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Sebastian Vettel: The rights and wrongs of the “Crash Kid”
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Sebastian Vettel: The rights and wrongs of the “Crash Kid”
Posted By: James Allen  |  31 Aug 2010   |  9:11 am GMT  |  272 comments

In the aftermath of the Belgian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel has come in for a fair bit of criticism for putting himself out of contention once again and damaging his championship chances.

Spa was his third retirement of the season. He is now 31 points off the championship lead. He’s made things more difficult for himself, but with 150 points up for grabs, he can still recover.

He’s under the spotlight for a collision with Jenson Button, which put the world champion out of the race and he made five visits to the pits, including a drive through penalty. It was another messy day, when there was a clear podium to be had from his fourth place on the grid.

But he has also found support from some quarters, with some fans and pundits feeling that the penalty from the stewards was too harsh. Many of those who defend him point to his age, just 23.

But there is more to it than that.

McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh called him the “Crash Kid” after the race, which is clever and will almost certainly stick to him for a while, increasing the pressure. And it is the pressure, in my view, that is the issue here.

Vettel is very fast and as intelligent a driver as you will find on the grid, but he’s not handling the pressure well this year. In a Red Bull car which clearly deserves to win the title – Schumacher had the title wrapped up in July or August in the years when he had such a car – Vettel feels under pressure to get the job done, but has failed to impose himself on his team mate or secure the necessary race results.

There is no doubt his weak point, exacerbated by the pressure, is impetuousness. particularly in races, as we saw in Istanbul when he collided with his team mate, or Silverstone where he insisted on a pass at the start that was never going to come off. Ron Dennis used the word “impetuous” after the race,

“It seems Sebastian is just too impetuous,” says Dennis. “Look at the incident with his own team-mate (Istanbul), look at incidents that put him out of the race. It’s good to push, it’s good to be competitive, but there are so many historical lines in motorsport and the one that fits him more than anything is, ‘To finish first, first you have to finish.’

Red Bull boss Christian Horner is not afraid to confront this. He says that Vettel is aware of his growing reputation as an impetuous racer, but has the capacity to change that, “Nobody knows that better than Sebastian, he is a pretty mature individual,” said Horner. “He analyses his own performance very, very carefully and I am sure he will bounce back from this. He is a great racing driver, he is still a very young guy and it is easy to be very critical on somebody who is relatively inexperienced – but for sure he will learn a lot from what happened.””

I’m sure he will too.

It’s not just about his age. Vettel is young, just turned 23, so he is the same age now as Lewis Hamilton was at the start of the 2008 season. He has more Grands Prix starts under his belt than Hamilton had then; Spa was Vettel’s 56th Grand Prix start where Hamilton had only 17 starts at the same age.

Hamilton made mistakes in his first two seasons in particular, such as crashing into Kimi Raikkonen in the pit lane at Montreal. He was also involved in his fair share of controversies, like the accident behind the safety car in Fuji in 2008. However Hamilton won the world championship in that second season, having fought for and lost the title the year before. In that second season he had less pressure from his team mate, McLaren had put Heikki Kovalainen alongside him to replace Alonso, but he had the pressure of expectation on his shoulders, not least from his father, who always pushed him hard.

Vettel had the advantage over Hamilton of being able to serve an apprenticeship out of the spotlight, first as a well used Friday driver for BMW and then at the Toro Rosso team, with whom he competed in 2008. Alonso had the same thing with Minardi and then an up and coming Renault team. This is worth a lot; Hamilton was thrown straight in to a championship contesting car, with the strongest driver in the sport as his team mate. The only thing mitigating the pressure in that situation was that everyone expected Alonso to win the title, so he was able to push against that. Hamilton showed some impetuousness in those early years too, but not as much as Vettel.

If you look back, many champions have it. It was impetuousness that caused Mika Hakkinen to try to pass Michael Schumacher in Macau, there are countless examples from the early careers of Senna, Schumacher and others.

I think it’s a negative quality which is born out of a positive one, in the sense that great competitors, who feel they should be ahead of the man in front, want to impose themselves and feel they must do so. It’s the mentality of a champion.

It is this part of Vettel’s psyche which finds it so hard to deal with Webber’s competitiveness, for example. But it goes wrong when it’s deployed at the wrong moment, in the wrong way, as we have seen a few times now with Vettel.

He wants it all now, but he hasn’t yet learned to pick his moments.

Vettel is not as sure footed coming through the field and passing cars as Hamilton. They both had the same schooling in karting since the age of 8, but Vettel is less comfortable in close proximity to other cars. That is something he has to take into account when racing others. As a competitor, you are only as strong as your weaknesses.

Winning in F1 isn’t simple, it’s very complex and it takes a blend of the right car, the right team environment and the right mentality to pull it off. Alonso was considered F1’s most complete driver a year ago and yet his struggles at Ferrari, for example, show that he can make mistakes when there is a high emotional charge around him. That’s something he and his team need to put right.

I think Vettel has the raw quality to overcome his “Crash Kid” moniker and go on to be one of the top drivers. Hamilton had a difficult year last year and has come out of it an immeasurably stronger and more complete driver and person – he knows when and how to pick his moments and he has got the maximum out of every opportunity this year.

Vettel will be seasoned by these tough moments, take heart from the notion that anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and will step up a level in 2011. He is very grounded and has more F1 experience than Hamilton had at this age.

All that’s lacking now is the mental poise that comes from maturity.

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Maybe there is something wront with the car and fron wing


Arrrgg....I wish that the BBC would let us foreigners see their stupid 30 second clips. Heck, I'm even from the colonies.


That wing wobbled a heck of a lot.


Red bull flexing wing design coming back to bite them?

Very similar crash to webbers in terms of late change in direction in the wake of the car in front causing sudden increase then decrease in grip... Looked like vettel almost pivoted around his nose.

I predict that RB and Ferrari will amazingly show no advantage after italy once all the new tests come into place. Vettel has lost this championship by not doing what Button did so well last year and not capitalising on his huge car supiority in the first 10 races.

Please run a tech session on the sliding stays and deflecting floor that has allowed RB to run have the huge downforce inducing rake that made them soo fast in the quick stuff and some info on carbon fibre layering to allow non linier flex of the wings. (this is used in mountain biking instead of rear suspension on off road race bikes). All of which are illigal as bodywork is not allowed to be moveable!

I hope that RB continue to support both drivers as McL will do so that Webber beats the crash kid fare and square.


Redbull is taking their slogan up to new flapping heights


you can see it even more clearly on the onboard shot of the crash. His entire front wing rocks up and down as he comes out of Buttons turbulance, movement on that scale would have made the car highly unstable. Watch from 0.52, if you ask me, thats why this sort of thing is illegal. Could well have had something to do with webbers Valencia crash.


Just wondering what the length of wire visible on Vettels detached front wing at 1.13 is. Wing flap adjuster, or what?


yeah it's the cable that connects the front wing adjuster to the rest of the car, as well as the 'controversial' onboard cameras on the front wing. Brundle talked about it during Vettel's pit stop for a new nose, which took a bit longer because they had to basically just shove that inside the car rather than attaching it. So for most of the race vettel couldn't adjust his wing and we couldn't see from that camera.


The wire is most probably what controlls the front flap adjust and presumably has something to do with with the cameras.


If we take formula 1 out of the equation, Sebastian Vettel is a very intelligent, and also for his age mature person. How many of us were however completely mature and wise at the tender age of 23? Not me certainly! There are only some things which experience and life can teach.

Like Ron Dennis's age old wisdom on the subject, perhaps a more positive (?) look at it is:

If you're not making mistakes, you're not trying hard enough!

I think that Lewis Hamilton has certainly matured this year. Jenson Button's laid back, ultra easy-going and gentlemanly style has had an influence for certain. I feared that the absence of his Father would be the cue for the wild child to suface (Doughnuts in Australia, anyone?), but also quietly into the background has returned Ron Dennis, who is surely able to impart wisdom, and discipline. Hamilton is now also more open in press conferences for instance, and much less to bring out the PR bland of old.

Great article, thank you - it's really interesting to get insight into the psyche and personalities of the drivers, and how this affects their game.


I don't agree with the statement that Jenson has had a calming influence on Lewis. Many have made that statement with no facts to support it. There is a five year difference in their age and worlds difference in their social and psychological makeup.

