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Mind games aplenty as Vettel defends his record
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Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Nov 2012   |  1:45 pm GMT  |  201 comments

It was inevitable that in the run up to the World championship showdown there would be mind games between rivals but so far Sebastian Vettel, who has the 13 point advantage over Fernando Alonso, has been the one on the back foot.

Alonso has been banging the drum lately about racing Red Bull design guru Adrian Newey, suggesting that Newey’s contribution is the more significant, “At the moment we are not fighting against Sebastian only,” he said in India. “We are also fighting against Newey let’s say.

“It is not so easy to fight, especially on Saturday, but on Sunday we are normally more competitive.” He reiterated this theme in Austin last weekend. The pattern of weak single lap Ferrari pace has continued with Alonso qualifying seventh in Abu Dhabi and 9th in Austin.

Alonso has also recently talked up Hamilton as his main rival, further undermining the status of the German, against whom he has now fought for the title in two of the last three years.

The prospect of Vettel being a three times world champion at 25 after only 101 Grands Prix, highlights the astonishing performance that he and Red Bull have achieved. Is it too much too soon to be credible, as his detractors would claim? Or is it just an example of driver and team in perfect harmony?

When a question about this came up this weekend, that he is where he is because he has had the best car, he was forced to defend himself, psychologically on the back foot, where Alonso wants to try to keep him,

“If you look back, I don’t know how far, but as far as I can look back, I think there was never people really successful in a really bad car,” he said.

“I think it’s a natural thing to happen that one day you have strong drivers in a strong team so you end up with a strong combination and then obviously that is difficult to beat.

“I think it’s natural to start in a weaker car..in my case I started with the BMW, replacing Robert (Kubica) for one race and then afterwards I got the seat in Toro Rosso, which at the time was not a very competitive car but I think we did a very good job and even won a race.. and obviously after that to step up to Red Bull Racing and 2009 was a great and fantastic season for myself, for the team, for the first time to be competitive, finishing on the podiums, win races, so I think it was a fairly normal way that I went.”

It didn’t help that one of Vettel’s closest allies in F1, Bernie Ecclestone, was quoted in the German media saying that he lacked charisma, compared to drivers of the past. Vettel was able to bat that away with humour.

In a later media session, Vettel paid tribute to Alonso as “one of the best drivers, who always gets the maximum out of the car,” but he will be focussed on doing his talking on the track. Red Bull has won this race for the last three years and in dry conditions Vettel should have no problem on Saturday and Sunday getting the fourth place he needs to clinch the title.

But with heavy rain forecast from Saturday night and set to fall all through Sunday, this looks like it could be a messy race, with safety cars and possibly rain delays. Anything can happen and that that neutralises Red Bull’s car advantage and makes it harder for Vettel to control.

He will need to be mentally very strong to close out the championship in such conditions; there will inevitably a nervousness on Red Bull’s side as they have more to lose.

“In sport anything can happen so we need look after ourselves,” said Vettel. “The weekend starts tomorrow morning (Friday) and not on Sunday, so really we have to go step by step, trying to do everything to ensure that we get the maximum result. Historically we’ve been very quick here, historically we know also it’s quite a place where a lot of things can happen so we need to be sharp in the moment and see what we can get.

“Weather-wise, it’s Sao Paulo. It’s the same as if you go to Spa, you know, things can happen quickly and the weather can change a lot here. Probably for Saturday, Sunday there’s some rain on the way, but then again you don’t know how much and when so I think I asked Pirelli yesterday if they have all the containers here with the rain tyres, and that’s the case, so I don’t think we have to be concerned.”

Curiously – and breaking with tradition – there was no handshake between the two title rivals for the cameras on Thursday.

It will be interesting to see whether they manage to get one together before Sunday.

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  1. Luca says:

    unfortunately for vettel, his time thus far with RB will always be tainted with the fact that RB had a pretty impressive car and so a lot of people see him as being lucky and having had easy wins.

    There may be truth to that – who can really say.

    But given the drive in Abu Dabi, where almost everyone was of the opinion that it was either 1) a great come back or 2) a lucky drive given saftey cars etc… its pretty obvious that currently SV is not held in the same regard as other drivers past and present.

    The stats will show him as a great driver, but if he was to quit right after this weekend, not many people will recount his races as classics i feel.

    Almost a victim of his and Red Bulls success.

    1. anon says:

      Yeh, a bit like Mansell. Although Mansell ‘struggled’ for years, and finally won a championship which was a no contest really.

      Vettel’s achieve a lot more success a lot more quickly, which in some ways makes it a bit more suspicious, but in other ways, he’s proven himself a lot more. Button is a bit more like Mansell in that regard.

      I don’t get how Murray Walker placed Mansell at #13 ahead of Hakkinen and Hamilton in his greatest drivers list. Great list all around, but that one’s ridiculous.

      1. Athlander says:

        Maybe Mansell was 13th because in 1986 he finished 2 points off the winner, Prost, with 5 wins to Prost’s 4, beating Piquet & Senna; in 1987 he finished 2nd to Piquet, winning 6 races to Piquet’s 3, beating Prost and Senna; and in 1991 he finished 2nd to Senna, winning 5 races to Senna’s 7.
        The reputations of Prost, Senna, Piquet and Mansell all benefit from the fact they raced each other.

      2. KRB says:

        If Bernie’s gold-medal method was in place for the WDC, Mansell would be a 3x DWC.

        Mansell had some great drives, beating Piquet at Silverstone and Senna at Monza were but two of his best drives.

      3. JimmiC says:

        Just as many people regard Senna’s best season as 1993, so Mansell was never more exciting than 86/87 throwing around the Williams, but by the time of the FW14B he pretty much just had to keep it between the white lines. I think perhaps that is why Vettel gets a raw deal – he just precisely enough to win the races and it is too clinical; there’s no drama, much like Schuey during his dominant period, Mansell et al. Compared to the likes of Hamilton, Senna, Villeneuve (Gilles), people who drive or drove as though they wanted every single lap to be the fastest lap of the race, even when comfortably in front.

      4. JimmiC says:

        he DOES just precisely enough…

      5. Peter C says:

        Vorsprung durch technik

      6. KRB says:

        IF Mansell was just starting out, and walked into that ’92 monster of a car, then he wouldn’t have received the credit he got. As it turned out many greeted his walkover season as compensation for all his hard luck in seasons prior.

        If you asked any of Alonso, Hamilton or Vettel which team’s car they would’ve wanted to be in, for the seasons 2007-2012 inclusive, all three would say Red Bull, w/o doubt, even with Red Bull’s middling results in the first two seasons of that stretch.

      7. Greg says:

        I agree and I’d like to point out Gilles Villeneuve to Vettel, he is remembered for those incredible wins in that horrible ’81 Ferrari, he put that car in places it had no right to be in, that man had more talent than anyone else to have ever sat in an F1 car (yes more than Senna). That mesmerizing duel at Dijon didn’t do him any harm either.

        Also I’m sick of people talking about the Top 3 in F1 look at Kimi he should be in that group, 3rd in the standings in that car he is brilliant.

      8. Darren says:

        I am not disagreeing with you as such but you have to look at the people Mansell was racing against and beating, Prost, Piquet, Senna. Hakkinen didnt really have a rival other than Schumacher. Hamilton and Vettel especially shouldnt be so high up that list as they are still relatively young and early in their careers we have yet to fully see what they can do. As I have said before it is human nature (especially British) to like a plucky looser fighting the evils of the establishment who comes good in the end (Mansell, Button, Alonso…)

      9. JimmiC says:

        Prost, Piquet and Senna had each other as rivals surely? As well as Mansell?

    2. HansB says:

      Well… aren’t we (almost) all convinced about the advantage Vettel has because of the impressive RB speed??
      Just this line in JA post says it all again:
      “Anything can happen and that neutralises Red Bull’s car advantage and makes it harder for Vettel to control”

      It seems incredible that Vettel with all the advantage he’s had this season, has to wait till the last race to nail it.

      1. Luke says:

        This has been a pretty hard fought championship, and RedBull certainly haven’t dominated like last year. For the first part of the season (when the car needed to be ‘driven’ and wasn’t 100% tweaked to suit Vettel) Webber actually had Vettel’s measure.

        So no – I’m not surprised that it’s taken the championship right to the last race. It could be argued that McLaren actually had the best car this year, they just didn’t make the most of their opportunities.

    3. Sugar Water says:

      Very well stated

    4. For sure says:

      I am not sure about that, I mean who didn’t win with the best car really?

      People talk about him having the best car, if Jenson was driving that Red Bull, he would qualify 4th or something and says “the balance was not quiet right”.

      And thats not a knock on Button, he is arguably one of the top 5 or 6 best drivers on the world.
      The point is that only the best drivers can produce the best cars, namely, Alonso, Lewis, Vettel.

