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JA on F1 podcast #10: End of 2013 season analysis
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Posted By: James Allen  |  04 Dec 2013   |  8:11 pm GMT  |  123 comments

For our final podcast of the year we look back at the 2013 season and analyse the big stories as well as looking at how the F1 drivers performed.

With me are Marussia Sporting Director Graeme Lowdon, Autosport’s Grand Prix editor Mark Hughes, sponsor finder and CEO of Just Marketing Zac Brown, and JA on F1 reporter Holly Samos as well as our technical adviser Mark Gillan.

We also have contributions from Sir Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda.

It’s a lively listen: We ask “How good a year of F1 was 2013?”, we analyse why some teams are struggling to pay their drivers, we look in detail at the changing picture at the top of the championship, problems at Ferrari and McLaren, we look at Mercedes’ season, how the tyres were used to level the playing field at the start of the year and how Romain Grosjean turned around his bad boy reputation – and plenty more.


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123 Comments
  1. Simmo says:

    The thing about pay drivers is if a driver has sponsors because they are in F1 they aren’t a pay driver, but if they are in F1 because they have sponsors then they are a pay driver.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Good distinction.

    2. hippyneil says:

      Nail, head, hit.
      More people need to understand this subtle difference.

    3. Jonny says:

      Problem is guys like Schumacher was sponsored by Mercedes to get his drive in F1.

      A distinction i make is this,

      A pay driver is a driver that would not be in F1 if it weren´t for the sponsors he brings.

      If Santander left, Alonso would still be in F1.
      If PDVSA, Maldonado would be out faster then a paycheck.

  2. Kevin Shiel says:

    Cannot believe Holly said Lewis made Nico faster… Whats her basis n assumption for making this sort of comment? Nico has at least the same potential as LH. Cannot believe how UK media is painting LH as a god. Unfair. Not a fan of Nico but hes a talented driver nontheless.

    1. Richard Robson says:

      Well then that goes to show how good Lewis was if he can beat such a good driver in his first season in a car designed around his teammate.

    2. Tealeaf says:

      Its just the way the english speaking media and the Hamilton fan club works… they can’t face the fact that Hamilton is merely just another good driver they paint a picture of an all time great and nothing else will do, I’m sorry but its the fact, and oh yeah Rosberg is just a journeyman driver sure he is decent but the way Webber blew him away suggests he’s not really championship material unless he found himself in a dominating car with no competition like Hamilton and Button did.

      1. KRB says:

        Uh, when did Hamilton have this all-dominating car with no competition? He’s never had that.

      2. Rockie says:

        He did in 07 just couldn’t capitalize.

      3. KRB says:

        Was wondering who would be the first to respond and hang themselves. Congrats Rockie!

        1. The 2007 McLaren was not all-dominating. It’s the best car Hamilton has had, yes, but the Ferrari was just as quick, if not slightly better.

        2. The no competition part … uh, he was a rookie, and his teammate was the reigning 2xDWC!! Plus add in the two Ferrari drivers, both experienced F1 drivers.

        Let’s say that next year the RB10 and the W05 are the equal best cars in the field. I guess from what you’re saying you’d put Ricciardo down as a lock for the WDC?!?!

        Most knowledgeable and reasonable F1 fans would put DR 4th on the list, in terms of DWC odds, given those circumstances. And that’s with Ricciardo heading into his 4th F1 season!

        LOL!!

      4. Tim says:

        @Tealeaf
        I’m sorry but its the fact…..

        I’m sorry but it’s an opinion , not a fact. :-)

    3. James says:

      Well having painted him for years as a Demi-god, it’s tough to acknowledge he’s been matched by Button & Rosberg.

      1. Tealeaf says:

        Precisely correct, Hamilton has missed his boat and expect the likes of youngers drivers e.g. Hulkenberg, Grosjean and Bianchi to replace him as the challengers to the champion in the coming years, journymen drivers like Button and Rosberg back in 2007-2008 wasn’t even mentioned in the same breath as the next ‘messiah’ and it must be a shock to the systems of the Hamilton fan club as well as the english speaking media that the Hamilton they’ve devoted their support to as well as worship is nothing but another driver.

      2. Tim says:

        I think you have chosen some poor examples with Gros and Hulk as they are only a year or 2 younger than Ham. Also bear in mind, they were both lucky to get a seat, let alone in a top car/team. It would appear, those in charge at the top teams do not share your enthusiasm for their talents.

      3. Richard says:

        Hamilton has never had it handed to him on a plate like Vettel with a highly dominant car with a really top team and top aero designer behind him.

      4. aveli says:

        if it looks like a duch and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.
        he carved out his reputation in 2007 and 2008. unfortunately no one can wipe out the memmory of how we have seen him drive his car. we are confident of his tallent as we are confident the sun will rise tomorrow.

      5. Rockie says:

        Well unfortunately that’s all you would have memories of 07 look at Vettel or Alonso 07 seems ages ago because of the improvement they have made as drivers.

      6. aveli says:

        are you sure vettel’s and alonso’s so called improvement is not down to kers and drs?

