Analysis: Vettel’s astonishing speed in Singapore – here to stay?
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Sep 2013   |  11:00 am GMT  |  556 comments

One of the most commented aspects of the Singapore Grand Prix was the astonishing speed of Sebastian Vettel, particularly in the opening laps and the initial laps after the safety car. There have been many questions about how this was achieved and some interesting observations, such as Giancarlo Minardi’s comments about a strange sound coming from Vettel’s exhaust in these phases.

Here with the input of JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan, former Williams F1 team chief operations engineer, is our analysis of Vettel’s speed and a consideration of why it was so noticeable in Singapore and whether it is here to stay for the rest of the 2013 season.

Graphic: Mark Gillan

It is clear that Red Bull has made a big improvement in performance since the summer break. Compare the lap time charts from Singapore (above) and German Grands Prix (below). The numbers down the vertical axis are the lap times in seconds, with the lower times at the bottom. The number of laps in the race are across the horizontal axis.

In terms of relative pace to the others, Vettel and Red Bull were quite closely matched in Germany (below), but have obviously moved a long way ahead in Singapore.

Graphic: Mark Gillan

Mercedes had the edge in Hungary in July, where there are also plenty of sub 130km/h corners. Hamilton’s pace, when not held up by traffic, is still quite good, but Vettel has a clear one second advantage in the early part of the race and more like 1.5 to 2 seconds in the period after the safety car (the blue line in the centre of the graphic which loops much lower than any other run). This post Safety car phase is probably an accurate reflection of the true pace of the car fully extended, as Vettel and Red Bull were looking to build a big gap as he had to stop again and he didn’t want to come out behind one of the cars, like Alonso, Raikkonen or Button, who were going to the finish on the same set of tyres.

It’s quite rare to see a race so utterly dominated by a car and driver combination. Having built a gap early in the race, he backs off and manages the tyres and the gap to his first stop. But the safety car made him work to get the advantage back and he had huge pace, with very limited tyre degradation.

So where has the pace come from and will it show up as dramatically as this in Korea and Japan?

The key to this is that Red Bull has done a lot of work on traction out of low speed corners. On average, across all the tracks in the F1 championship, 25% of the lap time is spent below 130km/h on corner exits. It is the most significant single area to focus on. So if you can make a significant gain in that area, you can get effectively a 25% improvement, which will show in your lap time.

Singapore is an extreme example as it has 23 corners and many of them are below 130km/h – so all the gain Red Bull has been working for will show up on a track like that. This will be less the case in Suzuka, which is a fast, flowing circuit, but it will probably show up in the first and final sectors in Korea, which will be pretty good to the team. Much of the work has gone on in the diffuser area, which generates the key downforce for the low speed corners in conjunction with the exhausts, although off-throttle blowing (where the throttle stays open even when the driver lifts off) is banned.

Also contributing to Red Bull’s dominance in the corner exit area is work they have done in the wind tunnel on high steer characteristics, when the car is turning and in yaw (ie leaning). Red Bull chassis have always had very high amounts of downforce, but here they’ve worked to ensure that it isn’t just about high load, it’s about the stability of the load, which is a big focus. Red Bull has always been able to push the diffuser hard in the high speed corners, the key to their speed now is that they have tuned it to work at low speed.

Red Bull wheel - Photo: XPB

Also helping them is the Pirelli move to the harder specification tyres, since Hungary. They have won three of the four races on the new spec tyres. Beyond that, like Mercedes they have done work on the inside of the wheel rims in the field of thermal management and heat rejection. The slots and texturing in the magnesium alloy rims work on flow through the rim. It’s a complex piece of work and quite expensive to do, but it helps with managing the temperature of these tricky Pirelli tyres.

This thermal management work has allowed Vettel to run a longer first stint than his rivals and to balance out his stops perfectly in recent races.

The team has also raised its game with the pit stops: in Singapore four of the five fastest stops in the race were done by Red Bull.

One intriguing note on all of this comes from Italy, where former team owner Giancarlo Minardi spoke to Gazzetta dello Sport after Singapore and observed that he had been trackside in a hospitality unit and heard what he thought sounded like traction control, a stuttering sound in the exhaust note of Vettel’s car, during the post safety car period.

Needless to say this has picked up some echoes around the internet, as everyone looks for reasons for Vettel’s dominance. While there does seem to be some work being undertaken in engine mapping to work around the ban on exhaust blowing, which may have contributed to the strange sound, the issue of traction control is broadly taken care of by the common Electronic Control Unit, which is manufactured for the FIA by McLaren Electronics. Because the unit is specified and the same for every team, it is hard to conceal a traction control command in what is essentially a spec part.

Rather than traction control, some kind of mapping to blow into the exhaust within the rules is more likely and this all fits with the corner exit work that Red Bull has been carrying out.

Overall it’s an impressive piece of work in this field of low speed corner exits; all the more so when you consider that they had also recently done a very impressive piece of work on the low-dowforce configuration of the car for Spa and particularly Monza, both of which they won comfortably. Red Bull has huge resources, but so do Ferrari and Mercedes.

This work shows how effectively they use those resources in terms of technical development. And with Vettel clearly maturing and stepping up a gear as a driver this season, far more measured in his qualifying and race performances, the combination is devastating. It shows what the rest are up against.

Success in sport isn’t just about doing your job properly, it’s about never giving anything away to the opposition. A brilliant footballer can dribble around 3 players and score a wonder goal, but if one of his defenders makes a mistake and gives the opposition an easy goal, it nullifies the adavantage.

Michael Schumacher brought this mentality to F1 together with Ferrari in the 2000s – never giving anything away, push everything to the limit all the time and in this he was supported by his team, with the key management figures all sharing the vision.

To be successful in F1 today you have to have this mentality and never let it slip. Red Bull Racing and Vettel have understood this and they have the limitless financial backing to support it.

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  1. Albert says:

    Finally some common sense instead of “traction control” conspiracies

    1. Gudien says:

      Conspiracies only where Mark Webber is concerned. Next year, when Webbo is finally gone, we’ll see some competition at Red Bull from young Ricciardo.


      1. alexdhq says:

        Wishful thinking…

        It will take a while for Ricciardo to get accustomed to the new environment, even though he’s been part of the family for some time now. An then, we don’t know yet if he’s able to take the fight to Vettel.

        As much as I’d like to see someone bring an end to the RB/Vettel dominance, it’s hard to believe that there is any reason this won’t continue to be the case in the new season, even with new regulations and new competition from within the team.

      2. Wade Parmino says:

        It is statistically likely that Red Bull dominance will be curtailed. Ferrari dominated with MS for 5 straight years but then were defeated by Renault. This year is the fourth year of Red Bull (Vettel) winning constantly. Next year, with the rule changes, someone else could take the lead. Try as they might to keep up the form, becoming complacent is an inevitable human trait. Brawn, Todt and Schumacher were all eventually bested by Briatore and Alonso.

      3. Michael says:

        Renault’s dominance in 2005 and 2006 was Michelin tires combined with suspension designed by Michelin. And the fact that Bridgestone wasn’t competitive and the competing Michelin tam had hopelessly unreliable engines.

        It’s highly unlikely that Red Bull is going to have a catastrophic flaw (like the Mercedes V10s) and the tires are equalized. It’s simply drastically less likely that someone will benefit from the kind of combination of fortuitous circumstances that Renault did 05&06

      4. Rich B says:

        a very optimistic view, danny’s got a lot to prove. Webber’s lost his spark this year but danny isn’t up to the standards of Webber’s form prior to it.
        he’s the right man for the job but it’ll take a while for him to improve enough (if he can)to be a serious challenge for vettel.
        the sooner he does the better though, vettel’s domination is impressive but very dull.

      5. Ryan says:

        What makes you think they’re driving the same car? Who has all the best upgrades? Who has the most reliable car? Who is supported most by the team? Who is given a car that can get off the line correctly? Who has the best strategy? Seriously, take a moment to think about this and put your bias for Vettel and your disdain for Webber aside.

        Just take a look at the starts -Webber who is a ten year veteran of F1 can’t seem to get off the line without getting bogged down. He’s being deliberately sabotaged. What makes me say this you might be wondering? It only ever happens if he’s qualified in a competitive position to Vettel.

        Now, I’m not blaming Vettel, I don’t know if he’s involved in that but he is of course taking the best of everything the team have. If I were to blame anyone it would be Helmut Marko and Christian Horner and Adrian Newey.
        That’s just the start of it too.

      6. Chris says:

        You offer no evidence, this just sounds like your pure frustrations (which we all have). The lobbying for older tyres has more to do with it!

      7. Rudy says:

        You are ABSOLUTELY right. Now that Webber retires from the sport, he no longer has the 2014 vision, so give the updates and the development parts to the kid to evaluate. Honestly, RBR killed Mark Webber’s carreer. How can anyone preserve the will to go on if every single effort goes to the other side of the garage. Here in JA on F1, as in other sites, they keep us telling how good and great Seb is. Really? I would like to see what would the kid do w/o Helmut protection. That’s why he doesn’t go elsewhere to prove how good he can be. Look at Lewis, he praised and was in love with Macca but at the end he decided to change team. I am no Hamilton fan, but I recognize how ballsy that move was. He has won 2-3 races now whereas McL has done nothing. That kind of stuff make greatness. Alonso overdriving the red thing for several years now makes him great. Schumacher benefited from premium tyres and limitless testing, along with carrying over Byrne and Ross with him. Certainly he had to drive but look at Barrichello, Irvine and Massa, carreers practically shredded. Say what you like about Seb. Is like the Messi factor, would want to see him playing w Arsenal, Chelsea, Juventus, whatever, and see if he can cut the cheese there away from his comfort zone. Rest my case.

    2. Matt says:

      How do you explain Vettel only being a tenth of a second ahead of Rosberg during qualifying, but more than 2.5 seconds a lap faster during the race?

      Please don’t tell me that Vettel was “sand bagging” during FP3 when he was only a few tenth of a second ahead of Grosjean and about 1/10 of a second ahead of Rosberg during qualifying. Nobody is that good.

      Since Mark Webber is not a person to mence his words, it will be very interesting to hear what he has to say about this after he leaves Red Bull. Mark usually wins 2 or 3 races per year. How come he hasn’t won at least one race this year? Maybe he doesn’t have the same car as Vettel.

      1. Sebee says:

        Oh Matt…

        I will explain it to you by saying read the article.

        James clearly says that RBR find improvements in all areas and compound those improvements. You can see James points that they aim to be best everywhere.

        This is why I think the argument of changing teams to win WDCs is null. I think it’s much harder actually to stay on top of the mountain longer. You get comfortable, not as hungry, etc. It’s really impressive to see such a run. Beside Ferrari with Schumi, can goferet perhaps remind us of stats for longest runs of WDCs/WCC? Is it Ferrari, and now RBR? Did McLaren put a string of 3 or 4 WCCs in the 80s or early 90s? I think many teams put together two back to back years, but never 1/2 decade like Schumi and Vettel.

        As for Webber, sure he’s open and honest but he would be silly to reveal corporate inside details after departing RBR. It would make him look bitter for one. Also, it would make him unappealing to sponsors. Why would he burn bridges at Red Bull? You don’t think they will support him in an LMP car? In his cycling charity? In other forms? When you have a strong relatinoship with a sponsor like Red Bull you’d be an absolute fool to ruin it. Webber is definately not cut from the “fool” cloth. Like DC he will probably do Mark-eting duty in the older RBRs around the world too.

      2. Matt says:

        It’s amazing to me that you would take the words of a journalist as gospel instead of a former team owner who did not use pie-charts and graphs, but instead his eyes and ears.There is a saying about graphs and servays. “You can interperts them any way you like to prove your points”.
        One is on the outside looking in and the other was at one time, on the inside. He owned a team when traction control was legal. He knows what the engine sounds like when a driver is using traction control.
        I’m not saying that I believe Minardi 100%, but I’m not so quick to dismiss it like most on the people on this website. Teams do cheat! If Nico Rosberg didn’t say something to Vettel during the driver’s meeting in Monaco, we probably would have never known about the illegal tyre testing that Mercedes and Pirelli carried out.

      3. Terry Pearson says:

        Mark-eting duty! Oooooo

        James are we near 300k ;-)

      4. Fireman says:


        “It’s amazing to me that you would take the words of a journalist as gospel instead of a former team owner…”

        There’s always F1 tech experts chiming in for these articles.

      5. Wade Parmino says:

        With the amount he has already earned, he would have to be super ultra major greedy to even care about any Red Bull marketing opportunities. Unless Red Bull are sponsoring the Le Mans Porsche team, why would he give two hoots. Besides, if there has been any unfair or underhanded goings on within Red Bull, he doesn’t seem like he could keep it to himself.

      6. Zombie says:

        Maybe just that Vettel has raised his game to a new level since 2009, and Webber’s performance has remained the same.

      7. Equin0x says:

        Of course Vettel’s raised his game and now is almost untouchable but the thing is he was better than Webber in 2009 and he was only a kid back then, Mark is a bloody fast driver and has demolished any team mate he has had which includes Rosberg, Heidfeld and Coulthard and that makes Vettel look more impressive this champion is here to stay and will be gunning for Schumacher’s records, that pole position record could well fall next season along with the youngest 5 time world champion.

      8. Tealeaf says:

        For starters Vettel was about 1.2 sec faster than Rosberg in the race on average, and also in a perfect quali lap he would have been at least 0.7sec faster than Rosberg, quali has always been Merc’s strong point in the race, you could say how comes the Ferrari is always 0.6sec slower than the Merc yet they are 0.2sec faster than the Mercs in the race, explain that, same goes for Lotus, if anything its Merc’s Q3 performances thats out of sync, and the bottom line is Vettel is now in his prime and by far the best driver in F1, in race trim he is worth at least 0.5sec on average over a race stint over the likes of Webber, Hamilton, Rosberg and even Raikkonen, I wouldn’t bet against Seb out pacing Alonso over a race distant too, but at Singapore he was on a different level yet again it reminds me of Senna at Monaco 88, complete utter dominance and almost inhuman like performance, quite remarkable and I for 1 think Im lucky to be watching Seb’s era in F1, he will win the title with Ferrari too I believe it now.

      9. Matt says:

        In the beginning of the season, Mercedes were great in qualifying, but terrible during the races. After the illegal tyre testing and Perilli switching the tyre construction from steel belts to kelvar, Mercedes have been very good in qualifying and the races. At the British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was leading the race when his left-rear tyre blew. Nico Rosberg won the race when Vettel retired due to his transmission failure. Lewis Hamilton went on to dominate the Hungrian Grand Prix.
        1.2 seconds? What race were you watching? After the first lap, Vettel was leading the race by 2.5 seconds.Oh! you must mean after Vettel used the Adrian Newey illegal traction control( the sound Minardi said he heard whenever Vettel would push hard) to establish his 30 second cusion on the rest of the field and then he would “throttle back” and manage the gap.
        I really don’t think you understand how huge 2.5 seconds per lap is in today’s Formula 1. Tyres are the same and engines are basicly the same. Adrian Newey is the king of aerodynamics, but 2.5 seconds per lap? They other top teams may not be on his level, but they are not complete idiots either.
        Now that the world will be watching( and listening) because of Minardi’s article, lets see how dominant Vettel and Red Bull the remaining 6 races. By the world, I mean race stewards, the other formula 1 teams, and the media (Sky Sports F1, BBC F1 and other publications).

      10. clyde says:

        @ Tealeaf
        Monaco 88 had Prost in equal machinery in the other car not webber in the lame car

      11. Gazza says:

        Sorry Tealeaf but this race wouldn’t hold a candle to Senna Monaco 1988.

        For a start Monaco is a drivers circuit and Senna,s team mate was no less than Alain Prost.

        When Vettel gets in the same machinery with another WDC in the other car and whips him like Senna did to Prost I will sign his praises along with you.

        If it ever happens……….?

      12. MelB says:

        Put anyone of the four-five best drivers on the grid in an RB and they will out-drive the other ones.

      13. KRB says:

        Gazza, while I agree about Senna looking even better b/c Prost was in the other car, Monaco ’88 surely isn’t the example to use … sure, he made an incredible gap between himself and the rest at the start of the race, but in the end he crashed into the barriers after a lapse in concentration.

      14. speedy_bob says:

        2.5 seconds on a clear track that is. Everyone else was battling and checking their mirrors.

        Only one car had clear air and that was Vettel.
        Since you claim the other teams do not employ idiots, why ahsn’t a single teammember said anything? Why would it take a retired teammanager, who never raced KERS-engines, standard ECU and a complex diffuser to spot a sound in one of the most reverberating tracks on the calendar? Ever thought of that? Don’t you think spotters from the other teams would have taken notice long before Mr. Minardi?

        Finally: What motivation can be at heart for Mr. Minardi to make his claims. He didn’t even make the claims, his words got blown out of proportion and he only hinted towards something.
        He wouldn’t be the first to step into a journalist-trap or nor would he be the first to think his own judgment cannot be clouded after many years away from F1.

      15. John H says:

        “Vettel is now in his prime and by far the best driver in F1, in race trim he is worth at least 0.5sec on average over a race stint over the likes of Webber, Hamilton, Rosberg and even Raikkonen”

        At least 0.5 seconds! LOL

      16. Giorgio says:

        My friend,
        Vettel was 6 or 7 tenths ahead of Rosberg and everyone else when he did his lap. After he finished his lap, he decided to stay in the pits when the track was getting much better. You can see the advantages that everyone else gained (more than half a second) but Vettel stayed in the pits, and whatever advantages others got was not enough to catch up to the gap Vettel had created.
        Conspiracy theories are cool, but if you think Webber is as good a driver as Vettel then i don’t know what to tell you buddy.
        I hope this shed some light on why the gap was less than a tenth in q3.

      17. Matt says:

        Ok, lets say that Vettel did a second run in Q3 and he was .7 to .9 second faster than Rosberg because of the track rubbering-in. How do you account for Vettel being 1.5 to 2 seconds faster during the racing? They all take on the same amount of fuel for the race so where did the additional proformance came from?

      18. Tealeaf says:

        Try telling him that, I wonder how many more of our lol english speaking fans will implode after the torture of the Vettel asian season at Korea, India and Japan, I expect a lot and many more excuse will be out, something along the likes of he’s allowed more power, bespoke tyres I’m sure outrageous claims will be running rife, anything but praise for the true champion doing his job.

      19. Rob Newman says:

        In Q3, Vettel did only one run. He said he could have gone a tenth or two faster. We didn’t really see Red Bull’s speed in Q3.

      20. Veteran says:

        1 number: 2011

        All there is needed to understand.

      21. Rich B says:

        webber has lost his mojo this year, nothing to do with the car

      22. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

        He didn’t really lose his modjo, Seb and Christian took it from him in shocking style in Malaysia.

      23. manz says:


      24. Sam Collinson says:

        Vettel didn’t make a second run in Q3 like the rest did on new tyres and a more rubbered in track.

      25. Sikhumbuzo says:

        + 1

      26. Martin says:

        Hi Mstt,

        There are many possibilities with the speed differences between qualifying and the race. In qualifying the teams are using tyre pressures to get the ride height optimised for the aerodynamics combined with the low fuel level. The Red Bull is known to use a lot of rake in the car. The nose down tail up attitude of the Red Bull is less ride height sensitive than many of the other cars. So that is one potential factor.

        Traction control is highly unlikely to be the answer. As the article suggests the control ECU makes this improbable from a detection point of view. The nature of the engines running on four cylinders out of tight corners, the relatively low torque of the engines and driver sensitivity all mean that there isn’t a huge amount to be gained on a dry track anyway. Go back to the Australian race and the comments by the Lotus team that Kimi had two wheelspin events in the whole race. These drivers are highly skilled and Vettel is known for his adaptability with the throttle.

        An engine mode that aids exhaust blowing on light throttle during the turn-in phase is entirely plausible. It will chew through a fair bit of fuel, and so combined with the safety car, a full power mode for the post safety car period and then cruising at the end is plausible.

        The initial speed on the opening laps probably has a lot to do with tyre temperature management. The start tends to make the rear tyres very hot, so if a car has to managed temperatures as much as the Mercedes do then that gives opportunities for others to exploit. After the restart, Rosberg was compromised by the rubber in his front wing, which will have reduced peaked speed a bit and hurt tyre life even more, so he had to slow down. The rate at which Hamilton could catch him at the end each time Rosberg gained an advantage with the traffic to me suggests a wounded car as it seemed too great to just be Hamilton’s talent.

        A further comment on traction control is that that would be a RenaultSport thing, not a Red Bull development. Renault is more conservative with the rules, and has reason to be following Singapore 2008. Red Bull’s engineering expertise is much more in fluid dynamics and material science. There have been comments from within the team on how the team is quite a mechanical engineering shop in its interests – still lots of technology though. The team does not have a strong interest in KERS for example – it is not where the expertise is.

      27. Matt says:

        Let me see if I can summorize your response. According to you, Vettel was leading Rosberg by 2.5 seconds after the first lap because of (1) Red Bull’s better ride-height control, (2) better torgue mapping of the Red Bull’s engine, (3) Rosberg’s rear tyres were over-heated during the formation lap even though his race engineer can see the telemetry of his car and could have told him to back off, and (4) Rosberg’s pace on the openning laps were compromized because of rubber in his front wing even though it was the first laps.
        Wow! After reading your many, many hypostasis, I’m surprised that Vettel weren’t leading by at least 10 seconds after the first lap. I mean you forgot to mention (5) how Vettel has raised his game, and (6) how Vettel and his car are now a perfect union of man and machine.

      28. Wade Parmino says:

        All team bosses would deny it but if one of their technical advisers said to them that they had discovered a way of utilizing an illegal piece of tech by concealing it in a way as to guarantee it will not be detected, the super competitive nature of Formula 1 would make such an opportunity too good to resist. Of all the incidents of cheating that have been exposed, it is a fair assumption that there is at least as many incidents which were gotten away with.

        All this can be avoided. If only the technical regulations were relaxed and more innovation allowed, Formula 1 would be as good as it was in the late 80′s early 90′s. Williams, for example is a team that excels in the area of new mechanical technologies however they have been stifled for at least 10 years because of the ridiculous restrictions. If there is a new FIA president I hope he revives the resource restriction agreement idea and drastically relaxes the technical regulations. Formula 1 is getting closer and closer to being just another control formula.

        Less scrutineers checking if the cars are legal and more accountants checking if teams budgets are within a set of agreed parameters. This is the way to go.

      29. jay jacob says:

        Hi Wade,

        Kinda agree with you in some areas, especially regarding technological innovations..but not too sure how budget restrictions will work in parallel with relaxed technical regulations.

        Anything associated with F1 is pricey and so is technology..and the case may be that budget restrictions will lead to more car parts going down the standardization route, hence we come full circle to another ‘control formula’ of-a-sort which is the very thing we’re trying to avoid.

        Maybe someone should try to funnel more of FOM’s revenue to reward “teams + technology partners” with the most innovative solutions…maybe something along the line of a ‘Technical Championship’…since we already have a Drivers’ Championship and a Constructors’ Championship so why not?

      30. Sebee says:

        I think James makes a reasonable case for caution before jumping to conclusions. Minardi has been out of it for a while. He knows not what technologies are under the skin. Traction control may be outlawed, but clever engine mapping and other gimicks in the drive train can perhaps optimize traction without actual traction control being present. ECUs control the traction control – and with them being standardized there is no question that the software is not present on the RBR.

        This is F1. You find a way to do something clever to optimize traction at certain scenarios, too bad for competition. If they can’t figure out the trickery of the RBR that is perfectly legal – too bad.

        I tell you one trick RBR definately uses. It was a speech to the RBR team by the Big Red Bull himself. Probably went something like this.


        We’re going to do special things here at RBR. There is only one thing I won’t tolerate – anyone leaving the team. You want to leave – leave now. If you choose to stay, I expect your commitment to the team, to your fellow team members, to me until we collectively decide as a team this trip is over. To my left is a man who needs no introduction, but for you young kids – it’s Chuck Norris. He will ensure the team stick together.

        As that funny joke goes. Fear of spiders is aracnophobia. Fear of tight spaces is chlaustraphobia. Fear of Chuck Norris is logic.

        Team dismissed! ;-)

      31. Matt says:

        LOL! Very funny. Thank you

      32. Martin says:

        Hi Matt,

        If you are going to summarise my response, it would help if you read it carefully an thought a bit.

        Relatively simple words like “restart” are unlikely to be used to mean lap one when in a race with a safety car.

        When I write “the start” I mean the start and not the formation lap. The tyres distort massively at the point of clutch release and are transferring large torque levels in first and second gear for a relatively long time.

