:

    Stats prove nothing. He has none of Senna’s charisma, Schumacher’s edginess or Gilles’ drive. I don’t think he’ll get anywhere when Hamilton and Alonso get in their strides when they get cars matching their talents.

    Chris Reply:

    @Rach – All you said means even less. So long as Vettel disappears into the distance, he’ll be the man to beat in F1.

    Hamilton had a very good car in 2011, but squandered it. Alonso did a fine job, but didn’t get close enough to Vettel to suggest that he’d do much better than Vettel with Red Bull.

    K Reply:

    I back Rach up here.

    Stats with a superior car means nothing. It’s like Vettel in F1 and the rest in GP2 cars, obviously the stats would favour Vettel in the superior car, how does THAT compare?

    Jez Reply:

    There are a lot of good points being made – on both sides. Its fair to say that the fastest car almost always wins the championship even if driven by a “not legendary” driver.

    When does Vettel reach the point that will satisfy his detractors? He did drive a fairly ordinary Torro Rosso and achieve some good results.

    I believe that Hamilton has as much to prove as Vettel, given that he won in a superior car, and has blown it ever since.

    Button has proved his worth, as has Alonso with consistent driving and controlled temperament which has brought them both results.

    I can’t wait to see if Kimi still has it…

    Kevin Green Reply:

    Its very hard to look at drivers and use there stat’s as means of gauging there success for the history book as to put them as a”great” so to speak things have changed dramatically there all and from now on always will be entering the teams as pretty much children rather than getting recognised for there natural ability and grind through the ranks in a word in view they are Products of the teams trying to get early jumps on each other and steps ahead that’s also more to the point as to why i dont believe one person/organisation should be allowed to run 2 teams as that’s putting even bigger margins between the difference of team effort and skills through the obvious financial advantages of 2 teams running developments etc etc. I feel the rules need to change on that front for sure how long until F1 turns into the Redbull Racing Organisation lol “joke”

    [Reply]

    renato nysan Reply:

    Why not?

    [Reply]

    kevin green Reply:

    Because the reality of there actuall ability/skill can be masked by an outstandingly good car in which im not convinced its not the case with the Redbull car as of yet theres no doubt the car is better than the rest just hard to tell exactly how much

    [Reply]

    David A Reply:

    I think it varied. There were qualifying sessions like Suzuka and Hungary and races like Spain and Monaco where Vettel made a clear difference against a faster/easier to drive Mclaren, while it’s reasonable to say that there were also sessions where RB were far ahead.

    Kevin Green Reply:

    Would be using the term slightly varied as rather than very or even quite varied david

    David A Reply:

    It varied enough to suggest that Mclaren should have got closer than they did but Vettel got more out of his car and/or the Mclaren drivers underperformed slightly.

    kevin green Reply:

    Give it a rest!

    David A Reply:

    “Give it a rest!”

    Yes, I will now, since what I said was clear in 2011. Mclaren drivers have to up their game for 2012.

    Kevin Green Reply:

    Your blinded by illusion son, never mind mclaren watch what Ferrari are up to is my reckoning. i think this is the season from which Redbull start continuing slipping


  6.   6. Posted By: mohamed south africa
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 12:38 pm 

    James how can u call him a great yet none of his titles came in an inferior car or he has not won a race in a non adrian newey designed car yet. He can win the next 10 championships but as long as adrian newey is designing the car I will reserve judgement

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    I didn’t call him a great. Read the story

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    peru Reply:

    the third world title that would put him among the greats like Senna, Prost, Schumacher and Stewart in the record books
    if you didn’t say it, at least you implied it.

    [Reply]

    tim Reply:

    Actually James is correct and you’re not. If you read it, the sentence says a third title would put him amongst the greats LIKE Senna, Prost … . That ‘like’ in the sentence means the greats in James’ eyes are Senna, Prost, Schumacher and Stewart. Not implied at all that Vettle’s amongst them yet. Incorrect.

    Bunchies Reply:

    Actually Tim, that’s not correct either.

    But peru, the reason James hasn’t called him a great is because that third title hasn’t happened yet.

    Spinodontosaurus Reply:

    Whilst that is true, who HAS won in an inferior car?
    Of those few that have, I suspect the majority of those were in a close 2nd best with greater reliability.

    [Reply]

    chris green Reply:

    scheckter – hulme – rosberg

    [Reply]

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    It reminds of “dear ol Murray Walker” stating that Hakkinen was better than Senna because he out-qualified a demoralised Senna by 100th’s of a second in Estoril 1993.
    Senna wiped the floor with him in the race and won in Japan and Australia after that.

    Then when Hakkinen won in 1998 and 1999, after having been gifted 2 wins by DC and the entire management of Mclaren and Williams in Jerez 1997, Murray would state how great he was.
    Never was it mentioned how he won because he was driving a Newey car.
    It was never mentioned that Schumacher pushing him for the championship in 1998 and Irvine in 1999, despite being in inferior cars, proved that Hakkinen actually wasn’t that good.

    Mansell, Prost, Hill and Villeneuve have won championships in Newey cars, but it was always the car that won…
    This despite Mansell, Prost and Hill winning races elsewhere. In fact Hill should have won with the Arrows team in Hungary 1997.

    I respect Vettel, but if all he ever does is win races with Newey equipment then I can’t list him in with the all time greats

    [Reply]

    Kevin Green Reply:

    Excellent point “hero_was_senna” i also agree its hard to get an exact read on where vettel is in acctuall fact among the greats one very good point is (in as good a comparisson possible) when he was alongside De rista in 06 in identical F3 equipment in the same team when De rista won the title beating Vettel at the same time it must frustate the hell out of him the jump start Vettel got on him from there on (Red bull multi millions) Cant take it away from him though he is a very good driver given the obvious Newey factor it hard to read exactly how good. as i have said before if Newey moves Vettel (if possible/wanted) moves. I reckon the best read we will see is if a current F1 driver from another front running team takes Webbers seat in 2013 With money being no object to the team i can see it being another German/Austrian Interesting to see the outcome of Sutil’s coming trial Then theres if Rosberg gets a clear gap on Schumacher but the car is not in the top 2 or 3 at the seasons end (got a feeling there going to be 4th or 5th at the seasons end) and then of course there.s Hulkenberg how will he do with Force India? certainly impressed in testing over the last faze of 2011 races! Going to be an interesting season for lots of reasons. :)

    [Reply]

    Raymond S U Reply:

    Don’t forget that in 2006; Paul could focus on F3. Seb was doing F3; WSR; and also Formula One duties all in one racing season.

