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Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Oct 2012   |  7:28 pm GMT  |  286 comments

Ferrari’s mysterious blogger, The Horse Whisperer has made one of his occasional interventions on a day when the BBC F1 website ran a story with a strong line that Sebastian Vettel is headed to Ferrari in 2014.

And, as always, the Whisperer’s view is interesting for what is said and for what is not said.

It started with the BBC F1 site, where this morning’s headline was “Ferrari plan for arrival of Vettel”

Underneath the thrust of the argument was, “Ferrari sources say they already have a deal in place with double world champion Vettel, with an option for the 25-year-old to join them in 2014,” adding that, “Vettel’s potential move to Ferrari has been sanctioned by Fernando Alonso, their number one driver.”

Later in the day a couple of lines were added: “But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner insists Vettel will not leave. He told BBC Sport: “Sebastian Vettel, without a shadow of doubt, will be part of the Red Bull Racing team in 2014.”

The Horse Whisperer ran a post mid afternoon ridiculing the story of a “presumed agreement between Vettel and the Scuderia – however inexistent (sic)”.

The Whisperer pointed out an interview Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo had given this morning on Italian radio – before the BBC Online story broke – where, as the Whisperer put it he, “again put off all discussion about who might drive alongside Fernando Alonso in 2014 – after all, given that we don’t yet know who will have that role in 2013 there is not much sense in talking about the long-term future.”

What Montezemolo said was, “In the last 20 years I’ve always said I don’t want two roosters in the henhouse. I want two drivers who drive for Ferrari, not for themselves. I don’t want problems and rivalries. Two roosters damage equilibrium and create tension.”

The Whisperer was critical of the cut and paste type F1 websites that had leaped on the Vettel-to-Ferrari bandwagon and then later in the day did a 180 degree U Turn taking Montezemolo’s line as a total rebuttal,


“This phrase (about roosters and henhouses) was immediately picked up by a wide range of sources, many of whom were exactly the same ones who had just written the precise opposite, as the denial of a possible partnership – which remains completely hypothetical, better to stress that before someone takes advantage of the poor Horse Whisperer – made up of Alonso and Vettel,” wrote the Whisperer.

At its heart was a subtle point and not everyone will have appreciated its full nuances, as he went on to leave some wriggle room,

“It’s a pity that Montezemolo had simply stated a principle, nothing more, nothing less. At Ferrari there will be room for anyone who demonstrates they have the talent to drive a scarlet car and to work in harmony both with and for the team.”

This is because Montezemolo himself had issued a clarification after the BBC story came out, saying, “I was making a general point, there is room at Ferrari for anyone who shown he has the talent to drive the red car and knows how to work in harmony with the team.”

I know who writes the Horse Whisperer column and he’s a prominent figure within the Scuderia, so this is a careful message.

So what’s going on here with this non-denial denial?

Well as with any story of this kind, first of all there is always the tactic of destabilisation. This is a story which destabilises the internal harmony at Red Bull at a crucial moment in the championship. If it turns out to be true and Alonso is in on it at this stage, then it will not be destabilising for him and Ferrari, mystifying though it is.

Vettel to Ferrari alongside Alonso would be one of the biggest stories of recent F1 history, up there with Senna and Prost at McLaren in 1988-89 and the fall-out from Alonso and Hamilton at McLaren in 2007.

Alonso is an extraordinary driver who gets the maximum from the equipment and knows how to lead his team to compete for a championship; since 2005 he has been in contention in five of the eight championships and has won two of them.

But all the evidence from Alonso’s career shows that the one thing he cannot cope with is being beaten in qualifying or a race by a team mate. So as Ferrari has based its team around him since 2010 and he has another five years with the team, it makes no sense to put a driver like Vettel alongside him. As Montezemolo also said in his interview today, it leads to internal tension and problems.

The stories of Vettel having some kind of agreement with Ferrari have been around for a while, but were given fresh impetus today by the BBC story. The Corporation is still riding high from Eddie Jordan’s scoop on Hamilton moving to Mercedes, a story which left SKY’s F1 team wrong-footed.

As I have written here several times in the last six months, my sources in Italy, which have never been wrong on a Ferrari story in the last 20 years, say that there does appear to be some kind of understanding between Vettel and Ferrari, but it is conditional on many things and is not necessarily for 2014, as has been suggested. So there is substance to this, but not necessarily as it’s being portrayed.

Vettel is contracted to Red Bull to the end of 2014, so to leave before that would require some significant change. As his is consistently the highest performing car of the last three years, it’s hard to imagine performance clauses which would lead to him finding an exit route (or wanting to) unless it’s a clause saying he can leave once he’s won three world titles for the team.

However, much as Hamilton felt he could only grow as a man and a driver by leaving the McLaren team that had raised him from an apprentice, it’s not hard to see why Vettel would leave for Ferrari, to prove himself elsewhere.

But it’s not clear why he would wish to do so with Alonso still in situ and in his prime. As Jackie Stewart has observed, he is only 25 and has plenty of time on his side. He can go to Ferrari a few years later and have the place to himself.

So the 2014 move makes little sense from either driver’s point of view.

But as the Whisperer reminds us, “At Ferrari there will be room for anyone who demonstrates they have the talent to drive a scarlet car and to work in harmony both with and for the team.”

This leaves plenty of room for Vettel. At the right time.

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286 Comments
  1. Paul says:

    James, have you heard anything that suggests that Ferrari are placing Hulkenberg at Sauber? My take on it is that Massa is being given another year to maybe make way for Vettel in 2014. If Seb doesn’t leave Red Bull, Hulkenberg will take the seat instead.

    1. Timmay says:

      My middle name is James and no I haven’t heard anything.

      1. pargo says:

        I have a friend called James, and he hasn’t heard anything either.

      2. Afonso Ronda says:

        Hilarious

      3. Peter C says:

        Not.

      4. Biggus says:

        Well, my first name is James – but I haven’t heard anything, either.

      5. Julian F says:

        I’m James – and so’s my wife!

    2. Metin says:

      Paul, this was my prediction also and I am nearly sure that this will be so. I dont believe that Vettel will join Ferrari and Hulkenberg remains the strongest weapon among young drivers. Therefore, Ferrari wont want to leave him to another rival. He is one of the next champions and I believe Ferrari will put him alongside Alonso to learn by 2014.

      1. gudien says:

        How many potential World Driving Champions do they need at the Dancing Donkey? They still must learn how to build a faster car.

      2. Thejesh says:

        Loved ur reply.

        Bang on Bull’s Eye

      3. Sebee says:

        They still have to learn how to win one with Alonso.

      4. Tombstone says:

        Besides which the so-called horse whisperer has proved to be a bit of an ass in the past.

      5. Mike says:

        Maybe Adrian Newey is moving to Ferrari.

  2. Michael S says:

    As a Vettel fan I hope he stays put…. Still cannot beleive Hamilton is leaving Macca for Merc….. These guys are all very good, but you need the fastest car. You do not get a prize for going to a team and taking 5th in the drivers title. You are measured by titles…

    1. Sebee says:

      With minimal car changes into 2013 this move of Hamilton’s is looking worse by the minute as Mercedes moves backwards. Pausing development now is ensuring a “start from behind” position for 2013.

      Lewis kept saying that he is fond of Senna. Seems like in 2013 he may be racing head to head with him for a spot in Q2! OUCH.

      1. Eric Weinraub says:

        Lets call Mercedes what they really are which is Honda in Silver. Eliminate the double diffuser and what you have is a team with 2 victories since ’99. They stink, pure and simple. I feel bad for Schuey who wrongly believed that Ross was making progress there. you can bet that Lewis has a performance clause and will be outta there after 1 season. I’m reminded of Damon Hill’s single season at Arrows….

      2. DonSimón says:

        Exactly. Couldn’t agree more. Also take away the trick defused and JB doesn’t have such a hot record. Although time is good at proving us all wrong! I just worry we’ve got another BMW on our hands here.

      3. Peter C says:

        So are you saying “They are not doing well & they’re not German either?

      4. gudien says:

        Great point about Lewis having a bailout clause. But where could Hamilton go that would be a better destination?

        1. Ferrari; Not while Fernando is there, and
        I don’t believe they want him
        2. Red Bull; Not while Vettel is there, and
        I don’t believe they want him
        3. McLaren; Not while Ron Dennis is there and
        I don’t believe they want him

      5. KRB says:

        Maybe he moved to show he was serious when he told others in the paddock that he was open to a move from McLaren? I know Horner didn’t believe for a second that Lewis would leave McLaren. Now that it’s known that he can be signed, maybe other serious offers will flow.

      6. Sebee says:

        It’s funny that Button and Lewis switched places. Button took over Lewis’ and Lewis returned the favour to Button.

        Let’s wait and see. It’s entirely possible that McLaren will stumble going forward and Mercedes may provide better stability going forward. Who knows. But I’m in the camp that believes Lewis will not have success at AMG.

    2. Wayne says:

      Why stay at McLaren then?

      1. Craig D says:

        For all their mishaps, McLaren is still a consistently Championship challenging team. And not all the blame can be laid at the team not making more Championships happen, the drivers have stumbled more often than say Vettel or Alonso as well (what the hell was Button doing qualifying in 11th in Korea for example, and look at all the crashes Hamilton had last year)?

        In terms of team potential, Hamilton could have added titles in 2007, 2010 and 2012 to his 2008 glory if things had gone perfectly (on both team and driver side). At Honda/Brawn/Mercedes, only 2009 offered their drivers such a chance.

        One could say similar things about Alonso’s time at McLaren and Ferrari and someone could argue, what’s the point of going to Ferrari as they haven’t done much if you take out the Schumacher dominance years, which carried massive advantages for them (tyres, testing, money, etc). It’s like saying, well if you’re not in a Red Bull right now them forget it.

        I’m quite looking forward to the fresh start for Hamilyon at Mercedes but the evidence says, for next year at least, he’s going to be worse off not having stayed at McLaren. No team can guarantee you a Championship but only a few offer you the potential for one.

      2. Wayne says:

        They challenge for titles but they simply do not win them, not even with the fastest car. So what’s the point?