        Ride height sensitivity is an aerodynamic property. Ride height control is a property of the springs.

        The reference to engine modes is about something the driver selects. The cars do not start with a fuel level that will allow the cars to finish the race if they ran in a maximum power mode for the full race. If one driver is in a high power mode and another is in a conserving mode then you can get a lap time difference. The Vettel and Webber collision in Turkey 2010 was facilitated by Vettel being in a more powerful fuel mode. This has little to do with Renault being better than Mercedes, although there are some journalists who have claimed that the Renault has lesser fuel consumption than the Ferrari and Mercedes engines.

        So in summarising four points you got all of them wrong.

        On the conspiracy theory, why would Red Bull only deploy traction control in the race and not in qualifying? Fresh tyres in qualifying will help a little, but there is still a performance benefit.

        It might be worthwhile considering that not all people contributing to this site are completely ignorant of engineering and unread about F1. If there were simplistic answers to F1 then we might just see a more random distribution of winners.

      33. Matt says:

        Wow! I don’t know what you do for a living, but you have a very bright future in politics.

      34. adam says:

        Read Gary Anderson’s article. As an ex-technical director he knows a lot more than anyone here

    3. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      I disagree, how can be said that the extraordinary Red Bull mapping is “within the rules”?

      It’s the car. VETTEL has something WEBBER doesn’t, and ALONSO also has a launch system very different of the rest of the grid…

      For me this season is between Webber, Hamilton and Raikkonen really.

      1. David C says:

        Webber lol

      2. Tornillo Amarillo says:

        3. Lewis Hamilton 151
        4. Kimi Räikkönen 149
        5. Mark Webber 130

      3. David C says:

        yes and look at what his team mate achieved in the same car, unless you have proof that the cars arnt the same ……. which you dont!!!!

      4. Tim says:

        Out of interest, do you think Webbers and Vettels car are the same?

      5. David C says:

        Hi Tim, on the most part i would say yes that the cars are the same (even MW himself said this year that the drivers are supported technically the same) but I believe there are ocasions when only one new part is available it is assigned to the driver with the greatest chance of winning the title, However these instances are rare and by in large (as stated by MW himself) the cars are technically the same.

      6. expertf1 says:

        david. what about the countless reliability then? is that the same on both cars?

      7. David C says:

        @expertf1 every year SV looses more points through reliability problems, if you doubt me go on Wikipedia and run the numbers.

      8. Stizzle says:

        I remember my first F1 season :/

      9. Kirk says:

        I know you always say that Vettel car is different to Webber, but there is no way to prove it, I would say that Vettel is a better driver than Webber, also has a better support from the team, there are some motivations issues for Webber as he is leaving F1 and should be thinking more in Porsche than in RB, his starts are really bad and finally he doesn’t classify in pole in a car made to win in such position. About the Alonso launching system, well, Massa also has shown incredible starts, so is pretty clear they have done a good job there, but also, you need skills to not to crash and some luck to go where no cars could go, that is the example of Singapore, Alonso made it well and have some luck choosing the way but Massa which made a really good start also choose a way with many cars that couldn’t overtake. By the way, I’m not saying Vettel is 2.5 sec faster than Webber, it’s a more complex combination of elements that for some people see as a conspiracy theory, but I guess that the Red Bull’s owner, a businessman, wouldn’t loose money slowing Webber when he can earn even more money if he goes as fast as possible.

      10. Martin says:

        +1 and then a few more +s

      11. Cromo says:

        I vaguely remember an interview with Newey back in 09′ where they were trying to get webbers car balanced better. But his extra bulk 10-12 kg was a factor. And does any know why webbers old engineer swapped to Vettel, Rocky is it? and when that happened?

      12. Sasidharan says:

        LOL. Occasionally they put the launch system in Massa’s car too.

    4. All revved-up says:

      “Like us, most teams will have now switched their development focus to 2014 so we wouldn’t expect a dramatic change to the relative performance of each outfit between now and the end of the season. That leaves us in a tight scrap with both Ferrari and Mercedes, and with both our guys performing at this level – coupled with the potential from the car at the coming tracks – we should have a good end to the season in prospect.” Lotus’ Alan Permane.

      It seems to me that Red Bull’s unusually large advantage comes from the fact that the opposition has already stopped developing their 2013 car. Still, the good work that RB has done to continue to develop their 2013 car should be applauded – and probably very closely studied by the opposition!

      It will be interesting to see when Newey stops showing up at trackside, in order to focus on 2014 car development. Or perhaps the last 3 races will be extended test sessions of 2014 development ideas.

      1. RodgerT says:

        He (Newey) has already made a comment, as had Whitmarsh (I think) that they’ve tried out some parts that might rollover to the 2014 car.

    5. Maserati123 says:

      I think this car is illegal,there is something wrong here.This car should be investigated by the FIA>

      1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

        James, in theory if VETTEL’s car is illegal, Sebastian can be sent out of the Championship? ALONSO wins?

        Did that occur before in F1 history?

  2. Vic says:

    It seems like Redbull have the best technical team fullstop, and no matter what regulations/changes are thrown at them, they seem to find a way to rise to the top. Then its just up to the driver to perform.

  3. bearforce says:

    You just have to love RedBull and Vettel.

    They work smart… Brilliant…

    1. Sebee says:

      You think it’s harder for a driver and team to stay on top this long(so far 4 seasons), or for a driver to win WDCs with two teams?

      1. Tim says:

        I would say winning WDC’s with multiple teams is harder. Over the last 4 (including 2013) seasons can you think of a team where Vettel would have been better off (than Red Bull)?

      2. Equin0x says:

        Actually the 2010 Ferrari was a all round good package, the 2012 Mclaren was the fastest overall car of the season even James will admit that, then on 2009 would you have chosen the Redbull over the dominant Brawn then? Ah see aint forgotten about that 1.

      3. Elie says:

        Exactly Tim

      4. Rockie says:


      5. Sebee says:

        Like Schumi when he took entire Benetton staff to Ferrari?

        When/if Lewis wins, it will be with 1/2 the McLaren team.

        I understand your point of putting the magic together at a new team with new people. Problem is, it’s usually same people, just wearing different color shirts. How is that so magical.

        By the way, I personally think it’s way harder to stay motivated, hungry, and at the top.

      6. Tim says:

        @Equinox and Rockie
        If there are other teams that would have been better for SV then why didn’t he leave and go there. Instead he chose to extend his contract on a relatively modest salary (in F1 terms and compared to LH and FA) and remain a Red Bull driver. Why do you think that was? I suspect he knows which side his bread is buttered. :-)

      7. David C says:

        The 2012 mclaren

      8. RodgerT says:

        How many current WDC’s have won it with 2 different teams?
        Of course it’s hard to do it with multiple teams, but it’s also damn hard to do it this many years in a row.
        It isn’t easy to win one with one team and then go jumping from one perinnial contender to the other searching for that elusive championship with a different team either.

      9. CJD says:

        first vettel wants to beat schumis four in a row .. make it five .. (or even 6 – horrible thought .. )

        then i bet he will move on and will do the “second team” with ferrari


      10. CJD says:

        sorry – forgot

        .. with ferrari to go onto schumis 7 wdc’s


      11. Tim says:

        I just had a quick tot up of multiple WDC’s and cross referenced which teams they won them with. Multiple WDC’s with different teams comes out comfortably ahead! So, on that basis I guess you are right – mind you the stat’s are skewed, somewhat, by existing champions muscling/politicking their way into a winning team/car ;-)

      12. Sebee says:

        Yes, this is my problem Tim. You see Senna get antsy and want to move to Williams because they have the car. Many drivers have been seduced by teams with their cars, and as a result have won their championships in different cars.

        But in F1, to out think, out work, out perform your competition over many years, I think it’s a way harder achievement.

        Let’s say you’ve always wanted a 911, you get one – it’s out of your system. Only a really motivated guy will get 5 more. Same for WDCs. Look at Kimi – he walked away from Ferrari and F1 because he had a WDC in the pocket. Made walking away easier. Had he not had a WDC, I believe he wouldn’t have left. Same with Lewis and Button – I think now that they have their single WDC their drive is not the same. Let’s take Alonso, say he jumps to RBR now and wins a WDC, how valuable is that? Sure, he’d win in 2 cars, but so what? He built nothing. He developed nothing. He arrived into a scenario that got him his 2nd car WDC as many champions in eras past did.

        Which brings us back to Vettel, RBR and that whole lot. To keep doing this now into 4th year, finding the tricks, driving forward, and getting the big prize…well, I really think it’s more impressive than WDCs in 2 cars/teams. Just to not call it a day and say – enough, and to keep wanting to win, and find the edge, the will to be better day in and day out – not only what F1 is about, but life. WOW…that’s deep!

      13. Sebee says:

        Hey, speaking of when Kimi left…

        Was RBR looking at him then? Was it possible for him to have given up the Ferrari payout and gone to RBR to take Webber’s spot for 2010? Was that one of the shoulda woulda coulda scenarios for Kimi? Does anyone recall what options Kimi had before calling Time Out?

    2. HBerg says:

      The Newey/Vettel/Renault combination is unbeatable and will be for a long while I suspect.

      Back a few years ago, RBR signed an engine agreement with Ferrari but on Newey’s insistence, RBR fought tooth and nail to back out of it – passing the Ferrari engine deal to STR. If Newey had not insisted on the Renault deal, they wouldn’t be where they are now – because Ferrari would have gained valuable information about engine maps and diffuser blowing etc.

      Also, lucky Mercedes vetoed decision for RBR to use Mercedes engines.

      With RBR being the Renault works team, Renault and RBR they are getting up to all sorts of engine / gearbox related tricks to gain extra downforce – all within the rules. Sharing nothing with other teams.

      This is why the Renault/Newey/Vettel combo will most probably be unbeatable in 2014 and possibly beyond.

      Also, does anyone know if RBR ever perfected the passive DRS?

      1. bearforce says:

        Interesting. I was thinking the same thing in that Renault don’t get enough credit for these cool engine ideas/tech. Renault for the last few years have been super clever innovating during an engine freeze. Renault have managed to think outside the box and come up with stuff that I find really cool. It is even more impressive when you consider that they keep changing the rules to keep the Renault engine back with the others and yet Renault keep coming up with great things. There is just no stopping this juggernaut. It is a perfect storm of RedBull/Newey/Vettel and Renault with their smart engines.

        @Hberg, your thoughts regarding history being completely different is so so true. You are right RedBull wouldn’t be where they are today with Ferrari engines for the several reasons you have cleverly given us.

    3. H.Guderian says:

      On the other hand, Ferrari…..

    4. JJ says:

      +1 I truly love watching his exhibitions. his precision, time after time, is a thing of beauty.

  4. Matt W says:

    Vettel and Red Bull currently seems like the perfect driver/car combination. Full credit to Vettel for guiding the team to create such a great car for him to work with. As we have seen, the car appears designed around the driver as Webber just isn’t anywhere near Vettel.

    That isn’t just Newey, but a combination of Vettel’s feedback and engineering ingenuity. Both titles will be richely deserved by driver and team this season (barring a disaster).

    1. krischar says:

      Combination of vettel feedback ?

      Come on, do not Kid yourself mate. vettel is better than webber and quite consistent in the RBR nothing else.

      This is all down to newey and his leadership or management of the technical crew.

      I simply cannot understand why people here try and big up vettel to this level. Logically vettel only has to beat webber who drives for the same machinery (We assume). Rest of the competiton was blown away by RBR technical excellence and newey

      1. Bedoman says:

        It looks like you started watching F1 only recently, Newey was designing cars for F1 for 12 years without a championship before Vettel showed up.. How do you explain that? 3 years with RBR and Webber amounted to no more than 8-10 place finishes. The driver has a HUGE impact into the car’s design and it always was this way. Vettel is completely responsible for his own car set up too and Horner did mention that he refuses to sit in any car that he doesn’t like the set up to. Vettel is probably the smartest driver of our era, may not be the most skilled but his understanding of car design and what he can do on the track with it puts him ahead of anyone. Go do some google searches about how the Toro Rosso paddock were amazed at what he was able to do with their car set up as a teenager before he joined RBR.

      2. KRB says:

        What happened in 2008 and 2009 then? Vettel was driving Newey cars both years.

        In both 2010 and 2011, if you doubled Webbers’ point haul (i.e. have two Webbers in RBR instead of VET-WEB), it was enough to win the WCC.

        Since the second half of 2012, though, Webber has decidely gone off the boil. In reality, he shot his bolt in 2010, and hasn’t been the same since.

      3. krischar says:

        Newey have always produced quickest cars in the grid. Even with Williams and Mclaren newey has done this. Only issue was the relaibility or fragile cars here and there

        Now RBR have clearly found a solution and fixed these realiability concerns, except 2010 RBR have produced real monsters and with improved reliability. Vettel has dominated the WDC’s

        “Vettel is probably the smartest driver of our era” – complete notion

        Vettel is good and consistent driver who deserves his titles. Nothing more than that

      4. Richard says:


        You see, this is EXACTLY the reason why the paddock, FOM and FIA should stop messing about with silly PR issues about tyre suppliers and start legislating that the public / TV crews have access to set up info, engineer interviews, design details and so on – lets start showing what these guys are up to!

        It’s actually interesting, seeing who brings what to the party. And it’s only teams who would bemoan doing so, everyone else wins and in the end it would benefit all teams and have no negatives. Having Seb constantly say rubbish like “We’re just going to do our best and blah blah blah” is really getting irritating.

        It’s a technical sport, would be nice to know something of the technical stuff the drivers get involved in!

      5. Rich B says:

        smart yes ‘smartest of our era’ complete nonsense. several drivers were and are as smart as him, just not as quick.

      6. Ticketyboo says:

        Bedoman: “It looks like you started watching F1 only recently, Newey was designing cars for F1 for 12 years without a championship before Vettel showed up.. How do you explain that?” Please don’t show your own ignorance by insulting others when not fully apprised of the facts yourself… (Google him)
        Newey is the only designer to have won drivers’ and constructors’ titles with three different teams going as far back as ’91, thus:

        Williams: 1991-96. Drivers’ titles: 1992 (Nigel Mansell), ’93 (Alain Prost), ’96 (Damon Hill). Constructors’ titles: ’92, ’93, ’94, ’96

        McLaren: 1997-2005. Drivers’ titles: ’98, ’99 (Mika Hakkinen). Constructors’ title: ’98

        Red Bull: 2006-present. Drivers’ titles: 2010, ’11, ’12 (Sebastian Vettel). Constructors’ titles: 2010, ’11, ’12

      7. Bedoman says:

        Tickityboo thanks for the pointless comment…you just reiterated exactly what I said, he wins with great drivers and Vettel is the best he’s had since 98. So what’s your point?

      8. Tim says:

        Get ready to duck, you will have all the SV fab club on your case ;-)

      9. Equin0x says:

        There are only 2 fan clubs where there are members that writes on here if thats what you meant by “fab club” number 1: the Hamilton brigade and number 2: the Tifosi.

      10. Martin says:

        It’s a bit like people arguing about climate change – the deniers are mad and the supporters are sheep following a herd of economic vandals. My chosen facts are better than your facts and beliefs. Just replace with preferred drivers.

      11. Sebee says:

        Why? He’s perfectly right. The first guy you have to beat is your team mate.

        Which brings us back to Blackjack. :-)

      12. Tim says:

        Surely in blackjack, it’s only the dealer you have to beat ;-)

      13. Sebee says:

        Touché, Tim!

        The pitwall is dealer, and they too were beaten.

      14. Sebee says:

        Before you ask Tim, dealer was beaten because they kept yelling Blackjack! When really they only had a dozen, and not even dirty.

        This one just keeps on giving.

    2. Alexander Supertramp says:

      I forgot Seb’s got 3 masters degree and a PhD.. Is he already nominated for a nobel price? Engineering ingenuity? Come on!

      1. Sebee says:

        How many Nobel prizes are given each year? How many F1 championships?

        I’ll take the one that’s more rare. :-)

        Beside, just look at the forums to see how Vettel and RBR bring people together. I’d nominate them for Nobel Peace Prize.

      2. Rockie says:

        LOL comedy at its best.
        Masters degree and PhD what next? proffessor emeritus like you need that to be smart in F1

  5. TheLollipopMan says:

    What it shows is that anyone booing Vettel or Red Bull are narrow-minded turnips who can’t see the big picture – the brilliance of this team and the extraordinary talent and consistency of its driver, who are making F1 history for us to witness. I am not a Vettel or Red Bull fan but I have to give credit where it’s due. Anyone dissing these guys are feeble-minded fools who easily fall for the propaganda dished out by the likes of Alonso, Hamilton and their teams, who have no answer for this embarrassing dominance. Red Bull should let Vettel off the leash and let him win every race by 30 seconds, as a two-fingered salute to the haters!

    1. Briggykins says:

      I know I’m massively in the minority, but I don’t see the problem with booing. I don’t have anything against Vettel, I think he’s a really nice person, and deservedly in the top group of F1 drivers at the moment. However, if I’d been at one of Vettel’s victories this year, I’d probably have booed too.

      It’s the nature of sport. It’s tribal, it evokes strong emotions and passions. I would love my team (McLaren) to win the championship again, but it’s not going to happen this season. I’d love them to win a race again, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen this season either. The person standing where my drivers should be, is one Sebastian Vettel. I don’t want him there, and I get frustrated. If he’s there every race, then naturally that frustration is going to multiply.

      Of course, if I thought about it logically, I would consider the fact that Red Bull are simply doing a far better job at the moment and they’re there entirely on merit. My team – and every other team – aren’t performing anywhere near their level, and wouldn’t deserve a victory even if they got one. But it’s sport. If I was thinking logically then I wouldn’t be emotional, I wouldn’t be passionate, and Formula One – indeed, any sport – wouldn’t be any fun.

      1. JR says:

        What would happen if everyone was booing Hamilton?

        I suspect the media and bandwagon jumpers would be out in force saying it was disrespectful and racist.

      2. Charlie says:

        I’ve been underneath the podium at Monza for the last few years and I’d say the treatment that Vettel received this year was exactly the same as that aimed at Hamilton last year.

      3. Moo says:

        If something hypothetical happened, idiots would do idiotic things. Yep, that’s fair. So what?

      4. Equin0x says:

        Charlie if you think that Hamilton was getting the same pathetic bitter treatment Vettel has been getting then I just give up.
        But as Dave C and the rest says all this booing is making Vettel stronger and stronger keep going!

      5. Tim says:

        I know I’m massively in the minority, but I don’t see the problem with booing…

        In fairness you aren’t massively in the minority at all. The vote on this site, a week or so ago, stands at 55/45 against booing. This might suggest that posters have voted contrary to their comments – who would have thought it ;-)

      6. Carlos says:

        Sir. I salute you.
        This is the first real, acceptable, understabable explanation i have read about the situation.
        Instead of giving excuses of to why boo Vettel, you come with honesty. And for that again I salute you

    2. Matt says:

      I really don’t think that the booing has anything to do with Vettel’s or Red Bull’s dominance. When Vettel was dominating the 2011 season, no one was booing. Whether it’s Michael Jordan winning championships, Usain Bolt winning in track and field, Michael Phelps winning Olympics gold, or Tiger Woods winning Majors, people like winners.
      What Vettel did to Webber in Malaysia is what started the booing. Even though Jensen Button and Lewis Hamilton were born and raised in Great Britain, Mark Webber is the only F1 driver who calls it home. That’s where the booing started.
      Vettel decided to ignore “multi 21″ because he felt that he deserved the win more than Webber. Vettel was not seen as the cute, little boy anymore. One magazine had him on the front cover with half his face and the other half Darth Vider.
      I live in the States. To see my New York Giants play the Dallas Cowboys, I pay $410 per ticket, $60 for parking, and $8.75 per beer. If the Giants are not playing the way I think they should be playing, I’m going to boo. They are getting the hundred million dollar contracts because of us, the fans.

      1. Basil says:


      2. Rockie says:

        So why boo Vettel/IRBR and not the others under-performing?

      3. Matt says:

        Please go back and read the part about Vettel’s action in Malaysia again.

      4. Ben says:

        Amazing, what magazine was that? When I was at Spa this year I refused to join in the booing of Vettel (but completely agree with you why he was booed) but instead tried singing the Imperial War march as I thought it was much more appropriate, unfortunately no one else joined in :-(

      5. Matt says:

        I live in the State, but I think it was a European magazine. Maybe you can Google it.

        James, do you know the name of the magazine?

      6. ferrox glideh says:

        The cover was on an issue of F1 Racing.

      7. KRB says:

        There are words to the Imperial March? Or y’mean you started humming it?

        I fear any lyrics would completely ruin the Imperial March, but I wouldn’t put anything past Lucas!

      8. Glennb says:

        Streuth Matt. $8.75 a beer? Being America, that would be like a gallon cup yeah?

      9. Matt says:

        Very funny :-) 12 oz

        There are some Americans who don’t smoke, don’t eat fast food, don’t drink coffee, don’t drink soda, and actually exercise.

      10. Rockie says:

        What is there to read what is surprising is you cite Malaysia its obvious you are happy for Webber to win with team orders thats being a hypocrite as you objected to it when Alonso was allowed to do it!

      11. Matt says:

        Wow! I know my spelling is not the best, but my grammar and sentence structure are very good. Can you please read what I wrote again and point out to me where I said that I objected to Red Bull’s “multi 21″ or team order in general?
        Explaining why the fans started booing Vettel doesn’t mean that I think it is right. In fact, if you scroll down a little more, you would read where I said that I would never boo Vettel because he’s dominating the races. As a fan of F1 and many other sports, I don’t think it’s right to boo when you’re watching excellence.

    3. Moo says:

      That’s quite laughable. You think people booing should read this and say oh ok RB is a well run outfit, outperforming their peers, so I won’t boo any more. They boo because the dominance of this team is making things boring. The championship is a formality again. The fact that Vettel screwed his team mate and that he celebrates his victories in a way that some consider arrogant, lets them feel somewhat justified in doing it. When it was Schumacher at Ferrari it was similar. Remember the talk of handicapping teams so that they can’t dominate so much?

      Why do people care if some people boo or not? Judging by the way some people on here write, it ruins their whole weekend. Pretty sure Vettel and RB don’t give a damn whether people do or not.

      1. Matt says:

        I never said anything about it being right or wrong to boo Vettel. My favorite F1 is Fernando Alonso, but I would never boo Vettel because he’s dominating the races. It’s not boring to me because there are still some great racing going on behind Vettel. Kimi’s pass on the outside of Button was awesome! Real F1 passing. Not “just press a button” DRS passing.

      2. Rockie says:

        Now we see why you are annoyed Vettel is winning as he’s beating your hero oh well brace yourself for a while as its gonna continue.
        Keep on booing!

  6. a very good article james and one which needs massive expansion. it is interesting to note that minardi was quite specific when he mentioned the ‘exhaust note variance’. he emphasised that it was coming from vettels car and not mark webbers?

    that alone should trigger some interesting questions……..

    1. bearforce says:

      Dear Lord. This is what you gained from this great article.

    2. Here’s the engine sound by Vettel. Judge for yourself –

      1. Chris says:

        WOW, I hate to say it but Vettel’s machine DOES sounds totally different to the other runners. To me this sounds like a misfire, a bit like traction control.

      2. RodgerT says:

        Vettel’s is the only one you can hear on its own. The next car you can hear a bit of a different sound, but it’s hard to tell because the one after is much closer then all the rest are nose to tail and you’re not going to hear much detail there.

      3. HBerg says:

        As Seb leaves the frame, he brakes and there is a grinding noise from his engine.

        Instead of making accusations, we should ask the following questions:

        1. What is causing that sound?
        2. Do other teams also have same symptom when braking? (since it is not clear from the footage).

        It sounds like off-throttle blowing to me – whether it is hot or cold, not sure. And how much is still legal, not sure either.

        Btw, great article James

      4. HBerg says:

        In light of post 73, it does seem like the Caterhams also have this noice coming from the engine.

      5. Chris says:

        Hey HBerg,

        I was not making accusations dude, just commenting that it sounded a lot like a misfire to me, and it still does. I believe Martin Brundle commented on Sky about the different tones coming from Vettel’s car also.

        I mean come on, your first “question” that we should all be asking is really what everyone is discussing in the first place, namely what is that noise! Also, by suggesting off-throttle blowing (quite a valid and reasonable possibility) you are also potentially making accusations.