  2. James Wilson says:

    I hope there is a hand shake – and I hope Alonso gives his younger rival a tough squeeze!

    Meanwhile, Kimi Raikkonen will be in the toilet having a….

    1. Wayne says:

      Anyone actually considered that Alonso is just saying what he actually thinks? Why do people assume they know that he is playing games?

      1. JR says:

        +1, exactly my thoughts, as stated below.

    2. NickSilv08 says:

      Hahaha

    3. Wayne says:

      ice cream?

  3. McLaren78 says:

    Mind games or not I cannot but feel that Alonso was saying what most F1 fans think as well. Until Vettel proves himself in a non-Newey designed car, non-dominant car, the question marks will always be out there.

    1. Onko says:

      You are spot on friend,which ever you may slice
      it the bottom line says,Vettel first wdc in 2010 was compliment of Ferrari pit-wall.
      The second in 2011 undoubtly due to the genius
      to one and only Newely,this year Alonso was put out of the race twice,Vettel dnf once the
      bottom line say 13 pt diference, even taking to
      the account Vettel shared front grid most of
      times,last week in Austin it showed he has no
      back bone or finesse when under pressure.

      1. Bart says:

        That post is utterly ridiculous.

        2010, Vettel did what he needed to do, under championship showdown pressure, to win the title, i.e. win the pole position and race.
        2011, yes, a dominant championship, but when you look at the nearest rivals, Mclaren that year, you can hardly claim they drove better than him, in the inferior machinery.
        2012, you can’t just consider Alonso’s bad luck. How about Hamilton and Vettel’s? All that matters is that Vettel is leading.

        And no backbone or finesse? Hamilton did win, but come on, Vettel still chased him, and set fastest lap. And Vettel has won while being chased, e.g. Bahrain this year.

    2. rafa says:

      I don´t agree. I think Vettel has proven himself to be a superb driver, Newey or no Newey. He kept himself in contention when the RBR car was struggling, despite the benchmark at the time being Alonso´s incredible first half of the season, but even he was aided by his fair share of luck. Ultimately, Alonso has proven to be an awesome contender in mixed situations and whatever some have to say, his ability to make the most of the car and environment is second to none in the grid. So Vettel profits from the best car currently, but in my books someone who has kept themselves in the game in the bad times and blitzed the field when given the premier tool is not one to be dished out as “not great” or with “question marks”. Curiously, for all of Alonso´s greatness and admiration of Senna, he failed to observe a valuable lesson of the Brazilian master: run after the best cars. After his Mclaren fiasco, he started pushing a Ferrari seat through Santander and accepted that his tenure at Renault might be extremely unsuccessful from the offset. At the time he was offered both Honda (later Brawn) and even more importantly, RBR seats and declined them in order to go to the reds. it might have made a lot of sense then, but Alonso could be a 3 or 4 time WDC were it not for his own decisions… the same decisions that made him throw the toys out of the pram while in McLaren instead of relishing the new challenge of Hamilton: if Alonso had raced honestly that year and forgot the politics for a while he might have learned sooner what he learned the hard way at Renault, that self-entitlement is a massive flaw in one´s character (one that Hamilton seems to be learning as well thanks to Button, and that i have no doubt Vettel will also have to face some time in the future when his car is no longer the best over a season or two). I sincerely hope that Alonso wins this season, because I think his driving and character were inspiring.

      The mind games? It´s all part of the sport, really. What Alonso really wants to say is “Kid, you have a hell of a car, much better than mine, and look how close I am”. Alonso knows Vettel is great but he won´t admit it, just as he was loath to admit that Hamilton was great. So at the moment you have to villains, Fernando and Lewis, old foes that align against this new threat in the form of the golden kid, who always smiles and seems bright and sunny, as opposed to the two much more shadier characters that are his opponents. What is there to complain about? Great season, great characters, and a grand finale that awaits. I just don´t get when people get so fired up by fandom. all three of them are great people, and so is Kimi and of course Michael, and to a much lesser extent Jenson. I am an Alonso fan, but there´s nothing wrong in admitting that the others are worthy and that in reality they add to the other´s glory.

      Finally, I would like to congratulate James for getting RBR to jump on his website as it is the best I´ve seen of F1. However I would like to mention that his modding politics are heavily one sided. I too was perplexed yesterday when in response to two critical posts of Alonso where replied by him warning that posters were getting irritated by the “anti-vettel” camp and that posts would be scrutinized closely as a result. As someone who has been modded often in this site and found myself as not being offensive or at least not more offensive than others who write much more regularly than I do, I would respectfully request that James be more even handed in his policy.

      May the most deserving man win on Sundy.
      Rafa

      1. Rodger says:

        Nice to read a balanced, intelligent post [mod]
        Vettel is a brilliant driver and Alonso’s comments, to me, seem to indicate he fears him.
        Regarding the best car of the year, one could conceivably argue that neither Red Bull or Ferrari have been the best over the course of the season but that, in fact, the distinction belongs to McLaren.
        But Red Bull have come good at the right time and have been, if not the best car, the best team. Alonso, for his part, was brilliant in the first half of the season. The second half far less so.
        Vettel was the inverse, starting the season poorly but coming good in the latter period.
        It’s all set up for Sunday’s race to be a cracker!

      2. JR says:

        Great assesment. I only disgree in Alonso failing to go for the best car as Senna did, by the time he left Mclaren both Red Bull and Honda were nowhere, while when Senna went to Williams they had been the dominant team for two years so it was quite a safe bet. Renault had won the 2005 and 2006 WC and had a bad 2007 so it was quite reasonable to think they could be in the fight from 2008 on.

      3. Bart says:

        Excellent and well balanced post, Rafa.

    3. Benalf says:

      actually Vettel proved himself driving a BMW Sauber and a Toro Rosso, winning one wet race at Monza!
      It’s nonsense to question Vettel’s talent to justify he doesn’t deserve to be high on an all-time drivers list or his very likely third DWC. He did what he was supposed to do. RBR should’ve wrapped he title a few races ago if not for reliability of his car. So, as a team, RBR-Vettel look less-deserving than a Ferrari-Fred team in the sense the latter basically squezzed each possible point out of each race and for some un-natural reason, Fred was bumped out of the race at the very first turn at Spa and Suzuka. Personally, I haven’t seen that in many years of watching F1 racing. It feels unfair and tragic that a driver with a 40+ points advantage loses the championship with a few races to go. That’s the best demonstration that Fred is racing an uncompetitive car; racing on the limits never allows you to get that little extra that often times you need to reduce a gap, overtake, or make a pit strategy to work. The uselessness of Ferrari’s DRS for qualifying is momumental and over and over again Fred manages to recover a few places at the first lap of the GP. Worthy champion? Whoever clinches the DWC on Sunday. Most deserving one? ALonso

    4. Richard Foster says:

      I don’t get this at all. Why will the question marks be out there? Mika Hakkinen won all his championships in Newey cars but there are no question marks there.

      What people should remember is the record between Vettel and Webber. Both in a Newey car but only one making it really work for them.

    5. For sure says:

      Mate, if the car is/was that good, why wasn’t Mark Webber driving circles around everyone? He is supposed to be a very good driver, who beat most of his teammates, except Mr Finger.

      In my opinion, there are only two other guys, who can make AN cars look that good and we know who they are which means those three are the class of the field.

  4. Scott D says:

    I have often thought that the greatest source of frustration for Vettel is that he has yet to gain the absolute respect of his peers, and I suspect that this eats away at him privately. Hamilton also recently commented at the superiority of the Red Bull even when Vettel was “missing apexes” (ouch!), and Button has gone on record as supporting Alonso’s championship challenge as he has “made less mistakes”. Time will tell, of course, whether Vettel will gain this respect, but wrapping up the championship convincingly here will certainly be a good start.

  5. Peter says:

    I dont think Vettel is very good at answering these questions, usually he goes on too long with his answers. He should be short, sharp and to the point. However I also think he is the strongest mentally among him, Alonso and Lewis. He has proved that many times when it has come to crucial moments. Alonso is very good at mindgames, no question about it.

    1. Paul Kirk says:

      I totally agree with you, Peter, about Wettal going on too long when answering questions! I find it frustrating/boreing in the extreem!
      PK.

    2. Ahmed says:

      Spot On with the answering thing! Kimi and Vettel are good friends, he should take some lessons from Kimi on keeping it short and to the point.

  6. Sebastian says:

    The joke of the week must be Massa saying that he hopes to help Alonso by winning the Brazilian GP… as if that would ever be allowed…

    1. Onko says:

      Dear friend your maths need to improve,
      Massa winning it takes away 7 points that
      Vettel be looking to have, and as Alonso
      said podium finish for me is a must,examle
      Hamilton,or Massa 1st or 2nd Alonso 3rd 15 pt
      Button or Kimi 4th Vettel only have 13 pt to play with.