      3. Martin says:

        Mercedes should be getting close to the mark in 2014. That will bring rule changes that will bring an end to Red Bull exhaust blown diffuser era with the single turbo. Brawn has shown he can create the management environment for good ideas to flourish, such as Honda in 2008 for the Brawn. The question to me is whether the next tier down are on a par with the other top teams. Mercedes has quite a few cast off engineers from other teams.

        I believe that Hamilton moving is much more about personal growth. The dedicated UK F1 press that I see in Australia have regularly made that point. Going to Mercedes seemed to make Schumacher a much more rounded personality :-)

    3. Wayne says:

      P.S SKY’s coverage of Hamilton/Mercedes was laughable. All that ‘my sources tell me…..’ lol! Typical tabloid trash – all flash and no substance.

      1. alexbookoo says:

        I want to hear more about this because I don’t have Sky. What did they report?

      2. Wayne says:

        I don’t have SKY either, I looked at their website – In Short – every single one of their ‘experts’ sources told them that Hamilton would stay at McLaren. None of the SKY believed he would go and they all said so.

      3. Pranav says:

        Typical tabloid trash – all flash and no substance.

      4. Andy says:

        Martin Brundle’s view was that LH would stay at McLaren, giving the impression that he had gleaned this from the McLaren team.
        After the move was announced, Martin Whitmarsh seemed to indicate that he thought LH was going to stay.
        There was an inference that Lauda talked LH into signing for Mercedes at the last minute.
        As for Eddie Jordan, just on the law of averages, he was going to get something right sooner or later.

    4. Chapor says:

      And McLaren have provided him with the team/car to win another title? They should have walked it this year. They have/had the best car and they fluffed it. Again! As a frustrated Macca fan I find it hard to digest that “princess stompy feet” Vettel might take another title this year. He is better of at Mercedes. Win or loose, but at least the only way to go with Merc is up.

      1. Wayne says:

        Could not agree more, everyone who is saying that Hamilton has made a mistake is failing completely to say why that might be. Maybe he has made a mistake if his sole aim is to win races…? However, if he wants to win championships there is no reason what so ever to stay at McLaren. None.

        There are many pundits out there (like Brundle) who are saying that Hamilton has made a mistake purely to cover up for the fact that they completely messed up their reporting over the issue and were convinced that he would stay at McLaren.

        The idea that Vettel is likely to be a four times WDC at the end of next year is a hard one to swallow. Yes, he is very good, but is anyone really going to claim that he is THAT amazing? 4 BACK TO BACK WDC? Really?

        That is an achievement of legendary proportions! Come on guys, we have to admit that, at least, he is no better a driver than Alonso or Hamilton.

        People say that Vettel’s success is partly down to Newey – but a great deal of it is down to McLaren themselves. They have, inexcusably with their resources and experience, developed cars ranging from ok to awful over the past four years. This year, when they have the fastest car over the season (until now) they utterly destroy their drivers’ chances with amateurish errors, a wrong turn in development and now a sudden and inexplicable bought of terminal unreliability for their last challenging driver, who was in contention despite the 30 points the team cost him in the pits at the start of the year. They cannot even win a title when they have the fastest car – I ask again – why should Hamilton have stayed? Would you not have been thinking ‘what do I have to loose?’ were you him?

        At what point is someone going to hold the management of McLaren responsible for four years of so-so cars, for throwing away their best title shot in 4 years, for swooning all over Button when it was obvious that Hamilton would have been the future of the team, for refusing to make the hard decisions and back a single driver when the time comes, for loosing their star driver?

        Hamilton has cost McLaren a shed load of points as he learnt and matured over the past four years. That’s plain for all to see – but the point is he turned up at the beginning of this year a new man (in the car) and has driven perfectly all year only to watch his team throw it all away for him. Now he has matured into the driver everyone said he should be – they go and loose him so another team get’s all the benefit!

        I simply cannot support McLaren anymore. They have given me no reason to do so and no hope that anything will change. Their core principle and aim is contrary to ever driver’s aim, for goodness sake – ‘Races not Championships’ according to Ron Dennis. Great, just great, Ron.

      2. Chapor says:

        If you look back even further, you will see that McLaren won just one constructors title and 3 drivers titles from 1998. And they had NEWEY! I have seen them throw away one title chance after another, it all started with them almost not making it in 1999 and then started the worst period of F1 in my life. In all that time, McLaren never stepped up to the plate. And now another driver I cannot stand is about to repeat 2000-2004… ergh

      3. Sebee says:

        That’s quite dramatic Wayne. Are you trying to save face with a graceful exit from McLaren fandom as you wait for your order of Hamilton Mercedes gear ordered on ebay to land at your door? :-)

        McLaren will be fine without Lewis. Bigger names have come and gone there.

        I’m not sure Lewis will be fine without McLaren.

        Unless something magical happens with the new Mercedes engine (if those V6 engines do indeed happen), then he may have a shot. Otherwise, I highly doubt that Lewis will be anywere above 3rd fastest car for next few seasons. That is the reality right now. I remind you, Schumi wasn’t exactly getting peanuts at Mercedes – second highest pay on the grid I read somewhere. And in 3 years they couldn’t get things done to podium regularly.

      4. @REva_4 says:

        wayne, have to agree with this [mod]. As nice a guy and good a driver as Button is he does not have the talent to beat Alonso or Vettel over the course of a season, Hamilton does and McLaren seem to have forgotten this!

        By the way I doubt Vettel to Ferrari will happen until Alonso leaves, too many incidents in the past (Monza this year and last year)

      5. Wayne says:

        Sebee, Never said they would not be fine without him, never even hinted that might be the case. They will indeed be ‘fine’ – thye have been ‘fine’ and nothing more for as lonmg as i can recall.

        I’ve already been on the merc AMG online store – I like their shade of silver. Waiting for the new season before I get me a jacket :)

      6. Martin says:

        Hi Wayne,

        nice post. There is a view – Mark Hughes for example and the guy James had on his podcast – that Hamilton is still treated as a junior driver when it comes to strategy and technical calls. While he has been excellent in the car, he is still able to end up in situations where he has the wrong wing on the car (Spa) and some journalists believe this is due to Hamilotn having a lack of authority within McLaren. In the car he seems pretty handy, although I’d give Alonso and Vettel (but not Button) the edge on tyre management. Out of the car, there is more that can be gained.

        cheers,
        Martin

      7. Wayne says:

        Cheers Martin, I have always wondered about Hamilton’s ability to set-up the car. Is he ‘treated as a Junior member’ of the team where this sort of thing is concerened, I wonder, because he is just not very good at it or because he has not been given the chance to prove that he is good at it?

    5. gudien says:

      I still can’t believe Team McLaren have gone from;

      Alonso and Hamilton

      to

      Button and Perez

      Come on Ron. I know you are focused on road cars but you can do better than this!

      1. DC says:

        Alonso and Hamilton – It was not a glorious year for Team McLaren if I remember well.

      2. Wayne says:

        Was two top drivers is the point.

      3. KRB says:

        Was a glorious year for F1 though, one of the best and most exciting seasons in recent history. Thick with drama, plenty of flashpoints, F1 at its best.

    6. hero_was_senna says:

      Funny really, many people consider Stirling Moss and Gilles Villeneuve as two of the greatest drivers in history, yet they have a total of zero titles between them..

  3. Mark V says:

    Why wouldn’t Vettel want to go to Ferrari, even as early as next year? He’ll likely be a three time champ at only 25, and while staying at Red Bull to break records might be fun, he’ll always wonder how he does evenly matched against the guy who is regularly touted as “the best in F1″.

    1. Sebee says:

      After sending Felix to space I am now absolutely convinced that if any team can guide Vettel to beat Schumi’s record of 7 WDC, it is without question Red Bull Racing. If Vettel leaves RBR, 8 will never happen.

      Seriously UK fans, brace yourself. By 2013 this kid will be 1/2 way to 8 already.

      1. Kimi4WDC says:

        This makes a lot of sense.

      2. gudien says:

        Vettel is the new Schumi.

      3. Alex says:

        I wonder how much potential future success at Red Bull depends on Adrian Newey? I stand to be corrected, but when Adrian re-signed last year it was only for 3 years. Might be an prudent move for Seb to have the option of moving just in case Red Bull lose Adrian and face instability on the technical side as a result.

      4. Sebee says:

        Great point reminding us about someone else’s contract. But I think having the type of design freedom Newey enjoys at RBR – likely he won’t have that elsewhere.

        As I said in the past, if RBR push too far, you don’t make a link of cheating = bad road cars. Where as with the rest, you will. RBR’s main product is not cars, so he can go further and he has the freedom and budget to do it. RBR know that it’s a playground for Newey as well that he is not likely to enjoy elsewhere. If anything it may be actual retirement from F1 all together for Newey that may be of concern.

    2. AndyFov says:

      I agree. Seb could well have twice as many titles as Alonso by 2014 too, why would he be intimidated? Alonso could well suffer the indignity his own arrival at Ferrari meted out to Kimi.

      The way the Spanish economy’s going another German driver could make sense for Ferrari too. Perhaps they’ve been selling fewer road cars in Germany since Schu quit?

      ^ I know I’m writing rubbish, but it’s fun to speculate.

      1. Eric Weinraub says:

        You folks are really undersestimating the resolve in Maranello. I think its even money who takes the title this year.

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        More than that, I think many people are underestimating Ferrari over the next few years.

        Pat Fry commented last winter that Ferrari’s technical department is some years out of date with CFD and simulation tools. This is something he has said will take 2 to 3 years to get to the same level as the other teams. By which point, all the elements combined will bring about many benefits.

        The other thing that people ignorant of Ferrari history is that the V6 turbo’s to be introduced in 2014 will favour their rivals.
        Ferrari’s competition history includes every engine from 4 cylinder up to 12.
        They used V6′s in the 1960′s and most recently, have run V6 turbos between 1981 and 1988.

        I’d imagine that Ferrari deciding to leave the RRA last winter had something to do with RBR’s willingness to ignore the resource restriction.
        I don’t care how good Newey is, the development of that car is beyond belief compared to the rest, inc Mclaren.
        This is more about money and man hours than just about the design genius of one man.