        Anyway, this engine sound (whatever is the cause) coupled with the 2 second advantage Vettel “appeared” to have over the field has raised some interesting debate and understandably so. We have not seen that kind of difference(dominance) since the Schumacher days and back then testing was unlimited if the team could afford it, budgets and resources were not capped and Ferrari had their own test track with dedicated full time test team and even their own specially made just for Ferrari tyres. Redbull have none of this.

        Do I think Redbull would risk TC or some kind of rear slip management system at this stage of the season when they basically have both titles in the bag (again), nope of course I don’t. But it’s still interesting to discuss none the less even if I doubt we will ever know what it is. Be interesting to see if it’s noticed during this weekends GP.

        Here’s hoping the rest have closed the gap this weekend and I agree this is a great article James.

      6. H.Guderian says:

        What difference does it make if you have a manipulated season (by Pirelli AND FIA) to favor RBR???

      7. HBerg says:

        @Chris, I wasn’t talking about you. I was talking about Mr Minardi. :)

        A lot of people are saying he should not have made accusations without evidence. Although he sums it up well by saying that he just wants to raise some questions…. maybe to help get the other teams out of the development rut they find themselves in.

      8. Alexander Supertramp says:


      9. Basil says:

        I’m inclined to say it does sound like TC at work there.

      10. Rockie says:

        Because it doesnt sound like the others, then it must be TC.
        I’m perplexed at that someone has just told you how to think and you tow that line as well!
        Do you even know how the engines are meant to sound in all honesty?

      11. Emanuel says:

        Sounds like left foot braking to me.

      12. variable says:

        he gets on the gas sooo much sooner that the merc behind, and its a bit harder to tell with the cars following.

        That sound comes on before hes out of view where the merc comes onto power way out of view. you’d think TC or some advantage is at play here…

      13. speedy_bob says:

        Vettel’s can be heard solo, while Rosberg’s sound is already partially drowned by the others. But I still hear the same grinding sound on the Merc, although it sounds a bit different, but hey, they use another engine brand.

        We need Webber’s solo sound here.

      14. Rob says:

        I heard that same sound on vettels car in Austin last year. It’s not something new, to me it sounds like they have a different engine mapping and use better their exhaust gases.

      15. JB says:

        Vettel car’s noise is normal. All cars have it. I was at the Melbourne GP all three days of the weekend, thats what they all sound like.

  7. Glennb says:

    Mr Minardi also noted that Webbers car did not make the same sound from the exhaust as Vettels car. If they are doing something to assist with traction out of slow corners, why wouldn’t you have it on both cars? My understanding, and I am often wrong, is that engine maps are very restricted in regards off throttle / on throttle. I also thought these maps were submitted for approval earlier in the season. Hey, I’m a RB fan and am happy to see them squash the opposition but only if it’s kosher.
    Good article James. Lots of new stuff there for me.

    1. Bart says:

      That kind of driving is couterintuitive, it’s great for Vettel’s driving style but it’s completely opposite to what Webber’s best at. This could be why Mark’s car didn’t sound “unusual”. Of course, given it did sound different.

    2. Kevin says:

      With Mark leaving not just RBR but F1 entirely if I were Christian Horner I woul not be putting a back door Traction control system on Marks car. That just prudent Managment

      1. Loko says:

        Its well known fact that difference between Vettel and Webber is related how effective blown diffu/coanda team has. When FIA have cut down RBR´s advantage for a moment, Webber have been closer. Webber just never learnt to take advantage of that technology. Anyway, Webber was hold by traffic throught race at Singapore, so he wasnt using same engine settingss. Most likely he was saving fuel to be able to pass later when Vettel was pushing 100 % to build gap for stop.

    3. Jim says:

      Conspiracy theories aside, several articles over the last couple of years have asserted that Webber has trouble using the driving style required to get the best out of an EBD. Maybe Mark is faster without the new trick?

      1. Glennb says:

        I agree. This is where I’m thinking at the moment too.

  8. goferet says:

    For sure Red Bull have for a long time put fear in their rivals just like what the Roman legions used to do.

    But just like the Roman Empire, whenever one has this sort of domination, when the walls begin to crumble, they do so really fast and dramatically and what’s more, never to be seen again.

    Yes Vettel looks like the massive favourite for the remaining races to the point Mercedes believe he can win them all.

    Therefore, it will be nothing of a spectacular performance for any driver to beat Red Bull to the flag at the remaining races as all teams seem to have frozen development on the 2013 cars.

    Regards Vettel, he has been improving as a driver each season from he can’t overtake, to he can’t win from a non-pole position, to he can’t race through the pack.

    Now, the only question that needs answering is can Vettel really work a difficult car because what the fans saw in the first half of 2012 wasn’t convincing.

    As a reminder, F1 champions really get their stripes and medals not by what they can do in a quick car but rather a difficult car e.g. Lewis Korea 2012 + Senna at Mclaren 1991-1993 + Schumi at Ferrari 1996-1999 + Alonso at Ferrari 2012 etc.

    1. SteveS says:

      There was nothing “difficult” about the Ferrari in 2012. It was an excellent car, nearly as fast as the RB and more reliable. (The RB in turn was not as fast as the McLaren, but more reliable) It’s a media created myth that the F2012 was rubbish and that Alonso performed miracles in it.

      1. Rob Newman says:


        Totally agree. It was not the car that was rubbish …

      2. Anil says:

        I think you need to watch some onboard footage again because it struggled in traction zones heavily. It had an interesting season though; awful from Aus to Spain, great from then on to Monza (bar Hungary) and then it fell back heavily to Macca and Red Bull.

      3. BigHaydo says:

        The F2012 looked plenty difficult from where I was sitting at T1 in Melbourne. It was all over the shop with some pretty lurid slides at various points from corner entry to on the throttle leaving T2!

      4. SD says:

        No. That 2012 ferrari started off the season well but by the end of the year it was about the third quickest car on the grid. By all rights it should have been finishing in about 5th place or so. Alonso was performing miracles to keep putting it on the podium race after race. It was an astonishing piece of driving.

    2. J Hancock says:

      In the first ten races of 2012, in that difficult car, Vettel scored seven top five finishes, one of them a win and led the championship by race 5. After race 2 he was sixth in the championship, from race 4 to the end he would never be lower than fourth in the standings, in a difficult car.
      Whilst the rest of the field (Mclaren especially) helped him enormously with incompetent race performances Vettel still kept scoring good points in a not so good car. I think he’s turned into the most complete driver on the grid right now, as much as people rate Alonso, Alonso failed to defend an advantage, Vettel took a poor start to the year and smashed everybody.

      1. aveli says:

        is that why red bull pay him what he’s worth and pay newey what he is worth?

      2. Rockie says:

        The pay structure in redbull makes Vettel F1′s highest earner but most people miss this as he gets more money from bonuses than any driver.
        James can correct me if am wrong here.
        Redbull pay a bonus for race wins fastest lap and also championship win, not sure of exact amount.

      3. aveli says:

        I don’t think you have looked at the figures.

      4. Richard says:

        Shame that very advantage you were talking about was destroyed by Grosjean in Belgium, and partly by Raikkonen in Japan.

      5. Equin0x says:

        Yeah same goes for Vettel’s ture being punctured by a certain HRT at Malaysia the same car derailed Button’s chances at the same race by taking off half the front wing and then at Texas the same HRT cost Vettel the win. ALONSO got lucky at Valencia with a gifted win so it evened out.

      6. Aaron Noronha says:

        Just like his advantage was destroyed by one retirement from leading, one possible podium finish due to Narain Karthikeyan, and two retirement due to car failure. The two retirements compares to Alonso’s two retirements during the season

      7. Scott says:

        …which is a facile argument as Vettel also failed to finish races through no fault of his: in Valenica (while leading) and Monza, both with car failures. So, no, bad luck cannot really be blamed for Alonso’s surrendering of that lead.

      8. KRB says:

        A not so good car?!? Even in the first 10 races of 2012, the RB8 was the best car to be driving!

        That’s why RBR were leading the WCC from the 4th race on in 2012, and why after the 10th race, Webber and Vettel were lying 2nd (120pts) and 3rd (110pts) in the DWC. In terms of top-5 results (i.e. decent points), both Vettel and Webber were joint-second only to Alonso (7 T5′s to Alonso’s 8).

        You can bet your bottom dollar that Alonso would’ve swapped them cars for the first 10 races of 2012!

        It only seemed a “difficult” car b/c it wasn’t dominant, as the RB6 and RB7 were. Of course they took a hit losing the EBD at the start of the year, but they were always on for decent points, at EVERY race. Then Newey worked his magic, and the car was again dominant at JAP, KOR, and IND.

        Most, if not every other driver on the grid would kill to drive such a “difficult” car.

      9. goferet says:

        @ J Hancock

        But this still begs the question why Webber was doing better than Vettel during the teething problems of the first half ogre 2012.

      10. Rockie says:

        Webber wasnt doing better DNF and bad luck made it look so a little season review would show you only reliabilty gets Webber close to Vettel.

      11. Richard says:

        No the car was not difficult just not as good as the Red Bull is normally. The Red Bull car was has always been agile just they had not by then found the sweet spot which came a little later.

    3. David C says:

      Torro rosso, LH never drove in anything other than a front running team and I for one rate LH and I believe you do to. SV won in a Torro Rosso which was the sixth best car that season, look at the constructors championship. He also took LH in the rain in Brazil in that very sixth best car. Even FA has never won a race in a team that finished lower than 4th in the WCC. Can you please tell me exactly what you want from SV??? 7th best car?

      1. goferet says:

        @ David C

        Actually there’s a difference between a difficult car to drive and a slow one.

        With a difficult car, either it wasn’t designed to your driving style or there’s something broken.

        And so drivers able to extract performance out of cars in those conditions are the special type e.g. Schumi in Barcelona 96 or Senna’s victory despite stuck gears in Brazil.

      2. David C says:

        Ah I get it …. No matter what SV dose he’s useless and no matter what LH or FA do they are great, sometimes you just need to do a bit more work twisting the facts.

        Next you will be telling me that MW never ignored team orders and tried to overtake SV at the 2011 brittish GP the same way SV did o MW in Malaysia.

        I got a fact for you mam …… You just don’t like the kid!

      3. KRB says:

        Well, Maldonado managed it in the 8th best car last year, didn’t he?!?

        Special and unusual circumstances, y’say? Hmm …

      4. David C says:

        great drive from Pastor I say, and if he goes on to win 3 world championships nobody can say he never performed in a bad car,he won in a bad car, however we have not seen PM in a front running car so we dont know if he has what it takes at the sharp end of the grid of luck to him though

      5. KRB says:

        Great performance from Williams that weekend, I say. They hit the tire window just right, allowing Pastor the chance to fight for the win.

        Surely we’ve all seen enough of Pastor by now to know that he is not a great driver, nor a very good driver. But he sure looked great that day in Spain, with a hooked up car. Much easier to look “great” when you don’t have to overdrive the car. Hmm …

      6. Rockie says:

        LOL every season they come up with new challenges and he smashes then.
        He’s gonna get to the point of record maker turns record breaker.

  9. clyde says:

    James with all due respect to your analysis Giancarlo minardi is hardly stupid to voice his suspicions ,It took a lot of guts on his part to bring this up and hes hardly a novice in this sport he has voiced what a lot of fans have been thinking for sometime ….I would like to reproduce an interesting post from GP247 to illustrate how similar tricks have been used in F1 and the culprits have got away scot free.

    Flashback: A tale of dodgy traction control and alleged cheating in Formula 1

    The suspicion raised by former Formula 1 team owner Giancarlo Minardi, that Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull could be using a clever form of traction control, has conjured up memories of a similar scenario that played itself out during the 1994 season when Ayrton Senna went to his grave convinced that Michael Schumacher’s Benetton B194 was using traction control – and he may well have been right.

    Senna and Schumacher were clearly the two main contenders of that season. The Brazilian, a three times world champion, having moved to Williams and Schumacher the young upstart with the Benetton team packed with a back room of the brightest technical gurus such as Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne, all led by flambouyant Flavio Briatore.

    From the outset Senna was struggling with the Adrin Newey designed Williams FW16, it was not as easy to drive as the all conquering predecessors, namely the FW15C and FW14B. Nevertheless those close to Senna claim he drove the car harder than anything he had driven before, and although he never finished a race in 1994 he did qualify on pole for all three races he started.

    Senna explained at the time, “I have a very negative feeling about driving the car and driving it on the limit and so on… Some of that is down to the lack of electronic change. Also, the car has its own characteristics which I’m not fully confident in yet.”

    And famously added, “It’s going to be a season with lots of accidents, and I’ll risk saying that we’ll be lucky if something really serious doesn’t happen.”

    In Brazil, Senna confided with his close associates that he was suspicious of Schumacher’s Benetton, and that he felt the team was using some form of traction control which along with active suspension and ABS was banned for 1994.

    He became convinced of the use of traction control when after retiring from the Japanese Grand Prix he stood by the side of the track and heard the difference in engine sounds and characteristics between Schumacher’s car and his teammate Jos Verstappen’s supposedly similar Benetton B194.

    At Imola, Senna was killed during the race and the Formula 1 world was sent reeling

    Coincidentially or ironically straight after the race the FIA impounded computer control systems of Ferrari, McLaren and Benetton. Shortly after Silverstone that year the governing body decreed that Ferrari had co-operated, and were clean, but two Benetton and McLaren were fined $100,000 each for attempting to deny the FIA’s inspectors access to their computer programme codes.

    The Independent newspaper reported at the time: When the inspectors got into the Benetton computers, they discovered a hidden programme, and it was dynamite: a programme called Launch Control, which allowed Schumacher to make perfect starts merely by flooring the throttle, the computer then taking over to ensure that the car reached the first corner with no wasteful wheelspin.

    Legal in 1993 but outlawed by the new regulations, the programme was still there – although now it had been concealed. To find it you had to call up the software’s menu of programmes, scroll down beyond the bottom line, select an apparently blank line, press a secret key – and, hey presto, without anything showing on the screen, Launch Control was ready for action

    Brawn’s claim that the system had not been used during the 1994 season could neither be proved nor disproved; the FIA’s decision to publicise their findings suggested that they had their suspicions. After all, if Launch Control was now redundant, why had it had been left sitting in the software? Because, the Benetton people said, the task of isolating and removing it was one of impossible complexity. (The concealment, they added, was simply to prevent somebody switching it on by mistake.)

    ‘That’s enough to make me believe they were cheating,’ one computer specialist with another team told me last week. ‘Look, we purged our own software of all the illegal systems during the winter. I did it myself. It took me two days. That’s all. Perfectly straightforward. And the fact that they disguised it was very suspicious.’

    Also that year, after an investigation by Intertechnique at Benetton’s team factory, the FIA revealed that the team had been using an illegal fuel valve, without a fuel filter, that pumped fuel into the car 12.5% faster than a normal, legal fuel valve that had a filter.

    This may have explained how Schumacher was able to leap frog Senna and take the lead of the season opening Brazilian GP. Upon which the Brazilian was forced to chase hard, but to no avail as he spun out in front of his home crowd.

    Verstappen, who suffered severe burns as a result of a fuel hose fire at the German GP, spoke to said of his 1994 season with Benetton alongside Schumacher

    “I know what happened when we were together at Benetton. People think I’m looking for excuses but I know that his car was different from mine. I always thought it was impossible; I braked at the limit and took the corners as hard as possible, so how could Schumacher do it? There was something wrong. There were electronic driver aids. It was never mentioned, but I’m convinced and when I later asked Flavio Briatore he replied ‘Let’s not talk about it’. So I know enough now,” claimed Verstappen.

    The tragic story of the 1994 season is now part of the history and folklore of Formula 1, but it begs the question: Would Senna have been pushing the limits (in and out of the car) had he not been up against a rival using illegal means to gain an advantage? And thus it obviously must never be allowed to happen again. (Apex)

    Related News

    1. Paul D says:

      Think it’s pretty well established that Benetton were cheating in 1994.

      I don’t think Red Bull are cheating however, it’s just the brilliance of Newey.

      1. James Allen says:

        ..and Vettel getting the maximum from it..

      2. Rockie says:

        This is the mistake most commentators make they ignore Vettel’s performance in the car, he leaves nothing on the table hence as you put it, its a devastating combination.

      3. Sri Harsha says:

        You are spot on James

      4. Mocho_Pikuain says:

        But in such a car there are at least 2 more drivers that can get that kind of results, what really makes the difference over the rest is the car itself, isn’t it?

      5. James Allen says:

        Yes, but it is always a combination, driver and car, when you are talking about this level of performance

      6. Paul D says:


        The examples you cited recently of similar situations with Mansell in 1992 and Hakkinen 1998 were spot on I thought.

        I remember reading an article with Patrick Head in Motorsport Magazine where he said Mansell’s fully committed early turn in style (carrying extra speed into the corner) was perfectly suited to the FW14B active car. He went as far to say he didn’t think any other driver could have extracted the laptimes Mansell was pulling out and that if he had stayed on in 1993, he suspects Prost would have struggled to match him.

        All about the driver and car in perfect harmony.

      7. Richard says:

        How do you know that? All you can say is that he get’s more out of it than Webber, but then it’s not hard to see why.

      8. Equin0x says:

        Also what about Mercede’s FRIC suspension? Has Redbull implemented that as well now?.maybe that helps

      9. well james, are you 100% certain that giancarlo minardi is 100% wrong?

      10. James Allen says:

        Certain it cannot be traction control via ECU yes

      11. Yago says:

        Sure Vettel is getting the maximum from it… or not. I mean, getting the maximum on pure performance level is getting those extra two tenths. When a driver is a second faster than other amazing top drivers (Alonso and Hamilton, and wen it comes to street circuits Rosberg too!) you can’t really know if he really has those two last tenths of magic. Sure in terms of consistency he has been amazing, but consistency is not speed, as we will see next year when Kimi drives alongside Alonso. And when a car is that good an all rounder, when you have the material to consistently qualify on the front row, when your car is that consistent and that fast at times over the other cars, it is easier to achieve that consistency. Specially for a guy with the focus and discipline Vettel has.

        Has Vettel those extra two or three tenths of Magic Alonso has over the others, as Lauda puts himself? It’s hard to know yet, not enough data. As Ross Brawn said, we have to watch him drive a subpar car, and see if he is able to put it where Alonso does, and make a title challenge. We need to see him against other drivers in the same car, preferably drivers that did drive alongside other well known quantities of the paddock (as Rosberg, Button, Massa or Raikonen). A pity that we really don’t know how good Ricciardo is. We need to see him struggle with car design and see how he comes on top of that (as first half of 2012, where he really had a hard time, not too impressive how he dealt with that). And finally, we need to see a close context for the championship, not in terms of points, but in terms of car’s relative speed.

        So we need to be patient, at the end we will have a clear picture. But the picture is not that clear right know.

      12. clyde says:

        @ Paul D

        You don’t think red bull are cheating …. Hmmm Giancarlo minardi definitely does :-)

      13. Truth or Lies says:

        Sebastian is a very talented driver, not to acknowledge this is utterly blizzare.

        He is the real deal and while its a great car, he too is a really great driver.
        We’re witnessing the ultimate combination of driver and engineering greatness and its a privilege to watch.

        It’s not Red Bulls fault that McLaren, Ferrari or Mercedes are not as smart, focused or determined. They will of course raise their game and win more races and championships and on again the cycle goes.

        But either way Sebastian is here to stay as a powerful front running force in Formula One, he is the bench mark not Alonso, Lewis or Kimi.

    2. David C says:

      Lol that’s gold, you just downplayed Newey

      1. clyde says:

        Hmmm don’t think so :-)

      2. clyde says:

        Actually Minardi did :-)

      3. David Curtis says:

        Sorry Clyde, the point im making is that people like yourself (german driver haters) always point out that Newey is the only reason SV can win a race because he is some sort of demi god of design. However when you guys (german driver haters) talk about MS it provides you with a problem as MS always fought against (rather successfully) Newey. So above Newey is reduced to the rank of mere mortal in comparison to the vastly superior Rory Byrne.
        So Newey is a genius when working for drivers you dislike who win hence no credit for them guys however when working for a driver you like who dosent win Neweys incompetence is the only reason.

      4. clyde says:

        @ david Curtis
        If you can turn this into a racist post you really need help :-)

      5. David C says:

        Just a coincidence then …

    3. DC says:

      Yes yes, that’s right – after all how could anyone beat Senna…!

      Surely for such a travesty to occur they MUST be cheating. I mean, it’s Senna!

      Nothing to do with the fact that Benetton had come up with a damn good car in ’94, whilst the Williams in the early races was a handful (even for Ayrton, and despite the brilliance of A Newey); and that Schumacher was on fire and had clearly matured as a driver into the complete package that would end up dominating the sport? Is it really a huge surprise that he was miles ahead of Verstappen and Lehto?

      Senna was just getting kicked off on his 1994 mind games, as he knew back in ’92 and ’93 who his new rival would be later in his career.

      Vettel is now just getting the same treatment. I’m not a huge fan of Red Bull or Vettel, but the boos and the conspiracy theories are just getting a little annoying now.

      Red Bull are doing a better job than everyone else. Even their pitstops are faster and their strategy better. It’s up to the rest to catch up. Vettel makes the most of it, and he delivers… Webber has the same car, and he’s in the pack. Really, as multi-million dollar business do people honestly think that RB spend tens of millions of dollars only to give Webber a deliberately hamstrung car? Seriously?

      Vettel (like any consistent winner) simply makes a good villain for some ‘fans’. Even Malaysia 2013 was part of a much longer saga with Webber, who for some reason always seems to be the innocent ‘it wasn’t me guv’ party in everything, despite doing his damnest to wreck his team’s chance of a WDC last year…

      Sorry for the rant (!), but as a fan of the sport in general, hearing booing during podium ceremonies and daft conspiracy theories are just depressing.

      Even including Giancarlo Minardi’s comments honestly seems a little below the very high standards of all the posts on this site – especially when the article goes on to say ECUs are spec parts and as maps are controlled as well. Just adds fuel for people who don’t believe that a damn hardworking, integrated and motivated team can’t be clear of the opposition without something underhand being the reason.

      1. clyde says:

        Ignorance really is bliss!

      2. David C says:

        Best post I’ve seen on here in ages, other than your James of course : )

    4. madmax says:

      Quoted below is the official statement from the FIA concerning the Bennetton of Michael Schumacher after the top 3 finishers in the tragic 1994 San Marino Grand Prix where inspected. Highlighted are the parts journalists with an agenda conveniently leave out.

      “The FIA World Motor Sport Council also considered the report of the FIA Formula One Technical Delegate in respect of the electronic systems used on car #5 (Michael Schumacher) at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

      After hearing the representatives of Benetton Formula Ltd., the World Motor Sport Council reached the conclusion that, in common with the other two teams, Benetton’s computer system contained a facility capable of breaching the regulations. In the absence of any evidence that the device was used AND CERTAIN EVIDENCE THAT IT WAS NOT, the World Council imposed no penalty involving the results of the event.”

      It all usually boils down to an agenda of diminishing the fact a young uncharismatic German in a Benetton was beating the great Senna in a Williams.

      1. dean cassady says:

        Oh yeah, the World Motor Sport Council never gets it wrong.

      2. Basil says:

        So, all is well then. Just Vettel walking in the footsteps of Schumacher and there will be no wheel-spin whatsoever.

      3. ajag says:

        +1, and with the Vettel bashing going in now, it is just a dass of history repeating itself. Schumacher Bad bis faults, but so do all the other greats. For the others these faults are eventually put to Rest. Seems different for German drivers.

    5. Fireman says:


      “Giancarlo minardi is hardly stupid to voice his suspicions…”

      But he is, since his suspicions aren’t based on facts. If he’d know current rules and how they’re enforced, he wouldn’t give such statements.

    6. Aaron Noronha says:

      The only way to use traction control is via the ECU and the ECU is made and i bet monitored by Mclaren engineers. Vettel dominance was masked by the fact that Rosberg had tyre debris stuck in his front wheel and Hamilton couldnt get passed him(Just like Monaco a slower dictating the pace of the cars stuck behind)and this track is notorious to overtake on. Most of the overtakes at the end were aided due to really worn tyres on those who had stopped only once.

      If Rosberg dint have debris or if There was no safety car The Gap wouldnt have been so huge. Alonso had to do a long stint on his tyres so he could not push to the limit he had to make sure his tyres lasted until the end. Webber was never in clear air to actually push like Vettel could

  10. Clear View says:

    Great article, well explained, thanks James and Mark.

    Things like Minardi’s comments are always going to draw speculation especially with the way the poeple are always looking for a simple reason vettel is so quick and cheating is the less imaginative conclusion.