      1. NickSilv08 says:

        Onko, your brain needs to improve,

        You think it would be a good idea to gift Seb 7 points by not allowing Alonso to win? If Massa is somehow leading anf Alonso is 2nd he will be getting the call..

      2. Benalf says:

        That’s the way Raikkonen won in 2007, and that’s the way a team should work to make sure its driver clinches the WC. If Fred wants this he should win the race, period. No matter what Vettel does, gaining most of the points would leave less chance for Vettel to stay ahead on the points. It’s not rocket science to see that. Obviously, unless something happens to both RBR cars and Hamilton’s Macca, the idea of Alonso winning Brazil is almost impossible.

  7. michael says:

    Not sure about mind games as factual comments from Alonso
    The Car is quick and if you go back to Germany GP
    Vettel was heard screeming over the radio (do something do something) as he was strugling to overtake
    now the car was not slow but he struggled
    Alonso in Canada was going backwards from 1st after lewis pit stop
    but he was calm and accepted that he lost grip and focussed on finishing as high as posible
    5th in the end from a net 1st
    still looking forward to the race
    in my hart its Alonso by head says its Vettel
    over the whole season Alonso dove brilliantly
    Vettel drove great to but if there car was not much faster than Ferrari
    Alonso would be champ already
    we shall see

    1. KRB says:

      Hindsight’s 20/20, but Ferrari should really have covered off Vettel in Canada when he pitted late. If he had kept 4th there, that’s a 4 pt differential. 9 pts instead of 13 would look a whole lot better (an Alonso win with Vettel 3rd would win it for Alonso, or 2nd-6th, etc.).

  8. quest says:

    Alonso can play all the mind games he wants ,but they don’t seem to affect Vettel.

    When Vettel was asked about Alonso’s 9th place qualification in Austin, his reply was that he would just concentrate on his own job. When Alonso was asked about Vettel’s issue in Abu Dhabi, he replied that it would be have been better if it had happened on Sunday rather than Saturday. Highlights the difference in the way they think.

    Alonso thinks too much about what his rivals are doing. This is what made him cover Webber rather than run his own race in 2010. Vettel keeps it simple and focusses on his own thing.

    1. best comment so far, thanks :)

    2. Kilby says:

      Was it not actually Ferrari who called the shots via pit strategy, rather than Alonso himself.

      Vettel does tend to whinge with the best of them on occasion. For both Red Bull and Vettel to make such an issue of the supposed backmarker (HRT),causing them to lose time to Hamilton was bizarre. Hamilton was, I believe, going to pass at some point anyway.

      1. Craig D says:

        It can come across as whinging but it also shows how competitive he is. He lost the lead, having kept Hamilton behind him for dozens of laps, due to a backmarker rather than an explicit mistake from himself. So it’s bound to be a frustrating way to lose a lead. I agree, hoped, that Hamilton would have got past eventually but it certainly wasn’t going to be easy. So it’s understanding for Vettel to have been fuming at not winning.

    3. [MISTER] says:

      You are missing a point.
      Because Vettel has the points advantage (and had it for a few races) he can only worry about his race. If he wins..the results of Alonso don’t affect him.

      In contrast for Alonso, because he’s in points deficit, he needs to take into account Vettel’s results, especially when the RedBull proves to be faster than the Ferrari and Vettel always has qualified ahead of Alonso.

    4. Benalf says:

      I think you hint an interesting point about Alonso at Abu Dhabi 2010. I partially agree with you but the pit call came from the race director, not Alonso. I think he just race and let the whole decision process to the guys at the box, terribly missing the target which, by the way it wasn’t Vettel or Webber, but the track position to make sure that even if Vettel wins, he could have hold the top stop in the DWC….

      1. rey cruz says:

        with telfonso, do you really think he will follow what the team says, dont think so

      2. JR says:

        His name is Fernando Alonso, thanks.

    5. dante says:

      @quest: BRAVO!
      I find this Vettel bashing annoying and mean spirited.

  9. goferet says:

    Regards the forecast, is this the reason Interlagos was moved from the start of the season like it was in the past to the end of the calendar like we have today?

    Maybe Bernie should do the same for Monaco, India, Barcelona and the like.

    Hopefully this down pour predicted on Sunday will find the festivities already under way for these days wet races and the safety car are two things that go hand in hand.

  10. Stuart Harrison says:

    My issue with Vettel is that he comes across as lacking credibility. This is most obvious in his post-race celebrations (the finger wagging and whooping from inside the car). For someone who has won as many races as he has in such a short space of time, you would hope (expect?) the novelty would wear off after a while, but it seems to be as fresh as his first win and it’s this that grates.

    There doesn’t seem to be any tempering of his behaviour even when it’s been a foregone conclusion (as much as these things can be). Fastest in every practice session, tick; pole position, tick; lead every lap with a comfortable margin, tick; cross the line whooping like a schoolgirl, tick.

    Also, and maybe this is just my perspective, but he’s very rarely won races from any position other than pole (or leading from the first lap). I can’t recall a single example of him overtaking a similar car on a similar strategy for the lead of the race, something Hamilton managed (not for the first time) in Austin. It underlines the argument coming from doubters who say that he’s a driver that just runs to a script : bang it on pole, open up a DRS gap in the first two laps, react to pitstops. That script relies on decent machinery (to get the car onto pole and maintain the gap), but doesn’t offer Vettel any opportunity to show his racing genius.

    That said, he’s had a few opportunities to demonstrate that this year – Spa comes to mind as one of his most outstanding races, alongside Abu Dhabi (arguably less so once you factor out elements of luck); but in past years, relatively few.

    My overall impression is that he’s the “rich kid born with a silver spoon in his mouth”; he’s “lucked” into an amazing partnership with Red Bull (and Newey) and will likely only convince the doubters by moving to another team (one without Newey) and winning championships there. I believe this is what Hamilton is attempting to do and what his comments surrounding his move were designed to say to Vettel (subtly or otherwise) – “You’ll only gain credibility if you achieve greatness somewhere else”. Winning a championship in superior equipment proves you were the better of two drivers, not twenty four.

    If Alonso wins this year, he’ll be a superior driver in inferior machinery – a far more impressive achievement. But I doubt he will – all the clever money is on Vettel.

    1. F1fan4life says:

      Completely agree. He and Hamilton were very much groomed by the big teams and put into fast cars. Somewhat amazing to think it isnt the norm now. But to address your point, be prepared to hear this over the radio from a special someone tomorrow:
      “Yes!! Yes boys!!! Beautiful! All the hard work and tears is worth it!! My finger is ready! Zinggg Zinggg z-z-ziiing! .”

      1. Phil says:

        What a load of tripe
        I also love how fans completely forget that Hamilton is the biggest silver spoon driver of them all. First drive was a chapionship winning McLaren (if they hadn’t lost all their WCC points due to cheating!).
        Vettle – BMW, Torro Roso, 2009 RBR which wasn’t the best
        Hamilton – McLaren
        You want to talk about rich kid spoilt! You can’t even see past your own biased nose

      2. KRB says:

        Are you saying the 2009 McLaren was the best?! If so, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

        The 2007 McLaren was the best car that Hamilton has had, but he was a rookie with a 2xDWC as his teammate! And he beat him on countback. Can Vettel say the same? Vettel’s been the favoured son in RBR since moving there.

        Hamilton’s won a DWC w/o the best car (2008 when the Ferrari was the best car). If Vettel ever manages the same I’ll eat my shorts.

      3. Bart says:

        @KRB – The Mclaren in 2008 was equally fast as the Ferrari, but more reliable, so it was the best (or joint best) car.

        If you still insist on calling the ’08 Mclaren an inferior car, then by that standard, neither Alonso’s F2012 or Vettel’s RB8 have been the best car this year, since it was the Mclaren.

      4. tobler says:

        Toro Rosso or Red Bull were no big teams and in Toro Rossos case still arent. When Vettel was first supported by Red Bull at the age of 13 with a relatively small amount compared to what Hamilton got from and with McLaren backing (not just financially), Red Bull was not the omnipresent energy drinks giant that they are now. They didnt own any F1 team at all, just sponsoring Sauber, what became BMW works team for a while. The so called golden spoon Vettel got is laughable really, the first Red Bull check was about $ 2500. That covers some travel costs and spare parts but is nothing compared to drivers with a millionaire family background.

        If Newey is the answer to all questions, why didnt Alonso sign for Red Bull a few years ago after he left McLaren. He had an offer on the table then. He just didnt have the vision what would happen, just like the rest of us.