    3. Charles says:

      Fernando Alonso is an excellent driver with an excellent team, but Vettel is a marvelous kid driving for a revolutionary team. Interesting to see that Alonso was leading the comparison but after the German GP (which he won), Vettel has taken the game to another level>
      http://grandprixrankings.com/compare/2012-f1/vettel-versus-alonso/

  4. Chris R says:

    Driving for a ferrari must be the dream for most F1 drivers. And for a kid growing up watching a fellow countryman win in one (repeatedly), maybe that helped cultivate the attraction?

  5. Muldog says:

    I agree it doesn’t make sense for Vettel, as his ambitions appear to lie entirely in breaking records and one can not imagine being at Ferrari as opposed to RBR will improve his chances of doing that. If he wants to do something truly significant with his career however, it makes perfect sense to take on Fernando in the same car, while FA is still at his peak. Winning that battle would make him a legend.

    1. Pankaj says:

      Dont know why he will want to complicate his own life, if he is getting the best machinery he can keep destroying the field being with Red Bull.
      Plus Red Bull isnt as politicas as Ferrari, and Seb doest display the liking for playing political games like Alonso.

      Seb is just so much more focused at the task at hand. He is reminiscent of Schumi, who strayed away from the political mumbo jumbo and scored the 7 wdc’s.

      1. Wade Parmino says:

        I can understand a driver wanting to win a championship with Ferrari, McLaren or Williams. These are constants in an ever changing field of Formula 1 teams. To win for one of these would be just a little bit more special. If Red Bull are still around in 20 years time I will be surprised.

  6. Iwan Kemp says:

    What will be, will be.

    1. Sebee says:

      Que Sera, Sera

      6 years with no championship for Alonso. Time travel back to Brazil 2006 and tell me – who on this planet thought Alonso would not see another championship for 6 years.

      Meanwhile, this Vettel kid comes on the scene, drinks some Red Bull and…WDC after WDC after WDC…after…

      1. James Allen says:

        Same with Schumacher in 1995. Next title was 2000

      2. Sebee says:

        Tu che.

        However, I somehow feel like the Alonso dry spell is a bigger disappointment. Not like he had to drag a team out of a 30 year funk to become a championship contender. Ferrari was the winningest team of the decade when Alonso arrived. Which is what has to make the last 3 years the most disappointing not only for Alonso but also Ferrari. The two years at Renault, well, those were punishment for mishandling things at McLaren. Forgive me for treating 2012 as a foregone conclusion.

        Reminds me of a fun Murray Walker quote:
        “We thought it was a foregone conclusion, and the it wasn’t a foregone conclusion, but then it was a foregone conclusion again, and what a foregone conclusion it was!”

        I miss that man’s commentary.

      3. Iker Gernika says:

        touché!

      4. PK says:

        James,

        I don’t think it’s anything like Michael. Michael went to rebuild Ferrari knowing he wouldn’t be in contention immediately; Alonso has chased the best car throughout that time.

        That’s been the difference in Michael’s career arc when compared to contemporaries.

      5. Jordon191 says:

        Right, although Alonso’s sojourn in the desert has been even longer than Schumacher’s was — 5 years and counting (vs. 4 for Schumi). Terrific site, James, by far the most insightful and intelligent of the half-dozen I follow. Thanks much.

      6. anon says:

        Schumi won on his 5th year without a championship. Alonso could win on his 6th year without a championship, assuming he wins this year. Given the year he wasted at McLaren though (and the 2 year return at Renault), the parallels def. exist.

        That said though, these are the results for Ferrari leading up to Michael’s arrival in ’96, starting from 1990: best result (drivers championship) 2nd, 5th, 7th, 6th, 3rd and 5th.

        Here are results prior to Alonso’s arrival in 2010… Best Ferrari drivers championship result, starting from 2004: 1st (Michael’s last), 3rd, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 6th.

        Of course none of this tells the full story… which is also why its a little pointless to draw parallels to Schumi…

      7. F1fanSince11 says:

        But Shcumacher’s title in 2000 seemed long overdue – thge expression on his face when he knew he’d won the champinship in 2000 said it all..

        Relief.

        Schumacher knew he was the best driver on track – the only driver on his level was Hakkinen. Schumacher had a frontrunning car in 2000. Alonso can’t and shouldn’t feel the same way as although he may be the best of the current crop I personally believe if he’d been teammates with Schumacher in 1995, Schu would have beaten him hands down and Ferrari have not been top class since the regulation changes in 2009..

        My opinion – Ferrari should have a car that is on a level with the best cars and Alonso should be winning this title by superior driving. This is from a Hamilton fan who’s once again not supporting Mclaren, they are just as english as Mercedes Brackley (Bruce was an Aussie,) and Lotus and they are less English than Williams

      8. nino says:

        This year is not over yet!

      9. KRB says:

        Schumi’s gap between titles was 5 seasons (i.e. he won again in the 5th season after the winning season). The biggest gap between championships is six contested seasons, with both Brabham and Graham Hill both winning again six seasons after the preceding championship. 2012 represents that sixth season for Alonso since his 2006 triumph.

        Yes, the average age for drivers then was higher, so natural slippage in driving ability was more of a factor then.

        Still, it seems to me that Fernando might not get another chance as good as this in the years ahead. And maybe Vettel wants to move into the Scuderia at the point he knows where Alonso will be feeling the effects of Father Time, etc.

      10. quest says:

        Interestingly Schumacher is the only driver in almost 2 decades to have regained the WDC after a gap.

      11. Pete says:

        different topic

        but maybe of interest to you, James

        there are rumours in Germany, Porsche is preparing to enter F1

        might be worth checking out

        http://www.sport1.de/de/formel1/newspage_625598.html

      12. TheGreatTeflonso says:

        It’s tiresome to hear people say Schumacher dragged Ferrari from nothing. Ferrari were the most, resourced and connected team. They brought a double world champion and key players from the championship team, provided Schumacher with the most dominant car in f1 history, and that led to 5 world titles. Schumacher was good but no God, he was beaten even before he retired, coincidentally twice by Alonso in an even smaller team.

        Many [mod] with no sense love to say Alonso claims he brings 0.6secs to a team, I believe he does, but that was before testing was severely limited as it is now. If it was still open testing i believe Alonso would have at least a 3rd title by now. So don’t compare Ferrari of 1995 to Ferrari of today unless they bring a technical team on the level of Todt, Brawn and Byrne along. Schumacher won most of his titles in a dominant car… Vettel is simply showing how easy it is to win with a dominant car. It’s been done before. Give Alonso a matching car and the title would be at Maranello.

      13. KRB says:

        F1fanSince11, Bruce McLaren was no Aussie, but a Kiwi! Just like how people think Crowded House or Split Enz were Aussie … nope, New Zealanders.

      14. John Z says:

        Travel back to Brazil in 2008 and who on this planet thought Hamilton would not see another championship in 4 years? That drought could very well stretch to 7 years with Mercedes.

      15. Sebee says:

        Well John, that Lewis WDC wasn’t exactly won in dominating fashion. Sorry to a bit rude about it, but Lewis is quite lucky to have gotten it in the first place

      16. Dan says:

        Bruce was a kiwi

      17. KRB says:

        Sebee, that’s b/c it was won in a slower car. The Ferrari that year was faster, and should’ve walked it. Massa DNF’d from the first two races, had his engine blow in Hungary, and then the Singapore fuel attachment, etc.

        Still the last champion from a non-WCC team, and with his teammate down at 7th in the DWC table!

        2008 was another classic year of F1, with many thrills, controversy, and surprises galore. That last lap in Brazil, the last few laps at Spa, Monaco that year, Silverstone that year, great standout races.

        To be honest, as much as the unpredictable nature of this season has been fun, there hasn’t been any race that’s wowed me like races in past seasons.

      18. Sebee says:

        KRB,

        That last lap from 2008 was simply the most unbelievable lap in modern F1 history I think.

        Just think of how that played out. I just got 3 waves of chills thinking about it. I honestly thought I was going to hit the ceiling as this was happening. I could smiply not believe the highs and lows in the 90 seconds or so that occured in that last lap of Brazil 2008. To be honest at that point in my view it was a coinflip. Just because Massa won 6 vs. 5 he had me in his corner. And the fact that he won Interlagos as well. I just didn’t feel it was satisfying enough to have Hamilton stumble to the finish line in 5th and claim the WDC just because of a slowing Toyota. It was not sufficient in my view. But indeed, your points about his year are valid.

        What a lap that last lap was! You could feel the hair standing on Martin’s head. The perfect edits and cut aways. Ferrari crosses the line, Massa Sr. hugging everyone. Hamilton back. Toyota is slowing. Can Lewis pass. WOW. Simply the most dramatic lap in F1 history. PERIOD. I needed a few minutes rest after it was over.

  7. Egal says:

    With the pitlane agog with rumours (especially after LH move) this is the ideal time to throw a smoke bomb in. Which is, as James describes, what has happened.

    Make RB concentrate on fielding enquiries etc and not on the cars and winning. Got to love the whole of F1 haven’t you?!!

  8. thejudge13 says:

    Good to see common sense prevails. This was a spurious story at best and old news if not wrong news (as I wrote first thing today http://wp.me/p2HWOP-bq)

    Anyone who knows the history of Ferrari F1 will understand they have had plethora of -recontacts/understandings that have never taken place.

    The most well know is Alan Jones in 1978. Ferrari wanted an American driver to assist with their car sales profile in the USA. They targeted Mario Andretti, but Lotus pulled a coup and landed his services for 1979.

    Jones was then given a contract/understanding document and apparently only upon landing in Italy did he find out that Ferrari had since signed Gilles Villeneuve.

    Jones lucked in however, Frank Williams gave him a drive and the era of ‘ground effect’ was at its inception. With a dominant car, Alan Jones won the 1980 WDC title

    1. Mike says:

      Always thought Alan Jones was Australian

      1. KRB says:

        He is! And Andretti won the DWC with Lotus in ’78.

  9. Any chance that we can find out who the ‘whisperer’ might be?

    1. Doug says:

      ..so that someone can put him out of his misery!
      Honestly, Horse Whisperer..Horses A!se more like!
      I’m sorry, I find this ‘playing dress up’ cloak & dagger stuff boring & infantile. Surely Ferrari can either speak or stay silent…I don’t find Mr. Donkey Whisperer very F1.