    I noticed the Red Bull had the wet weather light on at Monza would that relate to some engine map cleverness?

    1. All revved-up says:

      Vettel was instructed to select “rain-mode” to reduce the stress on the gearbox. Hence the wet weather light.

    2. Glennb says:

      I think it was when they were protecting Vettels gearbox. They had him use the wet weather map which consequently turns on the rear light.

      1. Mad Kiwi says:

        might also explain a traction control sound….legally or not…just saying..

  11. deyanm13 says:

    Referring to the stretch leading into the first chicane, Minardi said Vettel was able to negotiate it “without making any corrections, unlike all his rivals and also his teammate” Mark Webber.

    “His laptime was also remarkable in T3, which is the track’s sector with the highest concentration of corners,” he added.

    “On the same stretch, Sebastian was able to speed up 50 metres before any other driver, Webber included.”

    1. Rockie says:

      Now this is where I dont understand the sheep mentality in repeating this,

      “On the same stretch, Sebastian was able to speed up 50 metres before any other driver, Webber included.”

      As in, is it that people cant measure or what,50 metres are you kidding me?

      Usain Bolt runs 100 metres to put it in context.

      Is this dislike of Vettel so great that people cant stop to think?

      1. mvi says:

        Rockie, what are you trying to say? deyanm13 didn’t show any dislike, he just highlighted Minardi’s observations which are indeed interesting to analyze.

        And quoting someone is ‘sheep mentality’? You did it yourself too.

      2. Rockie says:

        You need to understand the reply,as I highlighted his quote and wasn’t quoting him he took a quote out of it and I was merely pointing out how flawed the argument was anyway from Minardi! Anyone who has been following F1 knows Vettel gets on the power out of the corners quicker than other drivers.
        He failed to note that in his analysis that to me shows how flawed it is!

      3. krischar says:

        There is nothing here to dislike vettel

        There is no need to big up vettel as well. For sure he made the most out of the RBR rockets ever since 2010 and all his 4 WDC titles are deserved. Yet he is not a great or a legend although stats may suggest otherwise

        RBR have always the stretched the rules and limits when it comes to development. It’s quite logical as well. RBR are always prepared to take risks which helped them to clearly demolish the opponent’s

        RBR are smart and ferrari, claren / mercedes are dumb. Whereas vettel is not great while Alonso, Hamilton and co are miles better than the reigning WDC

      4. Rockie says:

        What a load of tripe!
        No one is bigging Vettel up its out there for all to see.
        In Webber’s hand its not a Newey rocket that tells you all you need to know.
        Alonso and co are miles better unfortunately for you its your opinion and would remain so, since they are better they should be WDC’s shouldn’t they? irrespective of the car.

      5. clyde says:

        @ rockie
        “how flawed the argument was anyway from Minardi! Anyone who has been following F1 knows Vettel gets on the power out of the corners quicker than other drivers”

        Giancarlo minardi ran a formula 1 team and survived on an extremely low budget for 16 years he obviously knows a thing or two. He merely highlighted what he saw …. far from flawed Heh Heh

      6. Rockie says:

        When last was he in F1 has he managed a team under the new regulations, or because he ran a team donkey years ago means his word is gospel how many championships or championship winning cars did his team produce?

    2. All revved-up says:

      All these observations seem to point to Vettel being a good driver. Able to drive with more precision and less corrections, and stabilising the car quickly and able to put power down earlier.

      It is also consistent with the RB being a car with better downforce.

      Webber wasn’t driving in clean air for most of the Singapore race.

  12. Spyros says:

    I just wish everyone at RBR would stop saying that they are surprised, every time they dominate… surely, some of them must have noticed the trend the rest of us have picked up, over the past few years.

    1. Nadia says:

      If they didn’t say they were surprised by their pace compared to the rivals people would say they’re arrogant. So they chose to be humble instead.

    2. bearforce says:

      I was thinking about this. Maybe RedBull are being polite. RedBull can’t really say “Wow we are like totally really surprised how far back everyone else is. We have for sure thought that the other teams would have caught up with us or copied our stuff by now. But like wow we are really like totally surprised that the other teams haven’t done anything. Totally like for sure.”

      1. Spyros says:

        Yes, that’s what Horner sounds like, to me… like, totally.

    3. John S says:

      This is what makes it so successful. Red Bull doesn’t take it for granted, it keeps pushing. Despite crushing their rivals it doesn’t talk about the championship endlessly like Ferrari.

      1. Spyros says:

        Well, Ferrari didn’t talk much about the championship when Schu was winning for them, either.

      2. John S says:

        During that period no one else really stood a chance most of the time. That is not the case this year with Red Bull. You have Hamilton moaning before the race in Hungary then he wins the race then he says he feels he can win the next ten. Now you have Red Bull killing it with Sebastian since then.

      3. John S says:

        Sorry for my lack of use of commas in the last post.

    4. Mike says:

      Engineers are a modest bunch. They would rather be conservative and let the numbers do the talking. At the end of the day the Red Bull engineers won’t know how much time another team has found between races.

    5. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      It’s better PR for Red Bull if Horner comes over as surprised plus he doesn’t have to discuss what new part made the car so much better.

      I guess it may be less likely that the new innovations, grey area or brilliant, will be looked into in detail as well if he just says something like:

      oh my, I’m amazed, his pace was phenomenal, wow.

      rather than…

      Woohoo, Newey has nailed it with his ground effect diffuser, that low pressure interation sucks our car to the ground in slow corners, we are downforce kings of F1 and they can’t understand their formula ford jaloppies, it’s so easy it’s not even a race anymore, thanks Pirelli, thanks Adrian, in yer face Domeni and Brawny!

      -or similar, with a tad less exaggeration ;)

  13. Alexander Supertramp says:

    Kuddos to Red Bull for building this beautiful great machine. It should be an inspiration to the other engineers. Kuddos to Vettel for driving it that well. It’s too easy for him and teams like Ferrari, Merc and Lotus won’t even try to close the gap so Vettel should be able to win all the remaining races bar the odd DNF.

    James thinks that efficientr use of the resources is the reason Red Bull left every other team eating their dust since the summer break, but what does that mean? I’m very curious, how can a big team make such a big impact in so little time? We always take it for granted,simply assuming Red Bull will be great after the break, but I never see anyone asking why. I want a look in the Red Bull kitchen, even if it’s just a tiny peak. I love these analyses by Mark and I want moooore :D. Journalists should be all over this dominance instead of writing yet another story about a driver who thinks the next track will suit his car or whatever.

    Thanks for the article James/Mark

  14. Kevin says:

    My understanding of how traction control works is that a computer measures the rpm of the wheels, when the drive tyres (the rear ones) move faster than the front, this means they are spinning and have lost traction. The ignition is then cut until the wheels return to equil speed. Could the sensors be rigged to the KERS to retard the rear axcel in this situation? Hence providing a form of traction control. Is there any legal or technical reason why this couldn’t be done?

    1. James Allen says:

      Not without the ECU knowing about it

      1. is there KERS units run by same common ECU ?
        Thought the chrage / control of the KERS is separate ?

      2. Javier Marcelo says:

        I think separate, but not 100% sure. That´s a good point!!

      3. Kevin says:

        Hi Team! The method i outlined above would not require the ECU to function. The sensors are connected to the KERS unit which would trigger harvesting when the wheels are not running at similar speeds.

        I hadn’t considered whether the ECU runs the KERS. Does it? Because all traction control does is get the wheels to rotate at similar speeds by retarding the rear wheels as necessary.

        Could someone find out if the ‘harvesting’ of KERS energy is controlled by the ECU?

        A final thought, as KERS harvesting affects the break balance of the car, if RBR are able to harvest energy coming out of a corner instead of going into it, it would allow a car to be better set up on its breaks and overall balance of the car through low speed corners. This would be provide an advantage to a driver in the first few laps of a race on a car with heavy fuel loads.

        A second final fought, assuming a system like this was being used it would explain why Minardi was able to detect a difference in engine note on the RB9 and the way Vettel could get on the power earlier than his rivals. Because if the KERS system was harvesting energy coming out of the corner Vettel could get on the power and wait for the system to provide power to the ground earlier. The ‘traction control’ would provide torque though the drive shaft stressing the engine (because the rear axel is being retarded) and once the speed of the wheels were matched by the telemetry the KERS harvesting would disengage providing optimum traction several meters before his rivals could do have the same.

        Sorry if this is long winded, i’m not an engineer.

      4. Scott says:

        “…i’m not an engineer”

        Therefore, what is the point of such – self-confessed – ill-informed speculation? I’m not getting at you particularly, but do people really dislike Vettel that much as to sit around thinking up ways in which he could be cheating, even if they are technically unfeasible?

      5. Kevin says:

        @ Scott

        Hi Scott.

        Thanks for bringing the subject of speculation up. No I am not an engineer but that doesn’t stop me thinking about the sport I follow. I doubt you have a media degree, but that doesn’t stop you from critiquing peoples comments on online blogs.

        Your assumption that I dislike Vettel is incorrect, I am not on that bandwagon. An example of my opinion can be found here–-who-was-your-driver-of-the-day-2/#comment-776287

        I was, am and always will be interested in the technical elements of this sport and yes I think about these things often! Like Hansb below I am fascinated as to how the minds at RBR are able to maintain such an edge over their competitors; and personally I find their commitment to the pursuit of competitive advantage inspiring. I am a marketer in the financial services industry here in Australia.

        I remain convinced that the RBR cars are legal and Vettel’s car has something that no other car has. IF this is true (and the performance advantage would favour this position) I would not equip Mark’s car with the same ‘solution’. He is leaving F1 and though I assume bound by a non-disclousure agreement (like I am in my work), given they will likely win both championships, it is not worth the risk.

        Thanks for taking the time to reply to my comment

        @James Allen

        Could you do some investigation into NDA’s for drivers and engineers? Given the silly season now seems to include the brains trust of this sport; how busy are the lawyers?

      6. Hansb says:

        Maybe the ECU is sealed area but the sensors on the engine aren’t. Isnt it possible to influence a signal from à sensor or from sensors from the engine to the main ECU when wheels are spinning thus correcting power to the rear wheels?
        You only need a second small ecu for it to detect wheel spin and translate it to the main ECU.
        To be clear: I don’t assume or say RB is doing this, just fascinated :-)

      7. Kevin says:

        Thats exactly what I was trying to explain above! But you did a better job than me.

        I assume you have seen the YouTube clip of Vettel’s car in Singapore; I absolutely sounds different than the rest of the cars coming out of the corners.

      8. KRB says:

        But what sort of readout would the FIA be getting from RB’s ECU then?

        People will try anything if they think they might not be caught … just read some story about an athlete using a fake penis to try to get around drug testing!!

      9. Kevin says:

        Could you have a second ECU connecting the telemetry to the KERS?

        I note that Mr Whiting has declared the cars legal (which I never implied they weren’t)

    2. RogerD says:

      Expanding a bit. Traction control is simple these days (as you describe) and common on higher-end road cars, but it is illegal in F1. As James mentioned in the article, the ECU’s that control all of the electronic systems on F1 cars are a standard part, built by McLaren Applied Technologies, issued to the teams by the FIA – all teams use exactly the same unit.

      All of those identical ECU’s are subject to in-depth scrutiny at any time by FIA technical experts, so any team would be silly to try to hide a traction control program in amongst all the other code. I can’t imagine RBR are directly breaking any rules – but maybe they have found a way around a few of the rules regarding exhaust blown diffusers, which were made illegal for the 2013 season.

      I’d guess the FIA ‘know’ what RBR have done by now – I’m sure they would have asked for an explanation after Singapore. I assume that it must be ‘legal’ or we would have heard about it by now. Having said that, if what RBR have come up with is too great an advantage then the innovation may well be banned at a later date for the sake of closer racing.

      The rules in F1 attempt to walk a fine line between encouraging innovation and not leaving too many doors open so that one team can come up with a killer idea and walk away with it (or just spend more money than anyone else and so win it all). That situation would never be allowed to continue for too long (as with blown diffusers).

      There’s always lots of conspiracy theories around this kind of stuff. It makes for interesting reading, even if the theories are often rather crazy.

      1. Kevin says:

        And as a passionate F1 fan I love JAs forum for my crazy ideas. Brilliant to be able to discus this stuff with engaged and interest people like yourself.
        Whatever RBR is up to it didn’t diminish what Vettel has achieved. He is simply the best right now

      2. Javier Marcelo says:

        RBR is great in all aspects, but do not forget their corporate image is to take every risk in life. Snowboarding to the limit in cliffs, bikes jumping around the border of death accidents, the Red Bull Air Racer´s nearly touching water with their fingers, Red Bull Cliff Diving Word Series, or…

        Red Bull Stratos, the perfect and most expensive attempted suicide made by a crazy Felix Baumgartner… From the Stratosphere, mate!!!

        If they let people to risk “their lives” just for fun… and funds… (RB Funds)…

        Why would they stop at using any technical invention in F1? Legal or not?. Why?

        There in F1, they just risk money, not life.

        They just go too far, in my opinion.

        All F1 teams and engineers have not became silly. It will go to an end, sooner that later, I guess.

      3. Javier Marcelo says:

        Livestrong!! Could be theirs slogan!!!

        Sebastian is the Lance Amstrong of F1!!!

      4. Yak says:

        Risk through extreme sports or Stratos or whatever else is a bit different to the risk of being caught cheating and the penalties that might come with it.

        I think Red Bull at this point are pretty well aware that anything “risky” they put on the car, at the very worst they have to be able to get away with it being deemed illegal post-clarification/re-wording of the regulations. If they cross that line and do something that directly breaches the regulations, they’re at risk of losing their WCC points, being thrown out, etc. I’m pretty sure the big RB boss wouldn’t be too happy about the flagship sporting team with his company’s name on it being caught out as cheaters. It wouldn’t just be the WCC or the RB F1 team at risk… it’s the entire Red Bull brand.

        Just to point out too, anyone jumping out of planes or doing ridiculous tricks on bikes or whatever… they’d be doing it whether or not Red Bull were involved. It’s not like Red Bull reps are approaching random people on the street and offering them large sums of money to convince them to do risky things that would otherwise never do.

    3. Jonathan says:

      You don’t need to measure anything at the wheels to make traction control work.

      The systems on an F1 car are so sophisticated that they can achieve traction control in other ways. The differentials are so closely monitored and controlled that the rear wheels can be forced to remain in the correct sync with each other. Then the ECUs give so much information that the teams know exactly just how fast the cars can accelerate before the wheels break traction. If the engine RPMs increase faster than the known maximum acceleration rate then the wheels must have lost traction and the ECU program will back the throttle off a fraction. It’s just like an outboard motor on a boat. If the prop cavitates (loses grip on the water by the introduction of air) the engine revs freely. You know it has happened because the engine suddenly screams – you don’t have or need a sensor on the prop.

      In other words, whilst traction control is technically banned, the reality is it is impossible to prevent the teams achieving the same result by other means.

      1. Kevin says:

        Thanks mate. Food for thought.


    4. TGS says:

      But why would the dominant team decide to cheat? Why risk it when Vettel looks like running away with the championship?

    5. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      FOr the Bull’13 it’s got to be all about downforce, slow corner speed improvments, the new diffuser and floor, instead of traction control on the wheels.

      They don’t even have the traction/torque of the Ferrari at the start when the car is pointing in a straight line. (That is Alonso’s start, still better that the Bulls, before he also uses his superior racecraft and skills to pass people around turn 1/2/3)

      Newey is the aero king, plus Seb raced well and barely met another car in Singapore and was on a extra tyre set strategy compared to FA and KR. All making a dominant car look crazily dominant.

  15. Ian N says:

    Great insight as always James. Is Vettel’s superior ability to understand the technical side of the car and therefore the quality of his driver feedback to the technical team an overlooked factor of his success? Does this partly explain the gulf between him and Webber?

  16. Richard says:

    There’s no doubt the Red Bull car is in a class of it’s own, and just keeps getting better and better with the careful study and development work which has become so characteristic of the team. I think Vettel is highly unlikely to go to any other team with such a tour de force within Red Bull’s design team. The Red Bull team have given Vettel a fast extremely agile car that other teams can only dream about. I don’t believe Vettel is any better than any other top driver, but he has learnt over the years to drive the Red Bull car extremely fast, and a car like this improves driver confidence like no other. I think it very unlikely that the remaining races will be won by any other team unless Red Bull have a failure. The unfortunate thing in all this is that it is unfair to other drivers, and makes for very boring racing indeed fans will discount Vettel and watch the remaining drivers as a result.

    1. SteveS says:

      Vettel is a integral part of the “Red Bull team”, he is not the passive recipient of the “Red Bull teams” work who is being generously “given” a car.

      “don’t believe Vettel is any better than any other top driver, but he has learnt over the years to drive the Red Bull car extremely fast”

      And what exactly is the difference between being better than any other top drivers, and learning to drive your car faster than they do? Because the two things sound remarkably alike.

      1. Richard says:

        The difference is that you have to compare like with like. Put Alonso or Hamilton in a Red Bull car, let them aclimatise for a few years and then see who is the fastest. Vettel like any other driver in a team can impart information as to how the car is performing, and describe how he wants the car, but he is not an engineer or an aerodynamicist. Vettel like any other driver is given a car to race while is is employed by them, but it is the design team that actually work the magic in producing a car that is so agile and fast.

      2. Aaron Noronha says:

        At the end of the day the driver contributes only 10% to the success of the team but that 10% is the most important contribution because that’s what the world is watching. At the end of the day every driver has a tool, some better than the other some equal and some worse. What matters is how you use that tool.
        People have the opinion that Alonso and Hamilton would beat Vettel in the same car without having any concrete proof to back their theory. Just like some idiots said Hamilton will finish off button and then Rosberg. While both of them did pretty well to dispel that theory. Though over one lap Button was not able to match Hamilton over a race distance he did pretty well. Rosberg and Hamilton are evenly matched. So peoples expectations and reality are two different things. Just like one can say its quite possible that Vettel would have won the championship in last years Mclaren or in Ferrari both in 2010 and 2012 doing what both Alonso and Hamilton failed to do. At the end of the day these are all speculations. We dont know. But do consider for a moment that Ferrari and Mercedes are interested in Vettel. I mean for Ferrari to openly declare a preference for Vettel over Hamilton(If the consensus theory is that Alonso is a class apart and they need someone as fast as Alonso why not replace him with Hamilton as they were pretty well matched at Mclaren, instead of taking Vettel a Driver who most Arm Chair Pundits and Self proclaimed experts consider to have lucked in or as they put it ‘not in the same league as Kimi, Hamilton, Or Alonso? Unless they feel Vettel has an edge over Hamilton)

        If you were to compare the strengths of Alonso and Hamilton you’ll notice that While Hamilton has an edge during qualification and over one lap his consistency on long runs or race distance isn’t that impressive, and while Alonso’s performance is Unmatchable during Race Day, Qualification isn’t normally his strenght. Now consider Vettel extra ordinary on Saturdays and equally impressive on Sundays. It doent take an expert to figure out you are getting the best of both world if you were to hire him.

      3. Richard says:

        Aaron I’m afraid your assessment of each driver is flawed as it is based on the performance of their current cars. You really do have to realise just how good the Red Bull car is in terms of driveability, downforce, traction etc. Currently I suspect it tops every area you could think of with the current tyres. It really does perform as though it is on rails, and such a car other teams/drivers can only dream about. Given a top driver it is engineering design prowess that wins races and championships such that the car is the single most important element. In another car Vettel would look ordinary, and that’s the reason he will atay at Red Bull for the forseeable future.

  17. Miha Bevc says:

    Well done Bulls! Great job by Newey and his team, and great job by Vettel, who knows how to get all the performance out of this car.

    I’ve been reading articles about Vettel and RB car. It is being said that to get maximum out of the RB car, it requires “counter-intuitive” driving style and Vettel does that better than Webber.

    Vettel and Red Bull deserve all the titles, they are all doing the better job.

    1. Miha Bevc says:

      Oh, and thanks for another great article, James and team!

  18. Mickey78 says:

    In regards to the very exciting and fast speed Vettel demonstrated.
    It seems that Giancarlo Minardi is mentioning some kind of traction control on the Red Bull. According to him the engine of Vettels car sounds completely different than his teammates or other Renault powered cars and when Seb is coming out of corners he can plant the throttle 50 meters before any of his competitors can. Is it possible that RB found something within the rules which others haven’t thought about and any idea what it could be?

    1. James Allen says:

      Have you read our article?

      1. bearforce says:

        @ Mickey78. Don’t answer that question. You are going to look a little silly either way you answer it.

      2. Mickey78 says:

        Too late mate

      3. Mickey78 says:

        Actually I thought I had, I am at work and in my haste I missed a part.
        Well, you summed it up well and answered the majority of my questions :-)

      4. RodgerT says:

        At least you’re honest.

    2. Miha Bevc says:

      This explains why Vettel plants the throttle earlier…
      He is more confident in the car and this is how Red Bull car should be driven.

      Quote from BBC (

      Team boss Christian Horner said this was down to a number of changes to the car, both aerodynamic and mechanical. But the key seems to have been what Newey describes as “developments” to the diffuser, or rear floor.

      Ironically, these were initially aimed at helping the car on high-speed, low-downforce tracks such as Spa and Monza, but they have also given it a significant boost in the high-downforce trim that was required in Singapore, and will be for the remaining races of the season.

      This has allowed them to further exploit their main advantage – the use of the exhaust gases for aerodynamic effect.

      Vettel has perfected the driving style that getting the best out of this requires – turning in on the brakes, getting the car rotating around the inside front wheel, and controlling the resultant slide by getting counter-intuitively EARLY ON THE THROTTLE and using the exhaust gases to nail the rear end.

      Webber is less comfortable with this – and admits he is not as good as Vettel at exploiting the peak of the softer tyres used in Singapore. There were two cars between Vettel and Webber on the grid and the Australian’s race was compromised by being behind slower cars, before his last-lap retirement with an engine failure.
      Vettel has no such problem. He is totally at one with the car …

      1. bearforce says:

        Thanks for your comment it made me understand just what was happening. Totally amazing. I imagine it must take some getting used to and a whole heap of faith that the exhaust is going to give you traction in the corner by accelerating. Just WOW.

      2. Sebastian "Traction (in) Control" Vettel says:

        It’s not faith, it’s perfect understanding of what this strange animal RB9 is and how it works. It’s not that he closes eyes, start praying and kicks the throttle while taking turns.

      3. Major Clod says:

        Also likely explains why in the first part of 2012 Webber was more competitive relative to Vettel. With exhaust blown diffusers as they were being banned, it took a little while for RB to get back on top of optimising exhaust flow to diffuser with the new restrictions. Once they did Sebs skills at driving EBD cars again gave him an advantage.

        Full credit for him having the talent to master it, and be so devastatingly consistent with it.

      4. Jonathan says:

        mmmm…. it really isn’t hard to see why they wanted the tyres changed.

        It the tyres had remained unchanged Vettel would no be able to slide like this for many laps.

      5. TitanRacer says:

        I keep seeing this whole “counter-intuitive” comment re driving technique. go back and find some of the bibles of race driving or engineering where this and other “strange” techniques were lavished upon Fangio, Nuvolari, Moss, Hawthorne and others in the ’50′s.
        all along with photos, diagrams, and detailed explainations…

      6. TGS says:

        Thanks for posting that. Somebody here mentioned that Vettel was driving the car in a different way, great to see it confirmed.

  19. Dale says:

    It’s gonna be some boring end to the season if Redbull’s Singapore’s advantage is maintained, I for one don’t want to see any one team run away with it and when you have the likes of Hamilton and Alonso powerless to battle what’s the point of watching it?
    Cars going round with no chance of a change of lead is just plain old boring.
    This season hasn’t been helped by McLaren’s dexterous decision to scrap their winning 2012 car – let’s not forget that it was widely acknowledged as being the fastest car of 2012, fingers crossed they, together with Mercedes and Ferrari (maybe even Lotus) get their act together for 2014 though I fear Redbull, even if they have an engine disadvantage will still romp away with it – the bottom line is Newey is simply better, by some margin than the rest at designing an F1 car ;)

    1. Paul D says:

      My heart always sinks when I hear Mclaren are ‘going radical’ like they said at the start of this year.

      They went radical in 1995 and 2003 as well. Look how that worked out.

      Amazing that you can end a season (2012) with the fastest car and decide not to evolve it. Poor management and high level strategy.

      1. Dale says:

        Bring back Dennis!

      2. furstyferret says:

        And alonso””

      3. Yak says:

        They didn’t take the decision at the end of the year though. They would have been well into working on 2013 before the end of 2012.