    Kevin Green Reply:

    Find it hard to find any value in your point Concidering alongside the fact he was comparably destroying Ralf schumacher and David Coulthard (sorry DC)and other well accomplished touring car front runners and veterans in remember only his 2nd season in the 2010 DTM in pretty much any race that all attended then virtually on alternate weekends appearing during F1 Friday practice and jumping into the Force India and Regular enough setting faster laps than Sutil and Fisichella who are both respected for there driving talents i think all would agree? so on that FACTS i think it only strengthens my point of view. This is clearly a guy who deserves a better seat my reckoning is Mercedes have had him lined for a seat there within a couple of years regardless but who knows he might get a jump offer into Mclaren or Ferrari seat yet depending on Hamilton’s attitude this year and massa’a results, Red Bull? no chance Vettel would block it as much as he would Hamilton.

    Raymond S U Reply:

    Tin-top racing is by no means a measure of any talent. Michael Schumacher was never any good in DTM; Hakkinen couldn’t do much; some like Frentzen were absolutely stunning; consistently crushing Michael in DTM. Winkelhock never did much in F1 but was amazing in GT1. Point being; F1 is a very funny series – it doesn’t really care for your tin-top; or junior formulae. In fact most people who have been good in tin-tops usually are bad in F1; and vice versa. Not saying it’s impossible for a good tin-top driver to be a good F1 driver though – those certainly are possible; but very rare.

    Practice means absolutely nothing too. Teammates usually run very different programs. It’s the only sane way to go.

    In 2010; Paul was in DTM and F1 (as Friday driver). Yes. But he didn’t have much pressure in F1 at that point. He was learning the ropes and just helping the team in terms of car setup. Vettel was actively competing in different kinds of car in 2006.

    Raymond S U Reply:

    Don’t forget that in 2005 F3; when both Paul and Seb only had to focus on F3; Seb got 2 times Paul’s points (63 to 32). Seb was already a Williams driver at that point in time; but as I said above; it really doesn’t matter when you’re in a pressure-free; non-competitive situation.

    Kevin Green Reply:

    lol what are you going on about in that case Vettel should have been outperforming De Rista in the 06 F3 championship with time going on etc. tin top and F1 no relevance driving skills are essentially driving skills And as for being “under pressure” as you say is that not when you should perform? Really think paul was not after pressure while trying to grab his dream job? oh and on that F1 greats with links to tin tops look into Jim Clark the only reason its hard to link F1 driving to tin tops is it is by far the norm for them to go up through the ranks from Karting into lower single seater formulas and there on. another good tin top example so to speak notably finishing 8th out of 20 odd accomplished f1 drivers and on that He is arguably the best driver on the planet all in all amazing accomplishment over his career and shows no signs of slowing up,

    [Reply]

    Kevin Green Reply:

    And on that Raymond not find it interesting that Senna named a mere relatively unknown Karter as his greatest ever rival?? as I have stated just because you are in F1 it does not necessarily mean you will find the best drivers there hence why i suggested in another post why not spend more money on scouting/picking out the talents at far lower formulas/types of series instead of blowing so much of the funds down wind tunnels Aero does not make good drivers neither does it make interesting racing as such as again as previous stated in another post even as the spectacle of f1 on race day has improved vastly over the last few years you would be very hard pushed to find a better race over the last 10+ years as opposed to watching almost any race from the mid to late 80′s try watching a race from that era online V a live race at the start of the new season by that I mean the actual race as opposed to the presentation quality so to speak, which has vastly improved :)

    Liam Reply:

    Mohamed, can you please name a driver in the past who won a title in an inferior car?

    [Reply]

    Stewart Reply:

    Prost in 1986 springs to mind. The Williams was much better than the Maclaren.

    [Reply]

    Steve E Reply:

    Both Williams drivers were taking points off one another. Plus if not for a blown tire, Prost wouldn’t have won.

    Stewart Reply:

    That’s certainly true, but doesn’t invalidate the point. The Maclaren was inferior and Prost was champion. If the question is “Name a driver who has been world champion in an inferior car, without intra-team squabbles in the best team, and random acts of god”, then I would agree, probably no-one.

    JF Reply:

    Please give one example of ANY driver winning a title in an inferior car. I don’t think it has happened.

    [Reply]

    Ben Reply:

    Who was the last driver to win a championship in an inferior car?

    [Reply]

    StallionGP F1 Reply:

    Name a champion who has won in an inferior car why do people keep saying that.

    [Reply]

    Brad Reply:

    In the last decade I think the only one who has not had a best car and win a championship was probably Hamilton 2008…

    [Reply]

    Raymond S U Reply:

    Even that’s debatable. It wasn’t the fastest in the dry. Probably second fastest; except in technical tracks such as Hungaroring/Monaco (that McLaren had fantastic low speed grip; magnificent braking; fantastic traction)

    it was quickest in the wet too.

    [Reply]

    JF Reply:

    I would aggree he Hamilton did not have a dominant car in 2008, but at the same time it was not a pig! That year was overall pretty well matched equipment (at least different +/-) wise if I remember correctly. My F1 watching history really starts around 96, I remember Shumacher winning many races against a stronger Mclaren but it wasn’t until 2000 when the Ferrari and Mclaren were about equal was he able to win the title (maybe 99 but for the accident). In the 2000′s I don’t think there were any champions in the slower car, at best the top teams (Ferrari, Mclaren, Renault and sometimes Williams) were evenly matched in terms of strengths and weaknesses at different venues excepting the years (2002, 2004) where Ferrari was crushingly dominant. Modern reliability, say 2000 onwards, has all but eliminated the mega fast but fragile cars of old which used to allow people to win more often against faster cars.

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    TMAX Reply:

    I have heard many people saying that Vettel needs to win the championship in an Inferior car. Just curious….How many other drivers won in an Inferior car. Tracing back Button, Hamilton, Kimi, Fernando, Michael, Mika, Villenuve, Hill, Prost, Mansell, Senna et all.. In fact Senna, Prost and Mansell all won in cars that was marvelously superior than their competitors.

    Why is that Only Vettel Needs to Win a Title in a Inferior Car to prove that he is great. Ironicaly Vettel is the only guy who won in a back marker car like Toro Rosso on a great track like Monza. !!!!!

    [Reply]

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    No, Hamilton he had a car equal to the Ferrari that year.

    Vettel’s Toro Rosso was a Newey design.

    1986 Prost’s Mclaren wasn’t as good as the Williams
    1991 Sennas Mclaren was not as good as the Williams
    1995 Schumachers Benetton was not as good as the Williams
    2000 Ferrari Mclaren evenly matched
    2006 Renault Ferrari evenly matched

    The point is, any world champion needs his car to be a winning car, but doesn’t have to be the best car.
    Look at Alonso in 2010, but for a screwed up strategy, he would have been World Champion with the 3rd best car.

    The Greats can win races in cars that shouldn’t be anywhere near the front. The Good dominate and win with advantages.
    Mansell, so often is spoken about as though he lucked into the 1992 championship, but thats forgetting that he should have been 1986 champion and he made Piquet look pedestrian. Yet Piquet was a 3 time champion.