      1. Wade Parmino says:

        I agree. Enough of this ‘Deepthroat’ BS.

    2. Wilma the Great says:

      Keep on reading this blog and you might eventually find out :)

    3. AndyFov says:

      My money’s on Luca Colajanni.

      Neigh!

  10. alexthelesser says:

    Good to see common sense prevails. This was a spurious story at best and old news if not wrong news (as I wrote first thing today http://wp.me/p2HWOP-bq)

    Anyone who knows the history of Ferrari F1 will understand they have had plethora of -recontacts/understandings that have never taken place.

    The most well know is Alan Jones in 1978. Ferrari wanted an American driver to assist with their car sales profile in the USA. They targeted Mario Andretti, but Lotus pulled a coup and landed his services for 1979.

    Jones was then given a contract/understanding document and apparently only upon landing in Italy did he find out that Ferrari had since signed Gilles Villeneuve.

    Jones lucked in however, Frank Williams gave him a drive and the era of ‘ground effect’ was at its inception. With a dominant car, Alan Jones won the 1980 WDC title

    1. James Allen says:

      Jones is Australian??

      1. Doug says:

        :-D

        Your best ever post! :-)

      2. Andrew Halliday says:

        Alex is right on this one, maybe just worded it confusingly. Alan Jones tells the story on the Sky F1 Legends show where Ferrari wanted a North American but signed a contract with Jones on the understanding that it would not stand should they sign a North American. When Jones heard they hadn’t signed Andretti he called Ferrari only to be told they’d signed another ‘North American’ (Canadian), Gilles Villeneuve. Jones was subsequently told to stick his contract “Where the sun don’t shine!” (his words!)

      3. alexthelesser says:

        They missed out on Andretti (American)so having no driver they signed Jones instead. They then decided a North American would be sufficient for their desired increase in profile across the pond, so they signed a Canadian.

      4. SDA says:

        Jones, according to an interview he did with Sky for their F1 Legends series, was the fallback if they didn’t get a North American.

        He thought he’d got the drive when Ferrari didn’t get Andretti but then they tore up his deal when they signed Villeneuve.

        Or as Jones put it: “They (Ferrari) told me to stick the contract where the sun doesn’t shine.”

      5. StGeorge says:

        Glad I wasn’t the only one thinking that!

      6. colin grayson says:

        maybe ferrari thought OZ was part of the USA ? lol

      7. nino says:

        Normally Americans are very good at not knowing geography….
        it is a well known fact.

      8. colin grayson says:

        that’s as maybe …but what has it to do with italians not knowing where OZ is ?

  11. Spencer says:

    I would be very surprised if Vettel moves to Ferrari in 2014.

    The F1 cars that Ferrari have built in the last years haven’t exactly set the world on fire. Although I’m an Alonso fan he only played a role in 2010 because of the many Red Bull failures. This year the only reason is his consistency when other teams have dropped the ball.

    In the last 3 races normal service has been resumed at Red Bull and look at the standings. Surely Sebastian knows that if Adrian Newey stays on board for a few more years he has the best chance to win more WDC’s with Red Bull than Ferrari.

    He’ll easily win the WDC this year if his car doesn’t break down and there’s no reason why he can’t challenge again next year. He can have 4 WDC’s in the bag, stay with Red Bull in 2014 to see how performance shifts between teams due to new regulations and he’ll have first pick should he want to change teams in 2015.

    He’s still very young, there’s plenty of time to join Ferrari at a later stage in his career.

    1. Adelaide says:

      I totally agree. Only if Newey went to Ferrari should Vettel think about going there. If Newey leaves F1 altogether Vettel should check his options.

      BTW, McLaren is in a very big need of a world class No.1 racing driver. In my opinion…Checo & JB just don’t cut it. (Hopefully they’ll prove me wrong.)

  12. Sebee says:

    There is only one thing to say boys and girls:

    ENJOY THE REST OF 2012 TO THE FULLEST!

    It is by far the last time you will have such a competitive grid, so many winners, so much back and forth. 2013 is going to be much more routine. It will be Vettel vs. Alonso in 2013. With minimal rule changes a well developed car into end of this year will mean a head start in 2013. And as you can clearly see with Mercedes and Lotus moving backwards – 2013 = Red Bull vs. Ferrari once again.

    As for Vettel at Ferrari wiht no “two roosters in the hen house” talk, well, to that I say – maybe Alonso won’t be there! After 4 years of not getting it done, the very least Ferrari will wish to do is to disarm the competitor who will by then level them 4 times in a row of it’s #1 weapon. Or so they can hope.

    Vettel with 4 WDCs by then can write his own ticket at Ferrari. IF (a BIG one) he wants to be at Ferrari in the first place. Not like Mr. Red Bull is low on resources to pay salaries. He can pay a dude to jump from space, he can pay Vettel to not leave the best card on the grid.

    1. Craig D says:

      Ha Ferrari to get rid of Alonoso?! Nice one, sure!

      Ferrari’s lack of Championship success has nothing to do with Alonso.

      1. Sebee says:

        May I remind you that Kimi himself was paid off to leave Ferrari? It’s not beyond Ferrari to thank a driver for their services and send them on their way. Even if it costs $30M.

        Seems like Alonso should get at least one WDC, but as I said before, I’m losing no sleep over his lack of WDCs with Ferrari.

        Now forgive me while I go to pick up a 6 pack or Red Bull. I don’t drink the stuff, but I feel I need to help the RBR budget to help Seb wrap this WDC up. After all, we share a first name. :-)

  13. Tomys says:

    James. Your sources at Ferrari also said Massa is out for 2013.

    But I agree exactly with what you have written!

    1. James Allen says:

      Not exactly , I said that the situation was fluid, but it looked that way at the time. They have a Force India driver under option. I think it’s Hulkenberg, which may be connected to his mooted Sauber move now.

      I think there have been a number of possible 2013 scenarios for the second Ferrari at various points during this year – that’s how ‘fluid’ it has been!

      1. Edmundo Gonzalez says:

        Any way to know if Kobayashi is joining him at Sauber?

      2. ttwan says:

        I think Massa’s problem is he needs a lot longer than Alonso to get used to a new car. With him performing strongly and had good grip on the car, strongly believe Ferrari will keep him for 2013 which he will drive similar car. Yes, it is very fluid and I think he had fought well to keep his seat.

      3. Phil says:

        Has Hulkenberg found some money? Or is the connection a cheaper engine bill? Either way a great deal for Sauber.

      4. f1fan1 says:

        James, how good is Hülkenberg?

      5. James Allen says:

        Very strong driver, as is Di Rest, both capable of winning races in a competitive car.

        HULK is a very laid back character, works hard, good sense of humour, doesn’t get too worked up about things. DIR is more sullen and not everyone at Force India enjoys working with him.

        I’m not sure either of them is a Vettel or a Hamilton, but they can both have a career like Gerhard Berger, why not?

      6. Peter C says:

        Sullen or introverted?

        They don’t get enough sun in Scotland.

      7. Monza01 says:

        A very interesting comment on the two Force India drivers : it gives real insight into the dynamic within the team.

        It certainly looks like Hulk may be on the move but it would be unfortunate of it were to Sauber at KK’s expense.

        As for Vettel to Ferrari, I agree, for 2014 it would not be a good move for Vettel, Alonso or the team for all the reasons stated.

        Stefano Domenicali is an immensely likeable guy but I don’t think he is tough enough to manage Vettel and Alonso in the same team.

        Seb is a knowledgeable student of F1 history so I’m quite certain that he would want to be on the honour board as the winner of least one WDC with Ferrari.

        I can easily see a situation in a couple of years time when, after winning a third championship, Alonso is “encouraged” to retire before the end of his current contract in favour of a younger Sebastian Vettel.

  14. Andrew M says:

    I don’t know if the story will come to pass or not, but I really hope it does. It might just be me but some of the interviews he’s given recently seem to show Vettel is becoming a bit sensitive to the feeling that he’s some kind of statistics-driven identikit driver who only wins because he has a Newey-designed rocket ship underneath him. Going up against Alonso in equal cars is (arguably) the biggest challenge a driver could give himself at the moment and would earn a lot of respect from a lot of F1 fans.

  15. Steve Ellis says:

    I agree that it makes no sense for Vettel to go to Ferrari with Alonso there but it would solidify his reputation if he took Alonso on and won. Reading all the poster’s comments on other sites seems to indicate that Vettel is not held in high regard (an opinion not shared by myself)and that he has been leading a charmed life in F1.

    Of course if he lost, those opinions would be almost certainly confirmed. It’s definitely a risk.

  16. Andrew Halliday says:

    I’m guessing the identity of the Horse Whisperer will remain a mystery but my guess is Luca Colajanni…

  17. Rob Newman says:

    Vettel must be a real nut case if he opt to join Ferrari in 2014. Ferrari’s philosophy is to always have a number one driver and Vettel is not someone who will play second fiddle to someone who has achieved nothing in the past 5 or 6 years. Any self respecting driver will not join Ferrari to play brides maid to Alonso unless he is desperate like Massa for a race seat.

    As JA has rightly pointed out, this is to destabilise Red Bull and Vettel at a crucial stage. The mind games have begun.

    1. Dan says:

      Hey rob you fail to understand that playing second fiddle is not a choice, its the result of getting thrashed by Alonso. Massa did not decide to be consistently much slower than Alonso, so stop the nonsense propoganda.

      If vettel is fast enough he will be able to fight alonso just like massa did with kimi.

  18. Alex says:

    Great article James, Vettel should stay at Red Bull as they have made him into the driver he is today. However, his role model is Schumacher and Vettel when wanting to get into F1 will have seen Schumacher at Ferrari and will want to walk in his footsteps.

  19. Eric says:

    What are Adrian Newey’s plans then?

    1. MichaelG says:

      I think that’s a key question. I’d love to hear James’ views on Newey’s long-term plans. I remember reading that Newey doesn’t fancy living in Italy, so there’s not much chance of him moving to Ferrari with Vettel (if there’s any credence to the Vettel to Ferrari move). Is Newey committed to RB contractually for the long-term?

    2. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      Full time E-type racing :)

      1. Dino says:

        Oh! I thought it would be a GT-40!