        It’s not the decision to do something different that’s the problem, it’s the execution of it that’s the problem. If they’d gone “radical” and come out with an amazing car that indeed as planned had more development potential than any of the other front runners’ cars, we’d be calling them geniuses for having the foresight and guts to do it.

        And it’s not like every year they just completely forget about the developments of the previous year’s car and all the years before that. A “radical” design doesn’t just mean they’re going into it completely blind with crazy ideas and just hoping for the best.

    2. forestial says:

      Maybe McLaren is playing a longer game by introducing design features in 2013 that are really precursors of what they expect to be needed for the big regulation changes coming in 2014. For example they introduced pull-rod suspension this year (following Ferrari last year), which I think is viewed as a very radical change.

      I think they did say at at 2013 launch that the 2012 car (good as it was) had reached a plateau. If true this left them in a bad position of having to make a big change in 2013 and then another even bigger one for 2014.

      Whatever their reasons and whatever else they changed it was a big risk and in 2013 it has obviously hurt them badly. We should know in about 12 months whether it was a good strategy.

  20. Warren G says:

    They’re in a very luxurious position, where the base car has been very good and the all round class of the field since late 2009, which allows them to focus on very specific areas which they can devote resources to until they get it right.

    The other teams are playing catch up most the time chasing an outright performance improvement. It’s smart work by Red Bull and shows why they’ve been champions and championship contenders the last 4 years.

    1. Jim:) says:

      This is the Newey way, the Williams car from 1991 to 1994 were all very similar, and then the 1995 to 1997 Williams again and the 1998 to 2000 Mclaren,

      1. Matt says:

        It makes you wonder why Mclaren insist on trying to reinvent the wheel every year. Rory Bryne had the same philosophy of evolution, so its a concept that can work in F1.

        Interestingly the downturn of Mclaren and Ferrari happened when there was a big regs change in 09, and have been unable to consistently challenge RB/Vettel year after year since. Plus even race to race because RB every so often come out with a massive step forward, like we have seen in Singapore for the last two years. The big updates RB have always seem to work whereas Ferrari for example never work as expected.

        With another big regs change next year, unless they change the way in which they design, develop and create there cars I fear RB/Vettel will take the championship again.

        I also see Mclaren having another barren year unless Newey/Renualt makes a cockup of some kind, as they don’t seem to be getting any fresh talent in the same way Ferrari or Merc are doing. At least Ferrari and Merc are trying different avenues of talent, or buying in talent at least.

        The three big teams chasing RB really need to change there philosophy, whether thats design, developing, racing, strategy, pit stops and anything else related to racing as I feel RB has all bases covered and are not leaving anything on the table.

        Sorry a long ramble but just some thoughts that occurred to me

  21. Paul D says:

    The Red Bull is clearly the class of the field.

    It’s a real shame Red Bull didn’t opt to put a higher quality driver in the second seat next year, allowing us to get a real benchmark as to how good Vettel really is.

    Only when Vettel goes up against another top line driver (in the same car) will we be able to end all these debates / posts about who is better out of Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel (which no one really knows the answer to)!

    1. aveli says:

      i watched hamilton, in his rookie season, race against alonso, the then youngest ever back to back reigning champion with 6 years f1 experience, in 2007 an i am confident which one of those is a better f1 driver.
      i was hoping raikkonen would get the seat at red bull this season but vettel’s super friend didn’t allow it to happen.
      if vettel races against alonso or hamilton as teammates, i will be able to identify the better driver.
      i suspect newey is a shareholder at red bull because he is as good, at what he does, as he is.

      1. Rockie says:

        No one on that grid can match Vettel right now in the same car as he has Hamilton’s speed Raikkonen’s nack for collecting points and Alonso’s consistency, so I dont understand why you need to measure him against anybody all you need to look at is his level of performance or you honestly believe Alonso would out qualify him? and the would have the same race pace so I fail to see the point you are trying to make as putting either of them in the car won’t lower his performance.

      2. Paul D says:

        That’s kind of my point though. Both of these are valid opinions…. but we won’t know for sure until it actually happens!

        Hopefully one day!

      3. aveli says:

        for vettel to convince me, he will need to take on a world champion teammate at least. hamilton alonso and raikkonen haven’t shied away from taken on world champions as teammates. by doing this they have of convinced me how good they are.
        if vettel convinces me by taking on a world champion teammate, red bull will pay him a lot more than they pay him now. until then, newey wins those championships.

  22. Andie says:

    Great piece of analysis…

  23. Sarvar says:

    That’s what we were expecting to understand that ultimate performance. Great analysis James and Mr. Gillan.
    Following 3 tracks do usually favor RBR (plus such usual post summer break improvements) so it is hard to imagine they are gonna be beaten by the competitors.
    RBR seem to wrap up both championships ASAP to shift all focus on 2014.

  24. Mishko says:

    RB can not do so much with aero package update but combination with full Renault f1 resources looks like they are cheating competitors for sure what should be checked but……?Compare Lotus!

    1. Nadia says:

      That’s a horrible comparison! Lotus have major financial difficulties atm while Red Bull budget is almost endless. Add to that that the Red Bull have much better technical employees leaded by nobody less than Adrian Newey.
      It’s not because they have the same engine that they should perform the same. Caterham and Williams have Renault engines too…

      1. Mishko says:

        Financially looking horrible but on ground is different flwg:
        1.Prior switching tyres Lotus/RB equal after benefit to RB(Pirelli).Lotus(Kimi).
        2.Renault engine to RB and Lotus not same because Infinity is brand of renault-nissan
        official sponsor to RB and engine free of charge with max support.Williams and Catreham are out of game.
        3.Kimi and Vettel as drivers not comparable.
        Kimi is complete driver Vettel still learning
        will see next year fight RB/Ferrari fin equal who will be better.

      2. Nadia says:

        Now you make even less sense. First you say “Compare Lotus” and then you say they’re not comparable…

        Either way, just because Red Bull is outperforming all the rest doesn’t have to lead to them cheating. That’s a rather unjust conclusion you make with no proof.

        But I understand for some people it’s much easier to accuse them of cheating than to admit they just did a better job than the rest.

  25. Mikeboy0001 says:

    Well, everyone just keeps focusing exclusively on how good the Red Bull car is, and that the rest of the field drives a Flintstones mobile
    I too had that impression for some time, as it’s about the only thing being mentioned in the press for the last few years.
    But if the RB car is that mutch better than the rest, why is is Webber not coming out at least 2nd place in all qualifying and races?
    There are only two reasons for this, either Webber is a poor racing driver, wich I don’t believe he is, or Vettel is an excepcional one
    I think this fact isn’t being fully appreciated by most people

    1. Ben says:

      Or they are not driving the same car. Minardi’s comments suggest this but we will probably never know so it is only speculation

      1. Mikeboy0001 says:

        Yeah, a team would invest millions of dollars into building 2 cars, just to sabotage one of them!!!
        I think people these days confuse more and more Hollywood and Video Games with reality.
        It’s so much easier to come up with fiction than to accept the facts of reality, isn’t it?
        I’m a fan of Hamilton, I like him to win, but I hate that he thinks Vettel is winning championships only because of the car. Now I think he’s getting it a bit more, but didn’t fully realised it yet. Last year, taking all GP’s into account, the Mclaren was the best car, and still they didn’t won it
        Newey is a great designer, no doubt, but I think both him and Red Bull benefited at least as much from Vettel, as Vettel did from them.
        It seems the current generation, who never had the chance to boo Schumacher for his actions, or never cared to because he was dressed up in red, have found Vettel the perfect guy to have a go at.
        It disgusts me!!!

      2. Ben says:

        Wow, I think you miss understood my comment. I never mentioned or even thought they were sabotaging Webber’s car. I am just suggesting that he may have been driving a different car to Webber at Singapore, it’s not like it’s the first time it’s happened (remember Silverstone 2010?). It is plausible that Red Bull have developed a new device that was only present on Vettel’s car at Singapore and that could have been for a number of reasons – they may have only bought one to the race; they may have tried it on Webber’s car and it didn’t suit his style; or (now here’s the conspiracy that was suggested by Minardi) it was illegal and Vettel’s do anything to win attitude meant he wanted it.
        It is obvious that Vettel is an exceptional driver, it is hard to argue otherwise, but 2 seconds a lap faster??? Vettel, especially in the Perelli years, has completely dominated Webber and the rest of the field and I’m not denying that but I think Minardi’s comments are very interesting. If it is true it wouldn’t be the first time it has happened just look above at comment 9 with the story of Schumacher using an illegal traction control device that was not present on his team mates car. Unless something comes out about it, it is only speculation and will stay as such.

        ps I also do not like the booing and refused to join in when I was at Spa

  26. MGM says:

    Great article.

    The only thing I don’t quite get is why is it discussed in terms of Vettel’s dominance. He has nothing to do with any of this stuff, the aero, the rims, the engine mapping. He just drives around and Red Bull keeps on improving the car under him. He just does not have to do anything at all to achieve ‘greatness’, other than not screwing up big time. That’s not too hard, is it? Sure, Adrian Newey is a genius, though, and I am sure the team under him is equally capable.

    1. James Allen says:

      That’s not right at all. It’s a combination of car and driver. He exploits the potential of the car and gets the maximum out of it.

      It has evolved with him and because of him and his requirements. It’s facile to say this is a world beater of a car and Vettel’s just lucky to be in it. F1 is so much more complex than that and it’s a process of development and refinement that brings you to where RBR and Vettel are today.

      The 2011 blown diffuser car was a different case, that was a rocket ship because of one clever idea. But even there it was a refinement of the 201 car and Vettel evolved a way of driving it which was devastating – car and driver together – which Webber for example couldn’t get close to and he is a very good driver. Less well known is the part Webber has played on the aero development side and how that dovetails with the work on control systems that Vettel does.

      This will all come out in a 30 minute feature interview I’ve done with Adrian Newey which airs this Thursday night on BBC Radio 5 Live (Also available online and via Tune In app)

      1. Miha Bevc says:

        +1 for the words and +1 for the interview

      2. Richard says:

        While I think Vettel is certainly a top driver it’s far more the car and design team than it is him. I’d say it is about 80% car 20% as a ball park figure, but the car has been designed around him as obviously there’s much more mileage than basing it on Webber. It is engineering and design that makes the car fast no other reason. Any other top driver could extract the maximum out of a car that’s been designed around them and the regulations. He’s a very lucky boy to have landed in a team that has such a capability, and has had about the easiest route to his fourth driver championship. I just wish he was a better sportsman. Both Vettel and Red Bull need to examine themselves to understand why they get booed as fans are just reacting to observed stimuli

      3. tim says:

        I think it’s a lot more than 20-80. Vettel has just developed an ultra-smooth driving style that doesn’t come across on TV as well as the slashing, aggressive style of an Alonso or a Hamilton. As for the booing – I doubt Red Bull is losing much sleep over that anymore than Ferrari or MB would if they found themselves in the same situation. We live in a partisan world full of boo-birds. The only way to stop them is to stop winning.

      4. Richard says:

        No it is generally understood to be about 80% car, 20% driver. Vettel’s strategy is simply put the car on pole, pull a gap in the first few laps, and then cruise to the finish. It’s only a safety car that upsets that scenerio, and the car is fast enough to do it all again with relative ease. It’s nothing to do with winning or even the ease of winning, but his attitude, and the various stunts he has pulled; ie The veering into Webber, ignoring team orders, insulting backmarkers, and the finger which smacks of arrogance that the fans do not like.- And he has done it all himself!

      5. JL says:

        Again the rant about Vettel being lucky. These arguments are getting more and more tired. All great drivers have always tried and managed to get the best car on the grid. And if Vettel was just an average lucky driver, why is he winning so much vs. Webber who was faster than Rosberg? And why is RB keeping him, an average driver, and not signing up HAM or ALO or RAI who have all wanted to drive the RB in the last few years it seems. But you probably know better than the people inside the sport. Or maybe Newey and co are brilliant at designing a car, but totally dumb at assessing the drivers !! come on

      6. Richard says:

        JL you need to read what I say not what you think I have said. Vettel is a top driver, but he has landed in a race team that has a first class engineering and design department that excel in aerodynamicism so that they are able to improve areas of the car beyond the capability of other teams it seems. Engineering prowess is what is winning the championship not the driver. The driver is merely able to respond to the limits of the car within his own capability.

      7. Rockie says:

        Its interesting you correct this idea as I have always felt the drriver determines the direction the cars development goes.

      8. Richard says:

        All a driver can do is inform his engineers about how the car feels on track, and along with the telemetry can give an indication as to what is good and what is lacking in the cars performance. What none of this can give are ideas on how to improve certain areas which can only come from careful analysis, and inspired engineering knowhow.

      9. MGM says:

        Thank for your reply James. Please don’t get me wrong, I do not think for a minute that Vettel is a bad driver, and is simply lucky, not at all. I was actually blown away by his commitment, when he walked the track after the race when he had a first corner puncture in Korea a few years back to try and find the cause of the puncture. I appreciated that a lot.

        I am aware that the car and the driver must fit. I remember too well Raikkonen and Montoya taking turns in blowing McLarens up in 2005, for example.

        However, I do think that Vettel’s personal talents are exaggerated by the machinery under him. I would welcome to be proven wrong should he ever decide to switch to a different team, albeit preferably to one the does not employ Adrian Newey. I would like to see the qualities he and he alone brings.

        As for Webber, there has to be an explanation that all failures somehow hinder him, and never Vettel, and I do not believe anyone can forecast and therefore channel potentially faulty or more failure prone parts to Webber’s car.

        So, if you will, Vettel’s performance is magnified by the car, Webbers’ is, well, belittled, I guess.

      10. SteveS says:

        “I would like to see the qualities he and he alone brings.”

        You don’t know that about any driver. How good is Alonso “alone”, really? How good is Hamilton “alone”? These questions can never be answered.

        Even if we put Alonso in the RB alongside Vettel and Vettel convincingly won, what would that really mean? The RB has been developed by and for Vettel. At this level car and driver are tightly intertwined. F1 has never tried to be a pure driver-vs-driver competition and people who want to see it as one are missing the point.

      11. ChrisA says:

        Uh, did you miss the British GP? Vettel’s gear box let go while he was in the lead, right?

        I’m really getting tired of the Vettel bashing. Yes, Newey and Co. provide him with an excellent car, but it doesn’t have autopilot. He has to drive it and drive it well to get these wins. I also don’t buy the “Webber doesn’t have the same car” conspiracies. Webber and Mateschitz have a close personal relationship and if anyone would have been given an advantage within the team I’d have to believe that everyone answers to him, right?

        I really liked Alonzo in his Renault days and I liked Hamilton those first couple years at McClaren, but I honestly believe that neither one is any better than Vettel. They have both proven that you can’t win the WDC on the back of the driver alone.

      12. TGS says:

        Vettel is a master, or at least has the attitude of one. While Hamilton is laying down dope rhymes and Webber is organising sporting events, Seb is probably studying aerodynamics or the physics of objects in motion.

      13. SteveS says:

        Looking forward to that interview. If there’s one person in F1 whose book I’d buy, it’s Newey.

      14. krischar says:

        Vettel comparison with webber is joke

        There are plenty of factors which needs to be included before such comparison. At this rate webber is driving only as good as Massa (It pains me to say this, i like webber quite well)

        yet to say vettel is great simply because he beat webber and won 4 WDC titles does not make any sense. RBR have wiped the floor with Ferrari, Mclaren and Mercedes for the last 4 seasons. this never provided Lewis or Alonso a chance to win WDC (sad but TRUE)

      15. SteveS says:

        You have a funny definition of “wiped the floor” and “never had a chance”. The 2010 WDC was decided by four points, the 2012 one by just three.

      16. Kirk says:

        I agree when you say that Webber is not driving as good as he could do it before, but about the chance of other drivers to win the WDC… Alonso had a chance back in 2010, as Vettel and Webber made mistakes or had failures, the Ferrari was more reliable and Alonso made less mistakes. In 2012 Alonso lead the championship for many races because the RB didn’t start the year as the best car, McLaren could win also but made several mistakes in pits and the car was not reliable as Ferrari and Red Bull. They had their chances.

      17. Yak says:

        To put it in a fairly simple way, if the engineers improve the car, the driver has to then go out and drive the car to its new limits. Driving it in exactly the same way means there’s just untapped potential in the car going to waste.

        People go on about, “Oh it’s so much easier to drive these cars compared to however many years ago. They’ve got sequential paddle shift transmissions instead of a clutch pedal and H-pattern, all the fancy diff controls and engine settings and whatever, huge downforce, etc.” It’s not necessarily easier, it just moves the bar. If the cars stop quicker, corner faster, accelerate faster… the drivers need to find that higher limit and drive right on the edge of it.

        I remember in 2011 in Monza quali seeing Vettel sideways through Ascari keeping his foot flat and thinking, “Yeah, he might have the the best car, but he’s still driving the hell out of it.”

  27. fox says:

    It will not here to stay. Usually if the car + driver is so dominant, especially when the driver is not considered as best by colleagues and other professionals — then it means smth hidden is present in the car. It might be slightly beyond the rules, or heavily beyond the rules as it was at the beginning of 1994. Benetton used forbidden launch control Both Benetton and McLaren did not allow FIA in and were fined (not much, only $100K). But F1 lost Senna (priceless asset). RB is ingeniously on the limit of the rules, or slightly beyond it. We don’t know. but listen to the citations of Hamilton how Vettel misses the apexes. It might be because of special blown technique or because of imperfect driving style.

    1. Miha Bevc says:

      It’s not imperfect driving style. It’s perfect for this particular car, which needs to be driven slightly differently…

    2. Rockie says:

      Funny you should cite this,but the same Hamilton has also missed apexes as well on his qualifying laps and when the Merc was a qualifying monster Vettel was the only one who broke there stranglehold.
      Looking for every little thing not to give me credit, the doubters would soon run out of excuses.
      A lot of fans never saw Senna race, right now Vettel is the closest to Senna in racing right now.

      1. krischar says:

        “Vettel is the closest to Senna in racing right now” – please have a reality check

        In fact Lewis citation about vettel is very true and accurate. Lewis is the Quickest driver out there in the grid. If all things are being equal vettel may have not even won single WDC.

        To say vettel is as good as senna is very premature

      2. James Allen says:

        In the interview I did with Murray Walker last week he says that the line is drawn from Senna to Schumacher to Vettel, interestingly

      3. Rockie says:

        Put Their career’s side by side and you would see a trend luck does not come into it at all.

        “Lewis is the Quickest driver out there in the grid.”

        This is regurgitated from Martin Brundle.
        Quickest driver in what way am yet to see it versus Rosberg hardly beating him, Button let’s not go there.

      4. fox says:

        Premature, as Vettel has not been exposed yet. Looking forward for such occasions during next seasons.

      5. SteveS says:

        “Lewis is the Quickest driver out there in the grid.”

        What is this oft-repeated claim actually based on? It seems to be nothing more than sentiment.

      6. Tim says:

        I know Murray is unwell, so I hope he will forgive me for quoting him.

        ‘Unless I am very much mistaken …. and yes I am very much mistaken’ :-)

      7. Richard says:

        At the end of the day it’s only opinion, and we’ve all got plenty of that, but having the best car is the most dominant aspect to winning racs and championships and all leading drivers seek. We can draw as many lines as we like, but it’s mainly about having the best car.

      8. JL says:

        “if all things are being equal” – that doesn’t mean anything in motor racing and in sport in general… how many grand slams would have Federer won “if all things are being equal”? 1, 2? 20, 25?

      9. aveli says:

        the people who know how good vettel is are the people in the top positions at red bull who decide how much to pay vettel. if they thought he was any better than he is, they would surely pay him much more than they pay him now.
        newey is the only share holder in f1 in his position who didn’t pay money for his shares. he got them for is ability. senna is described as the greatest because he raced against prost, 4 times a champion who has won more titles than all f1 champions except fangio and schumacher prost also also succesfully raced against 3 times a champion lauda.
        mansell 1 time champion ran away from williams when prost joined williams.
        who has been vettel’s teammates for walker to compare him to senna? i am sure if ecclestone gives walker a few brown envolopes and ask him to say vettel is as good as senna would walker do it? do they call that sort of thing bribery in germany?
        we all know how to make comparisons, walker doesn’t have a special gift to make comparisons.

      10. KRB says:

        SteveS, what’s it based on?

        In six seasons, Lewis has only been “out-poled” in two seasons, 2010 and 2011. Red Bull had 8 front-row lockouts in 2010, and 7 in 2011.

        He also is only 2 down on Vettel in terms of front-rows, despite Vettel having the car advantage for the great majority of their races together.

      11. Yak says:

        aveli – If Red Bull thought there was a better driver to put in the car… would they not hire that driver? Look at last year. It came down to the very last race and 3 (I think it was) points in the WDC. Early this year they weren’t exactly dominating. If they didn’t believe Vettel was the best driver to put in the car, you don’t think they’d go, “Well this is cutting it a bit fine now. Time to bring in Raikkonen/Alonso/Hamilton/whoever”?

        Maybe…Vettel doesn’t particularly care about being paid ridiculously huge sums of money by the team. It’s not like he’s paid peanuts as it is. Doesn’t he live out on a farm or something? And I suspect on top of his salary he receives money from his sponsors and the team’s sponsors. Maybe he’s the highest paid driver in F1, just that most of it doesn’t show up on RB’s books because technically it’s not from their account. Not that any of us would know.

        Pay isn’t a definitive way to judge someone’s ability or importance anyway. I heard my boss tell someone just today that if I left the business would be absolutely screwed. I’d be surprised though if I’m not the lowest paid person in the company. Do I care? No not particularly. I’m sure if I asked for more money he’d pretty much have no choice but to give it to me (within reasonable demands of course). But I’m not asking.

        Newey didn’t get his shares just because of ability. You’re not given shares just because you’re good, you’re given shares to tie you in with the company and to give you an incentive to perform. The better you perform, the better the company performs, and the greater value your own share is worth. To talk about it like some kind of one-way deal is an absurd simplification.

      12. I`ve always seen the similarity between Vettel and the late great Senna.
        They have the same dedication to F1 and would make any effort to win.
        Vettel is a great qualifyer like Senna was.
        Vettel has the same ability to build up a gap in the first laps as Senna did. And that is down to great car-control on cold tyres.
        Vettel like Senna is thrives in wet conditions.
        Vettel like Senna is absolutely ruthless when chargins through a field.
        Both Vettel and Senna would do almost anything to win.

        But Vettel has a lot of qualities Prost had too.
        He has the ability to be gentle on his tyres and equipment like Prosty did (I bet that will benefit him big time next year).
        He has the ability to be patient like Prost did (even though the team has to hold him back a lot of times).

        I got a feeling Vettels nature is close to Senna in many ways. The incredible will to win and a total refusal to accept defeat. When Vettel has to charge and does so I think we see the “real” Vettel. Like in Abu Dhabi last year and Brazil.

        If any driver today can lay claim to be a successor to Senna it is Vettel. I for one do not think we will ever see another Senna, he was out of this world, but I must admit that Vettel has many of Sennas strenghts.

        I thinkt the rest of the drivers on the grid start to realize what they`re up against now. It`s very difficult to defeat an individual that is not willing to accept defeat especially when that individual is blessed with qualities like Vettel.

      13. aveli says:

        yak, is raikkonen not a better driver than richiardo? did red bull hire raikkonen? did raikkonen offer his services to red bull?
        it is bull, vettel has been artificially made a super star by his friend ecclestone because he wants to settle a score.
        nature will take it’s course in due course. newey got rewarded with shares at red bull because of his exceptional ability so why does red bull not do the same with vettel? no one else in f1 has what newey has at red bull. that is how red bull value ability. newey doesn’t have to stay at red bull. he can leave whenever he wants to. he asked for the shares before he joined red bull. i remmeber him asking for shares at mclaren and didn’t get them. i think he knew he could run a more successful team but didn’t have the money to run his own team and didn’t want his efforts to line other people’s pockets while he only gets a wage.
        vettel is as good as he is, nothing more nothing less. ask di resta.

      14. aveli says:

        vettel may just beat any or all of the current champions if they were teammates so why doesn’t he do it for us to witness?