    [Reply]

    Spinodontosaurus Reply:

    I would argue that the Ferrari in 2010 was just as good, if not better than the Mclaren overall.
    Would also like to add that in 2003 Williams, Mclaren and Ferrari were all very close.

    Kevin Green Reply:

    Point you missing there TMAX is that Senna proved he could win with effectively pretty much a comparable poor car on the grid in scale of the cars quality. there has never been another driver to have such random displays of magic like that and that’s probably more so why he is recognised as the greatest driver despite any titles or wins as such. Think any driver post senna is going to be trying to be grabbing at stats to get noticed as i dont think it would matter how many race wins or title wins they get (unless it was some extortionate amount and into some age along with cobciderable magic) what Senna was doing in the car was truely remarkable and its prob only been due to the internet and media technology that the masses have took notice into our time now. Think every driver on the grid realises they will allways be playing second fiddle to what his abilities were. Hey lets hope something as good or better does come along But doubt it and with how tech the cars are now it either would not be possible or show anyway.

    [Reply]

    TMAX Reply:

    @Kevin, I never pointed that Senna was not great. All World champions in last 25 years had good performing cars that is all I said.

    @hero_was_senna Firstly you could only point 5 instances in last 25 years where cars were equals. of which 1995, 2000, 2008 and 2006 are questionable. So it just again reiterate’s my point that most champions had a great car. Secondly i did not question Senna. Thirdly in 2010 RBR was probably equally matched and reliability wise inferior with problems in KERS etc to Malaren and Ferrari. Still Vettel won the Championship.

    And last but not the least in 2009 RBR was the only car that took the fight to the Brawn GP and got the championship close to penultimate race.

    TMAX Reply:

    @hero_was_senna Vettel’s Torro Rosso was NOT a NEWEY DESIGN. If it was such a great car then why did it not win all the races that year. IN FACT the newey Designed RED BULL did not win a single race till then. So please have the stats right.

    Raymond S U Reply:

    @TMAX – I’m certainly a Vettel fan; but all Red Bull and Toro Rosso cars between 2006; up to 2009 have been Adrian Newey designs. Red Bull as we know is still designed by Newey; but Toro Rosso have Ascanelli to work with now.

    Kevin Green Reply:

    Your talking about 1 single outstanding race in a non particularly competative where as senna done so frequently in comparable at the time poor cars its very clear the car is particularly good at Redbull look at Webber also at the front or there abouts, as for design i find it hard to believe theres no design makes its way from the Redbull design team into Torro Rosso obv cant be mirror end of the day they sort of are the same team from the same core financial source. would it be that hard for redbull or be it Torro Rosso to turn up and down the heat as if on tap? in referance to Vettels one off amazing Torro Rosso display theres been plenty other teams had moment of magic races in the past with random drivers Force India springs to mind for 1 and Also Toyota if i recall right. Find it a bit of a farce 2 teams having the same owner as so the secondry be it final phase feeder team that can he tinkered with etc as so (with it being there team) they can use it as a progress monitoring tool if you like. Theres a lot of questionable issues in my mind with that. You could put any of the top 6 drivers on the grid perhaps even more and 1 or them would near certainly have won the championship over the last couple of years perhaps by an even clearer gap.

    Spinodontosaurus Reply:

    TMAX, I dont see how 2000, 2006 and 2008 are questionable in terms of the cars being pretty equal.
    And the 2010 Red Bull EQUAl to the others? You’re having a laugh.
    As for the Toro Rosso’s, yes they were Newey designed essentially identical to the Red Bull, but with a stronger Ferrari engine, and were very quick in 2008.
    The 2009 Red Bull was quicker than the Brawn for most of the season, I dont see how that backs up Vettel’s abilities…

    Chris Reply:

    @Kevin Green -

    “You could put any of the top 6 drivers on the grid perhaps even more and 1 or them would near certainly have won the championship over the last couple of years perhaps by an even clearer gap.”

    In 2010, they would need to have come through after losing three wins to mechanical failures.

    In 2011, you had Hamilton squandering a very good car and Button doing a good job on Sundays after poor qualifying. Maybe Alonso or Rosberg at a stretch (guys who kike Vettel actually made the most of their cars) could have won the championship by 122 points with 11 wins.

    Kevin Green Reply:

    I did say perhaps and not likely for 1 and i did also refer to over both seasons did i not. The point I made was it was more down to the car than him i am pretty sure Alonso Kubica And Hamilton are three that would more than likely have bet him in that car and quite possibly a few others being De Rista Rosberg And Button to name a few.

    Kevin Green Reply:

    And sorry Chris if we are going to look at drivers getting the most out of there car based on previous seasons and likelyhoods against who there team mates are etc I would say it was Alonso for sure that put in the drive of 2011 out of the front running 6 teams.

    Chris Reply:

    [mod]

    It’s far too early to begin comparing Kubica with drivers of Vettel’s calibre. Sure he did well with Renault in 2010, but it’s no guarantee he can cut it with a top team. Much like Kovalainen and Fisichella. Di Resta may have done well in F3, but now, couldn’t beat Sutil. Alonso did very well in 2011, but is beating Massa so much better than beating Webber?

    Vettel’s performance in 2011 was down to him just as much as it was down to the car because the gap between Mclaren and Red Bull wasn’t as great as the driver points standings suggest. In races including Spain, Monaco, Belgium and Italy, Vettel won either when the Button and Hamilton should have given him a closer fight, or when they had the faster car on the Sunday.

    Vettel had a faster car than Alonso, but made just as good use out of it, and was just as impressive, if not moreso.

    Chris Reply:

    @Spinodontosaurus-

    The Brawn was dominant in the first half of the season, and when Red Bull was faster, there were more teams that had varyingly good performance, like Mclaren. Vettel still did very well in 09.

    Kevin Green Reply:

    Beg to differ somewhat Chris time will tell when better comparisons of drivers/teams and time scale it always does and that is exactly where we find senna to be where he is in public opinion with less than half the WDC crowns of Schumacher.

    Chris Reply:

    At the end of the day though, Senna still has 3 titles in his own right. It’s understandable that when you have that many, in some people’s eyes it’s not that important whether you’re behind someone with 4, 5 or 7. Senna’s number of titles still has him in an elite club.

    It’s a different scenario than favourably comparing drivers who have barely won a race yet to someone who can handle being a frontrunner and has 2 titles. That’s just plain disrespectful.

    The likes of Kubica and Di Resta may get their chance one day, and then we can start compasring them to Vettel (or Alonso, Button, Raikkonen, Hamilton), but we cannot at this stage say they’re better than the current champion.