        ;)

    3. Wade Parmino says:

      Newey F1 Team. ;)

      1. Bluefroggle says:

        James,

        I believe all of the newer the current F1 teams are revolutionised from previous teams. Eg Red Bull was previously Jaguar.

        Is there any reason why somebody like Adrian Newey, given his experience, contacts and winning history, could not start a brand new team completely from scratch with new premises, manufacturing equipment, poach all the best design engineers etc? i.e. He would have no trouble getting sponsorship money to do this and then just simply repeat his success within a couple of years in “Newey F1 Team”?

      2. Monza01 says:

        I don’t see Adrian Newey as a wheeler dealer : an essential quality in a team boss. It’s probably the one areas where Ross Braun struggles.

        On the other hand, a move to Ferrari with Vettel would surely be of interest as he would then be the only designer to have worked for all the top teams : Williams, McLaren, Red Bull and Ferrari.

        A desire to remain living in England would not be a barrier either :

        When John Barnard left McLaren to take up the design role at the team for the 1987 season, they set up the aptly named “Guilford Technical Office” : GTO from where he produced some race winning designs. With modern technology, a designer can work anywhere.

        I believe Adrian still prefers to do his work on paper : all he would need is someone to scan the drawings !

  20. Fareed says:

    Here’s one for the conspiracy theorists:
    Vettel has a clause in his contract that says he is free to leave after he wins 3 WDC’s. So at Korea, Ferrari prevented Massa from passing Alonso and challenging the Red Bulls in order to ensure Vettel wins the 2012 WDC and clear the way for him to jump to Ferrari in 2014!
    Also this explains why they refused to sign Perez: they are saving the seat for Vettel.
    Yep it all adds up- Vettel to Ferrari in 2014!!

    1. Sebee says:

      Even I have to say this theory is a long shot. Inter-team conspiracy, and Ferrari throwing Alonso under the bus early?

      But I like the effort! Keep at it. Conspiracy theories are fun.

  21. David says:

    “…to work in harmony both with and for the team”

    Lewis?

  22. Rich C says:

    At the risk of repeating myself, Vettel would be crazy to leave Newey.

    1. Dave Aston says:

      I think Newey would be mad to lose Vettel… he went ten years without a title until Vettel came along…

      1. Sebee says:

        V 1.0 Schumi & Brawn
        V 2.0 Vettel @ Newey

        See any pattern? Ah yes, German driver, British designer. F1 success formula is solved. Spanish driver not part of formula. :-)

      2. MikeyB says:

        Your ‘pattern’ is wrong – Brawn has never been a designer. It was South African Rory Byrne, who designed Schumi’s title-winning Ferraris.

      3. Jay says:

        Brawn is not a designer. lol.

      4. Jay says:

        Brawn did not design the ferrari car.

      5. Sebee says:

        Yes, forgot about that Rory guy. Formula theory wrong. Back to the drawing board for me. I guess German driver is key though. ;-)

  23. Adam says:

    Watch Ferrari add fuel to the fire by annoncing a one year contract for Massa in the coming weeks. Does not make the arrival of Vettel more likely in 2014, just means Ferrari can look around for a new driver in 2014 as a number two or keep the one they have, but it would make RBR question further the relationship with it’s number one driver at a critical time in the year. Maybe Webber will get more equal treatment next year as a result of the distrust!

  24. jake says:

    Why would seb leave RB in 2014? The team is a perfect fit for him, steely determination with a nice sense of humor in a serious sport. Would he get away with the cheeky fastest lap stunts he pulls, at Ferrari or would they just get annoyed with him being childish? He will leave eventually for Ferrari because that is his dream.

    But why leave a team that he has helped created, and which has dominated F1, like how shumi did with Ferrari. Maybe when this dominance ends he will move but I can’t see it before then, he is just a perfect fit with RB and I can’t see him having the same chemistry with the Ferrari team.

    1. Sebee says:

      I really feel Vettel is following schumi mold. But Ferrari mold, not Benetton. He will be with RBR for 10 years. Yes, you read it here first.

  25. StGeorge says:

    James, what’s your take on the BBC publishing the story in the first place? Is it decent bit of headline grabbing (it certainly has got people talking) or genuine story? Is the Whisperer reacting specifically to the Beebs story or just coincidence?

  26. KAlan says:

    James, thanks for a great article, though it leaves as many questions as it answers.

    Firstly, is Luca Badoer the Horse Whisperer? :P Jokes aside, the horse whisperer was taking digs at both, Brazilian and British journalists today.

    Secondly, as for these sources claiming there is some Ferrari-Vettel arrangement, is one of the source Pino Allievi?

    Lastly, I know there is a lot of talk and praise, rightly or wrongly, about how good Vettel is but can he afford to go to Ferrari and up against Alonso with say a 50/50 chance of being beaten. Doesn’t he have more to lose given how much he is praised and if he were to lose out to Alonso; that would be it, no? Alonso cements his place as an all time great, Vettel looks like a driver who won in the best car with only Webber as his competition and good as Webber is, he is no Alonso or Hamilton.

    Vettel is young, he will no doubt be a Ferrari driver one day and win with them but it may not be while Alonso is there i feel.

  27. Finch says:

    If Vettel has talked with Ferrari about a drive in 2014 or later, could that be taken as a sign that he might think Red Bull will be leaving F1 sometime in the next few years?

    1. Probably more likely he expects them to stay and is trying to increase his negotiating position

  28. Nick Hipkin says:

    Hi James, if the Vettel Ferrari rumours are true do you think it could leave Red Bull somewhat exposed on their driver line up? They may regret not signing Hamilton, the webber deal seemed a little short sighted to me

    1. James Allen says:

      If it happened it would be a disaster for Red Bull, of course! Who would they get now that Hamilton has tied himself to Mercedes?

      1. Paul says:

        There’s only one man: Kimi Raikkonen. It is a perfect fit.

      2. Thompson says:

        I’m sure the drinks company could buy him out of the Merc contract

      3. Ed says:

        Buy out JB or Kimi?

      4. Joseph failla says:

        James they can put in Ricciardo ;)

      5. Arnie S says:

        Yep – that could be

      6. Sonniedeebee says:

        Well, if Adrian Newey doesn’t jump ship; and, the Mercedes team fails surely Hamilton could conceivably take the Merc engine to RBR and…

      7. Sebee says:

        Well, well, well, James. Nice of you to remind us that Seb will be in one heck of a negotiating position soon. However, I don’t think he would turn his back on RBR just for sake of a new adventure a la Lewis.

        But if he was to go to Ferrari, I think Seb with most WDCs on the grid should absolutely demand more pay than Alonso. Can Fernando’s ego handle that? Luca obviously thinks it can’t.

      8. Nils Holgersson says:

        The Kimster maybe? As I understand it he’s probably got a deal waiting for another year with Lotus and although it maybe a faster car in 2013, he would certainly fit the RB brand.

        Kimi could be a candidate even if Vettel stays put at RB (which I suspect is the case) to provide a useful yardstick for Vettel when Webber packs it in. Or is RB really committed to signing someone from their junior team?

        As far as Vettel to Ferrari is concerned, as James pointed out there are all sorts of possible variables for an agreement, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a very light mutual understanding that Vettel doesn’t negotiate with other teams without giving Ferrari first refusal.

      9. Rockie says:

        James i dont understand why it would be a disaster for redbull as a lot of commentators on this site say its not Vettels ability its Adrian Newey and the car, so any driver should dominate with it.

      10. Craig D says:

        Yeah, but those commentators are talking nonsense to suggest Vettel isn’t top drawer. It’s not like Webber is a slouch.

      11. Ben says:

        Except Webber, presumably?

      12. KRB says:

        Webber is 36!! He’s not as good as he was, when he was in crap cars.

        Fact is that, thru 14 races this season, when the RB8 was still – over the whole of the season to that point – the best car, but only slightly the best car, enough for RBR to lead the WCC, that Vettel wasn’t leading the DWC.

        Now that the RB8 has been a dominant car in the past two races, Vettel and Webber have driven it to its natural finishing spot (locking out the front row in Jap and Kor; Vettel winning both; Webber 2nd in the race he wasn’t shunted from behind in).

        It’s actually quite instructive.

      13. Andrew Halliday says:

        Could it be one final chance for Webber to have a shot at the title?

      14. Grabyrdy says:

        Presumably there are performance clauses in Lewis’s contract with Mercedes which might give him a get out ?

      15. Mayank says:

        Schumacher wont be a bad Choice :D

        ^^ Although it wont be happening

      16. Chris P says:

        Michael?

      17. Jordan says:

        I could imagine Kimi Raikkonen would be a good choice for 2 years (perhaps his last 2 in F1?) while they transform Daniel Ricciardo or JEV into a team leader. Then that would open the door for someone like Antonio Felix da Costa to be the next up and comer in training.

      18. ed24f1 says:

        Kimi would have to be a target.

      19. Glennb says:

        That could get ‘anyone’. From reading these forums it’s plain to see that VET has won in the best car for 3 years. Very few people here credit VET with any of it, just a vastly superior car, very little driving ability. It therefore stands to reason that ‘anyone’ could/would win in a RB. Personally I’d try and poach Rosberg away from Merc to fill the seat while he still has a modicum of confidence left. Failing that I’d be talking to Felipe.

      20. Jay says:

        Vettel was not driving the redbull car alone, he had a teammate, so, why did the teammate not win?

      21. Eoin Leonard says:

        A certain Finnish Ice-cream fan…

      22. Racyboy says:

        Isn’t that why RB have a young driver program?

        Over the past few years it’s Ferrari who have been exposed as shortsighted when it comes to drivers.

      23. Racyboy says:

        Isn’t that why RB have a young driver program?
        Since Massa’s accident, it’s Ferrari who have been exposed as shortsighted when it comes to drivers.

      24. Antonio says:

        Kimi comes to mind – perhaps diresta or hulk by that point?

      25. Phil says:

        Are either of the Torro Rosso guys considered highly enough for a promotion to the race team? I don’t see it myself but….

      26. Matthew Conolly says:

        There is always Kimi

      27. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

        Kimi!

      28. andre says:

        maybe they could get alonso.

      29. Hutch says:

        Ricciardo, WDC 2015

      30. Eric says:

        How about Raikkonen ?

