Vettel pole hints at turning point
Scuderia Ferrari
Vettel pole hints at turning point
Posted By:   |  20 Jun 2009   |  1:53 pm GMT  |  27 comments

Sebastian Vettel took his third pole position of the 2009 season today with a stunning lap on his final qualifying run at Silverstone.

He and Red Bull team mate Mark Webber had been trading fastest laps all weekend, indicating that the Red Bull is now clearly the fastest car in F1. What is impressive about the latest round of developments on this car is that it is now clearly faster in the high speed corners, but also in the low speed corners, like the complex here in Silverstone.

Brawn did a good job in Turkey of improving their car in high speed corners, but here they have not been able to compete with the Red Bulls in that area.

Team insiders believe that this could be a turning point of the season, albeit tempered by the fact that Jenson Button enjoys a huge advantage over Vettel of 32 points.

Nevertheless some of them feel that Red Bull is now around half a second per lap faster than the Brawn, possibly the biggest margin between the fastest and second fastest car we have seen all year. Red Bull could be in for a second half of the season like Brawn’s first half. If Jenson were to suffer a DNF at any stage, it could turn it from a formality into a sporting competition.

Toyota were quick in the qualifying session today, with Jarno Trulli trading times with the Williams of Nakajima and Rosberg.

Nakajima had one of his best days in an F1 car today, with 5th fastest time ahead of Rosberg. He was fastest in Q1, although no-one really noticed because of Adrian Sutil’s accident which caused the red flags.

British fans at Silverstone were left disappointed with Button in 6th place and Lewis Hamilton a career worst 19th on the grid. The McLaren looked very unstable in the fast corners here and Lewis, as last year, was not able to match team mate Kovalainen in qualifying.

Adrian Sutil is fine and has been released from the hospital after a heavy accident, caused by a brake failure.

Meanwhile Bernie Ecclestone has said that Silverstone could well still be the home of the race next season if Donington is not ready in time. It makes sense for him to speak on this now because it will play well with the fans, who are feeling bruised by the breakaway talk this week and also because any venue needs to be able to start selling tickets in the week following a race. Amazingly that is when a great deal of the sales are made. It will also keep Silverstone on side and less likely to side with an FOTA breakaway, if it gets that far.

Ecclestone is also reported to have suggested that he is working on brokering a solution ot the breakaway crisis, proposing that the budget cap be dropped completely if the teams sign up until 2014. He told reporters, “I say, provided they commit for at least five years, they can spend what they like.”

More will no doubt come out on this later.

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From Jame’s column on ITV-F1, which you can’t respond to on that site, except via the rather, (er, not very good, very partisan) forums.

He (Bernie) has already indicated that he would take extensive legal action in the event of a breakaway, as it would leave him struggling to fulfil his contracts with circuits and TV companies as well as firms who have licences like F1 gaming and phone applications, which use team and driver names.

Well, thats tough. Apart from anyone contracted to him (possibly Ferrari, possibly Red Bull & Torro Rosso), he has no right, an no ability to sue them, regardless of who he hires. You can’t sue someone for buying their ice cream from the guy over the road rather than your shop. Its about as valid as sueing me for not competing in F1 next year. Frankly, its laughable.

In briefings this evening Mosley has indicated that he will not walk away until the job is complete and that he feels the FOTA breakaway has no chance of success.

More posturing. If the breakaway series is “posturing and positioning” then why would you get lawyers involved?

Again, if the breakaway series has “no chance of success”, then why would you even pay it any attention, let alone waste very expensive lawyers on it? I’ve hired patent lawyers in the past, and Max is now hiring people even more expensive than that. You have no idea how fast the bills mount up.

As for “the job is complete”…
Looks like it is, F1 is now Farce 1.
I look forward to F Other 1.

Max may well be very intelligent, but there comes a point
when you have to admit you’ve screwed up, and screwed up royally.


I think that the new rules this year have really exposed and probably increased the issue of designing cars around a praticular philosophy. Some are better at high speed, some at low speed etc.

I would be seriously surprised if the Red Bull was faster than the BGP01 in all conditions, although I am concerned that they seem to be working better at low speed. I still think that the Brawn probably has the best chassis in terms of mechanical grip.

I think also that the temperature today flattered the drivers who take a lot out of their tyres (except Lewis obviously!) and didn’t help JB. Even if he doesn’t win tomorrow, it isn’t over yet.


James, great work today on taking over for Peter Windsor in the post qualy interview. Is this a permanent situation?