      7. Tim says:

        It’s hardly worth the effort, but I’ll give it a try:-)
        If the results between Ham versus Butt/Ros were reversed (ie Butt had won 2 seasons to Ham 1 and Ros had beaten Ham with a race to spare) would you still be saying they were evenly matched? Would you really?
        I suspect your interpretation of the results would be a tad less charitable and you would, correctly, be filling the comments section with tales of how Ham had been beaten by his teammates.

      8. Dan says:

        2011-2012:
        When both Schumacher and Rosberg finish the race, who is ahead:
        Schumacher 14 10 Rosberg

        2013:
        When both Hamilton and Rosberg finish the race, who is ahead:
        Hamilton 7 8 Rosberg

    4. Richard says:

      Well I think that comment is based on Lewis’s reputation. I think it needs to be remembered that Lewis is not in a good place with regard to the tyres, and brakes on the Mercedes so if the brakes are improved to his liking maybe he will improve relatively, but on the other hand it may also be beneficial to Nico. High-deg. tyres really aren’t what Lewis is about. Lewis is about making the car dance with durable tyres is more his style, and in the previous formula he was very very fast. That said I’ve always thought Nico a strong driver just that he hasn’t really had the car to do it. As with all drivers it really depends on the car next year as to how things go. Personally I hope Mercedes can have a crack at the championship, but just which driver that will be remains to be seen.

    5. dunc says:

      He’s a good driver but not a great. LH, FA and arguably SV are great. Nico is usually grouped in with the best of the rest.

      1. Rockie says:

        “He’s a good driver but not a great. LH, FA and arguably SV are great.”

        Very hilarious comment arguably SV are you kidding a 4X WDC irrespective of how it was achieved, nobody and I mean nobody has done what he has done in the history of this sport!

      2. aveli says:

        hamilton and alonso have been teammates. we are yet to see vettel and alonso or vettel and hamilton as teammates.
        that will decide who is truely great but i have the feeling that the architects of the ‘greatest chanpion of all time’ will fight with their lives to prevent us from witnessing that.

      3. Goob says:

        F1 is fooling its fans… the tires are useless for racing, and the excess aero is the root cause.

        Great drivers have to drive as slow as regular drivers to get the right delta times… there is no racing.

        SV is as lucky as JB… free WDCs, in effect.

      4. Tealeaf says:

        Very funny this statement, Vettel is better than Alonso all across the board as a driver now, and Mr 4th place Hamilton is not even as good as the likes of Hulkenberg, Webber and Grosjean.

    6. AuraF1 says:

      I think it’s fair to say that drivers can up their game when their teammate is recognized as ‘better’ than them. I don’t think Holly was saying Nico was a bad driver I think she was suggesting that Nico had the measure of Schumacher but the expectation was Lewis would win the encounter and the fact that it was a lot closer is partly through Nico rising to the challenge.

    7. Yago says:

      In 2012 Nico was as good as this year for me. So I agree here. But Nico has not the same potential as Hamilton. Not even close in my view.

  3. Alexis says:

    How good a year of F1 was 2013?

    It was half a season. Ok first half, dire second half.

    1. DMyers says:

      Agree 100%.

  4. Richard says:

    I think this is your best pod-cast to date.

    Thanks James.

    PS. Wish I could persuade you to say in the future instead of going forward!

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks! There are so many things to talk about in F1 at the moment, even after a one sided racing season.

    2. DMyers says:

      ‘Going forward’ is another of those examples of dreadful, meaningless business-speak which have leached out into common use in the last few years. ‘In future’ is a much better and more accurate way of expressing the point :-)

  5. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – thanks for bringing back Mr Brown. Look forward to hearing his comments on the sponsorship side of the business.

  6. ferggsa says:

    Here is my end of season analysis (not that you asked for it), based on watching TV and reading jaonf1, no team data or inside info available, just long time F1 fan

    I assume end results are more car dependent and most drivers are quite good (even pay drivers), so by season’s end fastest driver in fastest car should be first and so on

    Final standings are shown next to standings based on driver/car combination and a + – # to show difference
    Most drivers end up quite close to where they should be, except for the very good or very bad performances
    e.g. ALO should have ended 5th but finished 2nd, or +3

    1 vet 1 vet =
    2 web 2 alo +3
    3 ham 3 web -1
    4 ros 4 ham -1
    5 alo 5 rai +2
    6 mas 6 ros -2
    7 rai 7 gro +1
    8 gro 8 mas -2
    9 but 9 but =
    10 per 10 hul +3
    11 dir 11 per -1
    12 sut 12 dir -1
    13 hul 13 sut -1
    14 gut 14 ric +1
    15 ric 15 ver +1
    16 ver 16 gut -2
    17 bot 17 bot =
    18 mal 18 mal =
    19 bia 19 bia =
    20 chi 20 pic +1
    21 pic 21 vdg +1
    22 vdg 22 chi -2

    So at the end VET ended where he should, but IMO he scored 2 points for each of WEBs and outscored ALO by a good margin, unlike other years, really deserving the WDC

    RAI should be next but his numbers go down because of the missed races (he probably would have ended 3rd or +4)

    ALO jumped the Mercedes boys for a +3 (even if he slowed down towards the end)

    HUL jumped the FIs and PER for a +3 and has everybody cheering for him

    BUT is a good indicator, he ended up where he should given the cars performance, not better not worse

    The rest are even or up/down one spot

    ROS is down 2 because he was outperformed by ALO and RAI, and of course HAM, but IMO he had a good season

    GUT and CHI were the ones worse than their mates plus the guys in the next team

    1. Alexis says:

      Controversial, but I’d put Webber at the bottom as worst driver of the year. Think he’s a great bloke, but Vettel has comprehensively beaten him for the last 3 years. And this year he thrashed him.