      31. Phil Too says:

        Alonso may not want to race against Vettel. So a possible swap between Vettel and Alonso for 2015?

      32. tom in adelaide says:

        Dan Ricciardo. Seriously. I’d swap him and Webber tomorrow if I could.

      33. Timmay says:

        Kimi Raikkonen to Red Bull in 2014

      34. nino says:

        Kimi would do at RB.

      35. Pulkit Tripathi says:

        A certain Mr. Kimi

      36. Craig in Singapore says:

        Kimi, of course.

      37. Ryan Eckford says:

        Hope that Ricciardo or Vergne come good. What do you think about this, James?

      38. James Allen says:

        I think RIC looks pretty good, not sure about Vergne yet. But it’s a massive step to lead a WC winning team

      39. KRB says:

        I think RIC could give VET problems. I think it’s an injustice that VER is higher in the table than him.

      40. John Z says:

        No, Red Bull would have plenty of options. They wouldn”t have much difficulty getting Raikonnen from Lotus. Kimi is one of the best on the grid. He can shine brightly at Red Bull.

      41. Cakes says:

        Kimi Raikkonen is a perfect match for Red Bull and perfectly capable of winning the championship if they produce a good car. Just look at what he has done this year. He is ahead of Hamilton and Button who have arguably had the fastest car this year and Webber in the 2nd Red Bull (who havent been as quick as McLaren until the last 3 races but still faster than the Lotus)

      42. Dave Aston says:

        Kobayashi.

      43. Sebee says:

        Sir, I would like to award you the official JAonF1 Dreamer Award. It is given to the most optimistic and joyful comment which brings smiles to JAonF1 readers faces. Also to Kobayashi’s.

      44. Breezy says:

        or as Button said Kobacrashi

      45. Nick Hipkin says:

        You have to say James that Hulk will be in a very strong position for 2014, likely to take the seat that Vettel doesnt, be it Ferrari or Red Bull.

        As for Ricciardo he still has some way to go but could end up at Red Bull, but not as a lead driver.

        I really think Red Bull missed the boat with Hamilton for next year

    2. Racyboy says:

      Surely that’s why RedBull have a young driver programme.

      Ferrari exposed themselves as short-sighted after Massa’s accident.

  29. Tay says:

    The consistency between the Eddie Jordan’s Hamilton-to-Merc headline and fact was a 50/50 coincidence that worked in his favor. Nothing more. It only detracted from the BBC’s commentary credibility. The BBC’s F1 commentary is starting to torture the facts and that is leading to tabloid-esque headlines.

  30. Thompson says:

    Vettle to Ferrari… makes no sense.

    In all Objectivity they lucked into leading this years WDC… thats over now. The Brawn/Todt years was a golden era the likes of which they’ll never see again – its like the Williams/Renault/Newey years and this current Redbull/Renault/Newey era.

    When I started getting into F1 (the Mansell Williams/Renault years Ferrari were a really rubbish middfield team, considering at no point have they had a good/dominate car over the years (brawn/Todt era excluded)I cannot for the life of me see why people think moving to Ferrari is a positive thing

    Unlike Mclaren who are becoming more incompotent by the seasons (Kimi, Hamilton who should have but did not win multple titles due to imcomptence) RedBull are on it – If Vettle wants to re-write history he is in the right place right now.

  31. Quercus says:

    Seems to me that if Alonso is happy to accept Vettel beside him at Ferrari then it suggests that he knows that in an identical car he (Alonso) will have the better of him (Vettel). I’d like to see that.

    1. DC says:

      Just can’t see it happening. Not Alonso accepting Vettel alongside, not Ferrari accepting two drivers racing each other. As I said elsewhere, it’s not their modus operandi to have 2 roosters, as their boss put it.

  32. Darren says:

    If Vettel did move to Ferrari then Hamilton would be kicking himself for missing the Red Bull seat and comitting to Mercedes.

  33. Grabyrdy says:

    I was suspicious of the Beeb story when they said Alonso had agreed to Vettel coming to Ferrari. I just can’t see it.

    For the rest, well, it adds to the gaiety of the F1 nation, doesn’t it ? Vettel’s a romantic, with a keen sense of F1 history, unlike most of the other drivers. Of course he wants to drive for Ferrari – one day.

  34. J says:

    Possibly the most astute analysis of the situation I’ve heard – better even than Joe Saward’s blog. More like this, please: politics and sport – what better?!

  35. PWRocketS says:

    Other than Ferrari and the Vettel [mod]. Why is everybody still trying to convince Vettel that he is a lesser driver than Alonso? Other than some “Adrian Newey related reliability issues” I see very little weakness in Vettel’s driving.

    Vettel may decide to drive for Ferrari just for the prestige, but I doubt that Alonso can beat Vettel if Ferrari gives both drivers equal #1 status. Alonso may be slightly more consistent, he will have a hard time to deal with Vettel’s devastating raw pace. Tifosi will all root for Vettel (or sould I say Villeneuve with a finger?) because he’s a likeable guy that enjoys winning.

    It’s not difficult to visualize Vettel drives away from pole while his teammate Alonso qualifies third and got hit by (insert a name here) at turn 1 …

  36. mael says:

    It’s more likely Webber will be driving for Ferrari than Vettel in 2014.

    I feel he would have been there next year if he wasn’t in the hunt for a title earlier in the year.

  37. Racyboy says:

    Having trouble posting here…3 strikes, I’m out.

    I bet this one works

    1. James Allen says:

      You went to spam! Sorry about that.

  38. Feral says:

    Seb is way too comfy at RB to be going anywhere, just look at his TV interviews of late, you cant shut him up :)

  39. Phil says:

    Don’t know if this is just because of UK bias, Ferrari gravitas or something else, but the way it is being handled of a star driver going to a lesser team (recent history at least) is so much better than the way Hamilton/XIX Management did his move to Merc.

  40. Davexxx says:

    I wonder if someone (James?) could try to explain something to me – about a driver (eg Vettel) making some kind of ‘deal’ with another team (eg Ferrari) that might – or might not – take effect in more than 2 years time (eg Vettel going to Ferrari). What’s the point, or advantage, in making any such deal/’understanding’/agreement/contract? Who knows what the driver-merry-go-round situation will be in 2+ years time, so what’s the point in ‘signing’ anything now? Might as well wait until 2 years time, then make a move (or not) as appropriate? Hope you understand my question.

    1. James Allen says:

      Alonso did a deal with McLaren over a year before he went there.

      Makes perfect sense

      1. Peter C says:

        It made terrible sense, but no crystal ball.

      2. Nick Hipkin says:

        It’s Seb covering his bases for who he thinks will be in the strongest position for 2014.

        Also if he has 3-4 titles by then well why not go to Ferrari? Schumy has his ear and relayed stories of his time there and what it means driving for Ferrari, the history of it. Seb loves that kind of thing!

    2. Anil says:

      It’s to guarantee you a good seat for the future, getting your name ahead of the pack etc.

  41. Sensei.GT says:

    Vettel ain’t going nowhere unless he takes Newey with him. He would be a fool to do otherwise, and I don’t think he’s a fool.

  42. Craig in Manila says:

    Perhaps Ferrari are looking at the wrong “redbull” driver.
    Dan Ricciardo from TR-Ferrari is the nearest thing to an Italian in F1 at moment and would be a nice fit to (1) replace Massa and (2) not upset Alonso too much.

    1. von zipp says:

      This.

      It’s a good fit – Italian heritage, coming from a team with Ferrari engines, having driving ability and smarts. Wont piss off the Fonz either.

    2. Denis 68 says:

      Craig

      The fact that Ricciardo is nearest thing to an Italian driver in F1 at the moment (along with Di Resta) will work against him as Ferrari have never wanted anything to do with Italian drivers.

      1. Andrew Halliday says:

        Apart from Ascari, Farina, Alboreto, Andretti, Fisichella, Badoer….

      2. Peter C says:

        Perhaps the more recent (say 20 years) reason would be when they looked at Fisi & Badoers results?
        As for Andretti, hardly an Italian, unless his father drove for them.

        Was Frank Sinatra quick?

      3. Andrew Halliday says:

        Agreed Fisi & Badoer were extremely disappointing in what was a difficult car to drive. As for Andretti, being born in Italy to Italian parents – what more do you need to be counted as Italian?

  43. andre says:

    vettel is definetely going to ferrari in 2014. it’s going to happen because alonso will retire by the end of the next season. that is my guess.

    1. Dave Aston says:

      Isn’t he… 30 or something? Why would he quit?

      1. andre says:

        because it is difficult to deal with so much pressure for so much time. 10 years being a F1 driver must be enough for him. i believe he is still there only because he wants so much his third title. but that is just my guess.

  44. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – given your excellent Schumacher biography I think you will appreciate that the goal posts have shifted for how drivers are measured against their historical peers.

    Schumacher reset these by creating a legend (rightly or wrongly – depending on who you think contributed most to the resurgence of the team) about not only winning multiple WDCs but also about rebuilding a team. I think the current generation of top drivers realise that winning isn’t the only benchmark anymore. Stepping into the best car (which Hamiton could have been accused of) also doesn’t help your “legend”. This is why some of the top drivers are chosing this path. Vettel could win 20 titles at RBR, but so long as Adrian Newey Snr is there, he will never get full recognition of his place in the “car adjusted” driver standings.

    After all, when you have a field full of past/current WDCs how are you going to be able to say who was best when you’re sharing a beer at the drivers club in Monaco in 10-20 years time?

  45. Sergio says:

    What do you think Vettel prefers to hear and read?

    Vettel wins another GP with RedBull, or
    Ferrari wins another GP with Vettel.

    1. Anil says:

      Or how about ‘vettel wins the championship for Ferrari’

      That’s as good as they come :)

  46. forzaminardi says:

    All this is supposing that Alonso will still be racing in 2014. Maybe he’s thinking of chucking in the towel after next year?

    1. Lynn says:

      Could be & running away with his new bride!

    2. James Clayton says:

      Why would he have signed until 2016 if that was the case?

  47. Elie says:

    I don’t pay much attention to anything coming out of Ferrari off the track. They have the worst ideology in F1 despite their history and great successes. I really don’t see Vettel leaving Red Bull before 2014 and surely as a German beyond that – If( a big If) Mercedes are competitive with the new regs that is another team he can dominate in!. Even though I would like anyone to beat Fernando and I think anyone of 3 people (Vettel, Hamilton & Raikkonen ) are a match for him.