Jenson is a good teammate, but, so was Hiki. As Jenson stated March 7, 2010, “Lewis is a phenomenal talent and a great guy. But all that mateyness stops when the lights go out”.


On the track, of course, the gloves are off - they wouldn't be there if this wasn't the case, but the relationship with your teammate is a vital factor both in the car and out of it. Is Felipe Massa's driving (and general confidence) suffering because of the domination coming from the other side of the garage? If you have a teammate who is open, prepared to give and take, then this will surely have an influence - I was thinking more away from the race track.


I find comments that Lewis is somehow more complete because Jenson Button is his team mate slightly annoying.That laid back, ultra easy-going and gentlemanly style you waffle on about is why Jense is Known for 9 seasons of mediocrity & why F Williams preferred the wonderful JPM over him .As we all know Hamilton was WDC runner up in his debut year & WDC in his 2nd season before the arrival of the 09 DD diffuser WDC.Its quite hard to influence teammates when your on average 1/2 a sec slower than him.Also James,why do you & others compare Vettel with Lewis.I'd wait until SV has that WDC before applying the superlatives,at the moment Whitmarsh's quip-the crash kid is the only truth that comes to my mind.


Lewis said it himself: I'm going to do it like he (Jenson) does it. Since then he's been on top of his game.

As for Jenson...well, he's got the No.1 on his car, doesn't he?


That's a bit of an unfair assessment - he punched above his weight in 2004 (coming in 3rd in drivers' title) and managed 6th overall in 2006 in an under-performing Honda.

If anything, that laid back attitude is a strength - he's proven he's able to overtake when he needs to, and yet he's less likely to ram into anyone else while doing it.


hah, yes, and Shumacher has... juveniled?


"If we take formula 1 out of the equation, Sebastian Vettel is a very intelligent, and also for his age mature person. "

I don't think you can convince any team to sign a drive up with such an introduction hey,...


No probably not - Hi (Insert team manager of your choice), I've got a great one here, mature intelligent, doesn't make mistakes under pressure, only 23 years old - can't really drive, but hey, you can't have everything!

The point was (I think) more a generalisation about the average 23 year old, top flight racing driver or not..


Don't agree at all about your analysis of Hamilton. I think he's doing better because his discipline now comes from the inside. No more Dad, no more Ron. Self-discipline is after all what we try to educate our children to have. When they have it they're fully equipped, and Lewis now is.


Yes, I think that's probably more true actually - hadn't of course thought of it that way.


Excellent article.

I've been very disappointed with the performances Vettel has put in this year so far. I was very excited when he came in to the sport, especially his early win with Torro Rosso but he just hasn't mentally progressed the way his peers have. He could have been a firm fan favourite but he seems to be heading towards the stage where he is more hated than loved.

I wonder if he would have developed better at a team like McLaren who know how to bring a driver on. This seems to be another sign that Red Bull don't know how to win yet, but then I suppose any team has to build up that experience.

An interesting contrast is to Nico Rosberg who has slipped in to Mercedes and simply got on with making Michael look fairly ordinary. He could easily have been overwhelmed - Schuey is known for his psychological tactics more than almost anything else - but he just got on with the job. I wonder how Seb would have coped but then Nico had an excellent grounding at Williams.

One point though, you comment that he lacks mental poise from maturity - he's done 56 GPs. How many had the likes of Clark and Stewart driven in before they became champion? Granted there were fewer races per season but you can also say that means fewer opportunities for error.


I don't think Michael is bothering to use psychological tactics now he's driving in his own afterlife.


I think Rosberg hardly counts as a rookie. Michael will use psychological tactics if he is in a position to challenge for the title, that's when you will see him being more ruthless. He is barely in the top ten presently and seems more intent on preparing for next season.

Also, apart from Hamilton, I can't think of another example of them bringing a driver through the ranks, so I disagree with your point about them bringing through drivers better.


Neither vettel counts as a rookie


My point was that neither Rosberg nor Vettel are inexperienced enough to be considered rookies. However, Rosberg has had a better route to a top team so is better prepared for it. He is grounded, knows he needs to wait for his chance and doesn't throw a strop when things go wrong.

I think McLaren have proved with Hamilton they know how to get the best from a driver. Granted to tend to go for more experienced pilots but they have learned over the years how to win and how to make the most of situations where winning isn't possible. Vettel and Red Bull aren't there yet. Maybe McLaren haven't brought any other drivers through but they have calmed a few down - Hakkinen and Senna could fit in that mould for example.


This isnt an anti/Lewis comment, but comparing what Vettel has to do to win the championship with Lewis fighting against only Massa in 2008 is not really a fair comparison.

Excellent article though ... and you're right, Whitmarsh labelling him "Crash Kid" was rather clever.


I forgot what a Pro-Hamilton blog this is.


And you still take time to log on and read the bloggs.


That's funny, yesterday I was being criticised for not praising his Spa drive enough. Oh well, it takes all sorts...


I wasnt actually referring to you, I was referring to the comments. I think the blog is perfectly balanced to be honest, but that's enough of the back slapping.


With the performance of RB car, If Vettel did the better job at the begining, right now he should have only webber to worried.

With the McLaren performance from most event, their driver outperform the car capability, but Vettel underperform the car he have.

for Vettel, I couldn't see any sign from him as a Top driver . . . what he have shown so far. What is the benchmark to say he is so good. . . . I never see one. Just he is one of the fast driver, just not bad.

He can't compare to Lewis in any case.

go back to 07 in the rookie year of Hamilton. . . he have to partner with 2 time WC who is the best driver as that time. Just after a few race, he show to everyone how good he could be. What Alonso can do, he can do too. He make everyone surprise of rookie standard, even Ron didn't expect anything much from Lewis in the first year, probably Ron just hope Lewis don't do anything to poor. but Lewis make him a very very big surprise.

if Lewis didn't do the silly mistake in China and got some issue with the gear in Brazil, Kimi won't be any WC even with a lot of help from Massa.

Lewis let the result speak for himself, he proved it. What Vettel have proved so far?

now, Vettel let the result speak for himself too, . . . as a ' Crash kid '.


4 time world champion, your comment is priceless


[mod]The year before he won the world championship, the press and F1 commentators were agreed that he deserved to be the world champ that year because he had out-driven everyone else. When he won world champ, it was a popular win because the press, commentators and his fellow drivers were agreed he deserved it.


You have to remember the 08 McLaren didnt have the same advantage (1-1.5s) to the others that the red bull has... and Kimi & Kubica were in the contention to the title.


I agree. General consensus was that Ferrari had a superior car than McLaren in 2008 for most of the season. That was the view of Autosport, and not just an individual journalist but a group view. I can still remember James Allen/Martin Brundle discussing Ferrari's advantage for that year and the failure of it's drivers to capitalise on it during a particular GP.

Here's another thought. Who's more deserving of the WDC? Mark Webber or Sebastian Vettel for driving the best car as James suggests or Lewis Hamilton for being the best driver of the year?


Well thats difficult to answer, but the driver's title should be given to the best driver of the year and the constructors should be given to the best car.

it would be fair Lewis WDC and RedBull WCC


You must be joking:-) The only person that Vettel is fighting is Webber - they share the same car:-) Other than that, Red Bull is on a different level. Never-ever Lewis or Massa or Alonso had such a huge car advantage.


@BBT - probably you are right, but Lewis has the experience of fighting for and winning a championship by now.

@MCLH. I dont think I have it the wrong way around : my point was the psychological aspect - Hamilton had only Massa to fight against by this point in the season ... Vettel has 3 world champs and an increasingly strong team-mate to fight against. He really does have a much tougher fight on his hands than Lewis had in 2008.


Don't forget about 2007. Lewis came close, and should have won the championship that year. That was against several tough players.


Assuming you are right and it was a tough year to win (I am not arguing)then it was equally tough for all the drivers. Congratulations go to the winner not one particular runner up!


In 2007 the best drivers had to adjust to the bridgestone tyres after being on michelins this year and we have seen this year with schumi the problems he has had getting used to a different tyre. Lewis still lost the title to Kimi despite being 28 points infront of him at one time so I think it shows this year is still very open. Lewis has made a mess of plenty of things aswell. And in 08 massa had terrible reliableity and pitstops and lost out to safety car 3 times but most times Lewis lost out it was his own fault. Lewis had it very lucky too though only a stupid mad would say he isn't top class also


You are correct but the wrong way around. It should be much easier for Vettel than Hamilton in 2008, just look at the car advantage Vettel has, I sorry to say he's wasted it (so far).