      15. clyde says:

        @ rockie
        Please ….Vettel is not fit to polish Sennas shoes

      16. Rockie says:

        What is painful for most of Vettel’s detractors is not about him dominating now, but its about the future as they know he’s not even at the peak of his powers now, for argument sake lets say Alonso is better than Vettel (which I personally don’t believe as I believe Vettel to be the better driver) he’s just only a little better imagine what Vettel would be driving like in 5 years a lot of people are gonna be seething for a long time, there is gonna be a lot of painful and hurtful years ahead as Alonso can’t drive better than he’s currently doing as an example compare the 2010 Vettel to 2013 Vettel am sure you can see the difference it’s like day and night in 2010 bus stop at spa was where he t-boned button in 2012/13 it was his favorite passing spot.
        People never appreciate greatness while its happening what is most compelling here with different posters is the different soundbites that flood internet forums while Vettel is re-writing F1 record books, even the great MSC would not be sleeping easy at night.
        The late Senna up above would be clapping in awe seeing what this kid is achieving it is phenomenal.

      17. David Curtis says:

        Senna is just overrated because he died, had we all seen him deteriorate as he got older like we saw with MS he would be much less talked about. He was ONE of the greats, a man with many peers who all have contributed greatly to the sport.

      18. clyde says:

        @ david Curtis
        Overrated Yeah right maybe you will believe a poll of all f1 drivers

        or bbc f1

        Heh Heh

      19. Tmi says:

        As much of a (huge) Mark Webber fan that I am, I can not hypothetically ever imagine Webber beating Senna as much as Webber has beaten Vettel.

      20. clyde says:

        Hmmm I agree

      21. Rockie says:

        Webber beating Vettel? and when has that happened in every full season Vettel has participated in F1 he has beaten Webber in every way possible even in the Toro rosso he scored more points than both Redbull drivers.

    3. All revved-up says:

      Or it could just be that Red Bull’s competitors have stopped developing their 2013 car. They are working on their 2014 car.

      “Like us, most teams will have now switched their development focus to 2014 so we wouldn’t expect a dramatic change to the relative performance of each outfit between now and the end of the season. That leaves us in a tight scrap with both Ferrari and Mercedes, and with both our guys performing at this level – coupled with the potential from the car at the coming tracks – we should have a good end to the season in prospect.” Lotus’ Alan Permane

      1. fox says:

        They did not stop.
        But it is big question whether it was make or break from those updates

  28. Lawrence says:

    Interesting article James. Thanks. Have you seen and heard the footage of SV at Singapore on YouTube with a strange sounding car? I read he has mastered the technique of getting on the throttle earlier than MW and his rivals and the consequent exhaust note sounds strange compared to other cars. I doubt RBR will respond to G Minardi’s thoughts but I would be interested to know what they think of them. Interview them for us?

  29. Jaspar says:

    The team was involved in a second, more serious dispute at the German Grand Prix when FIA Technical Delegate Jo Bauer referred the team to the race stewards over what he felt was an illegal throttle map.[11] The 2011 season saw teams produce more downforce by programming their engines to force more air through the exhaust and over the diffuser. This practice was banned for 2012, with the regulations dictating the position of the exhaust outlet and requiring teams to observe a linear relationship between the degree to which the throttle was opened and the amount of torque being produced by the car. Red Bull were accused of abusing this relationship in medium-speed corners, allowing their throttle to be more open than it should be for the amount of torque being produced. This would allow more air to flow through the engine and out the exhaust, which was angled to direct exhaust gasses towards the diffuser. Although the effect was less than that created in 2011, Bauer felt that this practice had the potential to produce more downforce, and even serve as a rudimentary form of traction control if applied under certain conditions. The race stewards cleared Red Bull of any wrongdoing, stating that the team had not broken any of the rules, and the team was permitted to start the race.[12] However, the FIA passed further regulation changes ahead of the Hungarian Grand Prix, once again forcing Red Bull to make changes to their car.[13]

    Nothing is impossible James.

    1. James Allen says:

      Absolutely and that’s why the article states that this sound is probably due to some kind of engine mapping, without saying whether it would be legal or not.

      The sound is audible when he accelerates, so it’s not off throttle related.

      But the point is that traction control is hard to achieve without the ECU controlling it and that its an FIA property – they have all the data. So you can rule out traction control

      1. bearforce says:

        Really really interesting stuff. I mean in a way thank goodness for RedBull and their innovative nature. It makes for interesting F1 racing and gives us plenty to talk about both technically and legally.

      2. Cliff says:

        Couldn’t agree more.

        Spending in F1 needs to be controlled, but somehow the rule makers have to leave the door open for the kind of innovation and design that the likes of Adrian Newey. I’m not a fan of Vettell or RBR, but you have to respect what they have achieved.

      3. deancassady says:

        bear +1
        cliff +1: there is a very well established pattern of exactly this, across the past 30 years of F1, non? It is all about pushing as close to the boundaries, IN EVERYTHING, as possible, and invariably (and statistically supportable) over, up to 50% of the time.

      4. Glennb says:

        “hard to achieve”. Not impossible though. I would say that RB have the resources to achieve the hard or difficult things. Thats what they do. I’m not suggesting foul play just another ‘innovative solution’ from the best.

      5. dean cassady says:

        I believe ‘rule out’ is a tad too definitive for something so complex.

      6. Rockie says:

        This is the problem when people are biased, he has just explained why you should rule it out and you still want to continue with that line of thought your loss for not enjoying innovation and inspiring performance in F1

      7. dean cassady says:

        you seem intolerant of alternative perspectives.
        I find few considerations so definitive.
        You could research the incredible complexity of this machinery, and in particular, the application of KERS, both in harvesting, ‘retarding’ and in delivering power, and I believe that you would find that an incredibly innovative mind might, potentially, be able to implement a traction control system, bypassing the ECU.
        What is not possible?
        This entire sport is becoming about making these highly improbable concept work, non?

      8. dean cassady says:

        Rockie: please refrain, in the future, from grouping me with any group, especially as you have failed to define the group, alluded to.
        I am I.

      9. KRB says:

        Rockie’s a fully paid-up member of the Seb Vettel fan club – Reactionary chapter.

        Seems most of the SV fanboys belong to this chapter … they criticize and denigrate articles w/o having read them, claim Seb is capable of extrahuman feats, try to sneak “facts” into their posts devoid of important context, and believe issuing quick denials or rebuttals is preferable to actually backing their points up with facts/evidence.

        Together their effect is to lower the level of discourse on this site.

        For those SV fans who value their own integrity and rationality ahead of any sort of driver worship, I applaud you. Variety is the spice of life. There’s much to admire about Vettel, as a person and as a driver, w/o the apparent need/drive by some to deify him.

      10. deancassady says:

        KRB: thanks for the heads-up. I agree with your philosophy. I think it is ‘skinny’ to deny that Vettel is an emerging ‘era’ great.
        But, as you can probably tell, I am unconvinced by the definitive denials of potentially implemented ‘solutions’ involving systems of such high complexity, i.e. the possibility of implementing a traction control system (what ever it might be called), using the KERS, and not captured in ECU data.

        Despite the low life, I get great enjoyment from the well thought out contributions, whether I agree with them or not.

        thanx again.

  30. Grant H says:

    Thanks for sharing this James great read

    That RB is on a different planet

    I am still clinging on to the hope that next year will be more of a engine formula, but time but time after time again RB prove they understand how to make thier cars work best, so perhaps RB will carry on dominating doh

  31. Alberto Martínez says:

    Great article James!

    Many people think Red Bull have now an advantage of around 2 seconds per lap, but I think that is misleading. This year´s cars are at the final stage of development since the introduction of 2009 regulations, and ALL the teams have constantly said that there is no magic bullet to improve 1 second in a month (the improvement expected to be measured in only a few tenths).

    With this in mind, how much lap time have Red Bull gained from these evolutions on low speed corners? and from tyre changes?

    In my opinion, the Red Bull advantage is around 0.5s – 1.0s depending on the circuit.

    Best regards

    1. HBerg says:

      Don’t forget that development on the current cars are beginning to ramp down for most teams hence the gap is growing…..

      RBR want to wrap up the WDC/CC quickly so they can spend 100% on the new car. Although how much of the RB9 will go into the RB10 is anynoe’s guess.

      “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

  32. SD says:

    Much as I can appreciate Red Bull’s undoubted technological innovation and prowess, I’m still fairly well convinced that there is something not right with that car Seb drives, and Minardi’s comments have only deepened my suspicions. The gap Seb was getting in front of the field at Singapore was just too blatant. Even in the 2011 car which was a superb machine the gap was only measured at a 1 second per lap increase or so. Not 2.5 seconds per lap.

    Same in Canada, Spa and Monza – at all those races Vettel’s car has seemed oddly quick. Canada is not RB’s strongest track yet he won by 17 seconds, and this was before the tyre rules changed so it wasn’t a tyre use advantage he was holding over the rest of the field that day. At Monza it was quite obvious he was finding a somewhat unnatural pace, as he pulled away from everyone else pretty comfortably despite flatspotting a tyre on the first corner.

  33. tim says:

    As mentioned in a previous post, I was at turn 1 in Singapore and the difference in sound between webbers and vettels car was very obvious, I also noticed a difference under power. The sound through the turn 1/2 ‘S’ sounded much like the blown engine of the RB7 while webbers was neutral/off throttle. It just too different to be driving style.

    1. Moo says:

      That’s interesting. From the limited youtube clips I thought it just sounded like Vettel was in a lower gear. If drivers aren’t pushing 100% anyway (ie because of the need to preserve tires) I wondered whether Vettel wasn’t managing slip out of corners by coming out in a higher gear/lower revs. If he knows he can do that and still be easily faster then it might be a good way to make the tires last. What you’re saying sinks that theory though I guess.

  34. dean cassady says:

    great article James.
    I did listen to the sound of Vettel coming through, compared to the other cars, by a link provided by one contributor here, and it does certainly sound like the engine retardation traction control that Ferrari (did/or didn’t) use.
    But I was thinking along the lines of using the KERS to retard the power delivery, like an above contributor, Kevin at 14; you replied that the EU would pick it up; it seems a very complicated system, overall, isn’t it possible that the resident engineering genius could figure out a work around in such a complex system?

  35. Wes says:

    Been watching the show since the early 70′s, while i am not an F1 technical guru like James, or a default defender of any team, like many sites, i will say that in 40 years of watching F1, i have never seen a team pull a 2.5 second per lap gap, virtually overnight, i have seen this at the start of seasons, not after the break.

    Now, there have been grumblings of traction control on Webbo’s car earlier in the year, and now this. Minardi, as mentioned by an earlier poster, is not a moron and knows a thing or two about a thing or two. Additionally, Red Bull has for years been pushing the rules to the breaking point with flexy wings and ride heights and all of that. I on the other hand know this, where there is smoke, there is fire.

    So then, either they are playing with tc, or… they are making dang sure Webbo never gets anywhere near Vettel by denying him the same tech. Now i personally like the teams to push it to the bleeding edge, thats part of the super genius action i love about F1. What i dont like is teams to be hypocritical, so, if this turns out to be something unsavory, then i hope they can take it like they dished it out to Brawn for his super secret MI6 test that won them the championship this year (sic).

    I know this, there is more here than is being said. Pitpass was the first to post the Minardi story of the big sites and they dont usually go in for sensationalism, then Yalla now gp247 ran with it, i was waiting to see who would could out in defense of RB and now i have, with charts and graphs. Kinda makes me think of how Pitpass defends Bernie LOL.

    We shall see, the big thing for me will be if other teams bring it up, that will be very telling. I wont rely on journo’s that need the good will of the teams for their access thats for sure.

    Let the games continue!

    1. SteveS says:

      “i will say that in 40 years of watching F1, i have never seen a team pull a 2.5 second per lap gap”

      You need to visit your optometrist.

      1. wes says:

        At the start of the season or over the course of a season yes, from free practice and qualifying to the race, no,

    2. Tim says:

      I tend to agree with the general thrust of your post. There is something going on, whether it breaches the rules or just the spirit is the question ;-)

      1. wes says:

        That’s some serious turbo boost kit!

      2. David Curtis says:

        Spirit are for drinking! They either have a compliant car or they dont. If its not compliant punish them if it is compliant far play to them for a great innovation. The rules are complicated enough without punishing people for ghosts

    3. Rockie says:

      Probably never saw the Mclaren of Senna and Prost race then!

      1. clyde says:

        Its quite obvious you didn’t either :-)

    4. David Curtis says:

      Well said man, a great indication will be what the other teams say and if in fact they make a formal complaint. But the acid test will be the result of any investigation. Lets see what happens at the weekend, there was already talk about MW and traction control but that turned out to be nothing.

  36. Redfive5 says:

    To be able to switch on a 2 sec a lap performance advantage over the rest of the field following the stafety car period suggests more than a simply ‘turning up the wick’. The Redbull is clearly a very quick car and has been used to devastating effect by Vettel over the past 3 and half years, however the statement made by Giancarlo Minardi raises an interesting question.

    Redbull have consistantly troubled the very bounderies of the regulations over the last few years and have been proven that on occasion their ‘interpretations’ have been concidered beyond the rules (last years engine mapping saga as a case in point). When someone of Minardi’s F1 exposure makes a comment of this nature then the sport should take note and investigate.

    If they have unlocked an innovation which is in the spirit of the regulations then that is to be applauded and further proof of the strengh of the technical team at Redbull, however if not then I would prefer to see this outlawed and the playing field levelled for the remainder of the season.

    1. Juzh says:

      Not a single red bull’s interpretation of the rules has been considered beyond what’s allowed. If they were, they would get penalized, and yet they were not. They were however in the gray area and hence not illegal. As newey himself said, “There’s no such thing as the spirit of the regulations, it’s the black and white print of ‘you can’t do this, you can do that.’ “

      1. All revved-up says:

        Well said. Just as an example – one could say that the “spirit” of the regulation of where the exhausts exit was to eliminate the impact of the exhaust gas flow on aerodynamics. But the “black and white” rule merely describes an imaginary box where the exhaust can be positioned.

        F1 engineers then,through the coanda effect and suitable body work, redirected the exhaust gasses to achieve aerodynamic benefits.

        Next years rules have redrawn the position where the exhausts can exit. I’m quite hoping to learn the next genius engineering development that can somehow redirect the effect of the exhausts “forward” in the car!

      2. Tim says:

        Red Bull enjoy the protection of Bernie – indeed, a very powerful ally :-)

      3. Tim says:

        Actually you are not correct. There have been several instances where Red Bull have been asked to remove or modify something on their car. These parts were definitely adjudged to breach the regulations- as to why they were not punished, I would refer you to my earlier post ;-)

  37. tim says:

    As mentioned in a previous post prior to this blog, I was at turn 1 in Singapore and the difference in sound between webbers and vettels car was very obvious, I also noticed a difference under power. The sound through the turn 1/2 ‘S’ sounded much like the blown engine of the RB7 while webbers was neutral/off throttle. It just too different to be driving style.

  38. Joe_in_Miami says:

    I understand RB have evolved a base car which was excellent. They have “interpreted” the rules like no other team. They have also been very lucky at times (Brazil 2012, in the previous 10,000 cases any car with that sort of hit cannot continue racing). But, for God’s sake, can a Formula 1 team have a 2.5 second gap to everyone else and this be absolutely normal?? This has no historical precedent in any motorsport competition since the automobile was invented.

    Can anyone tell us what happened (as Piquet Sr. hinted) in the post-race of Brazil 2012? Was Vettel’s RB really declared illegal?

    1. Miha Bevc says:


      why would vettels car after brazil 2012 be illegal?

      1. Toni says:

        I think Joe meant that damage would be too much to continue, not that the car would be illegal per se after a crash like that (in fact, regulations also stipulate that, if you don’t comply to some rule, but it was cause by an accident out of your control, you don’t get declassified).

    2. Tim says:

      No smoke without fire……

      1. Scott says:

        Not true. There’s plenty of metaphorical smoke, i.e. innuendo, generated by bitter people being beaten that’s of no substance.

      2. Tim says:

        I confess to being somewhat confused by your post. The Red Bull, on more than one occasion, has been found to be running with an illegal part/component, eg the ride height adjustment mechanism that could be adjusted by hand – that in itself was a breach of the regulations – nothing metaphorical about that.
        In my experience, if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands :-)

      3. Toni says:

        Teams are very much on each others back.
        If there is something not complying to the rules (even suspected of not complying), teams will protest it and the FIA checks it out.
        Even if all is considered within the rules, you always learn a little bit about what it is your opponent has in the car.
        They would do it for the whole car even, except you need some specific grounds to lodge a protest…

        As far as I know (and literature backs it up), RB was never found outside the rules. Now, sometimes the rules were amended so that a grey area RB was exploring became illegal.
        But now, that’s rules after the fact, and RB has complied with the changes.
        Also, keep in mind that there is always some lobbying for rules this way and that way, none more so than in the TWG (would you propose rules against yourself?!).

    3. Toni says:

      This very much has a precedent… In 1992 (I understand many might be too young to remember…) Mansell SMOKED the opposition, including his team-mate for most of the season. In some tracks he was fenomenal, like in Silverstone, where he outqualified Patrese for well over a second (I think close to 2secs), which himself was 1sec faster than the 3rd place guy, some Ayrton Senna. Shummi was 3secs off!
      Mansell managed to blaze that FW14B wildly fast, Patrese never got close even to smell the exhausts…

      And the 2.5sec a lap advantage is in this race, it is not for the season, a most likely will not exist in other tracks. However, even 0.5-1sec advantage will be quite comfortable.

      RB usually comes strong after the summer break, I think newey keeps some second line, more deep developments, which take some more time, and brings them up at this stage.

      1. Joe_in_Miami says:

        Yup, the FW14 was also designed by Newey and surrounded by the same polemic. Surprise surprise.

      2. Toni says:


        Are you serious? Did you follow the 92 season at all?

        Yes, the FW14B was designed by Patrick Head and Adrian Newey, back when FW was still fully in charge.

        But it was never surrounded by any polemic, not then, not now! The reasons for its superiority are and were well understood, even at the time. You can find it in contemporary literature of 92 and 93 (maybe not in US, but surely European literature).
        It was fully within the rules, the advantage was so great that it didn’t even need to go near any grey areas… No polemic existed, just the plain truth, and corroborated by the other teams, that williams just had put themselves a few years ahead technology wise. Both the FW14B and the FW15C that followed for 93 (the FW15 was never used due to the tremendous advantage of the 14B and its reliability) were the most advanced technological cars up to this day. Next year, with the whole new powertrain, maybe we will be able to say its a draw (different anyways, next year will be very advanced powertrain wise, but concerning the whole car the 14B/15C will still be streets ahead). In those days, the rule book was also much less restrictive, especially concerning electronics and automation…

        Look it up, if you like engineering, excellence and technology, the 92 and 93 FW cars are amazing :)

  39. Matt says:

    I may not buy into Minardi’s traction control theory, but I’m not stupid enough to completely dismiss it. The man is not an idiot. He has been in F1 for a very long time. As a former team owner, he knows all of the tricks of the trade.
    What puzzles me the most is how can Vettel only be a tenth of a second a head of Nico Rosberg in qualifying, but be 2.5 seconds a lap faster than him during the race? Yes, I know that Rosberg’s front wing had a lot of rubber in it which affected the handling of his car, but 2.5 is a huge difference in F1.
    Adrian Newey believes in the old adage, “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying”. Last year he had the illegal engine mapping in Velancia, the illegal hole in the floor at Monaco, and the illegal hole in the front axile in Bahrain.
    Since Red Bull is never banned from any of these races or given any point deductions, why not continue to cheat. All the FIA will do is just give you a slap on the wrist.
    I think “where there is smoke, there is fire”.

    1. SteveS says:

      “Adrian Newey believes in the old adage, “if you’re not cheating, you’re not trying””

      Libelous nonsense, Newey has never said any such thing.

      “Last year he had the illegal engine mapping in Velancia, the illegal hole in the floor at Monaco, and the illegal hole in the front axile in Bahrain.”

      None of these things were “illegal”, a fact which somehow keeps escaping people.

      1. Matt says:

        ***Read my response to Miha Bevc below. I’m not goingto write the same thing twice.

      2. KRB says:

        The hole in the floor at Monaco wasn’t illegal? Todt had to plead with other teams not to protest the result, and the FIA told RBR to take out the holes for the next race!

        If they thought it was legal, they would’ve kept running it, and taken it to the stewards next time out.

      3. HBerg says:

        Newey brought his “hole” to the FIA and the FIA (ahem Charlie) who approved it, so technically it was legal.

        How that is considered as a hole when in fact it was a slit, is beyond me. But the issue arose when other teams raised the question.

        There are some in the FIA who are making decisions without considering the repercussions…..grrr!

      4. KRB says:

        Not saying I don’t believe you, but can you provide sources please? That’s the first I’ve heard of Whiting “pre-approving” those RBR Monaco ’12 floor holes/slits.

        If that’s the case, then for sure the FIA have to clean up their own house, ‘cos that structure of Charlie acting as FIA agent has been the cause of at least two F1 snafu’s (Spa 2008, Tire-gate 2013) off the top of my head.

      5. F1ista says:

        “None of these things were “illegal”, a fact which somehow keeps escaping people.”

        Extraordinary levels of denial. You’re the one whom facts are “escaping.”

        Even on this wesbite…

        Now, is the “fact” of those holes in the floor being illegal, going to keep on escaping YOU?

    2. Miha Bevc says:

      Red Bull car has never been declared illegal. Get your facts straight.

      1. Matt says:

        The FACT of the matter is, ALL of these things were deemed illegal by the FIA and that’s why they were taken off of the Red Bull for the following race.

        It’s a long drawn out process, but if another team wanted the Red Bull cars to be banned from those races and the points taken away, they could have submitted an official complaint to the FIA in writing.
        See Red Bull and Ferrari filing an official complaint to the FIA about Mercedes illegal tyre testing.

      2. SteveS says:

        “ALL of these things were deemed illegal by the FIA ..”

        No, NONE of them were “deemed illegal”. In fact they were explicitly “deemed legal”. The FIA then changed the rules to ban the things in question going forward, which is a completely different matter and one which large numbers of people seem unable to grasp. I don’t know why, it’s not that difficult.

      3. NRO says:

        Report from the FIA on those engine maps: “While the stewards do not accept all the arguments of the team, they however conclude that as the regulation is written, the map presented does not break the text of article 5.5.3 of the Formula One Technical Regulations and therefore decide to take no further action.”

        RBR did NOT break the rules as they were written. FIA then specified the rules further so that in the future those engine maps that RBR used would be illegal.
        In other words, the regulations were not written clearly enough.

        I can’t believe how many times I read “where there is smoke there is fire” on this page. With that mentality you have to believe every rumour in f1. And we all know a lot of bullshit is being said/made up! And that’s why we still discuss stuff like this…

    3. Richard says:

      Well Vettel was far more than a tenth of a second faster than Rosberg in qualifying, it’s just he did not do a second run which would have been faster than his first. I think what Newey does is exploit the rules and find a way around them. Front wings are meant to be rigid, but Newey was able to engineer a front wing that would pass all the tests, and yet still flex under load to get closer to the ground to increase downforce. It is not in line with the spirit of the rules, but manages to pass the deflection tests.

    4. Yago says:

      Vettel’s quali performances in Singapore have been always “poor” compared to his performance during the race. In 2010 he lost because he could not perform at his car level in qualifying, or at least at Alonso’s level, while in the race he was clearly faster. In 2011 he took pole by no more than 3 tenths if I remember well. Again Alonso was 4 tenths slower in quail that year, while in the race the Ferrari was more than a second from Vettel´s times. In 2012 again he was easily outqualified by Hamilton while they were not that far away in the race. And then again this year, where Red Bull and him where one tenth away of making a fool.

      Could it be set up related? Maybe, but I don’t think so. I think there are a few drivers faster than him in Singapore.

  40. Random 79 says:

    Great article, although it doesn’t exactly bode well for a close and exciting finish to the season :(

    One point that no-one seems to have picked up on:

    Minardi all but stated that RBR and Vettel are using traction control, but this is virtually impossible to achieve without bypassing the ECU. Last I heard, McLaren Electronic Systems produce all the ECUs used in F1.

    So if any car is going to be taking advantage of a hidden TCS (or any other system) it’s going to be the McLaren…and where are they this season?

    Think about it.

  41. Harvey says:

    Love to believe it’s all technically within the rules, but they were caught last year in Monaco with a car ruled to be within the rules for THAT race but not within the rules for the rest of the season. Had the cars been justly disqualified by the lackeys serving as stewards for the race, we wouldn’t be talking about a quadruple world champion, would we?