Good call again James. Just look at the fuel Vettel has highest fuel load in top 10. Amazing lap.


the weights have been released….vettel has the heaviest car in top 10…..he proved something here that no one can deny anymore.

the fact webber needed to make the vodka comment concerning raikkonen made me lose the bit respect i had for him. no webber, vettel is just faster, stop insulting others who cant just disappear off the track for your convenience. vettel beat you while he had 7 kg more fuel even.

01. Sebastian Vettel – 666,5 kg
02. Rubens Barrichello – 657,5
03. Mark Webber – 659,5
04. Jarno Trulli – 658,0 kg
05. Kazuki Nakajima – 652,5 kg
06. Jenson Button – 657,5 kg
07. Nico Rosberg – 661,5 kg
08. Timo Glock – 660,0 kg
09. Kimi Raikkonen – 654,0 kg
10. Fernando Alonso – 654,0 kg
11. Felipe Massa – 675,0 kg
12. Robert Kubica – 689,5 kg
13. Heikki Kovalainen – 695,5 kg
14. Nelson Piquet – 682,5 kg
15. Nick Heidfeld – 665,5 kg
16. Giancarlo Fisichella – 668,0 kg
17. Sebastien Bourdais – 687,5 kg
18. Adrian Sutil – 692,0 kg
19. Lewis Hamilton – 666,0 kg
20. Sebastien Buemi – 672,5 kg


Hello James

Would Brawn have run the car in the Turkey spec at Silverstone before bolting on the updates ? So’s they can definitely say the updates make it quicker. In his post quali interview he said he had a “different car to to the one he drove at Turkey” – could all that be down to cooler weather conditions or could it be the updates actually have made the car worse. There was a rumour that Toyota went back to an older spec aero package at Turkey because it was quicker than some of the newer aero packages they have fitted.


Nick Watterson

Hey James – Congrats on the new gig, taking over from Peter Windsor in the press conference! Cheers, Nick


Eccelstone’s ‘fix’ for the crisis is ridiculous, he says they can spend what they want if they sign up (to what exactly) until 2014?

Seems to me to confirm that this has nothing to do with budgets and spending and everything to do with CVC and it’s mountain of debt.

Everyone is blaming Max here, but it may well be CVC have leaned on him offering support after his antics last year in return for some regulations to relieve them of pressure to give the race teams more money.


BRDC – now’s your chance to spit back at Bernie. Don’t let it go to waste.

At this point, the best cars, the best drivers and the best tracks will be in the new breakaway. Bernie will do all right – but CVC will be gutted. As it should be. And Max? I think his tantrum this week will make it hard for anyone to argue he should stay on…as if it matters now (absent the FIA perpetual last minute magic).

Yay! I can go back to Indy and Montreal! Yay!


Today, Sebastian Vettel took pole for the British Grand Prix that will of course be tomorrows support race to the Main Event, Round 7 of the political machinations of Bernie and Max.

I can’t imaging why FOTA would want to leave…


I respect Max massively for all the tweaks and changes over the years. Nobody could introduce the right changes for the crowd and safety without a little experimentation. Few thought semi-automatic gearboxes would really be the norm, high noses etc. So maybe in the not too distant future KERS could be lightweight and very performance enhancing. Fact is before his influence in 1993 the front row were ~2secs faster than the rest. Now they’re amazingly close.

Also Bernie has the best sense of humour with cracking timing. Always a guaranteed laugh. He’s also fantastically aware and can sell/convince anyone, often ignoring the British PC attitude – ref Hamilton racist t-shirts and today’s Max-Briatore reference. He knows they’ll all line up next to each other in Albert Park next year and he’s probably quite bored with all the two-ing and fro-ing. I certainly am.


redbull are quicker with low fuel, brawn tend to have better race pace still though – unless things have changed significantly from turkey. i think this is easily barichello’s best chance of a win this year, although following turkey vettel is going to be even more determined to hang onto his position (then again barichello will be even more determined to nail his start). i think jenson might struggle, i can see him on the podium again but on the bottom step.

unless it rains of course 🙂

great job by nakajima – he deserved a better result at istanbul – maybe he’ll get it here instead – he’ll almost certainly be light, but 5th on the grid isn’t too shabby at all


It’s not a turning point, James 🙂 The RBR are better than Brawns in cold weather and at the fast corners. But Rubens’ pace was okay, while Button was struggling with the car during the weekend so far. The battle will be closer, but I think a ‘white guy’ will win in Germany two weeks later. 🙂


I do hope FOTA ignore the latest ploy by FOM. The sport really needs to settle once and for all the mismanagement issues that have plagued it since I have been a fan, some 20+ years now. It is time to have an end to it! Either the FIA and FOM have a complete make-over, including a new structure of management and policy, effectively reinventing the roles of each organisation and how they relate to and handle F1, or we need a new series.