      5. Benalf says:

        I’ve heard the spaniard press writing about a possible RBR-Alonso deal, at the time Vettel joined the team. I never read about Alonso getting an offer from RBR (James, do you know anything about this). In any case it could have been a terrific scenario; Vettel and ALonso racing in a winning team the next season, ALonso having the best racecar for the first time in his career….mindblowing!
        It’s hard for me to think that RBR could have offer a substancial contract for him to consider or RBR move away from his line to grooming/growing its own crops, but in F1 anything is possible

      6. KRB says:

        Alonso had the best car in both 2005 and 2006, with servile teammates, and he duly won.

    2. [MISTER] says:

      Very well said. I share your opinion.

    3. Mitchel says:

      That’s such a great comment. I’m sure it sums up what a lot if people out there think.

    4. Darren says:

      Not a Vettel fan, not much of a Hamilton fan either but I don’t think it is fair to label him as a rich kid with a silver spoon, as far as I am aware he came from a very ordinary background and got on the Red Bull scheme on merit. Like it or not hand reared and nurtured from the age of 2 sportsmen are the norm nowadays in all forms of sport (golf and tennis are prime examples). I think that has a tendancy to produce arrogant unlikeable people, Andy Murray anyone?

      I don’t think that is fair in Vettels case, yes I would like to snap off his index finger and ram it where to sun dont shine and cant stand his whooping and moaning on the radio but I think in comparison to most other drivers he is very humble and respecting of the sport and how his own achievements relate to it. I also think that secretly the fact that he is not really being considered a great in spite of his recent dominance, will annoy or upset him. I can see him leaving Red Bull for this reason. There is no doubt that relative success in a visably lesser car gains far more respect than winning in a dominant one, for example. Schumacher in 96, Senna in 93, Alonso in 08 etc.

    5. Rodger says:

      All Vettel should say in response is, “Lewis and Jenson and Fernando, at least I have always beaten my teammates over the course of a season.”
      That would shut them all up pretty quick.

      1. Cozza says:

        Wasnt Webber beating Vettal in points start of this year.

        Vettel would look like a tool if he said that

      2. Bart says:

        “Wasnt Webber beating Vettal in points start of this year.”

        So what? Points tallies only count at the end of the year.

      3. Cozza says:

        Yes but in reply to roger. Webber was beating vettel at the start of the year. Having more points would of meant webber was beating his teammate

      4. Bart says:

        “Having more points would of meant webber was beating his teammate”

        Anyone can say they were beating their teammate at point X of the season. Why don’t I flap it around that Massa was ahead of Alonso after Malaysia 2010? No, I wouldn’t do that, because Alonso beat him by over 100 points. Just like Vettel this season, over Webber.

      5. rad_g says:

        Sometimes with parts taken away from Mark. But skip that.

      6. Bart says:

        Yes, skip that, since Webber tested those parts in practice and preferred his car without them. That’s why the decision was explained as being down to driver feedback.

      7. KRB says:

        Yes, those former World Champions Bourdais and Webber. :-D

  11. goferet says:

    Regards the games of the mind, am not sure Alonso is getting through to Sebastian.

    For instance at the last race, Alonso said he was sure somehow he was going to finish ahead of Vettel in the race, instead he finished ahead of his mate Webber.

    I don’t know but me thinks the mind games are being played out on the fans head instead maybe with the possibility of hyping up a race or match.

    Anyway the tell-tell signs on whether the mind games are working is body language.

    For instance if Vettel is seen up and about in the paddock without his usual enthusiasm then something is a foot.

    Likewise if Alonso is looking like a man totally calm then maybe he has subconsciously given up on the fight kinda like how our JAonF1 said Schumacher looked serene at his last race weekend before his first retirement in 2006

  12. Miha Bevc says:

    Alonso is playing mind games with Vettel for several months now, and he’s good at it. He also knows how to put pressure on stewards to decide in his favour. But he’s 2 times WC and drives almost perfect right know so he can afford that.

    I hope Vettel won’t play this game. He should keep his head down and do his talking on the race track. And make it 3 WDC in a row.

  13. [kame] says:

    Well, despite of knowing that mind games are commonplace in all sports, I still find Alonso’s comments about fighting Newey a little bit disrespectful not (just) for Red Bull or Vettel, but for Ferrari and all the people that works there.

    Anyway, both are fantastic drivers and I hope that we can see a good race on Sunday, in which the best driver will end up with the most points and the WDC.

    1. Søren Kühle says:

      Disrespectful perhaps, but in my view an honest appraisal of the situation. One could look at Vettels drive in Abu Dhabi and wonder where he had ended up had he been in a Ferrari. The loss of his frontwing meant that he effectively started from the back 2 times. He collided with a DRS sign, lost a little more frontwing. But despite that he ended up third. That must purely be down to the Superiority of the package. I think that Vettel is an ecxelent,fast and talented driver, and definitely worthy of his two wdc’s. But compared to Alonso this season he is only in wdc contention because of Newey’s Voodoo-magic (And Alonso’s bad luck in Spa and Japan).

      1. [MISTER] says:

        Could you name who did Vettel overtook in Abu Dhabi?
        Someone other than Caterham and Grosjean. Leave the Torro Rosso’s aside. One of them moved almost off the track to make room for Vettel. When behind the second Torro Rosso, Vettel almost crashed the car. When behind Webber, Vettel cvould not overtake as easy as with the Caterhams, so RBR called Webber into the pits.
        The only notable overtake Vettel did that race was against Button and how long it took him? And that was done on fresher and softer tyres than Button.

        Excuse me if I might seem biased, but please give me a break with the Abu Dhabi race.

      2. [MISTRESS] says:

        no, you dont seem biased at all. why would you think that? anybody who reads your comments here regularly will know that you are the definition of the word “neutral”

      3. Bart says:

        He took Button, Schumacher, Grosjean, Senna, Di Resta and more:

        http://cliptheapex.com/community/threads/vettels-20-on-track-overtakes.5657/

        Yes, he was fortunate, but it was still an excellent recovery drive.

    2. Sebee says:

      Next thing Alonso will complain about is Schumi helping Vettel phychologically from experience. And in German too!

      Just look at that photo. You can almost see Schumi give Vettel words of confidence, while Alonso is jelously trying to not pay attention.

    3. Steve says:

      the best driver WITH the best car …. Best driver along not enough.

  14. Jane Kay says:

    To me it’s the driver and team in perfect harmony. Alonso talks a lot, while Vettel stays quiet. Hopefully Vettel stays focused and wins.
    James thanks for adding RBR to your teams’ list.

  15. alex says:

    Alonso knows he’s going to lose another title
    and is bitter and frustrated.
    For everything they make Felipe endure in the
    last 3 years i really hope that ferrari
    won’t get another title and the next 10 years.

    1. CarlH says:

      “I really hope that ferrari won’t get another title and the next 10 years.”

      Hilarious that you say this and accuse somebody else of being bitter in the same comment.

      1. alex says:

        Oh boy!!
        I guess you’re right on this one…

    2. [MISTER] says:

      Could you please explain what Ferrari asked Massa to do this season to help Alonso, other than the gearbox penalty and maybe that call in Korea to keep the distance??

      I cannot believe you try to make Massa a martir when he’s the one who let Ferrari down this year.
      It’s because of Alonso that Ferrari are 2nd in constructors and they are in a position to fight for the WDC.

      Alonso has 2.5 times Massa’s points and you are trying to make Alonso look like the bad guy? A bit of respect one begs!

      1. [MISTRESS] says:

        respect is earned; not begged for

      2. [MISTER] says:

        [mod], that was an expression. I don’t think Alonso cares about your respect. And Alonso has won the respect of millions already, including the drivers and team principals since he was voted best driver on the grid last year.

        Like Eddie Jordan said today, that Ferrari car shouldn’t be fighting for the championship.

        [Don't insult other posters, please - Mod]

      3. alex says:

        I know Massa really was bad at the first half
        of the season but his self-esteem was on a high position back there to the point where the guy had to look for professional help, alonso is a great driver but don’t ask me to respect the guy
        as human being, a guy who’s associated with a crook like briatore can’t be good.

    3. trullifan says:

      ‘Alonso knows he’s going to lose another title’

      Actually Vettel was behind by 15 points in 2010 and still beat Fernandoin the end. Fernando is in a better position now being only 13 points behind, so keep your faith in Alonso, the fight isn’t over yet. alonso can still be WDC 2012. Lets wait and see.

      1. alex says:

        I’m not cheering for Alonso…

  16. hero_was_chenna says:

    I think Vettel answered the questions really well. Didn’t make himself a doormat (which would have been a news story) nor did he try to hit back at some of the propaganda that Alonso and Hamilton have tried to spread in the last few weeks(which would have been a bigger news story).