Lewis was up against Kimi and Massa in 2008 with equal almost equal (and sometimes slower) machinery.

Vettel has the dominating machinery by far.

Lewis in the same car would of most likely wrapped up the championship by now in my opinion


I think a lot of drivers would be in a better position now than Webber or Vettel. Red Bull have not taken advantage of their car. They may end up regretting it.


Agreed, with the car advantage they have, they should be way ahead, if they don't win the driver's championship they will have a lot to answer for. An advantage like they have,"possibly had" doesn't come around that often.


And he lived up to the 'Crash Kid'. After crashing in to Button, don't forget he got a punture later in the race by hitting Liuzzi. He's not very good at overtaking.


I think that is a tad unfair, he was well ahead of Liuzzi going into the corner, if anything you could argue that Liuzzi should have given him more room as the position was already lost.


If anything, it was karma that caused Vettel to get a puncture just as he passed the pit lane entry. Whatever the case, he certainly did NOT deserve any points on Sunday and that would of been seriously unjust had he of raked in quite a few whilst Jenson watched his Championship Campaign fade from the side lines.

What makes things worse is, I actually really like Vettel, he seems a cool smart guy. But he seriously needs to get his grip together out there on the track.


It looked to me like Vettel outbraked himself and went too deep into the corner, he was certainly a good half a car's width off the apex. I don't think Liuzzi could've given him any more room without flat out surrendering the place.


Vettel' weekness needs desperate ironing out he needs mental coaching something Massa went through when sent straight back to school by Ferrari over to Sauber and when they deemed the time right called back in for duty under stringent observation and tutoring by Michael Schumacher. This is what Vettel needs and not this constant hyping pared with absolution from "meia pundits" - he will one day become a big player a champion in his own right!"- I say No, NEVER! Not at this rate, not at this pace and surely not with Red Bull and Marko!

At Red Bull there are too many forces pulling and tugging plus the maturing of Horner in frot of the audience 🙂 who is so blatantly ... I am at a loss for words when it comes to Horner. Something just isn't right at Red Bull and it is costing them dearly.


Sorry, I had to comment on this... I laughed really hard at this comment 4 years later =)


I, and a lot of other people believe that the Massa we saw in 2008 was a whole different kettle of fish compared to the Massa of 2010.

People seem to forget that major accidents can effect, and in Massa's case, has effected him no end. He has nowhere near the same commitment and speed as what he used to have. Don't forget he blew Kimi out of the water in 2008.


Agreed, the Massa of '08 was a fiercely competitive driver.


but was fighting Massa in 08 the same as fighting 3 world champions and a teammate who is driving the way Webber is driving?

Definitely not.


Nice article.

The fact is that he is being beaten by his 'journeyman' team mate. He is flawed and I know he is young, how could we forget that!

We know that if Fernando, Lewis or Robert was in his car then the title would be over, I suppose we should thank him for that.

Also, we all used to like him and now he seems to be morphing into a quite disagreeable young man!

People are saying that his time will come but will it? He will always be racing against Lewis, Fernando for a few years and then there may be more. He may be the 'nearly man' of F1.



It'll be interesting to see if RBR manages to stay ahead of the competition in 2011. Right now, 2009 could be called unfortunate but, if the 2010 Red Bull doesn't win a title, I'd be hard pressed to think of a better car to have not won a title. That'd make for an interesting reader debate.


‘journeyman’ is a bit harsh. THis is the 1st season where webber has had a competitive car since the start, and been fully fit. His is making the most of it as well, certainly better than 'the crash kid'


I used the word Journeyman not out any malice but with a hint of sarcasm. It seems to be the word used for many sportsman who aren't the pin up of their sport. Seb is the 'one'[another hint of sarcasm] but he is being shown the way home by a driver who lucked into his seat via his links to Renault and Flav. I'm a big fan.

Some of his wins have been excellent including Monaco this year and his first win in Germany last despite the drive thru.

I do like the label that Martin Whitmarsh has given him. I think that it will stick for some time.

I'm so pleased that we don't have to wait a month again! C'mon Monza lets have some more damp conditions.



Mark Webber isn't the pin guy but he has a huge army of fans with many more joining every time he drives a car - he is showing his class in the same way Vettel is showing his lack of experience and maturity - on the track.

Webber's fans are like the driver himself. No-nonsense and just get on with it.


I for one have never liked Vettel, and always thought he was over rated. It's not often you see a car with the advantage Red Bull have this year, so if he's thrown it away this year, you may well be right. He could have wasted his best chance.


So the impossible to beat Williams cars, Ferraris and last years Brawn cars just didn't happen?


I'd be one of those saying the drive-thru wasn't required. He'd screwed his race up with that, and hitting Button was the last thing he wanted to do, he just lost it under braking. He made an error, Horner was daft to try and describe otherwise. Rubens made an error too, as did Kubica in his pit box, so did Alonso later on and may peoples driver of the day Lewis got a massive slice of luck by not tacking his front wing off in his off road excersion.

I'll not be using Whitmarsh's silly nickname for him, because I'm not 12 and don't giggle from behind the bike sheds. F1 is a sport that requires people to drive on the very limits, people make mistakes.


He lost it under braking because he was already snaking about behind Button trying to work out which side he wanted to pass from (or perhaps just trying to appear over-aggressive to put Button off - a tactic that is not likely to rattle someone like Jenson.) Button made his move and gave him a straight decision over what side to come down and Vettel didn't react well to it.


I think Whitmarsh's silly name is a cleverly worded jibe aimed at heaping more pressure on a man that is cracking rahter than being a childish insult.


True, but this undoubtably was an avoidable collision.

How is it fair that Vettel would be able to take out a major championship contender, only to finish the race taking some valuable championship points?

It comes down to the fact that Seb didn't need to try and overtake at that juncture, he could have waited for the pits and Jenson changing his nosecone.

Certainly a do or die manoeuvre down the inside, into an always closing gap wasn't warrented


I've made the same point elsewhere, but to me the precedent for this race was set by the steward's decision about Barrichello hitting Alonso, which was just as much an avoidable accident that more or less took a competitor out of the WDC, and no penalty was applied. I don't see all that much difference to the Vettel-Button incident, and so I don't see why Vettel should receive an additional penalty.


Not sure about always closing, more like never there in the first place!

There was never more than half a car width to Button's right, so to try and turn a dart down that side into a pass on the left, on an unpredictable track surface, was quite foolhardy. Button was clearly struggling and Vettel wouldn't have had to wait long for another opportunity.

I don't see how the penalty could've been any different; Vettel caused an avoidable accident and the penalty for that is a drive-through. People seem to think the penalty should be linked to the consequences but that's not how it works. It would've been the same had they simply spun each other and carried on.


All collisions are avoidable. I agree that it isn't fair that he deals Jenson a major championship blow. I just question the logic behind giving people penalties like this when they've already ruined their own race. It was like Kubica in Hungary, I think Renault sent him back out to try and clear any penalty they'd get from that incident whilst he was a lap down. Both instances should of perhaps got something that really does deal a blow to them when it matters, like a 5 place grid drop. However I hasten to add that mistakes are mistakes, all F1 drivers make them, it just happened that Vettel dropped it into Button during an overtake, Webber ploughed into Hamilton in Australia (a race in which he was the crash kid and pretty impetuous), but the media do seem to be rather more in favour of Webber than Vettel. Likewise we've seen Hamilton make some howlers too, Monza 09 especially so.

The Championship as a whole is far from over, I've seen comments like '5 become 2'. When there are 6 races left and 25 points for a win it's idiotic to suggest such a thing. It's still pretty wide open, and I think Vettel still has the car and ability to beat Webber and the rest of the field. It'll be interesting to see how it all plays out in the weeks to come.