    Kevin Green Reply:

    Sorry but we will never see the greatness that i believe Kubica really was on course to achieve not saying on course for the current greatest but certain it would have been there and there about. I feel if he does manage to get into a F1 car on race day again he is just going to frustrate himself by not getting what would have been hoped resultwise in a front running car or the gloom of being in a trailing car and hitting mid field results at best. i just wonder how much other drivers would have had there contracts tightened up relating to taking part in other possible health compromising interests and sports outwith F1. As for Paul think he would be the driver most peoples eyes are on to see how things are going to pan out for him this year. that stat against Vettel in F3 06 is bound to have all the other top teams watching as so they can swoop in at the right timeo if they feel the need to.

    double eyepatch Reply:

    I can’t think of alot of drivers who won the title in an inferior car anyways. Let me know of a car in the last 20 years that didn’t deserve to carry on to win a title but did anyways. Also, On the basis of the Newey factor, I would like to know your opinion of the driver who won 7 titles in anything but a Ross Brawn car.

    [Reply]

    mohamed south africa Reply:

    Ross brawn did not design any of those cars. And besides the only other driver to win with ross brawn is jenson button and that was more down to brawn starting work on the car long before any1 else. Prost, hill villeneuve hakkinen mansell have all won in newey designed cars. On and vettel

    [Reply]

    Kevin Green Reply:

    And the Ridiculous amount of cash Honda pumped at the car for that season mohamed. They must be kicking themselves now for sure They would easily have recouped the further money they would have spent to run the season on car sale revenue Wonder with things as they were where the team would be today?

    double eyepatch Reply:

    Well, those titles were won on cars designed by Rory Byrne if you want to get picky. And the one time that he didn’t win in a Byrne car, he won it by capitalising a year that was bad for Williams who lost their point driver, and then he bashed Hill out of Adelaide in the end.

    You make it sound like that a technical director position is less effective than the designer. In any case, if Brawn is involved in that many title winning cars, don’t imply its a coincidence and hes been there as dead weight, like he doesn’t know how to put a title winning car together.

    Dont sidetrack the driver subject and go on over the tech guys records. My point focused on Seb winning by Newey x 2 against Schumi winning by Brawn/Byrne x 7, and if you see Schumi isn’t great by your criteria against Vettel

    JF Reply:

    Ross Brawn has never designed a car, the “Brawn” was a Honda don’t remember who the actual designers were, most of the dominant Ferrari’s were Rory Byrne.

    In my memory, Newey and Byrne have had about the highest hit rate in terms of modern car success.

    [Reply]

    mohamed south africa Reply:

    So what u are saying is that schumacher has won a title in a non rory byrne designed car?and vettel hasn’t won in a non newey car? How on earth are both the same?

    [Reply]

    double eyepatch Reply:

    You really are missing the point. This is about drivers who can win titles in any machinery, to which I’m assuming you’re accusing Vettel of not doing.
    I’m saying that by you logic of Vettel not winning outside a Newey car, then Schumi doesn’t deserve to be lauded in the history books because he can’t win outside a Byrne car.
    In fact Schumi had more than the best car when he was winning those titles, he also had a car specifically designed for his driving style, as it was the Ferrari philosophy in those days to reaally neglect the No2 driver’s requests. For Newey cars I observe its a case of Newey makes it, then the driver has to adjust his driving and nerve to get the best out of it. Not all who drove Newey’s car did, not even Raikonnen

    For sure Reply:

    Mate, according to your logic, most of the F1 world champions aren’t great. Schumacher, Alonso, Prost, Senna, Mikka, they were all just decent drivers who drove the best cars.

    [Reply]


  7.   7. Posted By: azac21
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 12:50 pm 

    Vettel can definately get better but it is all about the car at this stage, I think.

    [Reply]

    VV Reply:

    Then why is Webber so far behind? Mark isn’t exactly a bad driver, is he?

    [Reply]


  8.   8. Posted By: Rob Newman
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 1:09 pm 

    Vettel is the best driver currently on the grid and that is a fact. But this year will be different. Banning of exhaust blown diffusers can play into Webber’s hands making the challenge for another WDC more difficult for Vettel.

    If the McLaren’s are still behind the Red Bulls, then there won’t be any change or improvement in Hamilton. Button improved last year but actually he capitalised on Hamilton’s mistakes or benefited by those. Other than that he didn’t do anything special. This year we will see how good he is.

    [Reply]

    Spinodontosaurus Reply:

    I dont see how you can claim Vettel being the best as a fact, when Alonso is still on the grid.
    Although I would disagree with those who say Vettel is better than Alonso, I respect their opinion as long as they dont try and spin it as a fact.

    [Reply]

    Rob Newman Reply:

    Statistics and records speaks for themselves. What did Alonso achieve since 2006?

    [Reply]

    Spinodontosaurus Reply:

    That does not address the claim that it is a fact.
    And statistics are not the be all end all. G Villenueve had something like 5 gp wins, Massa has 11, but who would argue for Massa being the better driver?
    As for what Alonso has done, he wrung the neck of every car he was given, and made good drivers look average (Fisichella, Massa). Given that his only blip was 2007, where he finished a total of 1 point behind Raikkonen.

    He mounted a title challenge in 2010 with a pretty distant 2nd/3rd best car, won 2 races in 2008 (1 un-questionably on merit) in a car barely if at all faster than Vettel’s Toro Rosso, is the only driver to have beaten Schumacher to the title in cars that can be considered near equal.
    What he hasnt done is land a car consistently half a second faster than the rest of the field.

    Kevin Green Reply:

    Like your point there Spin given that it has allways been my belief the whole time that (post senna days) Schumacher and villeneuve were racing together He was the one driver all the way through that was in my mind for sure better than Scumacher and was not recognised for it. Take away the Ferrari unsporting way of doing things and plop Villeneuve in the other Ferrari seat aand i feel we would have been seeing very different results close prob yes but very different.

    Chris Reply:

    @Spinodontosaurus – Alonso’s 2008 Renault was the 4th fastest car in 2008, ahead of the Toyota, while Vettel’s STR was the 6th fastest, just behind Toyota and just ahead of the Red Bull of that year, which struggled.

    And where has the idea come from that Webber is such a bad driver compared to Massa or Fisi? Vettel has made him look poor or average, beating him in 2010 despite much poorer car reliability and winnning the title when Alonso was the main beneficiary from those car issues (Bahrain, Korea).

    Furthermore, he beat the Mclarens on numerous occasions when the Red Bull didn’t have such an advanatage, suggesting that Vettel made the difference, and/or Button and Hamilton didn’t do as well as their car should have merited.

    For sure Reply:

    “I dont see how you can claim Vettel being the best as a fact, when Alonso is still on the grid.”

    I don’t see how you can claim Alonso is as good or better than Vettel when the last time we won the title was in 2006 and Vettel just smoked everyone with or without a reliable car.

    Perception is one thing reality is another.

    [Reply]

    DMyers Reply:

    If it’s a fact, you need to say why, yet you fail to do so. Facts are generally based on evidence and not conjecture.

    [Reply]

    For sure Reply:

    Mate,if two championships with one unreliable car and one extremely dominant performance in a top car is not evidence then what is the evidence?

    In fact, I am wandering, what are the facts that make Lewis or Alonso better?
    Oh wait, none. Alonso won with the best car so did Lewis who beat Massa.