  42. Matt says:

    Whether Minardi’s observations are real or not, I’m still happy that he wrote the article because from now until the end of the season, the stewards and the other teams will be monitoring Red Bull’s proformance around the track very closely.
    Last season, Ross Brawn had his team record Red Bull’s engine sounds so that he could play it back for the stewards because he thought that Red Bull were still cheating.
    It wouldn’t surprise me to hear/read that current team principals reached out to Minardi to discuss his obversations at the Singapore Grand Prix.

    1. Toni says:

      They do it constantly…
      You really think the top teams are not monitoring each other? Especially the ones with “less” confidence in themselves (which usually comes from results…)…
      Of course they follow everything newey and the others do…
      And even newey and RB are not foolish to think they know all and do it all well, if they spot something “funny” on some other car, they surely will think about it.

      thing is, usually, stuff is more out in the open, easier to copy. But once in a while, somebody finds a kind of innovation that gets a real advantage.

      Cf, the lotus wing car, which chapman/lotus did and started by creating a rumour that it was a very clever differential which enabled faster cornering and more traction. It took the others a while to figure what was going on, and because it wasn’t immediately applicable to their cars, even longer to catch up…

      A book comes to mind… “The unfair advantage”… ;)
      Well, if its within the rules, its not unfair, just clever…
      I really, really doubt RB is outside the rules, however they play heavy on grey areas. But most teams exerting a dominance usually do, especially with restrictive regulations as now.
      There are exceptions, of course:
      1978 – Lotus wing car… ground effect was massive, and I think that year they had trouble exploring the full potential of the car because it got way more downforce than expected; even so, wiped the competition

      1988 – mclaren/honda decided to created a car just for that year, while everyone else put an eye towards 1989 with the new non-turbo formula; besides they had the 2 best drivers, and decided to create a very balanced car

      1992 – williams just got so far ahead in onboard electronics and mechatronics systems that the car was really that good, nothing illegal, just nothing other hadn’t done before.

      I don’t think RB is doing anything illegal, they have just accumulated several small advantages into a real great package, and this season end it seems to be really clicking; also, others teams have diverted some more into 2014 than RB I believe. They will take the titles, forget 2013 and get fully onto 2014.

  43. SaScha says:

    Not really good for F1. It will just get more boring with every race.

    1. Random 79 says:

      It that even possible at this point?

      Luckily we still have the thrilling battle for second – even James is putting up articles asking if drivers could have come 2nd!

      It’s a sad state of affairs, hopefully one that will be refreshed next year.

      Fingers and toes crossed :)

  44. boris says:

    What is quite amazing is that all F1 teams are required to shut down any development activity during the Summer break and year after year RBR comes back magically faster after it. Do the rules not apply to them?

    1. JR says:

      You can’t stop people thinking, although some teams and drivers find it hard to start thinking in the first place.

      1. Random 79 says:

        Sad to say, but not entirely true.

        You can usually see a look of intense concentration on a teams face as it’s driver finishes 11th or so…again.

        Or maybe it’s consternation I’m thinking of…my bad :)

    2. Tim says:

      I had exactly the same thought but didn’t like to mention it, for fear that others would say it’s sour grapes. Aren’t the teams supposed to have a shutdown?

    3. clyde says:

      Good question !

    4. Fireman says:

      I suspect this is due Red Bull having the best development pipeline with hardly any hiccups. Thus, the break doesn’t hurt them so much because they don’t have to backtrack. Efficiency pays off if you have less time.

  45. Harshad says:

    Fantastic article James,and very well written!
    Clearly explains how RBR have been so dominant over the years. They just seem to find that extra bit (through innovation) every now and then through out the season. Vettel is obviously the driver that knows how to extract the best out of the car.

    Kudos to him and RBR and to you, James for sharing an excellent article.

    On a Similar note, can you do an article about Lotus. i.e. for 2 yrs now they are very gentle on tyres and seem to extract the best performance of these tyres in almost any whichever way they want! They can be fast when needed (hungary 2012, Kimi’s race,Abu Dhabi 2012) and they can go long on tyres making less pit stops and winning crucial points/podiums.(Australia 2013,Hungary/Singapore 2013)

    1. gadfly says:


      I would also love an article that looked into the technicalities of why and how some cars are ‘gentler’ on tyres than others! Kudos to Lotus for being particularly impressive this season in regards to tyre management.

      1. Joel says:

        F1 is NOT about tyre management Sir – are you also suggesting “Gentles driver on tyre” award?

      2. gadfly says:


      3. gadfly says:

        No, SIR.

      4. Sujith says:

        Joel, anticipating that the tyre supplier is gonna bring tyres that don’t last long and thinking far ahead and engineering a car that is good on its tyres is pure competitive engineering that requires a lot of credit.

        Sad to see… other teams like RedBull just cribbing about the tyres when they were a bit behind on their homework at the very start of the season! Credit should be given where is it due. If Redbull rightfully deserves the credit for dominating the second half of the season (no doubt they deserve it) then don’t you think Lotus also deserves credit for starting off the season well?

  46. Mishko says:

    Question why people booing to Vettel and RedBull must be some reason and believe not of them superiority but probably people know that RB is not under rules.
    My observation on RB cars from Montreal was “strange” to others in fast track corners and Singapore 2.5 sec faster per lap is top and too much.
    Minardis observation we can find everywhere and after all FIA should act to check this speculation.

    1. Random 79 says:

      I’m assuming they have checked, but no news is boring news.

    2. Toni says:

      First, you should write more clearly, if possible.
      But most importantly, with the stakes being this high, you think other teams and the FIA are sleeping!?!

      my word, they can’t even cross a white like or whatnot without somebody getting it up do charlie for a penalty. If there was some specific suspicion they would demand FIA clarifications.

      Please see above examples of years where teams also had a huge advantage over competition, NOT illegally (by the rules of the time).

      Lotus 78, McLaren 88, Williams 92

      Sometimes you create an advantage difficult for others to copy (see difference between tactics and strategy on a business book); this is same applied to racing.

      By 1993 williams was still way ahead, but other teams had started to catch up (it took them most part of a year, sometimes more, to get the semi-auto box, the active suspension, and other electronic bits to start working good, never mind getting to williams’ level).

      But the advantage of williams in 93 was not as great as in 92.
      Sometimes it really is like this, somebody, somewhere, makes something really out of the blue, and you get amazed. This happens everywhere, the thing is, it doesn’t happen very often (and when you get a real baseline advantage it is really difficult for others to claw back). We give the winner the most money (both races and WC), why is it a surprise they continue on top!? :O (not that money has directly to do with it as toyota proved!). But my point is, even if there was a newey in every team, the champion team gets more resources, so if everybody has a similar rate of “getting things right”, the one in front gets further in front; i don’t think everyone (even the neweys of F1) have a similar rate of getting things right most of the time, but even here I think RB and their tech team are tops, they do have a consistent and sustainable development (maybe not race to race, but looking at 3/4 month windows, I think it is very solid).

      1. Random 79 says:

        ‘you should write more clearly, if possible’

        I suspect English is not Mishko’s first language, but his post is still better written and much clearer than some I’ve seen…and he at least knows when to use capitals ;)

      2. Jake says:

        Pot. Kettle. Black.

  47. JB says:

    I’m a bit confused with Webber inability to use the exhaust gas as extra downforce while Vettel can.
    Vettel simply stomp on the throttle, earlier and keep the car as straight as possible coming out of the corner. In the high power turbo days, drivers step on the throttle early as well. Get the car wind up compensating for turbo lag. In fact they go as far as braking and throttling at the same time.
    My point is that drivers adapt to different technique. Something they must do next year.

    IMO, Vettel is simply at another level. I guess Vettel’s kid like appearance and friendly face creates disbelieve that he is soo much better and other F1 drivers.

    Btw, RB has always been great in Singapore. They just been carrying that momentum forward. Other teams are simply praying next year will reset these and even out the field.

    1. Sujith says:

      Webber’s driving style basically makes him a bit greedy when he essentially has good grip on the option compounds in every race. He is that sort of a man who leans on the tyre too much. So he’s kinda under-driving to a point where he is just not comfortable on the options. We have seen in Singapore and other races, once he’s on the primes (longer lasting tyre) he’s himself and he’s quick.

  48. Valentino from montreal says:

    Schumacher dominates F1 and his dominance is questioned like in 1994 .. I remember in 2001 ( forgot which race it was ) , Schumacher and Barrichello massacred everybody in a wet race , with a 1-2 finish and ” illegal traction control” was brought up again by some media outlets and on F1 forums ..

    Fast forward 12 years later and history is repeating itself .. Another German driver is dominating the sport and cheating allegations are again the focus ..

    F1 follow followers are really a PARANOID bunch !!

    1. Random 79 says:

      It’s much easier to look for a convenient explanation than to admit that maybe – just maybe – Vettel and the car really are that good.

    2. KARTRACE says:

      Then you do not know your F1

      1. clyde says:

        well said!

    3. Elie says:

      You forget they they had illegal holes in the floor last year.. Teams of get it wrong and sometimes they even get away with it.

      1. André says:

        Exactly you write “teams” as in plural, so its not just RB…

      2. Elie says:

        Yes but Red Bull ran it for some time without penalty & they are the only recent example. Others such as Williams/ Caterham exhaust, and Lotus almost 2 years ago tested diff hydraulic suspension but were prevented from running it.

  49. Jasmin says:

    Very good article!!!

  50. nenad says:

    There is a little doubt that Red Bull is pushing design of it’s car to the limits of legality, but everybody else is doing the same.
    What i see here and bothers me is that this statement from italian, who is not in the bussines anymore, given to italian newspaper.
    Does Minardi know more than engineers from Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes. etc…? If there is something illegal, they should know better and go to FIA.
    What we see is an attempt to destabilize Red Bull and Vettel for a next few races and maybe make them drop the ball for the championship because this is the only thing they can do in this phase.
    I am sure that we will hear more of this in a next few days from people and journalists close to Ferrari and Alonso.

  51. Ian says:

    Re Minardi’s comments, I was at Spa and noted the different engine sound of Vettel’s car there, especially coming out of the bus stop. Same sound as one of the above commenters’ YouTube posts.

    I have a friend who does ECU work on motorbikes, and he showed me once how he could deal with his rider’s persistent misuse of the accelerator by varying the throttle and fuel mapping according to front/rear suspension load. Same ECU, just a mapping change.

    So does the RB facilitate Vettel getting on the throttle early by linking between accelerator position and some other ECU parameter to generate gas volume but not power?. Anyone with experience of the McLaren ECU?

    Vettel’s wasn’t the only car at Spa with the engine note effect, but it was the most marked.

    1. KARTRACE says:

      Of course it the same story like with with your office/home PC. One could use different OS and user programs the hardware stays the same. It is just a question what is legal to control and in what way on your car and what is not. Your standard ECU much the same could execute different instructions all depends on the software and what periphery units are allowed and which one are not.

  52. The Spanish Inquisitor says:

    We are all tired of conspiration theories, but what I don’t understand is Horner’s declaration saying that the result of Singapore race is due of unique circumstances, car’s set up and driver ability equals to 2,5 second per lap. [Car & Driver The F1 – Spanish version]. The differences of Singapore and Korea tracks are so big that RBR can’t maintain his brutal performances….Will fail the set up or the driver ability?….. Hummm… Nevertheless Vettel is the actual top driver.

  53. Andrew Halliday says:

    It would be great if Mark Webber could also have benefited more from the limitless finance and technical knowledge of Red Bull.

    1. nenad says:

      If he did not have back up all these years, why did not he leave earlier, after all he could of join his mate Alonso in Ferrari. Apart from the winggate and multi21gate, there are no other suspicous stories of his his bad treatment. Also his was not very helpfull when Vettel’s championship hopes were at stake last year.

      1. Andrew Halliday says:

        My comment was nothing to do with the controversies you’ve mentioned, I was simply stating that it would be nice if he had more to show from driving for the juggernaut that is Red Bull Racing for 7 seasons than 9 wins and 38 podiums.

      2. nenad says:

        So, we agree that Vettel was doing better in same conditions?

  54. Paul Watson says:

    Really hoping his speed isn’t here to stay, could damage f1 in a big way

    1. Dai Dactic says:

      So a team attempting to keep F1 at the so-called ‘pinnacle’ of motorsport might damage it?

      I would suggest that RB’s opponents’ inability to match them will be the cause of that damage.

  55. Richard says:

    I’m sorry, this article is just way too technical for me. Still, good job Mark and James.

  56. Carlos Marques says:

    I’m not buying it. I think many are not buying it either…

    At some point someone is going to find out what’s going on, copy it, and then the FIA will rule against it. By then RB will have 3-4 “dominant” victories in the bag.

    I’ll bet the technical explanation to their trick will include a lot of lawyer-isms in it.

  57. Rob Newman says:

    Mr Minardi is seeking clarification. If this is raised as an issue, then I am sure Red Bull will respond accordingly and they will be under strict scrutiny in Korea.

    I can remember last year when Vettel won the championship, another driver went on twitter and claimed that Vettel passed under yellow flags but it was found that Vettel had done nothing wrong. Same way, I am sure Vettel and Red Bull will be cleared of any wrong doing. But a clarification would be good to keep the boo-fans and conspiracy theorists at bay and to put the matter to rest.

    I checked the Technical Reports of the Singapore GP on the FIA website and Vettel’s car was checked more than any other car on qualifying day. I couldn’t find any reports after race. If there had been any issues, then Jo Bauer would have brought it up.

    1. TGS says:

      Where are the reports on the site?

    2. TGS says:

      Don’t worry, I clicked on the race map and found them.

    3. KARTRACE says:

      Bauer ? Is he an American. Sounds very German ?

  58. SteveS says:

    One of the most tell-tale characteristics of traction control is that it allows a driver to make perfect starts. All he has to do is dump the clutch and floor the accelerator and the TC system takes care of everything. Is there a driver on the grid with a history of making suspiciously good starts? One who commonly starts on the third or fourth row but explodes past the cars in front of him and is up with the leaders inside the first two hundred meters?

    There is such a driver, but his name isn’t Vettel.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Or Webber for that matter…

    2. KARTRACE says:

      And comes racing in corners in the race and he switches off his TC till the end ? How naïve one has to be and now point in the direction of Ferrari. It would read like this. Because I am a thief must be the whole world is stealing too.

      1. SteveS says:

        I’m just pointing out that there is a lot more evidence to suggest Ferrari are using traction control than there is for Red Bull. I don’t think either team are actually doing so, I’m simply pointing out the hypocrisy and double standards at work here. All we have in the case of RB is some people, not in F1, who claim to hear some odd noise from Vettel’s car – and on that flimsy reed lots of articles and hundreds or thousands of comments are based.

      2. Scott says:

        There’s no more evidence of Red Bull doing anything illegal than there is Ferrari. I suspect that’s the point that was being made, and it was well made. You folk just need to calm down and accept that for the moment the Vettel/Red Bull combination is very good. And ditch the silly innuendo. Don’t worry, others will get their turn again.

      3. KARTRACE says:

        I am always amazed when learn that some people may not elaborate unless they attack someone who is not even subject of discussion. For your info here we are discussing RBR performance at the last race and where from that pace came from.

    3. Richard says:

      Well we all know Alonso does that, and even Massa to a lesser degree, but I think it is the characteristic of the Ferrari than any sort of traction control maybe slightly lower gear ratios that give the car that sort of acceleration. Alonso is probably the best driver on the grid currently. As Hamilton put’s it he’s like a charging bull! I was not impressed by Alonso’s antics at Mclaren, but since that time he has impressed.

  59. Edward Ratcliff says:

    Sadly missed the race, well I say sadly,from what I’ve seen it wasn’t a classic.
    Looking back at footage the last few races, it’s been quite something watching the RB just totally planted while other cars squirm around.
    Traction control? Nice conspiracy but I can’t imagine they’re foolish enough to cheat in that manner…

  60. Anop says:

    I don’t have any comment on the article. But I hope this is the 300,000th comment.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Looks like we have a winner :)

  61. Sandy Panton says:

    I feel very fortunate to see another driver set to match Schumacher’s driving records. To be able to watch two drivers of such excellence in one lifetime is a real treat for any true Formula one fan. I think the combination of Adrian Newey,RBR and Vettel could end up as the best up to this point in F1.

  62. MelB says:

    James, is there any way to use the clutch in such a way that you could keep the revs high although going through a slowish corner? A little bit like off throttle blowing but without illegal engine mappings? Might explain some of the gear box related problems RB have had lately as well…

    1. KARTRACE says:

      Sure one can modulate the clutch but as far as I know the clutch actuation would be controlled via ECU, so it would be illegal as well, I suppose.

    2. Darren S says:

      Yes, I would be curious about this as well. Relates to the post I made (number 64).

    3. Ben says:

      That is a very interesting theory. From my understanding RB cannot fiddle with the ECU and there are very strict rules on engine mapping so there would have to be another way to get the effect that Minardi has suggested may be happening

  63. aveli says:

    james, this has been a very interesting article in that it has rekindled my interest in f1 after singapore. thank you. i can’t wait to hear more on this and similar matters of interest as i think the racing is over for this season.

  64. Mark Taylor says:

    It’s amazing how in previous years, it was decided that tracks like spa or monza were declared non RBR tracks, with their cars expected to struggle. Well RBR obviously chose to ignore that this year. For a car and driver to dominate both spa and Singapore, well my hat is off to them.

    RBR racing and Vettel is just like Usain Bolt and his favorite pair of running shoes – menacingly quick.

    James, Looking forward to your interview with Newey – regarding the drivers input on the design of the car

  65. Paul D says:


    On a seperate point – do you ever plan to write an autobiography (or your motorsport memoris)?

    Amongst other points of interest, I understand you spent a lot of time in 93-94 in the States covering Indycar and Mansell’s time out there. I’d love to pick your brains about that era and your experiences out there if the opportunity ever arose!

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes I did and I can just about still remember !

      Maybe one day. Lot more to do yet though

  66. Eric Weinraub says:

    Again…you want to see competition you have to have unlimited IN SEASON testing…

  67. Bru72 says:

    Thank goodness that this exhaust blowing into the diffuser will be gone next year, as all exhaust gasses have to exit at a specified height nowhere near the floor/diffuser.

  68. Jaybrig says:

    People are latching onto the 2.5 sec gap vettel pulled in the first lap, but forget that there are a number of factors which explain this: firstly, vet really only pulled a gap over ros – the drivers further back would have been compromised by traffic regardless of their potential pace. secondly, on a restart there is usually a gap as the leading car has clear air, thirdly, vet controlled the restart to perfection and was miles ahead of ros across the line. (I think it was ros in p2 at restart, but might be wrong.)

    There may also have been an element of ros not wanting to kill his tyres.

    1. Jaybrig says:

      The point being that the headline 2.5s is a bit misleading.

  69. Goob says:

    Just proves again – Vettel is just a passenger… Newey is the man who deserves 100% of the credit…

    Without Newey, Redbull are nobodies…

    1. Dave Aston says:

      Proves nothing. Newey is an icon, but doesn’t deserve 100% of the credit. Had a ten year gap between titles. Vettel is the difference. If not, Webber would have been second in the championship the last four years. Even Rubens was able to get close to Schumacher in the points now and then, but you’ve probably never heard of Rory Byrne, let alone claim he was the sole reason Ferrari dominated. Go and read about the sport’s history.

  70. Doug says:

    Good article, more like this please!

    Seb was pretty much untouchable from Singapore onwards last year. Feels familiar.

  71. ciao says:

    Engine circuit mapping grrrr!
    Clutch-start mapping grrrr!
    Engine modes grrrr!

    and Christian Horner puts his clutch mapping guy up on the podium after Webber gets blown away when he had Vettel in proximity …. yet again.

    Pink Bull.

    Formula puff cake, going the same way as the bikes.

  72. JohnBt says:

    Finally James, I’ve been waiting for this article after reads from other sites.

    2.5 secs is really really too much! not gonna repeat what has been posted.

    Korea will paint a clearer picture as Mr. Horner says it’s one off in Singapore, as usual downplaying the effect. If it’s a repeat of 2 secs in Korea, either it’s true innovation or cheating big time! I sure hope not, you can cheat but not too much please.

    1. Toni says:

      Then, if its just true innovation (or even, just good implementation of a clever idea within the rules), is it good for you?

  73. Nick4 says:

    Thanks James. Great article. Will these debates ever go away? Is it the car or is it the driver which is the dominant reason in this case for Seb’s astonishing success. Your article clearly indicates the RB has a significant advantage. This reminds me of another era when Mansell dominated the F1 world in ’92. There were plenty of opinions then, that suggested it was the car with its active suspension that gave him the advantage and not the driver, and that he didn’t deserve the success. The fact that it took Nigel’s upper body strength and a good degree of his undeniable courage to get the maximum out of the car meant that it was a combination of driver and car. Even Patrese had to admit at the Brit GP that year in a most humorous way that only Nigel had the b…s to push the car to the limits that he did and achieve speeds that were substantially faster than anyone else. A great car gave a great driver the confidence that took him for a while heads and shoulders above everyone else including the late great Ayrton Senna. Clearly Seb is enjoying yet again the benefit of Adrian Newey’s ingenuity and good luck to him. He is clearly a very skilled driver who has gotten the maximum out of the RB. In era where the cars are so safe his confidence levels are supreme and so too are RB.

    1. SteveS says:

      The trouble with the whole “That car is just incredible” argument is that the other Red Bull car never looks even sightly incredible. You mentioned 1992, but forgot that Patrese was runner-up that year and beat Senna and Schumacher. If Webber ever finished runner-up and beat Alonso then it would lend a little support to the “supercar” theory. The RB’s are simply not as good as people want to imagine they are.

  74. Marcelo Leal says:

    Ok James, but for me what you have described is what many people are saying: It’s all about the car… If that was not the case, we would see other teams, but look at your text, all about engineering of the car. 2 seconds??
    I do respect Vettel, but the difference of the car is huge, and I think the people that “do the F1″ (including you ;-), need to think about this and not just say that the “Boos are wrong”. That everyone knows, it is a disrespect. But for the sport is important to understand it, and work around the problem.
    Seems to me that the professionals atound F1 are just trying to impose their opinions and forrce people to ack Vettel is a great driver. I don’t think this is a solution… I’m sure you have some kind of mining for the comments here on this site, but if not, make a research on the opinions here. Let’s see what “we”, your blog readers think. I’m sure we will say the same as the Boo guys ( without being disrespectful). And as I think your site is the most important on the F1 world (I really don’t know, but seems to be), you should have as audience hard core F1 fans, so the result should be interesting.

  75. Elie says:

    James one thing that had not been mentioned so far is the gearbox. I know the gearboxes are sealed but if there is some mechanism of controlling the gear change through the gear paddles or the ECU, slurring an upshift on corner exit could be something that would work. Especially if the process maintained engine revs and therefore exhaust gases for downforce.
    Someone also mentioned the KERS system which is interesting because in road cars some hybrid systems utilise this as a braking mechanism at low speeds. In theory if you could bring a car to a speed where the KERS takes over the last phase of braking whilst it’s generating charge, the right foot can go down that little big sooner.- along with unaffected downforce.

    There is no doubt that Sebs car usually carries development work ahead of Marks – this makes sense as Seb in as now lead the charge in the drivers title. Same as any team would with a lead driver. There is no doubt that Seb is a clever cookie and is really in tune with what the team are doing . He is brilliant at getting the most out of whatever developments the team bring- 2011 exhaust blown diffuser was the perfect eg. There is a shrewdness of him (& an arrogance it has to be said) that is very much Michael Schumacher like. It is a perfect marriage at Red Bull right now. & that’s very scary. But for people to compare him to Senna is just wrong IMO. I just saw the Senna documentary again and I was just reminded of how he raced every lap on/ beyond the complete limit. He was able to get last anyone in any track condition in comparable or even better machinery.. No one and I mean no one has that today for me Raikkonen and Hamilton are the closest to that raw ability — but you gotta have what Red Bull and what Seb have BOTH to be anywhere near as dominant. To draw parrellels look at that 1992/3 Williams – even the brilliance of Senna ha no answer !

    If Red Bull are finding things now under these old rules- the scariest part is with greater technical challenges next year- they will only find greater technical solutions.. I’m praying that’s not the case and the brains trust at the other top 3 find something. Bernie has created the perfect environment for Red Bull to dominate. We loose poorer teams but we allow RB to access unlimited resources in 4 cars and drivers. It’s like starting a race on pole position every time.

  76. CH says:

    yet nobody found the reason why vettel’s car sound like its misfiring mid corner?

    1. KARTRACE says:

      Maybe they found hydro/mechanical way of retarding cam timing.