You cant predict the outcome of the race 1/2 way through though therefore the punishment needs to be swift. We were at spa after all so even though he was a minute or so behind, that could all get blown away with a bit of rain and a lucky tire choice at the right time


How about Lewis cutting sebs tyre at silverstone. Sure he didn't mean to do it but vettel didn't mean to hurt button either. I think it's very easy to criticise seb at the moment but he had only 23 and Lewis was alot more developed at that age plus the best prepared rookie ever. Lewis is a very lucky driver also but I'm not saying he isn't a class act


What I would like to know is would everybody especially the Brits be saying that Lewis is the best thing since 66 if he had got the penalties he should have had this year. For instance weaving in Malaysia defo drive through, china him and vettel racing in pits both should have drive throughs and him cutting the corner to get in to pits, Canada running out of fuel should have been docked places on Grid or lost his time, passing safety car in Valencia 10 sec stop go penalty at least, silverstone cutting vettels tyre at start has to warrant a penalty if vettels did. In principle they are the same. They both destroyed somebody doses race but didn't mean to. Would people still be saying he has this new maturity. I think not


Notwithstanding the fact that there is more of a case to put forwards that Vettel ran over Hamilton's front wing, comparing a light brush at low speeds between two controlled cars during the most congested phase of the race with what happened at Spa is just ridiculous. Vettel lost control of his car, he totally misread what he opponent did and suffered from several serious counts of misjudgement regarding the situation he was in.

Vettel has the experience of 56 Formula 1 starts, at the same age Hamilton had only 17. Not only that, Vettel's active F1 career started BEFORE Hamilton's as he was a test driver for BMW driving on Friday's after Kubica was promoted to a race seat.

On all fronts, Vettel is more developed and experienced than Hamilton was at the same age and is in a much more competitive car.


I think the problem lies with Vettel's mindset. It's as though this talk of him being the 'next Schumacher' has gone to his head.

I've no doubt that he is a phenomenal driver. I was looking at his qualifying results the other day, and it's just full of firsts.

When he's coming third or fourth though, or when things aren't going his way, he's almost becoming cocky. He thinks he should be in first, and he tries to get there in whatever way he can.

Admittedly, this desire to win is what makes a racing driver a racing driver. But he's got to learn to accept second or third and stop taking these risks to satisfy his own mindset.

That's why Webber's shining. He's patient and doesn't get frustrated when he's not number one.


I struggle to buy the 'unavoidable collision' or 'he didn't mean it' argument. Fact is, most of the incidents being used to argue that Vettel's mistake wasn't the only one and therefore wasn't so bad happened in the first lap or two with cars bunched up and contact between cars much more likely.

Arguments about conditions, braking zones and the like, also don't cut it as he's the only one out there of the front runners consistently making that kind of mistake. Fact is the conditions were the same for everybody. You're not let off the hook because the driver in front was slower or conditions got a little tricky. If that were the case, everybody would be taking everybody out.

In those one-on-one situations where a litte nous is just as useful as out-and-out speed, Vettel has proven himself to be lacking.

Let's also not forget the incident with Kubica at Australia in 09 - he simply can't deal with the 'one on one' situations. Unless he learns to do that, he'll never be a worthy champion.

I like Webber, I really do, but as I write this, I think of the ocassions this year where he's made similar mistakes (Aus certainly, Valencia possibly). I fully agree that if you put any one of Alonso, Hamilton or Kubica in that car, this championship would have been dead and buried by now. I'd actually extend that list of drivers by half a dozen or so.


Don't forget that Vettel took Mark out whilst he was leading in Turkey. Not suggesting Mark hasn't made errors this year, but if it wasn't for Vettel he'd still be leading the WDC...


And if Webber hadn't taken out Hamilton in Aus and Hamilton had got past Alonso...


That’s why Webber’s shining. He’s patient and doesn’t get frustrated when he’s not number one.

It's odd - for many years I saw Webber as a crasher: he always seemed to go overboard in defending his position. Yet these days of having a championship position to protect seem to have brought that in line. I'd like to know what others think on this.


I agree with that. But then again, he has a car that is the best on most circuits. Not many cars can challenge to pass him this year.


Great article, as always, James


"It was impetuousness that caused Mika Hakkinen to try to pass Michael Schumacher in Macau"

- You mean when Schumacher brake tested Mika Hakkinen?

Sometimes you are so biased it's untrue.

Good article though, and I agree with your sentiments on Vettel. He has the ability but neither the nous nor the experience to capitalise on it.

He will gain the experience, but I'm not sure the nous will come easily..


With respect Schumacher brake testing or nit wasn't my point. Hakkinen said himself he didn't need to pass. Please do not accuse me of bias


What's wrong with a bit of bias? We are all grown ups. (I'm not suggesting there was any bias).


It lowers the debate and makes it dull and predictable


Hi James, i was wondering if you'd seen this?

Massa clearly over runs his starting position box. Should that not have been punished, as it's a form of jump starting surely?


Yes, we talked about that on another strand yesterday


As a journalist James you're always going to have to put up with people making out you're bias. Your regular readers know you're not, so don't worry about it.


I also think that it was not Mika Hakkinen's fault in trying to pass Schumacher in Macau as he was faster as shown in his winning the first race. I clearly remember it was a deliberate blocking move from Schumacher to use the much stonger rear wheel to hit Mika's front wheel that ended Mika's race and the Macau title. ( I hope Vettel in his similar move to hit his team mate Webber with the rear wheel is not trying to become another Schumacher in lack of sportsmanship) It burned into my memory as it was a clear unsporting move. So Schumacher went on in racing to give us many proofs what kind of a sportsman he is.


Congratulation Allen! Great analysis! As a Hamilton fan since 2007, i feel a lot of empathy for Vettel. Like Hamilton in 2008, Vettel is being criticized for every single thing. Webber has made the same mistake this year. He crashed in lewis back in Australia and his accident in valencia was quite similar to what happened to Vettel. Did Webber had a penalty in valencia or australia? NO! Did webber received a lot of criticism after australia? NO!

In my opinion, Vettel, as lewis in 2008, is paying the price of being a "protegé".


I see some sour grapes, I think flipping in Valencia and DNF was enough penalty wouldNt you think.

Besides wasnt it Hammy who took Webber out in Japan when it looked pretty certain that he would pass Hammy soon after the restart to win his first GP


actually it was VETTEL who took Webber out at Fuji in crash kid has maintained his form in a way


Yes but if you actually watched the race it was Hamilton that caused the problem with the way he was driving behind the safety car You can blame Vettel but I dont think he was the real reason.


A nice insight amidst all the vilifying of Vettel. Webber doesn't seem to have the need to pass everyone. Look at his approach to holding second at the end of Spa. Surely the correct attitude at that point. Is Webber more of a seasoned driver than a natural champion?

Interesting that everyone now sees Vettel caused the crash in Istanbul- but will Marko and Horner do more that admit it to themselves?


I thought everyone always thought that was Vettel's fault, apart from Red Bull.


I'd be extremely suprised if the Redbull team didn't inform Vettel that Button had a damaged front wing. Why didn't he sit behind Button, conserve tyres, conserve fuel and then wait until the pits stops to overtake Button? He was clearly quicker and could have easily put in some quick times when Button stopped for new tyres and front wing. Instead he sadly choose to overtake, badly!!


I have a personal theory that it was all down to Red Bull's communication to Vettel from the pit wall:

Rocky: "Okay Seb, Button's struggling with a damaged front wing and Kubica's closing on you from behind. You need to overtake, badly."

Sebastian: "Can do!"


Very well written and concise article James, great work.

Like Eddie Jordan says, Vettel WILL be champion, just not this season.

While I would of course love a British victory, Im plumping for "Mac Wibber" (as he is known to Sniff Petrol).

Him and Hamilton have been in a class of their own driving wise.


You only have to listen to Vettel on the radio to realise that he can get a little hysterical at times.

There was the wild ranting about the drive through at Hungary, and screaming 'Puncture!' at Silverstone. Most of the other drivers are calmness personified on the radio.


I'd agree with almost all of this James, with just one observation. Vettel seems to have got worse over time, rather than better. There's no doubt he's quick, and that's probably 90% of the job, but the number of unforced errors this year is already more than last season. Things like the re-start after the safety car in Valencia, Hamilton running rings around him in Turkey (before the infamous crash) are not the kind of things that a driver in his position should be doing; let alone his disastrous attempts at overtaking.


I think you're right about him getting worse! A lot of comments on here are about him needing to mature, but he seems to be going in the wrong direction! Perhaps there's a level of impetuosity and desperation this years as he started out as favorite for the title.


The more I think about it, I realise I kind of feel sorry for Vettel. I'm not saying that he isn't responsible for his own actions because he is and he has made some silly mistakes, but I think the team haven't handled him right. By being the favoured son within the team, its made him look bad in the press and has put more pressure on him because they expect him to lead the title charge. It must be quite hard to handle all that.