      1. Tealeaf says:

        Last 3 years? Its more like last 5 years.

      2. John in SD says:

        I can’t agree that Webber was the worst driver of 2013 respectfully. Were Maldonado or Van der Garde for exampe better than Webber? IMHO I don’t believe so. Unfortunately, Webber peaked a while back while SV is still in the ascendant. Webber has had very poor timing in his F1 career, being 26 when he had his first F1 season. Look at Damon Hill who was around 31-32 when he first got a full time F1 drive. He managed to pull off a WDC at around 35.

    2. DMyers says:

      Interesting analysis, but it fails to take account of any change in performance caused by the change in tyres in the second half of the year.

    3. Yago says:

      So if I understand well at the left you are puting drivers from fastest to slowest cars. The thing is I don’t know how did you get to the conclussion that the Lotus has been the fourth fastest car, when it almost certainly has been the second overal fastest.

      1. ferggsa says:

        Because it ended up 4th in the standings and use that as a base, otherwise take your pick…
        Mercedes had more poles and wins but at some races were running backwards, Ferrari was never really in the fight for poles or wins, and yes, by season’s end Lotus was the only one able to at least run close to Red Bull

    4. Tim says:

      It just seems like a very complicated way for you to indicate your driver preferences.

  7. Nick Ward says:

    Interesting discussion, looking forward to the 2014 season

  8. Paxdog says:

    As stated before in an earlier podcast, North Americans do not have easy access to F1 news & analysis. These podcasts are an oasis in the desert of F1 news. Kudos James, only request is more podcasts and if possible video podcasts.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks

      The podcasts are available to everyone!

  9. Elie says:

    Here’s some headlines for you and all on the podcast James :-
    -Mercedes engines powerful but suffer more failures in the first few rounds
    -Bottas and Massa fighting other Mercedes powered cars at FI and fact team
    -Raikkonen wins first race of 2014 at Melb GP
    -Ross Brawn signs as Chief Technical advisor for Mclaren Honda after summer break
    -Alonso collides with Raikkonen at Bahrain during fight for 2nd.
    -Vettel on the ascendancy by German GP
    -FIA announce new budgetary working group lead by chief of Audit firm
    -Bottas wins Spanish GP
    -Red Bull found in breach of technical regulations
    -Mercedes lead Ferrari at the summer break with Red Bull a close 3rd
    - Prodigal son wins drivers title for Ferrari on his return.
    - Fernando Alonso is released from Ferrari and is linked with a 2 year deal at Mclaren Homda in 2015.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Great, you just spoiled 2014 for everyone – you should be ashamed of yourself Elie.

      ;)

    2. Tealeaf says:

      Fantasies and most of them will be false! Bottas will not win Barcelona, Raikkonen will unlikely to clash with Alonso at Bahrain, and also why will Redbull be found in breach of the rules? A personal wish? Or another attempt to discredit Vettel for his superiority over the rest of the grid?? I also doubt very much Raikkonen will win the title, race wins are likely not championship.

      1. John in SD says:

        Tealeaf,
        Do you recall 2007 when Alonso, Hamilton, Raikkonoen, and Massa were on 4 wins apiece right until the final races, when Kimi just slid in to take the a couple of wins (one gifted by Massa, assisted by Hamilton’s China disaster, and Hamilton’s transmission issue in Brazil) right at the end of the season? Point being I’d like to think that 2014 might be similar, but that may be a fond hope if Vettel, Newey, and rest of RB remain all plugged in as they have been over the last several seasons.

      2. Rockie says:

        When people talk about 2007 they only remember that part, what they fail to realise is the Mclaren boys blew up thier championship chances Kimi should have never been allowed back in and Alonso as a 2X WDC really messed up then he was slow then and still slow today hence instead of looking for ways to be faster he was trying ti slow Hamilton down hence Kimi slipped past and won!

    3. Moan di Resta says:

      Well thought!

      at least 50% of the above as a realistic chance of happening.

      Brawn and Alonso to Maclaren is a dead cert in my eyes.Honda love Brawn if they had stayed in the sport a year longer……………

    4. Just a bloke says:

      Great effort Roll on 2015 …….

      :D

  10. Equin0x says:

    Well let’s be honest here, most of the Hamilton fan club (non F1 fans) will never say any season is a good season unless Hamilton wins the championship and it’ll be this way until Hamilton and his brigade disappears.

