Le Grand Retour
Paul Ricard 2018
French Grand Prix
Vettel flawless as Red Bull get 1-2
Vettel flawless as Red Bull get 1-2
Posted By:   |  19 Apr 2009   |  9:59 am GMT  |  45 comments

Renault boss Flavio Briatore said this weekend that the current pecking order undermines F1’s credibility.

But today was a great race with great performances at the front from Sebastien Vettel and Mark Webber, who scored a Red Bull one two. Jenson Button and team mate Rubens Barrichello were struggling to get the wet tyres to work as well as Red Bull and managed third and fourth places.

Meanwhile the grandee teams whom Briatore believes should be at the front, Ferrari, McLaren and Renault had another difficult day. Ferrari got no points again for the third race, Renault turned P2 on the grid into P9 at the finish. McLaren fared a little better with fifth and six places.

Briatore’s credibility point was related to the diffuser situation but not only do Red Bull not have a double diffuser, today the rain was a great leveller and still the grandees didn’t take advantage.

It was Vettel’s second win, again in the wet just as it was last year in Monza. “Every lap there was a lot of aqua planing,” said Vettel. “We knew we were on a short strategy and had to push to get away from the pack. I had the best conditions because I had no car in front of me for most of the race. I’m extremely happy, the second time in wet I’ve won. The car was fantastic. We were struggling with reliability yesterday but the team fixed it and we got a 1-2 for Red Bull.”

Vettel took blame for an incident during the second safety car period when Sebastien Buemi collided with him behind the safety car, he had backed off because he thought Trulli’s slow moving car in front was Barrichello and didn’t realise that Buemi was behind him.

Mark Webber observed that when the wet tyres lose their edges they don’t cut through the water as well and that was a factor for many drivers.

Jenson Button was philosophical about not being able to match the Red Bull cars. “Everyone was struggling with aqua planing,” he said. “The last corner was a lake. It was a struggle with tyres shuddering, I couldn’t get temperature into the tyres. I don’t know why obviously our car works in a different way. I couldn’t challenge Red Bull, they were immensely quick.”

Meanwhile Lewis Hamilton, who has excelled in the wet in the past started very confidently, making a lot of moves and passes. But he got into a vicious spiral as his wet tyres wore down because he was on a one stop strategy and asked a lot of them. Lewis had a series of spins. Team mate Heikki Kovalainen got ahead of him towards the end of the race.

Button extended his championship lead and now must be looking at Vettel as his main rival apart from his own team mate. The big names are a long way behind, with only Hamilton getting any kind of score on the board with a sixth of the season already gone.

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I didn’t understand Renault’s strategy. It seems that if Alonso had been quickest off a standing start, he would not have been able to make much of a break because he would have had to pit for fuel so early. Were Renault just grandstanding?

It was a real shame that Sutil went off- six points would have been like winning the championship for Force India.


Im not sure they were talking about Ross when they were saying he was one of the most ignorent men in F1….my god does Flav take the biscuit..in fact Im so horrified by that comment that your mind cannot comprehend it! – and I cant even think of the words to show my disgust at this “the current pecking order undermines F1’s credibility”
THE IGNORANCE of it!!!!!!!!



Vettel was outstanding today, but he really needs to stop taking the blame for things that aren’t his fault. Right now I get the feeling he is too nice to win a championship!


Hey James,

I loved your commentary for the ITV and am missing your voice! I still followed you here though..you provide lots of great insight so keep up the good work!

I have a question regarding Alonso’s race….

“Why would Renault pit Alonso so early in the beginning of the race? They said they thought the safety car would stay out for much longer, but if that is the case, how would he gain an advantage? He will still have to pit again later in the race right? Unless they think they can save fuel under the safety car and don’t have to refuel but isn’t that gambling abit too far for the 2nd place he had?

Wouldn’t it be much better if he stayed out like Vettel and Webber and got a clear start and put the hammer down while the field is spreading and pit only when he needed? I reckon he would’ve been comfortably in the points!”

Many thanks,
Attakorn S.


What are you on about, Koord?

Don’t even begin to compare Hamilton’s spins with Massa’s at Silverstone. Hamilton finished well into the points for starters. More importantly Hamilton’s spins were caused by a fearless drive to make up places at all times.

Hamilton doesn’t do cruise and collect, unlike Button he’s not a driver of fast cars, he’s a racing driver always looking for the gap. It’s what makes him so exciting and compelling to watch, without him boring processions here we come, he’s as fast as anyone out there he does more overtaking than anyone and he gets more abuse for so called personality flaws than anyone ever has but I detect a stiffening of resolve in his make up, why should he care what ‘fans’ who’ve never been within 20m of a garage think why should he worry about the daily tabloids obsessing about the PCDs he’s here to win championships not play poker with Fisi and co.