I also wonder if his racecraft might have been slightly better if they'd let him do a season of GP2 instead of rushing him into F1 at such a young age.


I'm not sure about dropping back into GP2, but another year in the Toro Rosso might've been a good idea as he'd have gained experience of dicing with other cars in the midfield.


Hi James, I think the drivers should hear what you say. Very clever words and very true I think. I hate playing the pet kid!

I think Webber deserves to win this year. He is the strongest package.


Hi James

I'd like to address a small point here. Hamilton and Vettel only shared similar karting experience as juniors.

Vettel only did a couple of senior races in ICA 'as far as I am aware' whereas Hamilton did two full seasons in FA and then FSA. This could be at the source of some of the issues here.

Why is senior karting at this level so important? Well top-level senior karting is unique. For most drivers it's there one and only opportunity to actually race full on professional race drivers before they reach F1. You just speak to any driver that has raced guys like Kozlinski and Ardigo and you'll be told it's an 'education'.

You're not just racing peers, your racing the best at that particular sport at that specific time. You learn how to deal with huge pressure in close combat racing on a regular basis.

When Alonso raced for Mike Wilson he insisted on Fernando staying in karting for at least a year or two extra. Also Button himself has commented on how important FSA was to his development. Anthony Davidson echoed this too.

I don't think it's no coincidence that the last three world champions had experience at this level while Vettel didn't.

Now Vettel is a fantastically good driver, but maybe a rush from karts into cars meant he wasn't able to learn how to calm down his racing a bit, learn how to race, and get this out of his system. F1 is his first experience of full on professional; level racing. For Hamilton/Button/Alonso it wasn't.

Even McLaren recognise this by making sure their young drivers get experience at this level for at least a year or two. They understand the importance here. while it isn't the whole answer to the picture it may provide some insight into the issues of leaving karting a tad too early and rushing into F1 isn't always a good thing.


Interesting comment. It could explain the gaps in Seb's armoury. James says "He wants it all now, but he hasn’t yet learned to pick his moments." It's the race-craft that's lacking, as Ant pointed out on the Forum last w/e.


I've also felt that Vettel is missing some experience somewhere in his career and I think, Alan, you've put your finger on it here.

Comparisons with Lewis as regards their age miss one aspect. Lewis has only done 9 more GP's than Seb (65/56) - half a season - and yet is so much more of a complete driver.

I also think that his team environment is not helping. Someone earlier compared him to Rosberg. A spell at Williams would do Vettel a world of good, he wouldn't get protected from his mistakes the way he seems to have been at Red Bull. Imagine Patrick Head's responses.

James summed it up saying he's just not comfortable in close proximity to other cars. The big problem is that after 56 GP's he really should be comfortable. If not now, when?


Now that is what i call insight!

Thanks for the background, very informative.

My take on it is if he crashes while trying to overtake often enough how soon before folk are jumping out of his way?

Losing you car under braking after you've followed a car for numerous laps is pretty foolish, but not punishable, I suppose the fact he's done it before is reason for the penalty.


Thanks for the kind words. I'd like to add a direct quote from Jenson Button and what he felt from his Super A (was the top top class in world karting) days.

"Below Formula 1 the next best category was Formula Super A....

....I was lucky to race for a good team in Europe and for sure it makes a difference. You learn your race craft in karting... You learn how to judge overtaking moves, the precision, and that's where your style comes from. You style in f1 comes very much comes from go-karts which sounds crazy.

...and more on learning to be a professional -

It's hard to quantify what a driver benefits from racing karts at this level, but I am sure there must be something in it.


I assume this is Alan Dove from Karting1 then?!?! 😉

I don't know about their histories in karting but for sure Vettel could do with sorting himself out when running with other cars on track.

In this instance though, with the video you posted in response to another article, I can only come to the conclusion that this mistake was caused by that front wing flexing way more than any wing should while under abnormal load - That is clearly what unsettled the car in this instance.

And I say all this as a McLaren fan through and through... I much prefer Webber over Vettel but in this case I don't think it was so much his fault.


I feel like Whitmarsh store my thoughts somehow. I called Vettel "crasher" in Red Bull website long time ago when he was with Torro Rosso.

Anyway, just being an excellent driver isn't enough to win the title. His mistakes are as silly as carting kids. If Red Bull doesn't back their number '2' driver (Webber) now, pretty soon they will find themselves as 'CRASH TEAM' along with 'CRASH KID'. At least Vettel & unpredictable weather made the grand prix 'not so boring'.

Australian Grand Prix ticket sale is on. Not sure if I should buy the ticket or not. I guess I will wait till I see the weather report. Any suggestions James Allen? Will the next be more strategic & entertaining even if it is dry?


Some good points. I agree that given enough time Vettel should make it as a top driver. To their credit Red Bull seem to be taking the long view with him, although I'd question their choice of mentor.

From the outside though, Vettel doesn't seem to me to have improved much in his time in F1, so I wonder how much capacity for improvement he has. He came in as an impressively complete driver, and looked very good in the Toro Rosso, but has he really improved in his two Red Bull seasons? He certainly should be experienced enough by now - 56 races is 4 more than Fangio had in his entire career - so if there's any reason to expect further improvement it's from getting older and hopefully wiser.

If he manages to win the title this year (still not out of the question) these questions will be forgotten, though 🙂


If he manages to win the title this year, he'll be remembered like Jacques Villeneuve. A driver in superior machinery who made very hard work of winning the championship.


I don't always agree with everything you write James, but I think you have got this one spot on.

People seem to think, especially Seb fans, that he is coming into a lot of underserved criticism. The thing that they seem to forget is that Hamilton received pretty much the same views in 2007 and 2008 when he was labelled as a 'choker'.

Unfortunately, this is a hard view to shake, and only Hamilton's performances this year has gone some way to mitigating those claims. There is no doubt that pressure can do strange things to a young head, and Vettel is no exception.

One of the first steps to growing as a driver is admitting your own faults and weaknesses, and I think that this latest incident has seen Seb start to realise that.

In Turkey, with an incident with his team mate, he refused to take any responsibility for the crash. A major contributing factor I think to the start of team tensions in the RedBull camp. In my view, in this latest episode, at least he has taken responsibility, made an apology and can start to learn from his mistakes.

Obviously a team always needs to publicly support its drivers, but behind closed doors I think it is time for RBR to take a stance and have a quiet discussion with their younger and more favoured driver.

There is doubt the young man is a talent, but he still has a long way to go, and accepting and working on his weaknesses is the only way he can effectively progress.


Did Schumacher not "break test" Hakkinen in Macau?


Great piece James. Personally I feel that Vettel is a danger on the track, the fastest car with an irresponsible driver. Besides great hot-lap and leading performance I've seen little in the way of racing craft that a world champion needs.


I have just watched a video clip of the Vettel/Button collision that is attached to an item screened this morning as part of the BBC on line news service - and if you watch very carefully you can clearly see the car's front wing rise up and to the left, then to the right and what follows is the collision!

In other words, it looks as though the car goes out of control because downforce is suddenly lost (by the closeness of the cars?) and the Red Bull instantly goes out of control - not the result of an impestuous move by Vettel!!. He might just have been a passenger!

Another sequence can be seen when watching comment number 25 attached to James Allen's recent piece on the Spa result.

How similar is this situation to the collision between Vettel and Webber a couple of races ago? Vettel approached Webber and when very close to him, suddenly went out of control and spun into him. I did not see any video footage of the collision at that time...

Another similar situation occured earlier in the year when Vettel's front wing suddenly snapped into a different position - causing some comments about there being a 'mechanism' installed within the wing mounting structure that failed... and never fully explained.

There has been clear and unequivocal movement of the Red Bull's front wing - particularly in the end plates - and it is possible that there is more to it than mere wing flexing and the distortion within the laminations of the wing itself.

This most recent footage from Spa could provide the full explanation - can you please make a thorough scrutiny of the footage and attempt to provide an expnation of what is going on? Regards, Fred Butcher


He didn't suddenly "lose control" in Turkey, you could see him move his steering wheel towards Webber, and then he hit Webber. The wing behind Button also functioned normally, it moved when in the dirty air on each side as you'd expect it too.