    2. Carlos Marques says:

      The only explanation given so far is the fact this car-driver combo is awesome…not much of an explanation really…

  77. roberto marquez says:

    James very interesting article. I have two questions If you are correct in your analysis would it not be expected for the Red Bull car to be very hard on tyre wear ? If I understood correctly the advantage comes from applying extra torque,which should produce more wear ? Second question is it possible for the pit people to make changes on a car during the race on a periodic fashion, lets say at very exact points on each lap ? I will appreciate very much your answers.Thanks in advance.

    1. Yak says:

      Once the race starts the cars are no longer under parc ferme conditions. AFAIK they’re allowed to make whatever changes they want when the car is in the pit lane, but obviously there’s only so much they’re going to do anyway due to the time it’d take. You’re not going to see a team pit in after the first stint and swap the “quali” rear wing for the “race” rear wing or anything. Changes made by the pit team while the car is out on track are I believe not allowed. Any setting changes out on track have to be made by the driver. So if the car’s diff and bias and whatever other settings are to be changed at various points around the circuit, it’s the driver who has to do it with his onboard controls.

      1. roberto marquez says:

        James thanks for your answer . What about the other question on higher degrading if there is more power going out of relatively slow turns ?

      2. roberto marquez says:

        Sorry James I thought the answer was yours.

  78. Hans says:

    James, could it be that – with the new tires that have more rigid tire walls – Newey can set up the car more aerodynamically effective: lower in the front, higher in the back and that that leads to the increase in speed out of slow corners?

    1. Hans says:

      How much effect do air and track temperature have on the tires? Seb has been that good in warm Monza, hot Singapore and relatively cold Spa. But in all conditions, he could manage the tires very well. Mercedes is very good in cold conditions but has tire problems in hot ones…

  79. BM says:

    I don’t quite agree in what the Singapore-chart actually says. What we do see, is that Vettel can get the tyre instantly to work and does not need to be careful early on. He is being helped by Rosberg’s careful pace in the early laps. Alonso is just following Rosberg. The last laps in the first stint show basically the same speed for Vettel and Alonso. After the pitstops Alonso again is being held up a little, actual difference on hard tyres is about 0.8 early in the stint, which is cut short by the safety car. Afterwards, Vettel is giving it everything while Alonso is being held up by the train of cars who are unsure, if they need to pit again. This phase by no means illustrates the actual difference in lapspeed, as well as after Vettel’s second stop for options vs. Alonso’s old primes.

    1. SteveS says:

      Actually Rosberg was faster than Alonso in the early laps. He had a three second lead on FA by lap 3 or 4 I believe. It was Alonso holding up the drivers behind him.

  80. JC says:

    The exhaust sound on the mid corner / exit was there for quite some time. Very noticeable in COTA last year on the “stadium” section T12 – T15. Like not all cylinders were on…
    Great article, hat off to Newey and RBR, and to Seb maximizing the package

  81. Kenneth says:

    Hmm,James i always find it rich when Ferrari,Mclaren and Mercedes fans slam Redbull/Vettel for doing a better job than them.Its like back in high school where the geek is bullied by the dumb kids just because he is smart.
    Following that anology,it seems to me as if these days in Formula One mediocre performances from other teams bring you more fans.I mean,look at Mclaren last year,operationaly,for lack of a better word,they were crap.Reliability,pitstops,strategy etc were horrible,whereas we have Redbull,a team that to be honest F1 fans should be proud of because they are showing everyone the way on how to go grand prix racing.I loved the way after the Singapore GP Mercedes tweeted them to congratulate saying what an excelent job they are doing.I found it very genuine and refreshing,not the usual grumbling and sour grapes.
    All in all,F1 fans should never ask for a team to slow down,that is the business they are in,its the other team’s fault for not doing theirs.For example,why on earth has Ferrari gone backwards?I remember China when Andrea Stella told Alonso ‘we are there’.Instead of solving their own issues they wait for Alonso the miracle worker to cover rheir behinds once again!
    Kudoz to the dream team of Vettel-Newey-Horner,they deserve all their success!

    1. Toni says:

      Great comment, thanks! :)

  82. Wade Parmino says:

    With regards to the engines. Each car has eight for the season giving each team 16 units. What rules are in place to police which engines go to which driver in a team? For example, could a team give their number one driver a new engine from their second driver’s stock, leaving the number two with the number one’s second hand engine. This would ensure a higher rate of reliability for the number one driver at the expense of the number two (who may or may not be aware of any switcheroo having taken place). How is this scenario prevented? (assuming it is of course).

  83. As much as I dislike the way F1 has returned to the domination of one driver one team for a sustained period I cannot ignore the fact that the other teams have more to answer for than Redbull does. I hope that Redbull do not have an unfair advantage and I feel as has been clearly shown here is that Redbull fulfil their obligations as a race team better than the rest. Two top high point scoring drivers a team structure that seems to be all about winning and having confidence in it. Whereas the rest of the teams seem to spend time and energy trying fruitlessly to catch up rather than bettering themselves and spending to much of their energy worrying about which drivers are commercially better suited rather than the two drivers whom could perform best for the team. Mclaren tried it in 2007 and sadly let it end in tears. Mercedes are trying to be the dominant force now and Ferrari finally seemed to have grasped the fact that two drivers scoring high is better than one.
    I hope that next season with a raft of driver changes and updated technical regulations sees a resurgence from what I can only see as a disappointing approach from the other top four teams.

    1. James Allen says:

      Think it’s interesting that all this stuff is emanating from Italy..

      1. nenad says:

        James, you finally read my comment no. 50?

      2. Random 79 says:

        There must be a link there, but for the life of me I can’t figure out what it is…

      3. David Curtis says:

        Is that the country where Ferrari are based?

      4. Truth or Lies says:

        Sour grapes come to mind…
        Wow this article has generated some response, probably more publicity than Minardi ever got in all its time in F1 :)

  84. Yago says:

    James, you forgot to mention that Minardi also said that special sound only came from Vettel’s car, not Webber’s.

    1. Clarks4WheelDrift says:

      Now is that just because it is easier to hear Seb’s car as he was first through, Mark’s engine noise mostly mixed with other cars he was racing?

      Or is it a new update tested on Seb’s car, not on Mark’s as there was only time to do one or perhaps because he is leaving and may talk?

      Or is it a grey area and you are half as likely to get scrutineered or spotted if it’s only on one car?

      I do hear a different noise after throttle lift-off, during turn in before the apex, prior to Seb’s acceleration though.

      .. but..
      the thing I mainly see from the Singapore fans videos is that it’s a rubbish track for fans who get a split second view of cars through a cage. Not a patch on Spa, watching them come down the hill and nail it through eau rouge and up hill going light over to Radillon. Or even better, back in the day at Brands Hatch when you could see them from Clark curve along the main straight, round paddock to the dip, up to druids 180 degree behind the trees, back into sight down the hill round Hill to the mini straight then round Surtees and off to the woods. Perhaps only Interlagos with the natural bowl shape of the land could match?

      Back to the point, the noise is certainly not some throttle blipping or some style Seb’s driving is creating, more likely to be some clever blowing jiggery pokery by Newey or Renault.

    2. Random 79 says:

      Since no-one else mentioned it Webber’s car also made it’s own special sound during the race…only it was more of a bang.

      1. James Allen says:

        When you play around with modes and maps you take a risk on the reliability of the engine

        According to Mark Gillan it’s possible to rack up £500k in costs on a test dyne working on a new map or mode, as you need to run 2/3 test engines to do reliability checks etc.

      2. Random 79 says:

        Again I’m amazed at the costs involved in F1.

        I have to assume that next year with the increased engine costs as well as the reduced allocations many of the teams are going to be running their engines in “safe” mode…at least until the winning bug takes hold and caution flies out the window again :)

    3. Tim says:

      That’s what I said previous even before this blog
      - I was at turn 1 in Singapore and the difference in sound between webbers and vettels car was very obvious, I also noticed a difference under power. The sound through the turn 1/2 ‘S’ sounded much like the blown engine of the RB7 while webbers was neutral/off throttle. It’s just too different to be driving style. I was absolutely convinced that there is something different on the cars – no doubt.

  85. Darren S says:

    Hello James et al.
    Hoping you might be able to shed some light a little deeper on how they unlock the speed. Obviously the design teams have ideas about how they want to pursue gains (as mentioned, traction from slow corners). I’ve also read that one of the areas Seb is gaining over Mark in the car is his method of using braking to turn the car more, opening up the apex to get on the throttle earlier, which will increase downforce via the diffuser.

    So, based on this, two questions:
    1) Might Seb’s earlier throttle use account for what Minardi was saying re exhaust note – his driving is allowing him to be on throttle in parts of the corner where other drivers aren’t, and/or is Seb feathering the throttle himself which cornering in some method?
    2) When comparing sector and delta times, would there be RB staff analysing the performance and suggesting driving tips to the drivers based on the data they are seeing? e.g. can they make a guestimation of how many points of downforce they might have for a particular corner and particular speed, and be suggesting to the drivers to turn-in on throttle to increase downforce by x% in particular corners and unlock more speed?

    I was present in Singapore for all three days, and to the naked eye, it seemed that the RB guys just didn’t need to hurry the car through a corner as much as some of the other drivers. Watching Seb open the gap from within eyesight to out of earshot in a small number of laps was stunning.

  86. speedy_bob says:

    check out sounds as of 3:29. Caterham with “the” SV sound…
    Then again at 6:12: first it’s SV, then Webber, then a Williams. Even the Williams has “the” sound imho.
    I leave it to you all to analyse the rest of this excellent pure sound ;-)

    1. JB says:

      Thanks for the video link.
      I think the video puts all the conspiracy to rest.
      That’s a normal sound in F1 under off-throttle. I was at the Melbourne GP this year, It sounded exactly like that on all cars.

  87. SteveS says:

    The comment section here is overflowing with people saying things like “After the first lap, Vettel was leading the race by 2.5 seconds”. Which only goes to show that a lot of people did not watch the race, as his actual lead was 1.9 seconds.

  88. Jaybrig says:

    Here’s an interesting comparison:

    I was at the Abu Dhabi GP in 2009, when the championship had already been decided. I noticed that Vettel consistently drove away from the first low-speed chicane more smoothly than Webber (this is the one connecting the two long straights). Most of the time Webber’s getaway had a little bit of tail sliding, which Vettel consistently avoided.

    There would be little point arming Vettel’s car with covert TC capability over Webber’s for a race that was basically a dead heat (and the last race of a season).

    Moving forward, I noticed from the on board camera at the last race that Vettel had the confidence to go down to 1st gear through the opening sequence of corners, whereas Rosberg only went down to 2nd gear.

    Could it be that Vettel’s traction control is his right foot?

  89. Ian N says:

    No doubt this curious incident of the exhaust in the Singapore night will be put to Vettel, Horner et al from this Thursday onwards. It will be interesting to hear their responses!

    1. Random 79 says:

      I can tell you their responses right now (spoiler alert):

      Both our cars are within the regulations and were screened and cleared to race by the stewards.

  90. Rayz says:

    We just have to look towards a reshuffle for 2014 now. Is Vettel’s blistering pace here to stay… yes it is. Title four is in the bag. Shame Webber has been so poor this season. In my opinion, Mark has been further from his team-mate than anyone else on the grid. No other driver is consistently a half second plus off the pace of his team-mate. On that basis, Webber is lucky he retired before he got fired. I think had Mark left after Malaysia, Seb may have had a tougher time of it. He has cruised the last few races which is sensational. Brilliant performance. Only Alonso, Raikkonen and Hamilton can hold a candle to Seb at this stage. Oh well. 2014 here we come

  91. Andrew says:

    Hi James interesting article as ever question what has Red Bull done to work around Webber’s starts? Not working it seems.

    1. Random 79 says:

      It seemed to me that Webber actually had a decent (not great, but decent) start in Singapore.

      It just looked kind of bad compared to the Ferrari’s behind him which are rockets off the line.

  92. Faoctubre says:

    I believe that is incredible how RBR has been able to exploit the little details in the regulations. For instance when they banned flex on the front wing, RBR was able to design a wing that was working with the measurement procedures while it was still flexing on the outside creating the necessary wind tunnel. Then FIA changed the procedure and moved the weights.
    In this case, I wonder if the verification procedure actually has the same kind of gaps. Since no measurement or mechanical process is perfect, they always allow for a certain error, either in Data or Engine Management control unit. With a reliable engine, you could force the Engine control to be on a wrong mapping only within the acceptance threshold, staying always on the legal side. With enhanced grip on 3 curves for instance, you may have advantage on over 10% of the low speed distance in a track with 20 or 23 curves. but that is just conspiracy theory.

  93. Faoctubre says:

    By the way…does anybody know what they meant when the pit was talking to Sev just before start and mentioned “remember you have two burn outs”? (Monza?) Is that an engine boost? Is that the way he leaves people outside DRS in the first half of the first lap?

    1. Random 79 says:

      No, the drivers do a specific number of burnouts before the start to bring the tyres up to temperature.

      It’s standard procedure now, nothing special.

  94. dj says:

    A true racer would race fair. There is a lot of good engineers working in F1. Its in the final year of these current regulations. How can vettel pull away so quickly. There are a lot of good drivers in F1. Qualifying there is normally less than 1 second separating the top three or four or more. Yet in the race vettel pulled how many seconds away in different parts of the last race. I’m all for a champion, but a fair and true one. If vettel’s car was checked before the start of the race then whats the problem with that. From a racing engineer not with any team

  95. AnthonyD says:

    Having attended each session in Singapore the other weekend, I can confidently say that both red bulls were significantly louder mid corner – up until the race. It was clear to me that they were working the engine/exhaust hard mid corner in an effort to enhance the coanda effect of the EBD.

    Webbers car was no where near as loud during the race, and it was clear that vettel was picking the throttle up far earlier than him during the race. This could have been down to vettel running in clean air at the front so was gifted more aero induced downforce as webber was always in dirty air.

    Vettels car during the race sounded almost as if it was in quali trim (max power) for the majority of the race.

    Was great to watch even though I’m an avid Webber/Ricciardo fan!

  96. bk says:

    Read most of this thread and sorry to say most of you are delusional.

    No if buts or maybes.

    Its like you’re watching a different sport.

    He was in the lead As a consequence of being quick.after safety car, Had new tyres, competitors in slightly slower cars anyway were nursing old tyres in a train of dirty air and held up by around 1 second by nico ‘there’s crap in my wing’ rosberg. Its also a long lap exagerating any performance differientiators.

    Minardi is Italian and with full respect to Italians, that tells you all you need to know about this story being rubber stamped by a big red car company.

    1. aveli says:

      i know many italians and none of them said what minardi said.

      1. ben says:

        ? – Think you’ve missed the point – that the Ferrari PR machine imo encouraged this former F1 guy to elude to ‘odd things’ with vettels car, being of the same nationality as the ‘italian team’ its a natural fit. James himself suggested this further up the thread that it was odd how these stories have come out of italy. its not having a go at italians, its that ferrari is an italian team, minardi is italian, ferrari like to discredit vettel at any opportunity, 2 + 2 = 4. ;)

  97. saffa says:

    yes one man can never be that fast on every track. There should be a time on certain tracks when Webber is at least a challenge to Vettel. But has no one noticed the fact that webber is the only car that is kept on prime tires in the final stints of races while everyone gets back to options. noticed this from the end of last year and it dont look like a part of strategy cause it makes no sense.

    This team to me has showed a new height of unsportsmanship. To get a part of yours banned then dont stop using it but a way to hide the illegal parts is just plain unsporting. But this is not totally the fault of RBR, i put down to the lack of disciplinary action by FIA. If they dont get a penality for unsporting behaviour or cheating then why should anyone stop doing illegal stuff.

    Have we totally lost the sport in f1 motorsport. If so then my lifetime thrill of watching every race cant be anymore.
    Disappointed f1 fan.

    1. SteveS says:

      “has no one noticed the fact that webber is the only car that is kept on prime tires in the final stints of races while everyone gets back to options.”

      Nobody has noticed it because it isn’t happening. Vettel went back to the option tyre in Sinagpre because he had saved an extra set in qualifying. Webber (and all the other leading drivers) finished on the prime because they did not have a set of options available to use.

  98. TGS says:

    Let’s see… James posted on twitter that he was 249 comments away from the 300,000th comment a day ago, when this article had about 250 comments. Up around 480 now so this should be just about right. :)

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes we have a 300,000th comment!

      Announcement on that soon

      1. Random 79 says:

        Will there be cake?

  99. aveli says:

    i have always said vettel has been made to win unaturally. i hope the evidence is exposed one way or another and nature will run it’s course.
    even newey doesn’t believe vettel is that good.

    1. Random 79 says:

      ‘even newey doesn’t believe vettel is that good’

      Based on?

    2. SteveS says:

      What do you think “natural” winning looks like? The drivers car is made of wood and burns ethanol fuel?

  100. Chris says:

    “On average, across all the tracks in the F1 championship, 25% of the lap time is spent below 130km/h on corner exits. It is the most significant single area to focus on. So if you can make a significant gain in that area, you can get effectively a 25% improvement, which will show in your lap time.”

    Improving 25% of your lap doesn’t yield a 25% improvement. Bad choice of wording there.

    “…the car is turning and in yaw (ie leaning)”

    Nope. Leaning is roll. Yaw is rotation about the vertical axis.

    1. Lawrence says:

      turning (ie leaning) is correct and the car is both experiencing roll and yaw.

  101. edward says:

    James, you really do not comprehend the reach of your website. Thanks for it.

      1. edward says:

        It appeals to everyone, even non-members who use it as a source of information. I guess the result parallels the effort you put into it. It’s a very nice site.

  102. Iain:R8 says:

    You guys must all have a private 4K video feed of that YouTube piece. I can’t tell if it’s Webber or Vettel. There isn’t any time code etc, so what day was it recorded? Who made the recording? There is only one instance of ‘Vettels’ strange sound. So it could easily have been a case of a sudden throttle lift. YouTube videos are well known for the sound having only a passing relationship/sync to the video. Also the Marussia? seems to make a similar sound at the 28 sec mark. Since Vettel was on a wet setting, to save the gearbox, the engine note would sound different. Forget traction control. The FIA use forensic software specialists.

    For me, the real revelation about the RB at Singapore, was its stability. There was a TV shot looking backwards to one of the right-left chicanes. The Mercs and some others attacked the chicane like a rally car – crash bang over it. But Vettel just allowed the right rear to brush the kerb of the first part. Then allowed the front left to ride the top of the exit kerb. What amazed me was the lack of pitch and roll. The wheel just went up and down, without drama. Looking under the car, the diffuser seemed to be at the same height from the track all the way through the corner. I am assuming that RB have FRICS. The other notable point is, that the stability allowed the whole car to have a constant aero balance. So they were gaining in every corner.

  103. having just read a precis from racecar engineering there definitely appears to be some rationale behind minardi’s comments.

    he, minardi, is fully aware of what goes down in F1. don’t underestimate his understanding and observations.

  104. Lawrence says:

    I find it interesting in all this discussion of how Vettel’s car sounded in one corner that we don’t hear these sort of “discoveries” every race. These cars are being worked on from a performance perspective every race. I would think changing sounds would be par for the course. I was a course marshal in Austin last year and the Force India cars made so much off throttle noise you would be sure that they had made no changes after the blown diffuser ban. If I had known this was worldwide news I would have made a recording and started a conspiracy.

    Yes teams are always pushing the limits but F1 is the most heavily patrolled racing I have ever seen and I work just about every series. The F1 stewards can see and hear every inch of every track and they monitor EVERYTHING.

  105. Jorge Gaviria says:

    In 2009 when Button won the WDC, no one argued that the car was the one that gave the title, history has shown that Button is not at the level of SV, FA, LH or KR. That year any driver could win the title in the Merc as it is shown with the 3rd place of Barrichelo in the same car. Who was the only driver to threaten that championship? Yes, SEBASTIAN VETTEL. That shows the kind of driver we are watching.

  106. peter says:

    External Traction Control explained:

    Although the ECU is standard, traction control is based on a sharp peak in engine revs as the grip is lost causing revs to rise, rather than a gradual rise from acceleration.
    The fly by wire throttle potentiometer, steering wheel rev counter and connection to the ECU are all parts supplied by the individual teams.
    It’s not a complicated electrical circuit to correlate the two prior to feeding the cable to the ECU and hence gaining a form of pseudo traction control.
    To simplify, the driver presses the accelerator and revs rise, the car losses grip and revs rise without the driver adjusting pressure on the accelerator, although he is turning the steering wheel.
    The simple electrical circuit is completed by the steering also being activated by an electrical impulse; note no more steering column, Jarno Trullis’ nemesis and its this circuit that is outside the ECUs’ domain and acts as the control for a sensor to react to this sharp peak in engine revs and reduce the value of the accelerator potentiometers output.
    Note here that the driver will be driving through the corner rather than having taken his foot off the accelerator altogether. The potentiometer will correlate to an engine revolution of X whilst the true value of the spike Y from the loss of traction will override the potentiometer unless the reading seen by the ECU can be momenatarily reduced.
    Thus the system is turned on by the steering wheel being moved from the straight ahead position and alerted by a sharp peak in the signal from the ECU to the rev counter, the feed from the accelerator pedal potentiometer to the ECU is then momentarily retarded. Remember computers act in nanoseconds.
    QED Traction Control.

  107. Fringe says:

    I’m not sure on the whole RBR/Vettel are ‘far superior’ theme. I have absolutely no doubt that RBR bend the rules – a lot – and a good example would be the flexiwings, where I personally believe they were very clever. Is this cheating, not in my book, but is it ‘fair’ given the massive budget RBR have?, probably not.
    As for the TC issue – I think it will have some merit, but not the way you might think. For example, engine maps are affected/controlled by parameters detected by various sensors – it would be a fairly simple electronic gizmo to have sensors send ‘different’ information to the engine ecu as and when requried, causing temporary ‘stuttering’ or power reduction and thereby effecting a form of TC. For example, let’s say they have an overheat sensor that cuts power/fuel mix/whatever when engine is ‘cooking’ – it would only take a brief pulse of ‘overheating’ to provide temporary ‘TC’.
    Perhaps ditto with the blown diffuser/exhaust gas issue. off throttle exhaust gases are supposed to be limited, but having the throttle not actually ‘off’ would negate that?
    I have no idea how or what RBR are doing, obviously! – but it WILL be clever – and it is certainly what is giving Vettel the edge – and a big edge at that! (And no, I do not think Vettel is 2 secs a lap better than anyone else!)

    1. Iain:R8 says:

      @Peter @Fringe

      I think your ideas are really creative. But check sections 5.5 5.6 5.7 8.1 and 8.2. of the 2013 F1 Technical regulations. Especially section 9.3

      “9.3 Traction control :
      No car may be equipped with a system or device which is capable of preventing the driven wheels from spinning under power or of compensating for excessive throttle torque demand by the driver.
      Any device or system which notifies the driver of the onset of wheel spin is not permitted.©FIA

      Those seem to effectively outlaw your ideas. I just wonder whether this is all connected to something they developed for the off throttle blowing of years past. That YouTube clip sounded as if he had lifted off the throttle. 5.5 specifically bans throttle/torque balancing. Having a switch to reduce corner torque would surely be regarded as another engine map. So I think Peter might be on the right path with KERS. 9.2 excludes any clutch used exclusively for KERS. They might be using the off throttle control aspect of KERS harvesting for control.

      my 0.2p

      ps James and Mark. How about a prize for the best guess?

      1. Fringe says:

        That reg is intended to stop TC in the normal sense of the way it works I guess. However, I just don’t think it can be ‘policed’ or scrutineered properly, say just from the ECU and telemetry. Again, I don’t know what telemetry they HAVE to supply to the FIA, and what they can keep for themselves – but if you think about it, the specific definition is a bit vague. When the flexiwings were on the go, I thought that RBR perhaps had a heating element to ‘warm’ the body/plastic of the wing in the race – or even a simple (perhaps adjustable) bimetallic strip built into the wing that allowed the wing to flex (droop) more under warm weather conditions which would be different than temp controlled FIA load tests in the lab? Would either be considered a moveable aero device?
        On Peters idea of the Kers harvesting – I think that sounds entirely feasible, but I presume they would have to have some electronic control of exactly when to switch on the harvesting and I was under the impression that harvesting can only be done under braking or off throttle? Of course, if the driver was just ‘touching’ the brakes at the same time as exiting the corner – would it then be considered as ‘under braking’?
        My point being that these rules are easily ‘bent’ in my humble opinion!

  108. Nick_F1 says:

    Hi James,

    Excellent information!

    I just wonder if you add some more info as it seems Vettel by himself says that they have “something clever” in RB9 –

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