    1. aveli says:

      2013 was a great season and hamilton is the best f1 driver to have stepped foot in the history of the sport!

      1. aveli says:

        giggle quietly!

      2. deeno says:

        Yes because Rosberg beats shcumacher & Ham beats Rosberg. So that makes him the best….

        Guys… stop with the comparisons. Its just becoming sillier every year.

      3. aveli says:

        no, not at all. i think hamilton is the best simply because he drives his car better than i have seen anyone, past or present. because he drives so well drs and kers were introduced to make it easier for other drivers to do the same. i watched him at silverstone this year through turns one and two and he outclassed the field through those corners. not one car followed the line he took. he is in a class by himself.

  11. J.Danek says:

    I listened to and enjoyed the podcast tonight but must voice a serious issue with Holly Samos’s claims that Vettel has been successful in large part because he is more motivated and less-distracted than his competitors, who, according to Holly, don’t want to win as badly as Vettel. I was shocked that none of the others challenged her on this, since not only was she incorrect factually (for example, when she tried to present contrasting visions of Lewis Hamilton and suggested that his relationship with Nicole Scherzinger was to blame for a loss of focus that hampered his results post-2008, b/c he won the WDC in 2008 w/ “only” his “family” ever around him in the paddock, totally ignoring the fact that Nicole was right there w/ him that year and was one of the first ppl to greet & embrace Lewis after his miraculous WDC win in Brasil), it was also near-hagiographic and echoed the same dubious (and now thoroughly disproved and discredited) claims made to explain-away Lance Armstrong’s domination of the Tour de France (“he just wanted it more and so worked harder”).

    While no one is suggesting that Vettel or RBR cheated like Armstrong cheated, it’s massively disrespectful to the other drivers and teams to suggest that they’re so unprofessional as to lack sufficient motivation to win and fail to apply themselves dutifully, diligently, and determinedly.

    I was really frustrated by this!

    I have really enjoyed Samos’s interviews w/ high-level ppl in F1, but her capacity to provide the insightful analysis that we’ve come to expect did not seem manifest during this moment of the making of this podcast. And I’m still surprised that no one responded to her to either correct the misstatements pertaining to Lewis or to defend the professionalism of men like Alonso, Webber, Button and Räikkönen.

    I hope you’ll publish this comment, as it’s not meant to degrade any JAonF1 contributor(s), but rather, to express appreciation for the high-level of work you normally do and to provide critical but fair feedback.

    1. Craig says:

      Sounds like Max Mosley’s (wo)Man Down The Pub is alive and well

      1. J.Danek says:

        “Sounds like Max Mosley’s (wo)Man Down The Pub is alive and well”

        Craig, I honestly have no idea what it is that you’re trying to convey with this statement. I don’t know who Max Mosley’s Man Down the Pub was…are you being insulting, supportive, disagreeing, or trying to be funny?

      2. Craig says:

        Some years ago, I’d have thought at least 10, Max Mosley was fond of saying that “the man down the pub” was happier than he’d even been with the state of F1.

        It’s too long ago for me to remember whether he was right or not (he wasn’t) but the point is this: the comment was a nod and a wink to the fact that “Man down the pub” was not interested in the finer details sport, nor afraid of letting hyperbole get in the way of reality.

        I found, as apparently did you, Holly Samos’ comments to be akin to the (wo)man down the pub blurting some nonsense that is more akin to the comments section on the sun webpage than a contributor to an (otherwise excellent, again) podcast.

        So, no offence to you – I was simply agreeing with your comment.

    2. James says:

      The facts are Vettel is often first in and last out, and when the Pirelli tyres came in, was the only driver to travel to the factory to find out all he could about them.

      Is his workrate and desire the sole reason for his success? Of course not, he is also prodigiously talented, but his workrate & desire is undoubted.

      1. J.Danek says:

        “The facts are Vettel is often first in and last out…” —

        James, I’m not trying to pick on you, but surely you realize that this is not a very good defense of Vettel and one could alternatively cite this claim (first in, last out) as being evidence of Vettel’s inefficiency and need to spend inordinate time on work that his colleagues can complete more quickly?

        Just because someone spends more time doing something than someone else doesn’t mean they’re more dedicated or determined? And it could very well mean that they’re not as adept as someone who can do the work in less time…

      2. uan says:

        well with 4 WDCs and a 2nd place in the last 5 years, built on some amazing drives when the car wasn’t the class of the field or was hampered with issues (Silverstone 2010, Italy 2010, Spain and Monaco 2011, Australia 2012, Abu Dhabi and Brazil 2012, the first half of 2013) and the sheer consistency of performance throughout the 2nd half of 2013, Vettel doesn’t come across as being inefficient or not adept.

        As Webber said recently, Vettel and Alonso are machines in the car. Vettel doesn’t lose focus throughout the season, but clearly Alonso has (this year) and Hamilton a bit this year and famously in 2011.