    As for 2013 – I think it will be just as compettive as this year. Teams like Sauber , Williams , Mercedes and Lotus have a few more things to improve and I see them taking another step next year. Will it be enough To beat RBR -Maybe not but certainly see them getting closer.

  48. McHarg123 says:

    Kimi’s always an option

  49. Dan says:

    I hope Vettel goes to Ferrari where he will get exposed, and the hype train derailed. Everyone talks about how good he is, but seemingly forgetting that with a FAR superior car, and equal number of dnf’s he is only leading Alonso by 6 points after 16 races. Just imagine if Alonso has been driving a redbull this year?

    Vettels qualifying is also overrated. Out qualified by a 36 year old journeyman 7 times this year, the same amount Alonso has been out qualified in the last 5 years. I dont think they are even comparable as drivers. Vettel is just another Mika. Good driver flattered by dominant machinery.

    1. Brad says:

      The reasons of anti-Vettel or Alonso fans as to why Vettel is’nt good is becoming hilarious…

      Now Mika, what a driver, he’s even been voted as the best competitor driver by Schumie he ever had.

      Learn to accept greatness, or dismiss it t your ow peril….

    2. Dave Aston says:

      Ferrari should take Vettel; maybe he can win a championship for them… Alonso probably won’t manage it this year; again. With all that budget, experience and expertise, they should dominate, but haven’t won one since Kimi took advantage of the remnants of the Michael era. Maybe Alonso would be a good number two to Vettel?

      1. KAlan says:

        I wonder if you watch the same F1 as the rest of us.

        We don’t know whether Ferrari is taking Vettel or not but what i do know is that it’s a much more level playing field these days. Using cliches like ” the massive resources, so much money, a huge budget, expertise etc ” well, there is RRA and Red Bull is the team accused of breaking it.

        Ferrari’s strength was always ” testing ” almost endless testing. Not many teams can open the back door of their factory and walk onto their own test track. That is all history now, no in-season testing and limited pre-season testing. There is no Bridgestone to design Ferrari specific tyres as it happened during the tyre war. As Schumacher would vouch for it, Ross Brawn isn’t such a magician as we all thought he was, now that he does not have Rory Byrne, who to me was the architect and the unsung hero of Schumacher/Ferrari domination.

        Even without all that, Ferrari nearly won in 2008 and again in 2010. They have been close a couple of times, too bad they don’t have Adrian Newey or the man who beat Newey regularly, Rory Byrne.

      2. Sharjeel says:

        Maybe Alonso would be a good number two to Vettel?

        lolz………..now thats funny and non-sensical!

    3. Steve says:

      Somebody get the violin!

  50. AndrewB94 says:

    Does anyone else think that if Vettel were leaving, its because he is covering himself in case Red Bull pull out of F1. I just think how quickly they pulled out of NASCAR. Red Bull might decide that they have won enough and use their resources in something else.

    1. Craig in Manila says:

      Didnt they pullout of Nascar due to (1) lack of success and (2) diminishing target-viewing-audience ?
      Are there any previous examples of a “quit while on top” mentality within any of RB’s sporting enterprises ?

  51. McHarg123 says:

    Sorry James a little of topic.
    Have you heard about Porsche. Total F1 states that they might be joining in the near future. Stating that returning to Le Mans is just a warm up for a crack at F1. Maybe i’m going over the top, but it would be very interesting.

    1. thejudge13 says:

      @ McHArg123

      I read that article apparently syndicated across a number of sites. What was evident was there were no quotes at all from anyone – not even Gerhard – the factory gatekeeper in Stuttgart.

      Having had a 911 recently, I’m sure Porsche have been philosophically obsessed with the flat 6 style of engine, and to build V6′s would be an anathama to them. And they couldn’t have a team without their own engine surely? Maybe a VW (golf gti) collaberation? :)

      Seeing as we’re slightly off topic, NBC have taken over from Speed as the providers of all things F1 to the US of A.

      I fear the for American audience.

      NBC’s announcement to the world that they are now the F1 broadcaster to nearly 300m people in the most powerful nation on earth has some problems. Lead article picture has sub-title underneath “Sebastian Vettel at the South Korean F1 Grand Prix is just one of Formula One’s worldwide events”. Problem is the pic is of Mark Webber http://wp.me/p2HWOP-bq

      Further, as part of their education of the people of the USA in all things F1, they appear not to understand each driver has a team. There is an alphabetic list of all the drivers including the reserve drivers who are not differentiated in any way – no team names – just engine types. http://scores.nbcsports.msnbc.com/nascar/drivers.asp?series=FORM1

      Note in the list, apparently Red Bull reserve driver Buemi has a Ferrari engine – does Adrian know this?

  52. Michael Hutchinson says:

    Actually, the original headline was “Vettel set to join Ferrari in 2014″, which was updated after I had a little debate on twitter with Andrew Benson about it being misleading as nothing was confirmed.

    https://twitter.com/hutchy2570/status/257785863034003456

  53. Jack says:

    I’d rather drive and come 2nd for Ferrari than win endless and monotonous titles for RBR

  54. NomadLand says:

    With Vettel under contract to RB, I’m thinking Kimi may make a return to Ferrari in 2014…..you read it here first! :)

    1. Chromatic says:

      when Luca goes off to be prime minister and deal with the Italian deficit and a messy exit from the common market, and try to take on Angela Merkel, etc ..etc, then, and only then, Kimi can return to Maranello and WIN FOR THEM ANOTHER TITLE or two !!

  55. Koby Fan says:

    Don’t know what the fuss is about…

    More interestingly, Luca’s quote says they still don’t know who is partnering Fernando in 2013!

    I’m sure Vettel has an ‘option letter’ with ferrari for 2014 (I bet Webber and a few other drivers do too…) The options are no doubt conditional on x,y,z so that all the possible scenarios are covered. Anything that they find later wasn’t covered gets counsel from Bernie.

    Vettel will no doubt look for another challenge post-Red Bull, probably Ferrari then Mercedes would look good on the CV…

  56. smellyden says:

    James,

    Off topic, but was wondering what the rumors going round are that who would replace Jake Humphrey? Has Lee Mckenzie got a chance or are the Beeb looking at someone outside of the current team?

  57. CanadaGP says:

    Honda is supposed to be coming back. So Vettel and Kobayashi Honda 2014.

    1. James Clayton says:

      Kobayashi really, really needs Honda to come back! But I doubt they’ll come back as a constructor. Engine manufacturer, maybee.

      Perhaps Sauber with Honda engines?

  58. iceman says:

    Ha, I know what the Horse Whisperer means about the “cut and paste” F1 web sites! I’m sticking with jamesallenonf1 for some real journalism :)

  59. JCA says:

    James, any noise out of McLaren about Vettel? Surely they have to target him now.

    And maybe Vetted has a release clause in his contract if Newey leaves.

  60. F12012 says:

    No doubt that Ferrari are lining up Vettel for the future, but if Red Bull continue on this form for the next few years, then why leave. The best thing about Alonso/Vettel at Ferrari is that Alonso couldn’t handle it, he would be throwing all the toys out of the pram again if vettel beat him, would be great viewing

    As for Hamilton leaving Mclaren, button may think he is making a mistake, but Mclaren can’t even win a title when they do have the best car, the mistakes this year have been shocking for a top team, glad lewis is leaving

  61. F1observer says:

    FERRARI DO NOT NEED VETTEL ANYTIME SOON.

    Whilst it would be entertaining to watch the complete and utter TRAIN CRASH of Alonso and Vettel both driving for Ferrari, I am sure that Monty will NEVER let that happen while he has breath in his body.

    Potentially, Ferrari already have the prefect driver combination in Massa and Alonso (with Massa returning to form quite nicely I might add).

    There are other drivers out there that could do a great job of supporting Alonso without de-stabalising the whole team – which is traditionally what Ferrari want.

  62. Diesel says:

    James, would you elaborate on “But all the evidence from Alonso’s career shows that the one thing he cannot cope with is being beaten in qualifying or a race by a team mate” please?

    1. Steve says:

      Don’t remember him throwing all his toys out of the pram at Mclaren?

      1. Diesel says:

        “All the evidence from Alonso’s career……”. Off the top of my head, if you talk only of his F1 career, he’s partnered Marques who offered no opposition. Fisichella who’s a Grand Prix winner and reasonably quick, although not in Alonso’s league, and there was no problem even though Fisi out-qualified him. Then Trulli, who Briatore admitted was probably quicker over one lap than Alonso and who is a Grand Prix winner, and still no problem. Then Hamilton.
        I accept that Alonso probably under-estimated how quick Hamilton was in 2007 and one of the 2 red-mist moments of his career was in Hungary. But are we saying that 2007 would have been perfect had Alonso not been the only one causing problems?
        I believe it’s on record that he was already being made to feel an outsider the minute that Dennis spoke to him after he got out of the car having won Monaco. Everyone knows that the initial problem in hungary was caused by Hamilton. Then, how would you feel if your team appealed its points penalty but wouldn’t stand behind you about your grid penalty? The only honest thing from Dennis that season was “we were racing Fernando”.
        He then had Piquet and Grosjean, admittedly neither of whom will have worried him. Finally, Massa who spent 20 seconds thinking he was World Champion and who’s won 11 Grand Prix. That’s a decent pedigree, the fact Alonso has destroyed him (to use a Whitmarsh expression only correctly in this context) reflects Alonso’s talent, nothing else.
        Hence the reason for the challenge. I defer to James’ better judgement as I do think he’s a fantastic journalist and source of information although I sense he’s not that enthusiastic about Alonso and would agree the BBC lot that Vettel 8th and Alonso 10 in that list is fair. Quite how beats me, but there you are.

  63. jeroen says:

    James, is the key to this not really what Adrian Newey will do at some point?

    If RB win a 3rd tittle this year, might he not move on after 6 years (although maybe 2014 is key due to rule changes)? do you think he could join a different team? I personally could see Newey go back to McLaren for some unfinished business, back to Williams to help them back on top or who knows team up with Brawn at Merc! But he could go to Ferrari given that engines will once again play a major role 2014 onwards and last time I checked RB do not make those!