Vettle is todays hero the rain master indeed let’s conveniently forget that he spun out in the rain of KL two weeks ago. Five GPs ago (China) Kubica was headed for the championship showdown remember, a bit of pressure and he’s not been the same since. Last year the genius Vettle crashed out in five of the first six races remember so before we start dismissing Hamilton’s achievements or, just as bad, damning them with faint praise let’s remember that no one has entered F1 with more pressure and greater demand from his team for success and he delivered on the money just two points from being a double world champ in his first two seasons.

When I see Vettle face off that sustained pressure I’ll rank him alongside until then just congratulate Vettle for his superb drive/win don’t use it to bash the best that F1 currently has to offer.


Briatore needs to stop whining and just get on with it, to be honest. In my mind he’s starting to paint himself as an exceptionally poor loser.

Trying to have monies formerly promised to Brawn GP taken back, when all they’ve done is run a clearly legal car and beat teams that have missed the ball – that shows absolutely zero class whatsoever. If he keeps it up, I’ll be rooting for Renault to fail.


Disapointing race for Lewis today. Was good to see some life from Heiki, for once. Yes, Hamilton made some mistakes today, but take out what happened in the aftermath of Melbourne and that’s 4th (true position in Oz), 7th and 6th. Actually not a bad haul for what was – at least for the first two races – believed to be a stinker of a car. As a Mclaren fan, it shows how much of a shame it is that they messed up so badly in Australia as Lewis would actually still be within striking distance of the top which, when you consider the apparent disparity in performance of the cars, would be a marvellous achievement. I don’t think he can win the title but I think it would give his credibility as a driver a great boost to finish 4th or 5th in a season dominated by exceptional circumstances.


Vettel caught my eye ages ago and it was the race where he was in line for a podium then crashed under the safety car into his now team mate Webber. He’s such a good driver, he’s ballsy but doesn’t take unneccesary risks, but furthermore he’s such a nice guy. Not a glimmer of arrogance, he even seemed so apologetic to Buemi for the Swiss cliping the back of his car.

Piquet I thought was unlucky last year, but now I’ve come to the conclusion he’s just useless. Get rid, and get rid quickly. Flavio has no right slagging off drivers or teams when he is wasting a car with him.


Lewis in the Red Bull would have beat Vettel !


I guess this was the beginning.

Lewis wasn’t good at wet, Sebastian was the superstar. So the guy got angry and blamed Sebastian for Lewis’s mistakes. He thought that if he just had the car Vettel had, he would’ve won. Maybe, he would, who knows. If my grandmother had wheels, she would be a trolley. The car by the way didn’t have the much reputed ebd or double diffuser yet. Soon, all the fans of other teams and drivers will be hating Vettel. People who think he is funny and smiles all the time will be irritated, and will be pleased to see Daniel Ricciardo come along because Vettel has been just so surly and dominant and won everything!

I am sorry Sebastian.


Shame Sutil didn’t finish 6th today. Not only because it would have been Force India’s first points and a great day for the minnows, but it would have been hilarious to see Ferrari as the only the team without points! I know it’s wrong to take pleasure from other people’s misfortune, and I much prefer the post Schumi Ferrari, but I’ve always had a bit of a problem with them and it’s nice to see them struggling for a change.

And as for Vettel- he’s arguably the best driver in F1 right now. I’ve rated him ever since he was running third for Toro Rosso when they were slow back at Fuji 2007 (when they were slow).

I remember JA mentioned before the start of the season that the new regulations would sort of seperate the wheat from the chaff. That’s beginning to look like the case now. Piquet, Nakajima and Bourdais have looked out of place in F1 so far this season. I can see some of them being replaced before long.


Lewis did not have the best of races…he’s a lot better than this performance in the wet! Ferrari are a mess right now! Vettel is a superstar in the wet but he has yet to really prove himself in dry conditions. Maybe Bahrain is his chance!


Will there ever be a simple straight race this season?

Every race has had a safety car and/or wet condtitions. I would like to have seen a dry race, to see relative race pace. Lewis was lucky, with so many spins and off’s he was lucky not to go in the gravel. The newer circuits are better for drivers who make more mistakes, Fuji last year was a massive example of that. Vettel didn’t really make a mistake, when everyone else had at least one.

James, whats is your opiinion on the Trulli/Kubica crash, what happened to Kubica?


Don’t know if Briatore’s grapes can get any sourer.

Having teams like Red Bull, Brawn, Toyota etc. doing so well is good for the freshness of the sport. Obviously everyone loves a Mclaren-Ferrari battle but do we want that year-in, year-out?

Anyway, the pattern of the season is that teams that should and could be scoring heavily are having very patchy weekends. Red Bull have had one or two in the dry, Toyota have had one or two, Williams have had three weak scores, BMW aren’t going well.