        So perhaps no one challenged Holly S because that is the general consensus in the paddock (I recall Ted Kravitz and the BBC showing Vettel in the pits in Japan in 2011 after winning the 2011 WDC long after many drivers were already gone, and mentioning SV’s work ethic as part of the reason for his success.)

        One insightful comment Vettel made at the Autosport Awards was how Marko came to his hotel room the night after qualifying in Hungary and bluntly telling him how he messed up. Can you imagine any of the other top drivers, Alonso, Webber, Hamilton, Kimi, etc being told off for a 1/10 sec mistake? I think that’s an example of the focus and dedication beyond others that Holly was referring to.

    3. AuraF1 says:

      No one can accuse me of defending Vettel against criticism but even other team principals have said Seb sets the standard for showing up early, leaving late, showing interest in every department and it’s goals. To an extent he’s witnessed Schumachers first in/last home approach to team integration and he’s playing it out again – he really doesn’t have the distractions of most drivers. He’s built his niche based on not being a celebrity.

      Even the most ardent Hamilton admirer can see he’s up and down and has been (in some years perhaps more than this year) distracted by outside events. I think Button is losing the fire in the belly a little – psychologically JB would be satisfied to leave with one WDC to his name. Alonso is an odd case, he doesn’t give up but I think he is getting frustrated and some paddock personalities have suggested he needs to be out more often in early test sessions. Kimi – well you’ve got me there. He has carved his wonderful ‘I don’t care’ image so everyone will leave him alone – is he dedicated? I guess only Kimi knows that! I doubt he spends time with his team building camaraderie if they weren’t paying him…

      1. Richard says:

        Hamilton was ruined by Mclaren’s failure to provide him with a really competitve car, and in his last year with by operational errors. Given a very good car all drivers improve and that’s exactly what Vettel has done. Comparisons are very difficult to make in reality, and it’s not really a question of what any driver can be satisfied with. – It is almost certainly dependant on the car and it’s relative performance. Personally I prefer to see a much more level playing field which makes for much more exciting racing.

      2. deeno says:

        + 1000

      3. J.Danek says:

        “Given a very good car all drivers improve and that’s exactly what Vettel has done. Comparisons are very difficult to make in reality, and it’s not really a question of what any driver can be satisfied with. – It is almost certainly dependant on the car and it’s relative performance.” —-

        Thank you for this very rational take, Richard. Comparisons are especially difficult for fans who have no actual knowledge of the facts of the situation or inside access beyond the view reported to them by the media, which, unfortunately is being restricted more and more by FOM in their ability to operate in the F1 world. See Dieter Rencken’s column in Autosport+ after the Webber wheelnut pitstop failure where Rencken posits that FOM used the Webber incident to attempt to limit print media access not for safety, but rather, for image management.

        The article in question was:

        ‘F1′s pitlane ban: missing the point?’

        “F1′s media pitlane ban was billed as a safety measure, but Dieter Rencken argues it both misses the main causes and threatens to impinge on journalistic freedom within the sport…”

      4. Richard says:

        J.Danek: Yes I think often the problem is with some fans they only see what is on the surface without really understanding the physics of the situation. For example there are most probably some very good drivers in the mid field that could hold their own against those at the front, but it is about the car. Unless we had identical cars with identical set up we will never know, and indeed even that is an impossibility just like the perfect lap. Even seemingly identical cars have small differences. I would much prefer a formula where the driver can make more of a difference
        rather than the current restricted racing.

      5. Hakan says:

        McLaren had an hard year. Button and Hamilton had a really fast car but they had a lot of issues. Button had some tire problems, Hamilton was having trouble with finishing races. It could have been a better year for both of them I think.

    4. Ollie says:

      If you spend a weekend in the paddock observing and talking to people you’ll find out that what she said is very close to reality.

      1. J.Danek says:

        Please provide evidence of this. You’re all just repeating the mythology! It’s almost verbatim to what was said of Armstrong during his unprecedented run of Tour dominance, yet the facts are that there is simply no proof that Vettel is either MORE MOTIVATED than his competitors or that he APPLIES HIMSELF W/ MORE PROFESSIONALISM than his colleagues.

        Please cite factual evidence that Vettel’s success is directly attributed, per Samos’s comments, to his superlative DESIRE and that no other driver on the grid desires to be WDC as much as Seb, and thusly they are not.

        Please do not simply repeat the myths. Please cite sources and provide references to facts. Lance Armstrong won an unprecedented SEVEN Tours de France and for that period was repeatedly portrayed in the media as being both more focused and determined than his competitors, and it was literally said that he won b/c he “wanted” it more than anyone else and was willing to train at a level that no one else would/could. And in the end all of that was proven to be false and Armstrong’s advantage was revealed to be obtained through the illegal (in sporting context) use of PED’s. And USPS’s doping program wasn’t even the most sophisticated in the world – something USADA falsely claimed – b/c anyone who knows anything about doping knows it was the East German state that has that dubious distinction.

        Hagiography…

      2. uan says:

        If you’re going to go on about Armstrong, the hagiography is close to the truth. ALL the tour riders were doping. So what separates them from each other is there time on the bike, being more efficient with that time on the bike, use of technology and developing that technology, the ability to suffer for extended periods of time, etc.