    1. James Allen says:

      Ferrari would love to get Newey – but he wants to stay in the UK

    2. Feral says:

      not sure who it was but RB were being interviewed over what v6 they were going to use and joking they said maybe we will build our own:)

  64. James says:

    Vettel to Ferrari in 2014 makes perfect sense. Will it happen? Someone knows. Alonso wants to show he can beat the best while Vettel wants to do likewise.

    Later in the day a couple of lines were added: “But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner insists Vettel will not leave. He told BBC Sport: “Sebastian Vettel, without a shadow of doubt, will be part of the Red Bull Racing team in 2014.”

    The above is an interesting comment. This could mean Vettel is a Red Bull driver on January 1st 2014, then a Ferrari driver thereafter.

    Clause in the contract. Newey leaves F1 after the 2013 season. Maybe. In another article, perhaps on this site, Newey talks about the 2014 aero regs being more restrictive. Apart from the money, why would he want to put such compromises into his designs. He must be getting frustrated, surely?

    Two roosters in the hen house. Maybe 2014 will be a cock fight for the number one status, the loser leaving with the tail between their legs. Contracts mean nothing.

    1. Lynn says:

      Agree, contracts mean nothing, just ask Raikkonen.

  65. LexN says:

    I don’t get all this whining about drivers being stupid to leave a winning team. Drivers have changed teams since racing began and for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it doesn’t work out and their careers peters out and often it does work and they become an even bigger ‘legend’.

    Sure, Vettel has a good car atm and with Newey, chances are the next few Red Bulls will be good. But then, Newey has also produced some dogs so it certainly isn’t a sure thing.

    And how would history evaluate Vettel with 8 titles if he all won them with a Red Bull? Everyone would say it was mostly down to being in the ‘right car’. Schumacher is a legend because he went to Ferrari and became successful. Senna was willing to take on Prost at McLaren, leaving Lotus where he was cherished like a god. Berger was willing to do the same at McLaren against Senna. Prost took on Mansell at Ferrari, then the favoured child. Piquet went to Williams from Brabham and complete #1 status. Clark remained a Lotus guy and he hardly features as a legend because of it IMO. And don’t let me start on Fangio.

    Practically all the F1 greats have changed teams during their careers but the perceived wisdom of many posters here is that you should never leave a winning team…..Wonder who is right?

    1. 69bhp says:

      Clark is not a legend?

      1. KRB says:

        A crazy statement from LexN. Clark is a true legend. He would’ve won more titles were he not cut down while still in his prime.

    2. Cosmo says:

      Your examples go back to the period of F1 where the driver had much more of an impact on the outcome of a race. Consider the last 20 years, when the dominance of the car eclipses to a great extent the driver, and only one WDC winner has ever moved teams and gone on to win another title.

    3. CanadaGP says:

      Jim Clark not a legend? How old are you? I started watching F1 in the mid-60s and at that time there was unanimous agreement among GP drivers and journalists that Clark was the phenom of the era. Senna before there was a Senna. Today he is still considered up there with Fangio, Stewart and the younger boys. He had legendary drives in non-Lotus cars including Ford Falcons and even a NASCAR race in an oval. He dominated the Indy 500 whenever he competed there. His only fault was the fragility of Colin Chapman’s inventive devices. (The Newey of his era?)

      1. LexN says:

        Well, I am 45 and have followed F1 since 1982 so that’s 30 years. And yes, Clark was good but I have never seen him named in any top 3 of the best drivers. After all, he lacks the defining aspects for such elevated status: equally strong competition and the ability to win titles in multiple teams instead of ‘lucking’ into a good car/team and then staying there forever.

      2. 69bhp says:

        could you pls enlighten us as to who it is that has decreed that winning titles in multiple teams is a “defining aspect” of legend status?

        Guess by your logic Senna isn’t a legend either since he only won his titles with McLaren.

      3. KRB says:

        The Times named Clark as the best F1 driver in their list of the Top 50 F1 drivers, in 2009.

        Clark holds the record for number of Grand Slams (pole, win, fastest lap, led every lap), with 8 from 76 starts. Also holds the record for the percentage of laps led in a season, and highest percentage of championship points attained (100%, though this was in an era where only your best x of y results thru the year counted for the championship). He is third all-time in win percentage (34.25%) behind only Fangio and Ascari, though with more starts and wins. He is 2nd all-time in pole percentage (45.21%), just behind Fangio.

        Clark had John Surtees, Graham Hill as teammates at Lotus thru the years. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that had he not died that Clark would’ve won in 1968. And of course he had horrible luck in the final race of 1964, when he was on track to win the title.

        You just have to see what other big drivers of the time (I’m thinking Jackie Stewart) had to say about him. It’s clear that David Hobbs on Speed regards him as one of the best ever.

    4. Steve says:

      I don’t suppose you have considered that there might be no “right” answer?

      Tying yourself indefinitely to a team just because they are winning now is of course foolish, but so is leaving for the sake of it if you can’t see the potential to become a winner in a team that you might be going to.

      While many of your examples are relevant, and I don’t doubt that Seb will eventually drive elsewhere (though not convinced it will be Ferrari in 2014), I think if anyone somehow cobbles together 8 titles nobody will give a rats down the line if they did them all with the same team or not.

  66. Gord says:

    I could be wrong, but I believe Ferrari were vehemently denying that they signed Alonso, up until the day that they announced it.

  67. Johnny Benerba says:

    At least it’s an interesting story. Vettels clause in his contract makes speculation completely valid for the next 2 years. Whether he did it as a move to prepare for Ferrari or as a contract bargaining chip, we won’t know for a while longer.

  68. Sharjeel says:

    Hi james, i think vettel may go there in 2015, if i just read following 2 para from your column together

    “Ferrari sources say they already have a deal in place with double world champion Vettel, with an option for the 25-year-old to join them in 2014″
    “Sebastian Vettel, without a shadow of doubt, will be part of the Red Bull Racing team in 2014.”
    it seems almost everybody is fixed on 2014 vettel move, why it cant be 2015? as vettel’s contract expires at end of 2014

  69. Jey says:

    With Ferrari confirming Massa only until the end of 2013,the rumours on Vettel wont die down soon

    1. Sebee says:

      Once Seb has 4 WDCs, Alonso will not “agree” to have him as a team mate. After all, Alonso is so almighty only with his blessing can anything get done in modern F1. Right?

      Vettel is not leaving RBR. He would be more nuts. More nuts than Lewis was leaving McLaren. (This statement to be re-evaluated in 3 years time).

  70. Ritchie Hicks says:

    Can’t believe the fuss about this to be honest – the only winner from this is Vettel. RBR have fashioned the team around him and they won’t want to lose him. The “deal” is nothing more than a trump card for his contract renewal – which will probably see him as the highest grossing F1 driver in history when it is agreed.

  71. Chromatic says:

    James, do you think there may be a subtle campaign behind the scenes at Ferrari to put some pressure on Alonso?

    How does Luca’s comment that you reported here not long ago, about “First Alonso has to win a title, then we won’t bring in a driver who will bother him” … how does that relate to this article, in your view? any connection, or none at all?

  72. Marybeth says:

    Perhaps what the “Whisperer” isn’t saying is that Vettel will be replacing Alonso. FA has not won the championship. LdM said a week or so ago the FA will have a say on teammate if he wins the championship…?

  73. FernanDino says:

    It’s normal practice to say, we haven’t signed anyone yet for 2014. But if it were true, they still would not reveal secrets early.
    The point here is that, if it were to happen (Alonso & Vettel) it would be a major departure from Ferrari practice for over 40 years where they always had 1,5 pilots. Sometimes 1,25.
    Vettel has admitted to dreaming of Red Cars at night. With or without Fernando, it will happen some day! Make bets only about which year.

  74. Lawrence says:

    Hi, does anyone know how to follow the Horse Whisperer’s blog? :)

    1. Angelina says:

      You make a lot more sense than other 250+ comments before urs. :D

      1. Lawrence says:

        Haha, I think I found it on my own but whatever I read didn’t make any sense. Maybe something was lost in translation or maybe the Horse Whisperer was having a vodka and Red Bull.

  75. Angelina says:

    James
    People keep saying Vettel is too young and has plenty of time to join Ferrari. But Vettel will be 26-27 in 2014 , the same age as Schumi when he joined Ferrari but with much more exp and double the titles (at that age).

    I think that’s the right time to join Ferrari. Ferrari anyways replaces drivers when they turn around 35. Maybe Seb Vettel shud return to Redbull after 10 yrs with Ferrari. That way he will always be clear no.1, and won’t have a competitive teammate.

  76. Angelina says:

    James
    BTW can u imagine Vettel, Hulkenberg as teammates either in rbr or ferrari ffrom 2014 onwards? I can.

  77. Paul says:

    Vettel isn’t going to Ferrari. If there is a contract, it has conditions meaning it almost certainly won’t take effect (e.g. RB come lower than 4th next year, etc.)

    This whole thing is purely designed to make Alonso and Vettel look better. Alonso vetoes Hamilton as teammate, looks like he only wants 2nd rate teammates, so raise some story about him approving of Vettel coming in, even though we all know it will never happen. Vettel too gets some kudos for looking like he’s prepared to leave best car on grid and 2nd rate teammate of his own to go head to head with Alonso.

    IT WILL NOT HAPPEN.

    Neither of these guys has the balls for it, unfortunately, as it would be great viewing and would only enhance my opinion of both.

    When it doesn’t come off, both will voice disappointment and carry on with 2nd rate teammates happy in the knowledge they are safe as number ones and will hoover up all their team’s points.

  78. Angelina says:

    +1
    But that might be possible in 2015 when Vettel clearly has no contract. Ofcourse only if Vettel thinks he can win races and c’ship with Ferrari and possibly Ferrari will throw all their resources on Vettel alone.

  79. all revved-up says:

    Conspiracy Theory Alert:

    Horse Whisperer is FA.

    As soon as Vettel is lured by romance to join Ferrari – FA will jump into a Red Bull with his good friend Webber – and sweep up WDCs.

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Multi award winning Formula One photographer
Multi award winning Formula One photographer