    [Reply]


  9.   9. Posted By: Andrew Flemington
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 1:32 pm 

    The only weakness Vettel has is driving Adrian Newey cars. When he gets in Ferrari or a McLaren and is still winning the one eyed fans who put all his success down to RBR will finaly be silenced.??? Last year was the levelest playing field F1 has seen for many years. Massa was extreemly bad and Vettel was extreemly good. Discount those two and look how close it was between the top 3 teams.!!

    [Reply]

    Liam Reply:

    +1

    [Reply]

    krieng Reply:

    Driving Adrian car= Win?
    I don’t think so. Not every Adrian car win.

    What? Toro rosso car was design by Adrian and Boom!! Suddenly it was a best car because Vettel win in this car
    but another Adrian car in RBR was not count because it’s not archive anything. This is very weird opinion.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Quite a few of his McLarens didn’t.

    [Reply]

    Kevin Green Reply:

    Put Vettel in Scumachers seat at Mercedes and i believe thats where you will find Vettel in his best team mate comparable match up and at the same time understanding exactly where a team stands in comparison to there competition as such.

    [Reply]


  10.   10. Posted By: Alan
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 1:58 pm 

    Media coverage

    90% Drivers
    10% Designers

    Influence Over Results

    90% Designers
    10% Drivers

    Gotta love how F1 works.

    It’s fairly obvious the guys that hold the cards are Adrian Newey and his team. They build a good car then Vettel will win, they don’t, and he won’t. If the latter happens, everyone, for some inexplicable reason, will ask why his performances have dropped (even if in real terms his driving got better).

    [Reply]

    Dave Deacon Reply:

    It is as that simple. All this ‘better than’, brilliant, stunning, etc., are just hyperbole which F1 feasts on to sell itself. They want a new Schumacher and Vettel is the chosen one. They even let a ‘Senna’ in because his surname helps sell F1.

    [Reply]


  11.   11. Posted By: Brent McMaster
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 2:01 pm 

    James I was thinking that the removal of the blown diffusers would require a remake of the entire aero package of the car; does it not?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Certainly together with nose and front wing change it means a difference. The EBD gave an amazing amount of downforce so there’s a lot to be recovered

    [Reply]

    Raymond S U Reply:

    It wouldn’t require an entire remake of the car as such; but there would have been optimizations made with the blown diffuser. The car would have to be reoptimised for non-blown diffuser running; and some optimization options in terms of setup would be gone from what they had previously; but nothing as serious as redoing the car’s aero map.

    [Reply]


  12.   12. Posted By: tim
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 2:24 pm 

    Whoever doubts Vettel should watch his appearance on Top Gear. He broke the lap record in the cheap car, but also was noted to be the only driver who checked the tire pressures of the car before doing the laps. Methodical and highly motivated.

    [Reply]

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    In a race enviroment I understand that, but on an entertainment programme???

    He was either playing up to the cameras or, he is in desperate need of an anorak…

    [Reply]

    tim Reply:

    I’m not fixated on the time. More, actually, on the fact that BBC producers noted Vettel was the only driver they’d ever had to check tire pressures on the car before he did the laps, which say something about one’s approach. But I’m not trying to convince anyone; if you don’t agree, well, you don’t agree.

    [Reply]

    Raymond S U Reply:

    In addition to what tim said; Vettel also did practice laps where he was moving the front seats back and forth to actually adjust the weight distribution

    [Reply]

    Dave Deacon Reply:

    It’s meant to be a light-hearted thing with all manner of celebrities competing. I think his obsessiveness is beyond reason and proves nothing mroe than that. Most rational people see it for what it is – Clarkson & Co playing kids. Now, you’ll tell me Vettel was being the kid too in overdoing it. But that would be a contadiciton of your earlier statement.

    BTW BBC producers are not the arbiters of F1 ‘talent’ – if there is such a thing beyond being lucky enough to get the best car…

    Fan worship knows no bounds. Is it tied up with one’s own idea of who or what one would like to be and so becomes ‘personal’?

    Kevin Green Reply:

    In which case that is a factor in itself that could have gained him a couple of seconds by lowering the pressures if say they were at say 32psi prior also unlikely anyone else took it seriously enough to think about it (being a light hearted show) not to mention track temperture wear on the car slightly worn or bent components in comparison to another’s drivers time say 5yrs earlier etc etc etc great if he was thinking about something about the tyre pressures from a competitive good racing mind point of view but in respect to the track varied possible track conditions and temp etc etc etc (the possibilities are endless in respect) the top gear times can not be taken into account without a minimum of 3 seconds on a visually comparable day. Simply NOT a valid point hero_was_senna did i point out de rista beat him in like for like machinary and in the same team in the 2006 f3 championship? :)

    [Reply]

    Kevin Green Reply:

    In fact over the time scale even something as simple as rear brake shoe adjustment there’s wind direction air temperature so so many factors in the possible 5yr term between all the drivers. what a ridiculous point hero_was_senna holds absolutely no water what so ever pmsl

    SJM Reply:

    It was dry track. Lewis’s lap time was on very wet track.

    [Reply]

    enzofan Reply:

    In fact Hamilton’s lap was not very wet, more like damp and in that type of car, damp surface makes little difference to the time.

    [Reply]

    yusuf Reply:

    You forgot oily! The track was wet and oily!

    Tin foil on much!pfft


  13.   13. Posted By: AuraF1
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 2:47 pm 

    I think vettel has weaknesses that he is well aware of. They built the red bull to qualify fast and build a gap and take victory by holding off challenges. When this failed vettel seemed to struggle more(I’m not suggesting he can’t overtake like some detractors – simply that he has one favored route to success and he cleverly exploits that).

    If the red bull is not a qualifying monster in his hands again I think he will get more of a fight.

    I’m not a particular vettel fan but I appreciate his greatness and intelligence. If he improves his racing I doubt anyone can touch him. I just hoe for the racing sake that mclaren and Ferrari put together some qualifying tricks to rob vettel of many pole positions and spoil the whole lights to flag victories he enjoys.

    [Reply]

    Matt Yau Reply:

    Not an opinion many F1 fans hold, but insiders are well aware of this.

    McLaren to be strong and push RBR.
    New tyre guru at Ferrari to fix their car-to-tyre relationship.
    Mercedes: 50/50 chance of coming strong.

    Until Vettel is forced to grind out race wins consistently (preferably from mid-grid), most F1 fans will never consider him great.

    [Reply]

    Simon Reply:

    “Until Vettel is forced to grind out race wins consistently (preferably from mid-grid), most F1 fans will never consider him great.”

    This is why I never cheered Schumacher during his glory years, but AM cheering him on now. Everyone loves an underdog.

    [Reply]

    JF Reply:

    Don’t forget Schumacher won many races from 2nd place and second row on the grid. Despite his overall record, he was not the best qualifier out there.