        The only difference between Armstrong, and other riders like Contador, is the extent that the agencies went after him (how many “dopers” like Hincapie, testified against Armstrong, and then had their own sentences suspended or were amnestied?). Contador was stripped of one TdF win with an in-race positive test. But he was allowed to keep his other TdF victories? Bjarne Riis admitted to doping during his 1996 victory. He’s allowed to keep it.

        Jans Ullrich admitted to doping. He said “Almost everyone took performance-enhancing substances then. I took nothing that the others didn’t also take. For me, fraud starts when I gain an advantage. That wasn’t the case. I wanted to ensure equality of opportunities.” What separated Ullrich from Armstrong was that Ullrich would gain a lot of weight and not train very hard in the off season.

        One constant with Vettel over the years is how strong he is in the 2nd half of the season, when the travel to Asia and all the other commitments becomes a real drag for all the racers. That isn’t accidental. Jackie Stewart talked about that back in the early 70s, and how the travel and commitments outside of the racing really weighed on drivers, and probably why he did win the WDC in 1972. It’s easy for drivers to check out at times during the year.

        No driver likes to hear or admit another driver is faster than them, OR that another driver works harder than them. But those are facts of life. The proof is in the pudding as they say.

  12. F1S says:

    Good podcast JA. Pay driver question is an interesting one. You have to ask questions of governance when reserve players for mid table football teams in national leagues are earning enough to live in a mansion and have a variety of exotic cars, yet only 6 of the leading 22 drivers in the world’s only global motorsport formula draw a salary from their employer. It doesn’t make sense.

    Had a related conversation with some enthusiasts recently about how you define a “manufacturer” team. I think there are only 2 Manufacturer teams in F1 (Ferrari, Mercedes), one Works team (RBR) and then the Customer teams(STR, Force India, Sauber, Williams, Marussia). The difficult ones to classify are McLaren, Lotus, Caterham. I think that McLaren Cars is big enough and sufficiently integrated with McLaren Racing to make the race team a “manufacturer” team. In any case, it will become a “works” team with Honda in 2015. Catherham has very close ties, but to a very very small manufacturer. I think it still classes as a Customer. Lotus is floating in no man’s land at the moment. Associated with a small manufacturer that supplies no support or cash, and out the wrong side of a Works deal. I think they are also a Customer. Your opinion on this would be interesting, but it shows how disjointed the business side of F1 is these days.

    As for the Strategy Group. Well. First couple of edicts have been an absolute joke. The rumours about 3 car teams are a disaster; variety is what keeps fans interested. Imagine 3 RBR’s, 3 Mercs, 3 Ferraris etc lined up on the grid. And then they decide to effectively outlaw strategy. If you look at what the manufacturers have come up with over the last 5 years, they have bitched about cost cutting then introduced the most expensive engine formula in the history of motorsport, seen exciting racing due to the introduction of variable tyres (which they asked for) and decided to eliminate it, and finally killed off the only remaining element of race day interest. I fear that the manufacturers spend too long trying to fix problems that don’t exist. I think this comes from the natural instinct of big institutions to protect their investments by eliminating risk. The problem is that in F1, this is the same as eliminating competition, or in other words, eliminating variability. What the manufacturers need to grasp is that the reason they considered F1 to be an attractive marketing tool in the first place is the viewing figures, and they are COMPLETELY predicated upon UNCERTAINTY. They are about to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. For this reason, and this reason alone, the manufacturers cannot be trusted to control the Sporting or Technical regulations, and the Strategy Group cannot be allowed to continue in its current form.

    And please can the press start reporting “cost cutting” in a more sensible way. What they are talking about is laying people off. People who have committed their whole careers (and in most cases a stratospheric number of hours) to these companies. The companies have pushed to recruit these staff through (self acknowledged) reckless spending, and then apparently on a complete whim, they decide to lay them off. Why don’t the motorsport press report it as what it is? There should be no sympathy for companies that buy F1 teams with no intention to run them properly, who then get into financial difficulty. The people running these cmopanies should have utter scorn poured on them from a great height, because it is they who cannot do their jobs properly. And they are messing with people’s lives. It’s not a game. It’s a major international industry, and when they lay people off, it causes all of the fallout that would happen in any other industry; heartache, personal bankruptcy, depression, divorce, house repossession etc etc Shameful.

  13. JEZ Playense says:

    Thanks James, there was some very interesting points made and it made great listening.

    I am not surprised Ron Denis is making noises regarding the leadership of McLaren, and really it is called for. Plus it would help car sales if their results were better!

    I was surprised that the comments regarding a lack of work effort from some drivers in relation to Vettel. Mere supposition I think and unfair. Kimi forced his way into the points whilst not even being paid. Alonso dragged a bone into second place this year once again (as would Kimi have repeated) and these are tremendous achievements.