    I am a Kimi fan and therefore can comment on this as a neutral. I am sure its easy to find a motive as to why Alonso and Hamilton are doing this:

    1. They genuinely believe Vettel is not so good.

    or

    2. the more likely scenario: If he wasn’t so good, I doubt they would try mind games. I think Alonso is using this to weaken Vettel in anyways and give any sort of advantage.

    For Lewis, I think it may be anger/jealousy/regret/disappointment that someone younger and someone who Lewis considers to be an inferior driver compared to him is about to win his 3rd successive championship while he has not achieved any championships after 2008.

    I had great respect for Lewis and I would have never thought he was capable of jealousy until the telemetry and unfollowed tweets. He is a young and ambitious man and one can understand why he feels that way.

    On a final note, whoever wins is a deserving winner and a champion driver. Whoever loses would be no less a driver.

    1. **Paul** says:

      I share your view on this.

      I do think scenario number 2 is the more likely (almost certainly).

      An interesting scenario happened in MotoGP this year, where as soon as Stoner announced he was leaving the Sport the opinions of his rivals changed. All of a sudden comments appeared about how incredible he was, and that’s because they feared him.

      The same I believe is true with Vettel. Alonso and Hamilton look at Seb and see themselves struggling to get a look in on the Championship. Alonso remarks are designed to put pressure on Seb, because everyone knows that it’s not FA vs Seb & Newey, it’s FA & Massa & Ferrari vs Seb, Red Bull, Newey but not Webber. Which equals things up pretty much.

      As for Lewis, I think he’s pretty jealous about the whole thing, when he rocked up in F1 he was the golden boy. Now, just as his best days are upon him their is a new guy in town winning all the prizes. It’s like Murray and Djokovic in Tennis.

    2. JF says:

      I think all the top drivers assume they are better than the rest! Part of being a top level competitor, not a lot of humble. As mentioned in Tim Clarks post below, the exception is likely Kimi who probably just isn’t bothered by all this stuff.

    3. mexicobob says:

      How on earth do you know what Lewis thinks and feels? You seem to make decisions on pure speculation. I have some property for sale in a realy nice spot……

    4. John says:

      +1 Kimi in 2013 :)

    5. Chromatic says:

      Regardless of mind games, Seb is the stronger. I think the title was decided in Abu Dhabi. Saturday night Alonso left smirking to himself at Seb’s disaster. Sunday he found him standing beside him on the podium. Although Seb’s drive was not flawless, it was enough, it seems, for something inside Alonso’s inner core to cave in.

      I speak as someone largely neutral: Vettel has nothing to fear except for mechanical failure.

    6. Elie says:

      I don’t agree Hero ( you change name to Chenna?).

      I think what people here must realise is that when you have a team so dominant like RBR it brings others together to find a justifiable reason why they cannot match them .. Hence Adrian Newey comments from Alonso. You mustn’t forget this is big business & for Red Bull to have 3 in a row must surely pressure other top teams &drivers as to why- the drivers are the “front” men for team at each weekend and must certainly be tired of “defending themselves”.
      I think part is purely stating facts as the press ask all the probing questions and part is to “give it to the young Vettel” who’s constantly got his index finger in the air.

      As for Alonso praising Hamilton- it’s the truth !- no one else on the grid has consistently challenged the Red Bulls over the the last 3 years other Lewis and Fernando ( clearly Button and Massa can’t) hell even his own team mate – Webber has not done much better in the same equipment. So yes both Lewis and Fernando are spot on with that.

      I guess to some extent the ” mind game ” worked as Seb found the need to defend his situation. All he really needed to say was ” none of us started in a top team we all had to work our way into a top team & even in a top team you still have to perform at the highest level to be WDC” (eg Massa, button, webber)

      I don’t care much for either Seb or Fernando – however either one is a worthy winner this year for their ability to get most out of their equipment. I just hope next year gives Lotus or Mercedes a shot at the title. Both RBR & Ferrari bore me with their arrogance & whinging.

  17. Tim Clark says:

    Imagine Kimi answering this question.

    “I don’t care what others think of me”.

    When you think of it, that’s a great attitude to have in this situation.

    1. JF says:

      Exactly, I think he has said it before at different times in F1, and in Kimis case I think its truely genuine, not bravado.

    2. Luca says:

      Kimi is a legend – never has a bad word to say about a team or other drrivers. He sticks to the gents rule of: if you have nothing good to say, then say nothing at all.

      The guy is a true gent, fast and funny.

      1. Chromatic says:

        + 1

      2. NickSilv08 says:

        +1 I hope the 2013 Lotus is extremely fast

  18. IgMi says:

    I have not seen the press conference myself, but trusting that Allen has relayed the essence of it accurately if I was a Ferrari team member I would be insulted to a certain degree by Alonso’s comments (it is hard for me to imagine that his comments had been pre-approved by Ferrari). On the other hand, his comments do play into the theme that F1 is a team sport: one package is competing the other package, drivers being a part of it. At this moment Red Bull package is one to beat. Alonso’s decision to dissect that package to find a single element to justify why that may be the case is insulting to very many people at multiple levels.

    Vetel’s failure to accept Alonso’s comments in the spirit of F1 being a team sport portraits him to me as a person that is still maturing. Alonso presented him with a perfect opportunity to hail the quality of his team, Newey and everybody else in Red Bull included, but he apparently failed to see beyond his own ego.

    I respect them both quite a lot as F1 drivers, but their character flaws are not making F1 more exciting for me and are not winning my ultimate personal respect. I would not use them as character models for children to look up to and to be like when they grow up. It is both disappointing and sad. I am only left with a hope that they would eventually change into something, well, … more.

    1. michael says:

      Hi
      I dont get why your offended
      Alonso is stating that the car is brilliant and its true
      ok one does need to drive and drive well to be quick
      but All he is ssaying is true
      yes its a team sport
      Designer/Driver/Mechanics/Management
      but if the design is flawed like the HRT then no driver can go quick in it
      and im sorry to say but if Vettel and alonso were in equal cars Alonso would win over a series of tracks
      Even flavio said in equal cars the states are
      Lewis on pole
      Vettel fastes lap
      Alonso the win
      ask any team manager

    2. Misha says:

      While I agree with you on the Alonso matter, I somewhat disagree with you on how Vettel handled this situation.
      He may not always do the right thing, he may sound petulant and childish over the radio (Who hasn’t occasionally? Except Kimi, of course…), and people may hate that bloody finger. But this time, I think he defended himself really well. He mentioned his team and the fact that right now theirs is the strongest package and it’s only natural that they will be on top, then rightly pointed that he did indeed won the race with the lesser car (Toro Rosso), and finished by paying a compliment to his rival without demeaning him at the next corner. What more can we expect..?
      As for their characters, as I see them, Alonso is all perseverance, passion and ruthlessness, and Vettel is a extremely fast young man with a touch of arrogance and self-entitlement (funny too…). I am not saying those traits are something to look up too, but I think most us don’t come here to admire their politeness or general friendliness toward each other. We are here to see them drive those cars as fast and best as they can, to admire technology and design of these machines, and to watch with amusement and occasional horror behind-the-scene politics.
      What I am trying to say is probably this: as long as they respect each other on the track and don’t do anything stupid, I say let them be who they are and may they always give us something to talk about.

      Cheers,
      Misha

    3. Benalf says:

      I think Alonso’s comments since Singapore sums up his feelings after waiting and waiting for a technical improvement of the car, something that never materialized. fry was hired by Ferrari to crossbreed Macca technology and fresh ideas, to complement Tombazis strengts, and, very important, to solve the wind tunnel problems. Certainly, the team has been unable to built a winning car since 2008. It is incredible that with the budget they enjoy, they have been unable to bring the right combination of human talent to build a decent challenger with lots of room for improvement along the season. Ferrari lacks of of people which can identify the problems, look for a solution and implemented in a short time. McLaren has been impressive in that regard in recent seasons; their car gets better and better as the season progresses. Ferrari looks like playing the guessing game….most likely because of the wind tunnel problems….But if you want to win the WC’s you have to have the best car. I don’t see ALonso being disrespectful to Vettel or his team; if the genius of Newey is the one behing RBR car success, then I think what Alonso said was an accolade to Newey and a wake-up call to his team; forget about winning anything in the years to come unless we find the right people to build the future racecars, otherwise forget about Massa or Alonso winning anyhting in at least 2-3 years

  19. Lol. says:

    The only ones using that argument against Vettel are people with sour grapes.

    Fact: Fangio won his championships in cars that were superior to the cars around him, 2-4 seconds a lap faster and he had no other drivers competing except his teammate that gave up his car when Fangio’s broke down.

    According to the detractors of Vettel, using the same arguments, Fangio was a cab driver lucky to be in the best cars. And so was Senna, Prost, Stewart and all the other champions who won in the best car that season. All of them basically.