He wasn't merely a passenger, he messed up. In a season of time trials there's no doubt in my mind Vettel would win it. Unfortunately during a Formula 1 season Vettel has to drive while other drivers are around him, and at the moment he just can't do it.


Are you so sure Vettel would win a times trial championship. It's pretty easy to get pole when you have such an advantage.

It would be quite something to see Hamilton and Vettel fighting for pole in the same car. Difficult to know who would win.


" In a season of time trials there’s no doubt in my mind Vettel would win it."

Give him Kimi's rally seat and put Kimi in the Red Bull..


Great article. Great analysis.


Superb article, a pleasure to read.


Its some fair points you have made James, to an extent i agree with. Many drivers have come through the ranks with reputations for crashing, James Hunt "The Shunt" being one off the top of my head. My problem with it is, a lot of these drivers did this in the lower formula's, where you learn the trade. I know ive said this before over the weekend, but maybe then that Vettel is a victim of being put into F1 too soon (by that i mean 3 years ago, not too soon being now) and being given the best car on the grid. Comparisons to Hamilton is unfair. Good as Vettel is, i cant compare him to Lewis, who is pretty much a freak, someone with exceptional talent whose able to utilise it from the word go in his f1 career, he's made mistakes but these happened in his first couple of seasons, not 3 years into it.


I don't think that he has come into criticism for putting himself out of contention but for putting an innocent Button out of the race and possibly the championship. I also don't think it is soley pressure that causes him to crash, although that does exacerbate the problem, if you look at examples last year such as Austraila when there was not any pressure on him. It is a bit of a flakey defense to say it is becasue of his age as well if you compare him with other drivers at his age or even other sportsmen.


Great article, thanks James. I find myself recommending yoursite a lot at the moment to friends, who are looking for more indepth articles than the BBC can provide.

Hamiltons 17 to Vettels 56 starts makes the job Hamilton did seem all the more impressive.


I personally see it like Marc Gene - the JB accident was nothing more than a race accident. To me it was comparable to 2 months ago when Webber crashed into Heikki Kovalainen, was MW penalized for that crash? No, because he was out of the race? Or because he is such a seasoned driver? No, idea but we should use the same measurement. Vettel is struggling a bit at the moment but he is not any worse than Hamilton or Webber - and let's not forget Webber was a nice guy but only became World Champion material after he was paired with Vettel.


Webber came WDC material after being paired with Seb?

As if Seb waved a magic wand and made Mark a better driver?

It was the car, not Vettel.Sure it helped MArk raise his game but that's all. And Webber has always been capable of winning the Championship IMO.

Perhaps Vettel ought to take a few pages out of Marks book, and learn RACECRAFT.


You dont usually get penalised if you end up retiring hence the Kub/Alo uproar (though the penalty was right).

Its probably also why Alo didnt get any sanctions for unsafe release.


Agree, it was a racing incident, no action was necessary. It's racing, inevitably cars will come together sometimes, if it wasn't intentional is it fair to punish the driver.

In my opinion if he was 20th and hit Yamamoto, then the FIA wouldn't have given him a penalty


Different in the sense that not only did he not take someone out in a points scoring position, but he also took himself out of the race. Even with the drive through Vettel would still have scored points if it wasn't for the contact with Liuzzi.


Also, given that it's happened to him on multiple occasions before, surely Vettel was on a warning by then. All the other incidents stated are single incidents pretty much, Vettel is a repeat offender on the "avoidable" crashes front. If this was the first time it had happened would he have got the same penalty? We don't know.


It is obvious that Vettel has the speed, but for me the jury is still out on him,one week he's brilliant and the next poor. Correct me if I'm wrong James but there seems to similarities between Schumacher's early career and Vettel's. Schumacher was in the early part of his career was a bit impetuous, but was quite clearly blindingly quick, and ultimately became adept in race craft and closing out championships. Vettel will have to learn to do the same or he won't win anything. Although I have to say he's a much better driver than Mark Webber who I have never really rated, as it is the Red Bull car that is making Webber look much better than he is.


I'd say he's naturally faster than Mark Webber, but not better. F1 is more than just raw speed, as we are clearly seeing currently. Mark and Seb are both in the same car and the results don't lie. If the Red Bull is making Webber look better than he is, then what is it doing for Seb?



Nice comment!


This surely now must be a worry for RBR James- as you say, relative to his age and the significant number of race starts now under his belt, he should be demonstrating some maturity in his racecraft. Instead, it seems that his "Win it, or Bin it" mentality has become a habit beyond his current ability to control.

Can the 'old heads' show him a few years' F1 championship results and how the winners banked those consistent placings when wins were beyond grasp. With all his intelligence and desire, also comes a insular personality that does not seem to show the open honesty to admit error. It would be so refreshing to hear him say to the press "Gee, I really stuffed that up". It may also start to ease some of the pressure and scrutiny that seems to be a root cause of these mistakes.

Go Mark and Seb.... we need a one-two for 2010 for this great car.


Vettel seems to be doing what Jason Plato did last year at Snetterton in the British Touring Car Championship where he approaches every race with tons of aggression with a "all or nothing" mentality.

Its commonly remarked that that was the mentality that cost Plato the title.


He attacks that´s what everybody wants to see, i think the penalty is fair and he served it. He got to move on and win that´s what will keep people quiet and ease off the pressure.

That Red Bull car is very nervous behind other cars, Mark had a couple of mistakes behind other cars also(Australia,Valencia).

In terms of the championship he as to learn that it´s a endurance race and not a sprint, with this points system not scoring it´s a big blow and ruins the championship chances.

Lewis his very consistent this year, he has two dnf´s due to mechanical failures (Barcelona, Budapest) so the others have to be very aware that he will not throw away points.


Good Article. Can I just say that Vettel is a great driver but seriously lacks the mental stability required. The big problem IMHO is that Mark Webber is a much better driver than people give him credit for. He has beaten every co-driver he has ever partnered with( even Couthard). I think you will find that Mark is a better driver ( racer ) than Seb and everyone keeps avoiding this fact.

Seb has only out qualified Mark on 2 times . O nce with the better wing. But Mark is a much better Racer. Webber was tainted with the unlucky strealk of poor and unreliable cars.

Please give credit where credit is due.


I agree. People seem to forget that Mark used to beat his teammates on a regular basis.


Exactly. I agree 100%.

Why oh why MUST he insist on overtaking as soon as he can?

RACECRAFT is what wins championships, knowing when to come 2nd or 3rd instead of pushing too hard and not finishing.

Webber has racecraft in spades now.



What this does bring to my mind is there are often two types of 'top' drivers. What I could call 'fast' drivers, and what I would call 'skillful' drivers.

The first type can dominate a field from the start, pumping in lap-time after lap-time. They can just drive away from the pack.

The second can cut through the field getting overtake after overtake.

Vettel for me, is the first type. Able to control and win from the front, but when in midfield no so able to make it work. Massa as well is of this type, and able to be very quick from the front.

The second type, would be guys like Hamilton, Button, and Alonso. Able to work in midfield well, and pick up places when able without taking themselves or the other car out.

A very few top drivers can do both consistently. Schumacher could do it. Hamilton and possibly Alonso are the guys operating today which can.

Of course having a dominant car makes the first easiler, but the second can only come from the driver.


Very good analysis. People used to say Hakkinen was in the first category as well.


Nurburgring 98, Spa 2000, and his drives through the field in France and Austria in 99 dispel that pretty quickly.


The increased pressure from Webber stepping up his game this year has really rattled Vettel into making more mistakes. I get the feeling if he had more of a rookie team mate he would be more relaxed and not making rookie mistakes himself. Vettel's day will come but Webber for the championship this year.


One thing that occured to me in the last few days.

Did Seb compete in the Gp2 series for any length of time? Or was he fast tracked out of a lower series like Formula BMW/Renault?

Gp2 seems a highly competitive series with lots of closly matched cars that are similar to F1, but are able to race at close quarters.

Martin Brundle commented recently in a race,that the guys who recently came from Gp2 fight tooth and nail and are comfortable doing so.

Did the RedBull young drivers program inadvertly do harm to Seb's driver education,by rushing him to a top seat in F1?


Takuma Sato was fine and he came from cycling..


Well that proves my point then.

Sato was one of the most eractic and unpredictable drivers there's been, and quite frankly wouldn't trust with a wheel barrow.