    I am looking forward to next season. The rule changes will mix things up and cause a few surprises – probably. Hard imagine why any of the panelists would think that if Alonso is disillusioned and planning to leave Ferrari that he will not be thrashed by Kimi. Still personally I disagree, and think Alonso will finish his career at Ferrari (he won’t want to deal with Ron ever again and doesn’t have to).

  14. MISTER says:

    Agree with you. I also posted last night a comment which today is not published and was addressed to something Holly Samos said.

    It seems if our comments are not positive, they are not published. I would be surprised if this one is.

    1. MISTER says:

      This comment was supposed to be a reply to J.Danek

      1. J.Danek says:

        Thank you, MISTER.

        With regards to your statement about some comments not being published, I can confirm that I have also had comments rejected, though not so much for being critical of James Allen, as for being crude (mild sexual theme) or confrontational w/ other readers. Since the last time this occurred, and I was warned by the moderators, I heeded their advice and have endeavoured to avoid personal attacks and risqué language, and have found that my comments are being published.

        I think James Allen welcomes constructive criticism and critical feedback, as long as it’s done respectfully and w/o making it personal.

        I hope you are able to express yourself fully and completely here and look forward to reading your comments in the future.

    2. Random 79 says:

      I haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but I have already read several comments that were critical of her interview.

      You don’t have to be positive, but you probably have to be mindful of how you word it.

      1. MISTER says:

        Pretty much said that only 13 min into the podcast and was already annoyed by the [mod] shown by Holly for Vettel.

        Didn’t think that broke any of the house rules, but something must’ve been out of place it seems.

      2. J.Danek says:

        “You don’t have to be positive, but you probably have to be mindful of how you word it.” —

        This is probably the best advice for any reader planning to comment on this site I think, Random79… You don’t have to agree w/ the editorial line but you must not be boorish or disrespectful of how you voice criticism.

        I find the comments on F1 here to be some of the best and most interesting online, in large part b/c they are devoid of petty insults, witless “banter” or general trolling.

      3. Random 79 says:

        Cheers for that :)

        I have to say I’ve been modded once or twice, but I think that James and his band of merry minions do a good job of keeping the standards high :)

  15. Lee says:

    Really interesting podcast as usual James. It’s one life’s little pleasures when I see my phone telling me that a podcast has been downloaded.

    Very interested in the comment about a power struggle at McLaren between Dennis and Whitmarsh. Can you say anymore on this?

    1. James Allen says:

      We’re doing a story

  16. McRocket says:

    Thanks for another great year of covering F1 JA.

  17. Dave says:

    Hi James,
    Thanks for the podcast, I always look forward to them, and this one was particularly insightful. I had no idea about the Dennis – Whitmarsh conflict. Does Dennis want to be Team Principal once again?

  18. Jim:) says:

    My Predictions based on no facts, ferrari will surprise all in 2014,

    1. Random 79 says:

      My response based on even less facts: Williams for WCC :)

    2. Tim says:

      How can they surprise us all? That would mean we were all expecting the same thing – highly unlikely ;-)

  19. Richard says:

    Vettel’s success is because of the car he has. No driver can succeed in these aerodynamically lead times unless he as at least a competitive car. Red Bull have had a dominant car. I suspect as well as being a good driver Vettel also has a first class engineering team around him that can translate what he tells them in terms of how the car feels into set up gains that produce that the performance we’ve seen. I think it is wholely misleading to tell people how good Vettel is, when what they should be keeping the superlatives to describe the car which is first class in terms of agility and now speed. That said the question remains why is Vettel faster than Webber. Well the simple answer is Vettel is younger and more adaptive, and the type of car suits his style of driving, Webber on the other hand is perhaps more old school. Had the Bridgestone era continued I think the difference between the two would have been less marked, but driving to a delta to preserve the tyres is clearly not Webbers idea of racing. – And indeed the opinion of many others.

    1. aveli says:

      why did vettel win in a toro rosso?

      1. Richard says:

        The car was competitive enough in the wet to maintain position having gained it in the pit stops. Vettel is probably one of the top drivers, but to suggest he is wholely better is misleading when the improvement in performance emanates from the car both in terms of the car itself and the confidence it imbues it’s driver with from it’s remarkable agility.

      2. Rockie says:

        Obviously you cannot remember or really have not seen the 08 season in that race Vettel was pulling away from the field at d rate of a second / lap

      3. Richard says:

        Rockie: People like you need to understand how things work in F1. It was not because any prowess that Vettel had or has simply that he was able to get heat into his tyres, and maintain it. In other words pure luck to be released into a window where that was possible. All the top drivers have done similar things at different points in time where they gain an advantage because of heat in the tyres.

  20. John in SD says:

    Hi James,

    I really enjoyed your season review podcast. Best of the year with really good insight from all participants. To an outsider like me, I thought Holly Samos seemed to have a fairly good perspective on the drivers that she discussed, and she does interview them regularly.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for that. We were very happy with it, listening back

      As you say some good insights

      1. J.Danek says:

        Aside from the comments of Holly that I found extremely dubious and responded to above, I really enjoyed the podcast in its entirety and think it’s the best monthly F1 podcast available right now! I wish you could produce them more frequently and think the content is amazing.