    1. Andrew says:

      Prost convincingly beat all of his numerous team mates including Arnoux, Lauda, Rosberg, Mansell , Hill (4 world champions) apart from Senna. Senna went to Prost’s team and beat him like he beat everyone. Both won many races when they didn’t have the best car.

      Vettel has beaten Webber in the best car for the last 3 years, nobody else We need to see him against other drivers so that we can properly compare.

      Your point is interesting though because I now found myself doubting the performances of previous drivers. Were Clark, Fangio, Ascari, Stewart etc really so good or did they just have the best car? I only started watching in the 1980′s.

      1. Miha Bevc says:

        Stewart won in a slower car in 1973 (Lotus was faster). Clark had fast but unreliable cars, but all drivers from hi era admitted he was like semi-god…

      2. What says:

        Faster is not the best.

        It has to have the complete package, including drivability and reliability. Stewart was in the best car that season.

      3. xyler says:

        Lauda also beat Prost – in the first year.
        He lost the second year – but see his DNFs of this year! More than three quaters.

      4. Andrew says:

        Prost was far quicker than Lauda. He lost in 1984 due to reliability problems.

      5. What says:

        The McLaren was the best car this year.

        And the only times the best car does not win the champion ship is reliability (so this year and 2005 for instance).

        The argument used against drivers to win only in the best car is ignorant and shallow. Of course the best car is going to win if nothing strange happens.

        All champions won it that way. But because Vettel is now erasing the careers of the favorites of others, he is being criticized for being in a good car. Seriously?

  20. CanadaF1fan says:

    Sounds like Vettel taking the high road and complimenting Alonso’s skill, while Alonso is busy trying to attack and chalk his competitor’s success up to the car. I understand the mind games from Alonso, but it’d be nice to see a bit of sportsmanship too. Vettel’s certainly not perfect on this front, but I respect his approach this time.

    (And as an aside – this developing love affair between Alonso and Hamilton seems contrived. Imagine if they were really rivals for the WDC — don’t think they’d be so chummy at all).

    1. Sebee says:

      Honestly, at any job, would you like it if some other guy beat you 3 years running? Wouldn’t you want some excuses?

      Alonso is under huge pressure here. I have a feeling things change at Ferrari in terms of approach to Alonso getting it all his way if he doesn’t win it 3rd time around. Massa will have some of those #2 restrictions lifted in 2013.

      1. [MISTER] says:

        You must be joking if you think Ferrari can blame this on Alonso. He was arguably perfect this year, while the Ferrari design team was not. If there’s someone to blame, they need to look no further than Maranello F1 factory offices.

      2. HansB says:

        Most people are well aware that its not Alonso to blame if “he doesnt win it 3rd time around”.

        Ferrari is very well aware they have to give him (Alonso) a better car (2012) and better race tactics (2010) before they can blame him for losing another WDC.

        But you can just ignore that.

      3. NickSilv08 says:

        They should never have sacked Raikkonen.. they sacked him because they said he couldnt develop the car..

        SO WHAT IS ALONSO DOING?

        Rai: 1 drivers championship + 2 constructors

        Alo: NO CHAMPIONSHIPS

        Where has the ’6 tenths’ gone?

      4. Benalf says:

        [mod] Ferrari broke contract with Kimi (paid vacation) to bring someone who can lead the team on the track. I like Raikkonen as a raceman but I think any team looks for something more than raw talent to ride a fast car. I think part of the leadership should come from the drivers. I think Ferrari are in a better position now than when Kimi-Felipe era. On the other hand, ALonso has been on the WC mix since he became Ferrari driver. A few bad decisions and the team flushed a DWC in 2010. Lack of car development this season and ALonso lost a 40+ points advantage….what else do you want from him dude?

      5. Rockie says:

        What a fantastic post I keep saying people have forgotten this part of Alonso moving to Ferrari that Kimi was let go as Alonso could develop the car.

      6. [MISTRESS] says:

        Imaginary Alonso is better at car development than the real Alonso

      7. Elie says:

        Exactly! Btw look where Lotus where last year and look where they are now. Sure the team built a good car – but Every engineer and team boss at Lotus sings nothing but praises about Raikkonen and his impeccable feedback and many cant understand all the things that have been said about him in the past ..Which just shows you what a pack of [mod] Ferrari were in 2009 !

  21. OJ says:

    Look out for Button in Brazil, probably the best driver in the wet since Senna – much better than the overrated Hamilton anyways who hilariously spun doing a 360 in Hungary 2011. Priceless.

    1. Cookie says:

      Very rarely do I comment on these types of posts, but do you really beleive Button is the equal of Senna in the wet? And as regards Hamilton, I guess you missed Silverstone when he finished a minute ahead of everyone….

      1. Peter C says:

        He didn’t say that Button is the equal of Senna in the wet.

        Look out for the words ‘probably……SINCE Senna’.

        That is OJ’s opinion & he is entitled to it.

    2. NRG says:

      Silverstone 2008: Hamilton lapped everyone up to fourth and over 1 minute ahead of second.

      1. Darren says:

        Absolutely, I don’t know if it is because Hamilton has calmed down a bit but he doesn’t seem as insanely fast as he once was especially in the wet. I remember Monza 08 watching Lewis carve through the field, I have never before or since (apart from Webber on Alonso at eau rouge) cringed and looked away from a race, every single time he went for an outbrake I thought there is simply no way he is going to stop in time but he did. He was just scarily fast.

        But the OPs point does stand, Button is very good in the wet.

      2. KRB says:

        That was a drive where people take notice. Like when Jackie Stewart drove in the rain just from memory of the track layout.

        At Silverstone that year he ended up two laps up on Massa, a lap up on everyone else but Heidfeld and Barrichello, who were both over a minute back. A great, great win from 4th on the grid.

        How the OP can pretend that Hamilton is not a rain-master is beyond me. For me the best example of his prowess in the rain was Spa 2008 … Hamilton basically dared Kimi to both see how fast they each could go in the wet on dry tires. End result was Kimi in the wall.
        Just checked the race classification for that race, and see that Vettel and Coulthard collided with each other on the first lap, both retiring. I don’t even remember that.

      3. KRB says:

        Dunno what happened there … the last paragraph should’ve been the 3rd, and was referring to the 2008 British GP.

    3. Andrew says:

      Utter nonsense.

    4. Sebee says:

      Come on, Lewis in a kitty litter beached McLaren in China was way funnier.

      1. KRB says:

        Exhibit A of how McLaren have consistently failed with their strategy calls. A win wasn’t necessary, they didn’t need to leave Lewis out there on canvas-showing tires. Should’ve brought him in, consolidated 4th or 5th, and eliminated Kimi from the DWC fight.

        It totally sucked for Lewis, but was one of those classic “I can’t believe what I’m seeing!” moments that F1 can throw up from time to time.

  22. Vinto says:

    It really really seems like Vettel is coming out of this pretty well – Alonso is trying the psychological stuff and Vettel is just doing his own thing.

    It really is starting to feel like HAM, BUT and ALO are trying to bring the new boy down a peg or two because he is so successful so quickly. Sour grapes?

    1. MikeyB says:

      I think you’re pretty close to the mark with your assessment, Vinto. Only a few short years ago both Hamilton and Alonso probably thought they had it made – talented drivers who’d landed in top teams. Then out of nowhere comes Red Bull with a tough to beat combination of superfast pilot, amazing designer and deep-pocketed owner who ensures that his team wants for nothing.

      Hamilton’s move to Mercedes shows the level of his frustration and Alonso is finding that Ferrari don’t make it easy for him to become the next Schumacher.

      The never-ending chatter about Vettel to Ferrari is ludicrous – it’s hard to imagine that he ever looks across at any of the other cars on the grid and envies what he sees.

    2. [MISTRESS] says:

      looks like it

  23. frosty says:

    @James Nowadays are drivers allowed to take over team-mates car like Fangio did once. I was thinking of the scenario Vettel has an alternator failure, can he take webber’s car?

    1. James Allen says:

      No, for a start the timing transponder would have to be swapped over, but I’m sure there are other reasons

      1. George Debenham says:

        He wouldn’t reach the pedals in Webbers car.

      2. PB says:

        Lol. Also they will have to swap the engine, gearbox, etc to fit within the quotes rules. Plus of course they’ll have to pull out all those ‘special’ parts from Vettel’s car and put them in Webber’s car that he’ll take over…:-D

      3. PB says:

        Quota* rules

      4. Robert N says:

        Well, we have also a set number of engines per driver, and their gear boxes have to last etc.

        So this is a non-starter.

        But it would be interesting to know what the last season was in which this was still legal.