Button has scored consistently heavily but has had a half-point score in Sepang to consider.

So I think the “grandee” teams should thank their lucky start that some of the teams haven’t given them more of a mountain to climb in terms of points on the board – and it looks like Mclaren, at least, are beginning, steadily, to respond.

I don’t think the championship has really shaken itself out and settled down yet into a clear battle between any two teams, and with the diffusers and KERS devices both still a bit raw very there’s a long way to go this year.


Any news on the ‘fix’ for the Red Bulls driveshaft issues?
There was talk yesterday of borrowing parts from Toro Rosso and potential legality issues.

Has this been cleared up?


Yes Lewis explained quite amiably and philosophically about his tyres only lasting a few laps and not at all in the way that Mike Gasgoigne implied.

Shame about Sutil.


Hi James, I find one of your twitter comments quite interesting:

“I think the top teams have seen enough of Vettel now to know he’s the guy they need. How long can RBR hold onto him?”

I know who you mean, but is it not feasible that Red Bull IS one of the top teams now, especially with a budget cap on the horizon? Or do you genuinely believe the current competitiveness of Brawn & Red Bull is just a transitional phase in Formula 1?


Briatore is coming across as a bit of a fool at the moment. He may have Alonso there, but they persist with these weird glory-grabbing strategies that make the team look ridiculous. And how he can harp on about Jenson and Reubens like he does and yet employ Piquet in his second car is beyond me. Again Nelson looked out of his depth, to say the least. Why is he still there? There must be a very good reason…

Vettel was untouchable today, wasn’t he?


It was a great race and it was really good to see the RBR 1-2 result…this season is so much more interesting with these new guys fighting each other for the podium. They all see to have better off road rapport with each other and seem more accessible when interviewed when contrasted with last seasons winning teams.

It’d be good to Webber win his first GP, so hopefully we’ll see that happen this season.

Leggard continues to add zero value to the mix and merely annoys the viewer with his unfortunate horse racing style of commentary (I thought Red Rum was going to beat Vettel over the line at the chequered flag), meaningless anecdotes and somewhat careless talking over his colleagues while they’re making a point. Jake Humphreys rocks as does the interactive red button after the race with all the extra interviews and after race breakdown with DC, Brundle and Gascoigne.


Briatore just comes across so bitter. These first three races have been outstanding, he’s just ruing his lost opportunity. It’s also a bit rich calling Button a kerbstone when he employs Piquet.


I dont know about you James but i reckon heads will roll soon, quite a few drivers are chronically underperforming.

1) Piquet. Patience would be very thin.
2) Nakajima. I reckon its cause of Toyota he is there, and if thats the case is he safe?
3) Bourdais. Once again being given a hiding by a novice.

If it was me that had to replace those 3, id pick

1) Davidson to Renault. Alonso and Davidson a great combi.
2) Sato to Williams or Toro Rosso. Would certainly keep Rosberg/Buemi honest.

Any suggestions who else anyone? And why?


I must admit that I am really enjoying Force Italy at the moment, I wonder how long it will last?


Flavio will probably now demand that Red Bull’s TV money be distributed among the other teams, on the basis that they all need to spend money to develop pull-rod suspension……..


Briatore, the race cannot be win by talking. Prove it if your team is world champion team. Red Bull wins the race 1-2 without double or triple diffusers. Brave Vettel !!!!! – the future world champion.


Great race – even it it was another wet race – maybe Bernie will consider holding a race in Ireland… it’s always raining here lol!

Well done Red Bull Racing and I’m delighted with Vettel’s result 2nd win – the new rain master I dare say?

Although as a Ferrari fan since the 1980’s I’m in mourning for the demise as the Ferrari team – 3 races with no points – it’s a nightmare!!!!

Briatore is been a sore loser saying the current pecking order undermines F1’s credibility. He should put his energy into upgrading the Renault’s!!!

The BBC coverage is getting better – only had to switch over to the Radio 5 commentary twice during the race!


How’s that for you Hamilton fans? He was as spinning as much as Massa last year in Silverstone, but obviously we want to be very quiet about it and blame it on the car or tyres… wait, Kovalainen didn’t spun once and classified better. Oh noes! Got to find a new excuse I guess.

Meanwhile Vettel has always shined in wet conditions, no matter if it’s a good or bad car (Fuji 2007, Monza 2008…). Great job from him.

Seems to me that without a good car Hamilton is pretty much nothing. Anyway, it doesn’t matter as we’ve got new guys at the top and this could bee one of the greatest seasons ever!


He took his second wdc in a car clearly more than a sec faster than anyone else. So, who knows…

Come to think of it, he never drove a Minardi or STR or Sauber.

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