Well done to Vettel, I wish we were only ever speaking about racing!


Hey James, nice to hear your voice again on TV. Were you replacing Peter Windsor for a one-off or this something more permanent?

Anyway, beck to the race. I believe Red Bull will have the edge for the race. I think Webber will manage to be both fast and conserve his tyres better than Vettel. He needs a good start though.


I think the significent factor this weekend (so far) is the cooler conditions. Ross Brawn mentioned it was the coolest qualifying conditions so far. If Brawn can shadow RB for the rest of the season they’ll be OK. Reliability has been good and Jenson will make fewer mistakes than Vettel et al.

Feel sorry for Mark Webber. What happened in Q3? Is he heavier or did he crack? Time will tell…


Wouldnt it be great if Hill announced the FOTA race next year on the morning of the GP! That would be perfect revenge for him hearing about the loss of the GP in the news on the morning of last years race!



Great qualifying from Rubens to split those red bulls. Congrats on your new job as press conference interviewer too James, you kept that quiet! Any thoughts on taking over Peter windsor’s duties for speed tv in the USA? They will need someone of your calibre to replace someone as good as him!


I’m not sure this is the turning point that it’s been made out to be. I think the common theme here is the effect that temperature and tyre groups has on the Red Bull and Brawn cars.

China had much cooler conditions and this was a weekend Red Bull dominated. I think they may also be more suited to the harder tyre compounds.

You have said yourself James, months ago, that Red Bull were likely to be strongest at Turkey, and then especially Silverstone. You also said that the Brawns will be ahead in the twists and turns of the Nurburgring and Budapest, and then after that its Valencia. They are also likely to be a lot hotter than Silverstone!


I think that the Red Bull might be the fastest car over 1 lap at a high speed track, but things will be very close in the race. I wouldn’t bet against Rubens getting the win or Button making up a lot of ground and making the podium. I reckon the Red Bulls need a lot of extra pace to overcome Brawn’s race pace/strategy genius.

I think the cars will be much more evenly balanced in Germany in a couple of weeks.


I’d be surprised if Red Bull’s advantage over a race stint is anything like half a second per lap. We’ve seen that the RBR is at its best on low-fuel flyers but time and again the Brawn has shown to have a big advantage when loaded up with fuel under race conditions. Vettel should be able to hold Rubens off tomorrow but I’d be amazed if he was half a second quicker, even taking into account the tidy updates they’ve introduced. I expect SV to have a couple of laps more fuel than both Rubens and Webber though, so the race should be his unless RBR come up with another silly strategy call.

On the Donington/Silverstone point, surely it’s no coincidence that Uncle Bernie has suddenly started charming the BRDC just as they are ripe for an approach from the teams behind the putative breakaway series. No doubt Flav and his men have already been in touch with Damon about getting them on their calendar for next year, so it’s clear that Bernie is scared FOTA will come to an agreement with the only track that can realistically hold a GP next year. You can bet that FOTA’s asking price will be a lot lower than FOM/CVC’s as well – wonder why that would be….


I personally feel it’s a bit premature to say the Red Bull is the quicker car. It’s the quicker car at Silverstone in cooler conditions, sure, but that’s all we know for certain at this stage.

Rubens is ahead of Webber, and Jenson has had difficulty with his set up all weekend. It’s also worth noting that Red Bull haven’t been too good at sustaining their qually pace through the whole race weekend this year either.

Still, it’s a good thing it’s not going to be too easy for Jenson. I’d love to see him win the WDC, but I’d rather not endure too many processional cruises like Turkey.


NO!!! Don’t do it!! FOTA must make the BREAK and make it now! If they allow those two [mod]to talk them into staying with the FIA all is lost!!!

Think about it – FOTA stands for lower ticket prices, the return of France, Imola, Montreal, Indy, Nurburgring, Estoril, Suzuka, maybe even Adelaide to F1. [mod]


tell us about your taking over peter windsor’s role in the post-quali press conference. Is that permanent? Is it because of USF1, and if so, is it because of potential conflicts of interest, or because he’s going to be too busy? Good gig.

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