  24. Val from montreal says:

    Nothing new from Alonso here …. Post Monza 2006 after MSC winning the gp , Alonso comes out with this statement ( for no apparent reason ) :” Michael is the most successfull driver ever and he’s also been the most penalized driver this sport has seen ” …. To which Willi Weber ( Schu’s manager ) replies the following day :” That was very below the belt , a cheap shot … Michael will do his talking on the track .” …. Then the following race in China Schumacher humiliated both Renault’s with his INFERIOR Bridgestone wet tyres and beat first Alonso then Fisichella …. Yup , that was sweet indeed !! Go Michael , Go VET !!

    1. hero_was_henna says:

      +2

  25. Tim says:

    Alonso trying to psyche-out Vettel and disrupt his eye on the target (“quiet eye”, in Sports Psych Language). Having a motivated Hamilton as an ally is critical to Alonso’s chances and can best explain the praise that he has recently hyped on the McLaren driver.

    Will it work? Time will tell, it invariably does.

    Tim

  26. cometeF1 says:

    Mind games or not, one should always show a minimum of respect to his competition.
    I understand that to be at the top of any sport, you need to have a strong believe in yourself, ergo a huge ego. Still, you should be smart enough to accept that other competitors are talented as well.
    I sense that FA and LH are frustrated at seeing SV achieving what they set out to do ahead of them. Their complimenting each other is just a way of putting SV down. Should they be in a situation where the fight to the WDC would be against each other, I easily could see them being less graceful toward each other.
    Let them do their talking on the track where the championship is still decided. Marc

    1. hero_was_henna says:

      +1. they say this isnt cricket. well, this isnt WWE either for trash talk. and this isnt A1 GP either for all machinery to be equal.

    2. KRB says:

      What I’ve read Lewis always ends up saying that Seb is a fantastic driver, and that, even if he has the best car, he still has to do the business with it, which he has done. I thought Lewis’ comments about Alonso being “more accurate” in terms of hitting apexes was more than fair. The drivers know themselves who’s the more consistent, and they have a general idea about what each other has faced in terms of fighting with their car, etc.

  27. JR says:

    I think here we are making a big fuss of nothing.

    When Alonso says “we (Ferrari) are not fighting Vettel only, we are fighting Newey as well” he he just stating the obvious: Vettel is a great driver (not the best in the eyes of Alonso and many more) but Red Bull (Newey) is producing great cars during the last few seasons and we are finding really hard to beat that combination, that’s it.

    I don’t find that disrepectful or unsporting, not even a mind game, he is just describing the current situation for Ferrari and him. Looks like speaking one’s mind is counterproductive nowadays…

    1. Søren Kühle says:

      +1

  28. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Could Hamilton get ahead? He can equal 5 victories in 2012 with Vettel, not too bad for a non-title contender.

    1. KRB says:

      Hamilton started out with three straight podiums. Since then he’s only scored four more … all his four wins.

      If patterns hold, then Hamilton will not finish this race. He hasn’t finished the next race after any victory.

  29. Paul Leeson says:

    Alonso’s showing more and more of what I believe to be his true nature, his words and actions in the latter half of this season absolutely reek of excuses and desperation, I used to be something of a fan of his up until 2007 when we all saw a different side of his character, now I just think he’s one of the most distasteful drivers on the grid, Its extremely difficult to fault his skills in the car, but for me he’s not the most sporting or appealing of drivers, not by a long shot and I hope Vettel makes it 3 in a row, not only because he’s driven well enough to have earned it, but because he doesn’t appear to think he has a devine right to it. Let Alonso pursue his mind games, they’re the tactics of a player who’s running scared.

    1. Stewart says:

      I’ve never been a fan of Alonso, and 2007 just served to confirm my prejudices. I had thought he’d changed this year and was starting to come round to him, but all this stuff strikes me as childish and unsportsmanlike. I know he’s renowned for his relentlessness etc, but I think this is a sign of mental weakness. Go Seb.

    2. KGBVD says:

      It seems to be a Ferrari thing – that they are ENTITLED to the titles. That, all things being fair and equal, ALL TITLES will fall to them.

      It annoys the crap out of me. This attitude that they deserve it, just for being Ferrari, and just for being one of FIVE teams who have produced a race winning car (if no title winning campaigns). FA has been towing the party line more so this year than others. That he qualified 9th compared to Seb’s 2nd in Austin and said that he would outscore him. There is confidence, then there are delusions.

      I fear that FA has bought into the Ferrari nonsense and believes that some fate will intervene to make them the TRUE champions. It’s a shame really, because FA in an RB would be impossible to route against, and impossible to lose.

      1. dean cassady says:

        I am encouraged that we see the Ferrari ‘entitlement’ similarly.
        It is obvious to the attentive observer that Vettel-RB have earned their position.
        If I wasn’t, sadly, expecting it, I would be so disappointed with the pre-emptive excuses pouring out of the Alonso-Ferrari PR Corporation.
        Alonso is a great driver, but this whinging does NOT put him in good light.
        Go Filipe, go!

    3. Darren says:

      I have always been interested as to what people perceive him to have done wrong in 2007. He went to Mclaren a reigning double world champion having been signed sometime in 2005, he surely can be forgiven for assuming the team would back him against his rookie team mate? As the season progressed it became clear the rookie was no ordinary rookie and that the team didnt back Alonso and possibly didnt even give him equal treatment. His blocking in the pit lane was childish but hardly crime of the century. There is absolutely no comeback for the “we are racing Fernando” comment.

      He does like mind games, part of being a successful sportsman.

      1. Paul Leeson says:

        You’d have to, or at least, I would have to, wonder whether a double WDC would need backing “against” a rookie in the same team. His actions in Hungary were of course a reaction to the devious and sneaky actions of said rookie, but being a WDC one might be forgiven for thinking that Alonso wouldn’t have been scared of the talents of a rookie, and given his experience and achievements would have known better how to handle a competitive team-mate, but then, as we’ve come to realise, Alonso it seems cant handle a competitive team-mate.

    4. hero_was_henna says:

      +1000

  30. Gabe says:

    I can’t blame Alonso for feeling frustrated, he has delivered in every race, you can’t say the same for the Ferrari R&D team.
    Whoever wins this weekend will be a deserving champion.

  31. AlexD says:

    FERRARI:
    Had Ferrari produced a fast car for Alonso, he would not need to explain or prove anything to anybody. The way I see, he really was the best of the best this year and I can understand his frustration – he sees Vettel taking the third title while his team simply can’t give him the car to fight. He is doing his absolute best every race – if not for Alonso, Ferrari would not even be fighting for the title now.

    So yes, there is a perfect harmony between Vettel and his team, but it is easy to find harmony when things go your way.

    Vettel should take this one pretty easy. No need to build tension:-)

    1. KGBVD says:

      Agreed.

      If Koby was in the championship hunt, ppl would say he was flattering the car. But no one would expect him to win.

      Glock may outdrive the car 18 raced a year but no one says he’s ‘deserving’ of the title.

      Vettel gets the max from his car. His car is the fastest? Job done.

      Alonso shouldn’t be commended for being in an underperforming team,

  32. Michael grievson says:

    I’m not Vettel’s biggest fan but I respect everything he has achieved. He may be in the fastest car but then so is Webber who is always slower.

    What really annoys me is when people say Alonso outdrives the car. Its not possible to do something in a car its not capable. He obviously does extract more performance than Massa however,

    1. [MISTRESS] says:

      well said

    2. Wade Parmino says:

      When it is said that a driver ‘outdrives’ the car, it means that the driver gets better results than what could be reasonably expected from a driver with that particular car. Kovaleinnen also punches above his weight, so to speak, quite often.

      Perhaps, what could be reasonably expected from the Ferrari is the mid point between Alonso’s and Massa’s results. Alonso has been better than his car this year for certain.

    3. dean cassady says:

      And lately, NOT better than Massa.
      I hope wins, but, that could only happen if Alonso retires, and maybe not even then.

  33. paxdog57 says:

    Yes and there were many great drivers in the past that never won a world championship. Luck, best car and team are all factors that are beyond the control of an individual driver. Who ever wins on Sunday, both Vettel & Alonso are very talented and the rivalry makes this season special. Lets hope 2013 has more of the same.

  34. Julian C says:

    This reminds me of the Williams days. Damon Hill nor Nigel Mansell were regarded as an all-time greats yet their win/pole counts were impressive. Mansell could’ve easily been a triple world champion with Hill a double world champion (maybe triple, had he not been fired for 97) but for unlucky incidents. Similarly, Nelson Piquet, a triple world champion is quite frankly remembered only for that fact and nothing else – he also got lucky. Also, recall how impressive Schumi was in dragging his Ferrari into contention in 96-97 – a la Alonso for the last 3 years.