    For sure Reply:

    Oh man I can understand where you are coming from but I feel bad that you didn’t enjoy some of the finest racing moments delivered by the master.

    It doesn’t matter if you are underdog or overdog, races like Barcelona 95,96, Brazil 2006 were absolutely amazing. If you appreciate driving, you LOVE it. It’s like if you love football, you wanna watch Messi.
    Those things don’t come along very often mate.

    VV Reply:

    “Most F1 fans”?

    Who appointed you as spokesperson for the world? Thinking that your opinion is shared by everyone on the planet is more than a little conceited and arrogant.

    [Reply]

    Matt Yau Reply:

    Sorry if you’re offended VV, but there’s no doubt that the jury’s still out on Vettel.

    JF Reply:

    Those F1 fans with bags over their heads is more accurate. No F1 driver has ever been forced to grind out victories from the midfield except on rare occasions. This is why they are midfielders.

    David A Reply:

    “Until Vettel is forced to grind out race wins consistently (preferably from mid-grid), most F1 fans will never consider him great.”

    Vettel has already done what people say he still needs to do- prove he can overperform in a midfield car as he did in 2007-8. And his performances were every bit as good as the other champions on today’s grid.

    [Reply]


  14.   14. Posted By: Rishi
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 2:54 pm 

    Vettel may well have prepared harder in some respects for this season but equally I think it will really hard for him to raise his game compared to last year. This is because he hit such a high level last year that to better it would almost come close to perfection. James has a point that his team leadership may grow though, and if McLaren and Ferrari get closer to Red Bull this year then he may have to drive differently than in 2011. But I’m still not sure his actual on-track performances will be better than in 2011, though if he does need to race wheel-to-wheel more the perception of him may become more favourable among those who still have doubts about his ability.

    Regarding Hamilton I think it depends on how competitive the McLaren is. If they start the season very close to, or faster than, Red Bull pace (or the pace of the fastest car, if that’s not Red Bull) then we will see him back at a very high standard. If not then his head might go down and distractions may increase – either away from F1 or even inside it (regarding his contract renewal, for instance).

    [Reply]


  15.   15. Posted By: Bayden
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 3:00 pm 

    Hi James,

    Any news that Seb has taken his preparation to a new level is a scary prospect, who knows what he is capable of if he, as a man as driven completely by success, believes he can improve on 2011…

    Slightly off-topic James, can we realistically expect Mercedes to be taking the fight to the big three this season? I’m sensing that 2013 is the first campaign in which they can go out and fight for victories, but is there any sense that podiums, for Schumacher at least, are around the corner?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    There is a sense at large that they may have something up their sleeve, an innovative car perhaps.

    Certainly they should be a lot closer than last year, racing the 2nd and 3rd fastest teams

    [Reply]

    Andrew Kirk Reply:

    James from what I understand they have 4 men on their design team who were techincal directors at one stage for other teams, won’t it be a case of too many cooks in the kitchen?

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Could be, but they are heads of departments now, working for a giant like Mercedes. The structure is clear. It requires Willis and Costa to accept that they aren’t top dog on tech side. If they can then the team should be potent, playing to the variou ‘ chiefs’ strengths.

    Adrian Newey Jnr Reply:

    Perhaps those chiefs were “over promoted”? An example might be Sam Michael. Great in his area of expertise, but disappointed as a technical director.


  16.   16. Posted By: Skip
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 3:31 pm 

    I am a huge Vettel fan, so I am excited to see he is still has hungry as ever to be at the top. The prospect of him going for a triple championship makes me giddy!

    [Reply]


  17.   17. Posted By: Merlinghnd
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 4:12 pm 

    Hi James,

    Did Mateschitz say anything about Mark Webber in the interview, I wonder if this will be his last seasonin F1 and if there is any indication who will pair Vettel in 2013??

    [Reply]


  18.   18. Posted By: Pete
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 4:38 pm 

    it’s frankly astonishing to hear that there are still people out there who doubt Vettel’s genius

    he and Schumacher (when younger) are (were) head and shoulders above anybody else, including Alonso

    “bizarrely”, the English media have always failed to share with their readers, what the F1 engineers and team bosses happily tell the international media

    for a long time, for instance, Schumacher was driving with a partially broken neck

    once his team was trying out a new OIL in testing without Schumi knowing it. Michael immediately noticed that something was different and then asked his engineers about the oil

    as for Vettel, the great Adiran Newey once said
    ” of ALL the drivers I have worked with, Sebastian stands out”

    if ANY of those stories/quotes had been linked with the likes of Button or Hamilton, we would not hear the end of it

    kudos to James though: just like Murray Walker he has always been fair to Vettel

    it would be great to get a few stories about Mercedes: they have so many little chiefs in their team now, you have to wonder whether they can make it work

    thanks in advance for some input here, James

    [Reply]

    CH1UNDA Reply:

    Important to note that Adrian Newey has worked with Senna – would he be suggesting Vettel stands out above Senna?

    Also important to note is that Adrian Newey has never worked with Hamilton.

    [Reply]

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    for 2 races before he was killed, and Senna was highly critical of that Williams

    [Reply]

    hero_was_senna Reply:

    My God, my respect for Schumacher has gone through the roof, he could even tell that the engine had a different lubricant…

    Can you quote the source of that information, because everything I have ever read is that Irvine and Barrichello were better test drivers for Ferrari because they couldn’t drive around problems like Schumacher could.
    In fact Irvine tested a front wing that had been rejected by Sir Schumacher and found 1/2 a second improvement.
    Schumacher hadn’t felt any difference and reported it as such…

    [Reply]

    Rodger Reply:

    Agree with all your comments 100%
    I’ve been watching F1 for over 20 years and Schumacher was (pre-retirement) simply the most skilled driver I’ve ever seen.
    I didn’t think that I’d see his like again.
    But then Seb came along in a Torro Rosso and changed my mind.
    This kid might just be the best ever.
    Just don’t tell the Brits!

    [Reply]

    Jordon191 Reply:

    I agree with the astonishment at the Vettel doubters. But then again, the same was true of a young Senna, Schumacher, etc. It is difficult for some to recognize/admit truly extraordinary talent in the present. In 20 years, after Vettel has long-since retired with five or more championships, the same folks will undoubtedly recall “that genius Vettel” with misty-eyed nostalgia…

    [Reply]


  19.   19. Posted By: goferet
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 4:44 pm 

    Well if Mateschitz thinks Vettel is going to be as good as he was in 2011, is he in for a major shock (the heart attack kind of shocks).

    Look, Mark Webber’s problems have to a minor degree been the Pirelli tyres & to a larger degree been the gases that have been blowing under the diffusers.

    Now since the Pirellis had got more durable towards the end of the season, Webber was getting on top of his woes e.g. at Interlagos & also if you recall that race in Silverstone in which the blowing of gases was banned, Webber out qualified Sebi & was all over his gear box towards the end of the race.