I don't think Vettel can become one of the best in F1 when he is clearly lacking race craft, calmness behind the wheel, the ability to overtake and the ability to take the right opportunity at the right time.

Some of those things he will be able to learn as he matures but others I don't think he will ever master fully.

You don't suddenly learn how to overtake, it is something that you get from a young age, i.e. in Karting, for example.

The only time we have seen Vettel do some overtaking this year was at Silverstone where his car was about 2 seconds faster or more than those in-front. Some cars almost just moved out his way and the only real person who was a challenge to overtake (Sutil), he nearly barged off the track.

To me, I think Vettel is completely over-hyped from the fact that he has been put in an incredibly fast car over the last two seasons (last year at certain tracks and this year at all). It is therefore easy for him to pick up pole positions when his car is often nearly a second quicker, he only needs to beat one other guy and there is not a huge amount of statistics that would suggest Webber is even one of the fastest on the grid.

I honestly feel you could put about 50% of the drivers on the grid into Vettel's car and they would have more points than him and also a fair few of them would out-qualify him.

I just hope he doesn't win the championship this year because he really doesn't deserve to be a world champion on his current performance and the only two that do are Hamilton and Webber, with possibly Button and Kubica being included too - but unrealistic.


James, do you think Ron Dennis actually chose Heikki because his friendly nature would support Lewis?


In all Vetel's big mistakes this year it's looked to me as if his brain has not been keeping up with what is going on around him. It seems to me that when the last little bit of mental processing power needed to fight with other drivers at those extreme speeds is required it just isn't there. Is this something you can grow out of or mature into? I'm not sure. My feeling is that there is a bit of mental overhead which is needed to fight at the very top that he simply doesn't have. Maybe he will prove me wrong in time, but that's my impression at the moment.

I've never quite bought into the Vetel hype - 'the next Schumacher' and all that. I don't see anything he's done since coming into the sport to justify it: he may be young but he's been around a good while now.


Good, balanced opinion. However he may not be given chance driving such a good car in the future. A real champion should take an advantage of opportunity and as Vettel lacks maturity I'm of opinion Webber will show it and take the title!


What's clever about calling him 'Crash Kid'?

I don't get it, it seems more low-brow and infantile than a clever and witty moniker.

I was looking for a pun or a play on words, but I don't think there is one.

Besides, Webber crashed into Hamilton and Kovalainen did he not?

At least SV is very fast unlike JB who is now, finally, being shown up as the journeyman most experts knew he was.

'Real' champions don't win one race in 10 years prior to getting an ubeatable car and winning 6 in a row then hanging on for the final 2/3rds of the season driving like a numpty to scrape the wdc.

JB won two lucky wet race lotteries this year, but in the second LH could have gotten past at any time.

Now we see he just is not in the same league as LH at all.

If SV is the 'Crash Kid' then JB is the 'Slow WDC'...


"Crash Kid" has become Sebs voodoo doll. Everyone will stick a pin in it every chance they get and Martin knows it. He (Vettel) is very sensitive to critisism so it will be interesting to see how he handles this round of abuse.


It is clever because it is coming from a rival team due to an incident where Vettel is clearly at fault. Given Vettel's public struggles in dealing with adversity, Whitmarsh's comments have the potential to destabilize Vettel just that little bit more. Furthermore it can further blunt Red Bull's championship efforts since Vettel is their #1 driver.


if it werent for the front wing he would have challenged lewis


Great article James as always!

I am a Vettel fan, and I do sympathise with him a little, but not a lot. I don't agree with his age being a problem I believe it has a lot to do with the team. By being made in the public eye to look like he's the number 1 driver in a team with 2 fan favored drivers the team shot him in the foot. Whether or not he's the number 1 Mark has shown he is able to beat Vettel fair and square and the championship was far from over.

Then what happened? Fans started to blame Vettel for being the 'Golden child' at Red Bull and reporters came out with reports pro-Webber that might not have meant to be anti-Vettel but which if Vettel had seen them might have made him feel like the whole world was against him. I think he said something early this season to the BBC about how he's seeing peoples real sides. I think he's got to the point were all these people who were telling him he was the next big thing and such a lovely young man are now telling him he's a spoilt brat and backing Webber and he just wonders why should he be the nice happy Sebi everyone wants when everyone keeps blaming him for things that isn't his fault.

Not that his mistakes this season haven't been his fault, but people are picking up on these mistakes more because of how he's percieved to be having a big ego and being the number 1 in the team. Everyone is making mistakes its what is making this season so brilliant. But Vettel is being made into a monster after being the hero. Alonso has been the monster for years so he's used to it, Hamilton also has been made a monster for years and matured last year and now has a partner he can finally really relax with. Vettel has always been nearly everyones favorite, always the nice happy person everyone said would be world champion and everyone said nice things too. Now he's the number 1 enemy for something that the people higher up in Red Bull have done / said not him. THATS why Vettel is being attacked all the time this season, and I don't think it has anything to do with his age.


Very interesting video of Vettel/Button crash. Did flexi wing compromised handling of RB while following in and out of the slipstream?


I hate how FOM won't let Formula 1 footage on youtube.


One day Vettel will learn how to smile when he doesn't win. Until then he's my least favorite driver in F1. Such a sore bitter loser every time.


very well said. lots of quotable quotes that all of us can take a lesson or two from for our own lives as well. thanks james!


Great piece James. I just have one question, do you think that Seb could now actually benefit from a bit of tough love from RBR? (I'm thinking of team bosses like Patrick Head, who weren't afraid to call their lead driver a 'prat' when they made a mistake).

It seems that the constant coddling of him seems to detract something from his overall performance and makes the team look biased in the eyes of many.

A 'kick up the backside' delivered by a senior member of the team (whether in public or private) might be just the thing that he and RBR needs?


In Melbourne, Hamilton was trying to pass Alonso but maturely backed off, when Webber ran him off the track. I didn't rate Webber high then, but he has since learned, and fast.

I believe RBR weird front wing to be the culprit for Vettel's strange crash. JB called the crash strange for a reason, because there is no way you can lose front grip when the front wing hits thick air from a vacuum (slipstream).

From the videos, it seemed;

1)Vettel steered right, the right side of the front wing went from vacuum to thick air and starts to flex down by quite a bit.

2)He steered left next, but the left side of front wings are higher than normal with no time to settle yet.

3)This pushed air under the wing and lifted the front end of the car, resulting in a lost of front grip.

I think Vettel was a passenger.

I could be wrong.


Nah, you're all wrong, Vettels crash at Spa was caused by a poorly executed "Scandanavian flick". Just practice for when he goes to join the Red Bull Citroen WRC team in a few years. Shows good foresight!!


A balance blog article as always James, but I think you are being a shade too kind.

This is the second year running where Vettel has had a Championship winning car at his disposal, as thus far it's the second year in a row he has scored considerably less points than he should.

Maybe instead of whispering sweat nothings into his ear when he makes mistakes Horner might try explaining that he is a big boy now and it's about time he starting delivering on all those millions RB have invested in him.

No one who has been paying attention can doubt his pace or ability, but clearly his growth as a driver has to come by adopting a more thoughtful approach, and tempering his aggression with some patience.

But if he really is as smart as we all think his is surely he should have worked this out for himself by now.




Excellent article James, even by your high standards.

I think Vettel has not been criticised enough before. He is just too aggressive when in close proximity to others, as if he takes the safety and reliability of F1 cars for granted. His swerving at the starts, taking out Webber and some close calls with Hamilton this year spring to mind. He needs a coach or equivalent for sure and actually I suspect the team are not helping him by defending him.

However, I think he is getting too much flak for the incident with Button -its racing and it happens. I hope my childhood hero Mansell was not trying to get revenge for accidentally hurting fellow Brit Button's title chances.

Just a thought - while his raw speed will always attract interest, if he had crashed this many times in a slower car and was being beaten on points by Webber, would he be in the mix for a top team seat next year?


Good article, as always James, and some pertinent comments, as always...

Vettel isn't being backed up by Horner in the right way. Horner should be reading him the riot act right now but I bet he got back to the pits, was given a hug, just like Istanbul, and told how unlucky he was and that nasty Jenson braked too early (where did that gem come from!?).

The Wunderkind needs a short dose of reality. Back up Webber so that he can take the WDC and The team can snatch the WCC. The pressure will be off, he can get some learning and growing up in, he's going to be in the championship winning team next year and he can mount a fresh challenge in the same way that Hamilton has this year.