  35. F1fan4life says:

    The more Sebastian says it’s not about the car so much the more hilarious it is. People aren’t asking this because of mindgames, it’s simply because the majority believe he isn’t the best driver this year. He says in history people don’t do well in bad cars but the problem is the guy in red fighting with you has already done well. Let’s be real here Red Bull have failed in reliability in a couple of races but that is part of your package. Grosjean crashing into you is not part of your package so Alonso probably deserves to be leading the championship before this race. I was just watching free practice 2 here in Asia and the two commentators listed their top 5 drivers this year.. one has Vettel in 4th behind Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen. Sorry Sebastian guess you can’t sit in the fastest car and have everyone ignore the obvious… you aren’t the best driver this year. Congratulations on your title.

    1. KGBVD says:

      And yet the title will be remembered.

      No one in 30 years will say “oh yea but FA tried so hard”.

      Bleeding hearts need to realize that it is the result that counts; which is why Ferrari pulled their Oh-So-Desperate trick last weekend (and also why, if they win, no one will care).

      Seb will be the youngest 3 time champ ever. He will also be the younger 5 time champ. He will be regarded as one of the best ever. The one who took away the titles of a driver who COULD have been the best ever (but unfortunately drover for Ferrari).

      1. trullifan says:

        ‘The one who took away the titles of a driver who COULD have been the best ever (but unfortunately drover for Ferrari).’

        Ferrari do have the potential to win 5 titles in a row, provided they have a brilliant driver, Schumi is proof to that claim. If Alonso fails, it will be due to him not being good enough.

      2. Wade Parmino says:

        Well Niki Lauda’s valiant effort in 1976 is still remembered even though he did not win the championship.

    2. Oly says:

      Very true and very well said.

  36. Peter C says:

    Why does Dick Dastardly have to do it?

    James says that Vettel is on the back foot, I don’t agree. The Aussies in cricket invented ‘sledging’, where you make comments or insult your opponent to put them off their game.

    The funny thing about it is that the one who does it is REALLY the one on the back foot.
    It shows a lack of security, a bit like a school bully.

    1. KGBVD says:

      Agreed.

      Mutley would never make such comments, he just snickers at others’ failings.

    2. [MISTRESS] says:

      nice comparison

    3. Wade Parmino says:

      I think the general action of ‘sledging’ may have originated in American baseball before it was in cricket.

      Depending on how it is done, sledging is part of sport. Sly, cryptic or cheeky remarks here or there are OK whereas attacking someone personally (like Nelson Piquet on Nigel Mansell) is totally unacceptable. I don’t think Alonso has said anything which could be considered unacceptable. I also don’t think anything he says will put Vettel off his game.

      1. trullifan says:

        Interesting that you cite Piquet. He used to claim that Senna is gay and Mansell’s wife is ugly. It was part of the game back then. I wonder if such claims would be acceptable in today’s corporate era? Also Senna used to start every second sentence with the f-word while being interwieved. I wonder what the FIA would have to say about such language nowerdays? Seems F1 changed a lot since back then.

  37. KGBVD says:

    Fernando seems about to combust under the pressure. I don’t think he’s ever going to win a title with Ferrari.

    His time will wait until he switches with Seb in 2014 (one rooster at Ferrari at a time please; RB will have an opening).

    FA in a RB will be unstoppable like we’ve never seen.

    1. MikeyB says:

      Ironically, if Red Bull ever do have to replace Vettel (which I personally don’t see happening), Alonso would be at best their third choice after Hamilton and Raikkonen, both proven winners who fit far better with the Red Bull brand image.

  38. Nil says:

    James, since it’s the last race of the season can you put together a list of all races showing which was the fastest car each weekend based on practice times on short and long runs and who won the race?

  39. maxime says:

    Rubbish! Mark Webber has the same car and look where he is…

    1. Wade Parmino says:

      True. But Vettel is not THAT much better than Webber. The car has been engineered specifically for Vettel. Webber just gets the same one and does the best he can (which is not bad).

  40. Schumi says:

    I think Seb is clever enough to understand that Alonso’s only reaslistic chance to win is with Seb retiring from race. He seems uninterested in Alonso’s mindgames. The funny part is that these jibes make Alonso look stupid at times if the race turns out to be uneventful/dry. Just to point out that Alonso’s crash at Suzuka was his own bringing. You could always watch replays on youtube and listen to commentary. I don’t ever recall MSc blaming Newey’s cars etc. in late 90s and early 2000s. I wonder why does Telfonso always needs an execuse to over hype his performance ?! Mark my words, if Vettelw in 3rd WDC on Sunday, this would start end-game for Telfonso at Ferrari. Ferrari loves winners only! and an extension of that would be Vettel being Ferrari no. 1 in 2014 along with a rookie no.2 driver !

    1. Sugar Water says:

      For the sake of the Ferrarri Legend, PLEASE anyone but SB.

      1. trullifan says:

        Who or what is ‘SB’?

    2. [MISTRESS] says:

      +10000

    3. JR says:

      Who is Teflonso? If your talking about the Ferrari driver, his name is Fernando Alonso.

  41. JohnBt says:

    The photo in this article is perfect!
    The expressions somehow tells a story.

    Anyway Alonso has always been a mind games expert. But I prefer his racing skills anytime.

  42. nusratholla says:

    I wonder How Vettel would’ve been rated had he been an Englishman?

    I think there is a tradition in F1 to discredit German Drivers, this has been the case with Michael Schumacher and the same is being seen with Vettel, so comes as no surprise.

    Car or not… he came out of nowhere in this year’s championship. His drive from the pits was the drive of the year. First safety car was counterproductive while the second neutralised the damage caused by the first. So, it was his driving that made all that happen.

    First, it was Hamilton then, it was Ron Dennis, now its the car…. Can someone tell Alonso to shut up?

    If he is fighting with Ardian and Vettel then Vettel is fighting Ferrari (which is not a dog of a car as Alonso claims) as well as Ferrari’s dirty tactics and more importantly Ferrari’s reliability. And ofcourse Perez (in Malaysia), Massa (in U.S) and Kartikayen.

    If Ferrari were successful in poaching Adrian, then any championship won by Alonso must be negated in its worth?

    He is not exactly running on his feet while Vetel is in his RB is it? he too has a credible car. Didn’t his Valencia win was courtesy of Vetel’s failure and Safety car?

    And he is the lead and the only driver of a team with the largest budget in F1. and he is mudslinging a kid?

    No wonder Kimi has the largest fan following in F1 for he wants to be left alone for he knows what he’s doing and he doesn’t care about any other driver. This is what we fan wants… we want Heroes like Kimi not whiners like Alonso.

    The only way Alonso will win this year’s WDC is courtesy his Ferrari’s consistency and Redbull’s Failure.

    1. [MISTRESS] says:

      great comment

    2. trullifan says:

      John Surtees once reckoned that there is a dark side within Alonsos’s character. You summed it up nicely.

    3. dean cassady says:

      I’m not a 10% sure of the thing about the English and German drivers; thre are a lot of Englishmen with a bizarre Teutonic-envy’ or something equally baffling; however, there is no doubt about the Britannia-centric focus of the Formula One English-language media.
      Totally agree about Kimi; I am hoping for a car with the possibility to achieve podiums from the first race, then within a year we can all celebrate Kimi’s second WC.

  43. Wade Parmino says:

    No handshake? This is not very sporting. Especially since it is tradition. Have there been any queries about this put to the drivers, teams or F1 management?

  44. dean cassady says:

    Here we see where Alonso really excels, head games, mind games, political manoevering. While it has become standard in formula one, it became entrenched and accepted as unavoidable during the Schumacher era, it is still pathetic.
    Even if I didn’t believe Vettel was the best driver this year, which he clearly was, I would still want him to beat Alonso.
    Alonso’s esteem is lowered in my opinion.
    What about Alonso’s Renault superiority during his championship years.
    I don’t remember reading about Vettel making excuses when the RB was WAY off the pace this year.
    Machinery comparative performance has ALWAYS played a role in the championship.
    I was not a big Vettel fan at the start of this season; for all of the reasons cited by the Alonso PR Corporation; but if you have any doubts, take a look at Budapest, and watch Vettel, from way back, with a car clearly on the edge; it was that performance that changed my mind about Vettel.
    My prediction for the race:
    a. expect ANYTHING from Ferrari
    b. expect fantastic measured racing from Vettel, and a third world championsip in a fair race.

    1. [MISTRESS] says:

      fully agree.+1

  45. For sure says:

    James, this is not the only time they have been doing this. Lewis says “Alonso is my biggest threat”. Alonso says “Lewis is the guy to watch out”. They have been doing that all year.
    What do you make of that? I feel like they really worried Mr Finger, deep down, rightfully so.

  46. Alonso def has the mind game over Vettel (as shown above) – but Red Bull has the mind game over Ferrari

    Ferrari are still very nervous following the huge strategy error in 2010

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