        Is there any possibility that you could devote a small amt. of time in each podcast to responding to listener feedback on previous edition, or do you think that the dialogue and exchanges here on the website suffice to ensure listener/host interaction?

        Thanks, James!

      2. James Allen says:

        Yes, we are pretty interactive! Almost 100,000 reader comments processed this year by JA on F1!

  21. Bart says:

    Thanks James, great as always!
    Cheers, Bart

  22. Ak Nair says:

    Alonso would have been WDC in Lotus,

    1. Random 79 says:

      And if you believe what some say about Vettel then Chilton would have been WDC in a Red Bull.

      If Räikkönen couldn’t do it what makes you so certain Alonso could?

      1. Tim says:

        And if you believe what some say about Vettel, he would have been WDC in the Marussia ;-)

      2. Random 79 says:

        Yes, very good point :)

  23. Aj says:

    A bit shocked that people still keep on drumming the Lewis is the naturally fastest driver again and again like Mark Hughes

    1. Rockie says:

      Its called the Martin Brundle school of thought and its based on 07.

    2. KRB says:

      Do you think someone like Mark Hughes stands to gain in some way by – in your view – perpetuating a myth?

      Maybe, perhaps, it’s ‘cos he’s privy to a bit more info (i.e. data from team engineers) than you are?

  24. Yago says:

    I was surprised that Marussia sporting director thought Kimi will beat Alonso in 2014. I thought pretty much every body in the business would have picked Alonso as the winner of the two.

    The fact that Marussia sporting director has picked the option which for me it is clear is highly improbable, tells me that sometimes insiders are completely focused on themselves and on their own performance, and at times outsiders can get a clearer view on some aspects of F1, as relative driver performances.

  25. Jim says:

    I’ll echo the plaudits: great show! You and your panel hit every important topic (to me, at least) for a year-in-review program. Thanks, and all the best in 2014.

  26. goober says:

    Thank you once again for a wonderful year, James.

    I’m still giggling (and watching) that “F1 2013 for Dummies” youtube video you tweeted out a few weeks back. Parts 2 and 3 were just as good.

  27. AJ says:

    Always enjoy your podcasts James.

    The topic of fans loosing interest when one driver/team becomes dominant and there is no ‘racing’ at the front has come up a lot recently.

    I suspect the people who run the sort and make money off it only really take note if that sentiment flow through into official viewer trends and statistics.

    I’d be really interested if you have any insight into this. I assume there are official figures kept? what trends do they show? and do the statistics match up with the real world?

    1. James Allen says:

      We will try to get hold of those stats

  28. radohc says:

    Hi James, what’s your read of recent Toto Wolff’s comment, where he tried to downplay Mercedes chances in 2014. He tried to portrait Red Bull’s as clear favourites and said he doesn’t expect Mercedes to challenge for title next year.

    1. James Allen says:

      That’s not the way he feels as I understand it, but it’s always good to underpromise and overdeliver!

    2. KRB says:

      Link please!

      Everything I’ve seen, Toto is fairly confident. But of course it’s stupid to look at any team beyond Red Bull. They’re the 4-time champions. Until they are mathematically eliminated from WCC and WDC contention (or very, very close to it), I will never rule them out. The last two seasons Newey and his aero team have worked a miracle coming out of the summer break, with huge gains. Ok, this past season they might’ve been aided by other teams giving up the development war earlier than they did, especially Mercedes whose main focus has been 2014 since the new reg’s were finalized. But still, they were huge relative gains.

      That’s why I rolled my eyes when Whitmarsh predicted Mercedes as favourites. No one should be looking beyond Red Bull.

      If you wanna be the best, ya gotta be the best.

      1. KRB says:

        Thanks for the link. I read that article as dampening expectations for 2014, to counter some of the stories like the “100 bhp advantage”, etc.

        I’m sure inside Mercedes, the target is to win. But talk is cheap; better to talk once the winning’s done.

      2. Tim says:

        The last two seasons Newey and his aero team have worked a miracle coming out of the summer break, with huge gains….

        Something that puzzled me. How is it Red Bull came back stronger after the summer break? I thought the teams were all supposed to shutdown their factories for 2 or 3 weeks.
        You don’t think Red Bull might be bending the rules do you? Gasp, shock, horror – please pretend I didn’t say that ;-)

  29. James, do you think Button should change his good boy image and try to criticize the team so they perform better?

    1. James Allen says:

      We’ll see how much pressure he feels next year with possibility of Alonso arriving (if Dennis doesn’t regain control)

      1. bbobeckyj says:

        Is this an example of their reputed differences of opinions, would Alonso have still been driving a McLaren in 2008 had Whitmarsh been the team principal?
        The politics is simultaneously the most interesting yet secretive and difficult to discover aspect of Formula 1.

      2. Michael says:

        Why would Buton feel more pressure than Alonso in a team which has a Honda engine? The guy speaks Japanese and knows and understands how Honda works. And Honda know how Buton thinks and works. If anything, Alonso should feel more pressure for the fear of missing out in vital info or connection to the engineers.

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