    So yes, Vettel is in for his toughest season yet for not only will he have his teammate stalking him all over the place but his other competitors will have him eating dust.

    Also Mateschitz may want to brush on his F1 history, if he did, he would know that no young double world champion has gone on to win three WDC on the trot, not Alonso nor Fittipaldi, nor, Prost, hell not even the royal Schumi pulled off that feat.

    In addiction, no driver has ever won more than two WDCs in a Newey car for ironically, most drivers win one WDC with a Newey machine

    Lastly & more importantly, Newey always produces cars (usually after major rule changes) that dominate for only 2 and a half seasons before they’re beaten.

    So methinks Red Bull won’t infact be the car to beat but Ferrari so it doesn’t really matter how prepared the Wunderkid is for the new season, if he doesn’t have the machinery, he’s headed no where fast.

    [Reply]

    fduct Reply:

    Goferet, a lot of what you say is more wishful thinking on your part in the end.

    Vettel has been head and shoulders (pun intended) above Webber in 2009 qualifying when your criterias all applied. There was the durable Bridgestone, NO blown diffuser back then and Vettel beat Webber in all but 2 or 3 qualifyings. The car was not built around Vettel and sometimes (50% of the time) Webbers car was lighter due to different fuel loads back then. So your theory is already proven wrong and he was still kind of a rookie in his first year in a Red Bull.

    Btw, didnt they use the new tire for 2012 in Brazil already ? Vettel still beat Webber by 0.2 sec. Interestingly Button beat your boy by 0.2 sec. and not vis-a-vis !

    The ones in for a shock will be Hamilton fans if he doesnt live up to the hype soon. In the end every argument against Vettel can be used against Hamilton as well. Against Hamilton some make even sense.

    May i just mention Monza 2008 and the constant bickering how that doesnt count because it was so easy getting pole position and the win in a Torro Rosso. Now my question for the Hamilton fans. When was the last time Lewis Hamilton put his McLaren on pole and won the race the next day ? Not within the last 30 odd races !

    [Reply]

    Hohuhm Reply:

    Anti-Vettel detector went code red with this post, haha.

    You forgot to mention in Silverstone Vettel had KERS problems and was told to slow down, Webber then was told to slow down and he didn’t. Was the only reason he was close to Vettel because Vettel had mechanical problems and was told to slow down.

    All drivers are begging for the best machinery. Alonso and Hamilton being the biggest whiners for it every weekend. So why not critisize them for not being able to do with without the best machinery which is what you demand for Vettel?

    Double standards.

    [Reply]

    Rodger Reply:

    There’s only one problem with your predictions…
    Vettel makes the impossible possible.
    And for proof of that just look at all the records he holds for such a young driver.

    [Reply]

    devilsadvocate Reply:

    Good thing Vettel isn’t any of those other drivers, why don’t we wait till this time next year before we get so cocky about who is better than who eh?

    [Reply]


  20.   20. Posted By: Fanboys galore
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 5:02 pm 

    You detractors are hilarious.

    All these criteria people mention to ‘disprove’ Vettel is a good driver, yet if they apply the same criteria to their own favorite drivers, or of the ‘greats’ of the past, none of them would pass those same criteria.

    What, you thought Fangio and Senna won their championships driving in the slowest car or something? They had the fastest. And they won most of their races also from pole/2nd. They didn’t do much passing too. They clearly aren’t ‘great’ in your unbiased eyes, yes?

    Driving a Newey car disqualifies the championship? What are you on about? That guy’s car hadn’t won a championship since 1999. Over a decade…hello?

    That is F1, have the best package, then utilize it to the maximum. How people can critisize a driver for doing a good job on Saturday and then maximize the performance on Sunday, is rather pathetic.

    [Reply]

    Glennb Reply:

    Well said mate.

    [Reply]

    CH1UNDA Reply:

    Good point – basically winning is winning whichever way it comes. When you win the most you are the best

    [Reply]

    Sam Reply:

    Totally

    [Reply]

    JF Reply:

    Exactly: top drivers have won races, even several, using superior tactics with inferior cars. But a title? Has it ever really happened outside of fanboy mythology?

    [Reply]

    David A Reply:

    Hear, hear!

    [Reply]

    StallionGP F1 Reply:

    Couldn’t have said it better it beats the imagination when people type utter rubbish.

    [Reply]

    TMAX Reply:

    Very Well said… Nice comment.

    Win Championship in SLOW Car is a Joke. !!!! I am worried that if eventually Vettel wins a title in a “SLOW & BAD” car then our friends might say he will have to walk on foot and win the title to prove that he is great.

    [Reply]

    Mitchel Reply:

    Verstappen, Herbert, Irvine, Barichello, Massa…and to this list add Bourdais and Webber. That’ll be the main reason people undervalue certain championship victories.

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    …and Kovalainen, Fisichella, and er.. Barrichello again.

    [Reply]

    M Reply:

    Why didn’t you add Kovalainen and Fisichella to the list?

    Oh, they were Hamilton’s and Alonso’s teammates when they won their championships that clearly aren’t impressive too then because their teammates were inferior drivers too, right? ;)

    [Reply]

    Mitchel Reply:

    Well…i like kovi a lot. The main reason i rate alonso, Hamilton and button is because they have raced as teammates. I massively downgrade schumi for not going head to head with kimi and for being trounced by nico. A seb-lewis red bull combo for ’13 is what i want. Or alonso-lewis at Ferrari!teammates, wh


  21.   21. Posted By: Stuart Harrison
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 5:33 pm 

    This is just hot air. DM is just trying to create a news story over nothing; you look at all the press interest last year (top F1 stories on Autosport for example) and barely a breath was spoken about Red Bull or Vettel. They can win races, but seemingly not make headlines!

    I suspect McLaren will fade in 2012 – I suspect Ferrari will be running in the #1 or #2 spot and Red Bull will be up there but not as dominant as last season. Well, I sincerely hope that’s the case anyway!

    [Reply]


  22.   22. Posted By: Vipin
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 7:12 pm 

    Just like Jeremy Clarkson says in Top Gear,

    “LOSER”

    [Reply]


  23.   23. Posted By: Vipin
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 7:12 pm 

    In 2012

    [Reply]


  24.   24. Posted By: mo kahn
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 7:16 pm 

    No doubt he will step up a gear next year and year after that, such is Vetel’s application. He was a different driver in 2011 to 2010 to prove my theory… Its nothing got to do with hunger etc. it just how Vetel is as a sportsperson thats all :)

    [Reply]


  25.   25. Posted By: Ron Grable
        Date: January 21st, 2012 @ 10:30 pm 

    We’re about to witness a time honored adage: “when the flag drops the bullsh*t stops.” Looking forward to 2012.

    [Reply]


  26.   26. Posted By: Rich C
        Date: January 22nd, 2012 @ 5:09 am 

    More nonsensical PR BS from RBR.

    It turns out that the various forms of the oldest sports cliche – “we’re gonna step it up a notch this season” – never really pan out. Its just motivational BS for the troops.

    [Reply]


  27.   27. Posted By: Darren
        Date: January 22nd, 2012 @ 7:01 am 

    Would love to see him in a crap car with button or hamilton, then we can start calling him great , but not with a great car and webber … No no .

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    The Mclaren Hamilton and Button drove isn’t “crap”, it’s a car that was capable of challenging Vettel’s Red Bull on more occasions than it actually did.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Won six races and could have won a few more

    [Reply]


  28.   28. Posted By: Roo F1
        Date: January 22nd, 2012 @ 7:11 am 

    *Note:

    “he’s in the car to beat”

    Anyone else switched places with him last year would have won WDC – and he would not have done.

    [Reply]

    Raymond S U Reply:

    The person would need to be substantially better than Mark Webber

    [Reply]

    Glennb Reply:

    Your statement would indicate that you believe *everyone* else in the field is better than Vettel. For a start, Webber was in the same car. He didnt manage a WDC in 2011. I would concede that it’s entirely possible that 1 or 2 of the current drivers would give him a run for his money in identical machinery, but to claim that *anyone* would have won the WDC in that car… Who could argue with that logic [rolls eyes].

    [Reply]

    JK Reply:

    When are people going to realise Webber was not “in the same car”? If he was, he’d have to somehow shoehorn himself in Vettel’s car with Vettel already seated in it.

    It’s been said again and again since 2009 that Vettel is the driver RBR gets behind and Mark gets the scraps. If it was a truly even spread of support for both drivers like at McLaren then we’d see Mark make much more of an impact, maybe even take a WDC. Case in point, Mark’s ongoing clutch engagement “problems”, and Vettel’s subsequent “his start revs ALMOST dropped as low as Mark’s” (but never actually hindering his race starts) near misses. What? How can that even be an issue after 2 races, or are the mechanics more useless than they appear? It was clearly designed to give Vettel the edge in races where Mark could challenge him at the same time give Mark a nice mechanical failure to blame a poor(er) result on.

    But no, even after all that people still use Mark as the measuring stock against Vettel when clearly the support they receive is vastly different… mostly if not all due to Vettel’s future potential driving for RBR long term.

    I would expect a Vettel supporter to do the usual conspiracy theory response to the suggestion of RBR favouring SV, but it’s fact, it’s just which weird mechanical or strategic issues that Mark suffered throughout the season do you specifically want to focus on.

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    Vettel is the focus of the team because he is simply the better driver. Simple as that.

    Glennb Reply:

    I support Mark Webber 100% actually but I don’t believe that he is supplied with substandard equipment. He is essentially driving the same car as Vettel. Of course there are differences but i doubt they are designed to hobble Mark over Seb.
    Please don’t insult Aussie drivers by making excuses for them.

    Chris Reply:

    Same goes for the other champions on the grid. Your point is?

    [Reply]

    Bunchies Reply:

    You mean like Mark Webber?

    [Reply]


  29.   29. Posted By: Sudha S
        Date: January 22nd, 2012 @ 9:21 am 

    Vettel with a good car didn’t throw it away and made optimum use of it. I think that’s a good thing. When Alonso won in 2005 and 2006 who knew that 5 years later he wouldn’t have won again. Same with Hamilton after 2008.
    Only time will tell. In any sport a career can be truly judged only over a 8-10 year period based on longevity and results.
    Why should we jump to conclusions and argue if Vettel is a great driver now? He is a very good driver with great potential. lets see how he goes over the next 5 years and then make a judgement.

    [Reply]


  30.   30. Posted By: Sri
        Date: January 22nd, 2012 @ 11:58 am 

    Can someone with insight or F1 inside info (James) let us now if Lotus has plans for developing (or already in place) variation of this system that could pass rules to get FIA approval?
    Also how bad will Lotus team’s car’s performance be affected due to this ban as they must have developed the car using this system? I read somewhere (may be here) that this system can be easily taken off the car without affecting its car’s stability or normal performance.

    [Reply]


  31.   31. Posted By: Adrian Newey Jnr
        Date: January 23rd, 2012 @ 3:35 am 

    James – it seems interesting that in the massive amounts of sports that Red Bull sponsor, that Mateschitz would specifically focus on F1. Is F1 that important to them? Your colleague Joe Saward likes to suggest that RB is not in F1 for the long term.

    [Reply]

    James Allen Reply:

    Truth is nobody knows how long they will be in for – at this level in investment.

    They were in for many years with Sauber, learning the business, so they’ve been around a long time already.

    It will take a change in F1′s business model, whereby revenues from TV etc plus outside sponsorship mean that Red Bull’s contribution is very manageable, for it to be a really long term proposition. RB’s spend is coming down all the time with the success they are having, prize money, bonuses etc.

    There is a real incentive for them to be part of a process whereby F1 teams can get costs down, as it will ensure the long term participation of the parent brand.

    [Reply]


  32.   32. Posted By: Arnie S
        Date: January 23rd, 2012 @ 8:45 am 

    I’ve said it before…. I think Seb V is one of the greater. He’s not my personal favourite, but the speed, the way he drives and the way he qualifies. You can just be amazed.

    I think that comments such as “he has not won in an inferior car” is bxllshxt.

    [Reply]


  33.   33. Posted By: george
        Date: January 26th, 2012 @ 2:05 pm 

    No doubt , SV is good. But I think MW would be much much closer if MW worked with the team more to get a tuned car for him and support from the team to do so. Just look at how SVs car takes off and corners on the first turn and pulls away every time – now tell me both cars are the same????????

    [Reply]

    Brad Reply:

    they ARE

    [Reply]

    F1fan Reply:

    Do you think RBR give MW a slower car than SV? Why would they do this? Surely they want to win with both drivers, just like any other top team would like.

    [Reply]

    george Reply:

    In every team , resources must be tuned , accordingly they choose a number 1 and 2 driver . Would Marco ever make public comments that one is about drivers to retire or try to swap nose cones in broad daylight ? Part of life mate .

    [Reply]


  34.   34. Posted By: For sure
        Date: January 27th, 2012 @ 8:24 am 

    What people fail to realize is that if one driver is consistently half a secondish faster than his teammate, he is already a legend in the making.
    If you look at all the great champions in the past, that has always been the case unless two world class drivers drive for the same team.

    [Reply]


  35.   35. Posted By: K
        Date: January 30th, 2012 @ 9:49 am 

    “even if many fans still deny that he merits that status.”

    Yer I’m one of them. Put him in a lesser car and see how he does.

    [Reply]

    David A Reply:

    Somebody missed the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

    [Reply]


  36.   36. Posted By: Angelina
        Date: February 6th, 2012 @ 7:56 am 

    K
    Seb did well in toro rosso in 2008 when they were 7th n rbr(with redbull’s brand name) 8th in c’ship.

    [Reply]

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