As long as Red Bull (we all know Horner is the front man only) wise up and think like a team rather than trying to prove that their driver program works - it does, we all know that - then they'll be far stronger.


I don't think Whitmarsh's comments are particularly clever and I have lost respect for him and Mclaren due to their persistent whining, complaining and trash talking.

Kicking Vettel now could be costly as Whitmarsh and Mclaren may require his services when Lewis eventually moves to Ferrari.


Are you serious! No way, Hamilton will never drive a Ferrari, because Ferrari will never hire Hamilton. The Tifosi wouldn't stand for it.


If you had been around long enough, you would remember that everyone was saying the same about Schumachers move to Ferrari.

Everyone said the Tifosi would not accept him, he had no interest in the history of Ferrari (or very little knowledge at least), yet once he started winning attitudes changed.

The Tifosi have always warmed to exciting drivers, and Hamilton, if he went to Ferrari would quickly be accepted.


Why is that? Surely the tifosi would want the best driver to maximize their chances of success? The tifosi have taken to British drivers in a big way before such as Surtees and Mansell. Or am I missing something here?

Zobra Wambleska

Why would Lewis ever want to go to Ferrari? I think lewis would pick a winning team and car over money any day and Ferrari just aren't where they were in the early 2000's and don't seem to be headed in that direction any time soon.


Lewis at Ferrari ? I can't see that happening any time soon, and i hope it never does.


I agree, to my mind Lewis will be a one team driver and become part of the management at Maclaren when he stops driving.

When he speaks in press conferences and interviews about the "team" and "the guys at the factory" I really do believe he means it rather than towing the corporate line.


Why not? Alonso/Ferrari does not seem to be working at present. What was di Montezemolo's long conversation with Alonso all about on Monday?


Funny i was thinking the same, how long before ferrari want lewis as their number 1


In the time-frame Hamilton would possibly consider moving to Ferrari, as a Brit why would he anyway?, alot of other top drivers would of come through.

The comments are just part of F1, James would it be fair to say that most of the community are friendly away from the track despite the negative comments they make publicly?



Finally an article that paints finer shade than just stroke of broad brush, amidst all insanity a sane article that has put Vettel’s performance in 2010 in perspective of similar performance by other past and present drivers under similar circumstances inF1’s past.

Vettel who emerged has the most exciting talent to watch after emergence of Hamilton, managed his career independently and in very impeccable manner right from his debut as substitute driver for BMW. He made all right moves till anxiety got him this year. He has put himself under too much pressure and that is root cause of all his problems.

And while it is easy for us the outsiders to say he should relax and take it easy, at just 23 he has life ahead of him, but those who have followed F1 for lots of years needn’t be told the biggest factor to become F1 championship is to be in right car at right time (ask Button for that, Ask Lewis for that, Ask Schumacher for that) and team that has got the best car this year doesn’t necessarily assure will have the best car the next year. Brawn/Mercedes car transformation between 09-10 is best example of that. And it is this factor that has made Vettel put himself on “Now or never” mode.

Otherwise it’s difficult to explain the transformation of bright young man with amazing speed, managing his own career, having dry sense of humor when dealing with press and not putting foot in mouth like other 23 year old normally do when put under spotlight to have become a grumpy man in an year.

Another factor here is “Reporting” of event done by media and F1 pundits. In recent years when it comes to young drivers Lewis Hamilton has become benchmark and you have correctly highlighted some of the errors Lewis committed in first two years of his career. I would like to add Fuji’08 (race start), Brazil’07 (race start), Monza’09, Monaco’09 to that list. The reporting of those errors in media was always “Trying too hard, Just like a true racer” not to mention way McLaren management backed him to the hilt in each of the situation.

A little bit of positive spin in News reporting and Red bull management backing Vettel not being accused by media as “Giving preferential treatment” would have helped Vettel’s image. With all credit to Red bull management they are getting all the flack and everyone is conveniently forgetting that they have not done anything to date to derail Webber’s championship quest…


Ok, here's a thing, being a championship winning driver isn't only about your driving, it's also, unfortunately, about how your percieved by the fans and the business in general. What SV doesn't want is to be labelled as a 'crash kid'or any another type of negative moniker since this will stick to him throughout his career (as has happened to Alonso, Schumy, Trulli, Raikonnen etc). Being stuck, rightly or wrongly, with a negative label will affect his future prospects when he wants to swap teams. It will also impact on his sponsorship potential and finally on how fans react to him. The most successful drivers (excluding Schumy for obvious reasons)historically tend to be the most charismatic. Lewis and Jenson (as easy examples) appear as friendly and approachable. This must have an affect on how fans relate to them and by default how potential sponsors view them as being able to sell their products.

If Sebastian Vettel isn't careful he could do irreparable damage to his overall worth.

I'm just sayin' is all!


So nice to see a journo take some time to reflect a balanced view for a change!

He made a mistake and I think he will come back to prove everyone wrong. Why are people so quick to brand him a "danger" and a "crash kid", not long ago he was being hailed as the next Schumacher, surely he hasn't become useless overnight.

Yes, what happened to Button was unfair, but so was what happened to Alonso, to use that oft used cliche, "That's racing". If Vettel comes back and wins the world championship most of the people that jump on the "Vettel is a danger!" bandwagon will change their tune to "Vettle is the best ever".

All drivers make mistakes, even if they have been world champions 7 times over! We should cut the drivers more slack, not just Vettel but all of them.


Actually, just a a final point, I do believe that SV's age is an important factor. Losing is a painful process and learning to look cool and happy with a poor result is all part of the maturation process of a young driver. Compare Lewis now with how he was in 2008/09. He's matured extremely well. SV still has great difficulty in not wearing his heart on his sleeve. With Lewis is seems that a poor season was the making of him since he learned the all-important lesson of humility.


The difference last season made to Lewis is incredibly noticeable. Quite possibly the best thing that ever happened to him?


Fettel is a badde driva.


Great article. Shame that this learning curve Vettel is in, has to compromise others..


Indeed and in the case of Spa, that's what the penalty was for


i have to disagree with you james .. F1 is highest level in racing must be ready for it .. u can learn but not at expense of others . this compromised jense's 2010's WDC chances is not acceptable at this level.


I wonder. Do you think they were trying to teach this young driver, who is developing a reputation for such accidents, a lesson?

Or if the roles were reversed, would jenson have gotten off without the penalty?


Is the Red Bull compromised in dirty air?

Looking at the video from Vettel's car the jerk to the left seemed out of all proportion to the steering movement.

I remember, from way back, a team owner once saying that you can be taught and learn racecraft but if you ar not fast out of the box you will never be a great driver.

Vettel's fast. He is struggling with the pressure of anticipation of his team, the fans, the press and, probably most of all, himself. Seems like every other driver who has ever sat in a GP car.

What first appeared to be a schoolboy error does seem to have been caused - to an extent - by circumstances. He'll learn.

The penalty was reasonable I think. The fact it didn't really cost him anything is neither here nor there. The stewards seem to be punishing the action and intent rather than the result. This seems emeimently sensible.

Mind you, if I was Ferrari I would hope the WMSC don't see it that way.

But the crash has all but eliminated Jenson, which is a great shame. Unless something unusual happens at Monza, he might well leave the circuit knowing that he is the de facto #2.

Vettel's position is slightly different and he is still in with more than a shout. But doesn't he make it difficult for himself.

Will he ever have such a car advantage again?


Martin Whitmarsh twisting in the psychological pressure with sound bites - showing that he's learnt a few things from Ron Dennis. Brilliant!

Great analysis again James, and particularly the point about Vettel being less comfortable in proximity to other cars. He's been very clumsy at times with his overtaking maneuvers. Although I'm not entirely sure it's down to lack of experience as Webber (Oz and Spain) leads Vettel (Belgium) 2 to 1 in the running into the back of another car stakes this season?


If anything, Vettel's mistakes really put into perspective just how impressive Hamilton's first two seasons were. You just can't use that rookie excuse anymore. Hamilton beat the most recent double World Champion in the same car in his first season, Vettel can't beat Mark Webber in the same car even in his fourth season (although i acknowledge that he didn't compete in the whole 2007 season)

Still, i just dont think Vettel is as great as people think he is...


Vettel has competed in 56 races - three full seasons give or take a couple of races. He is far more impressive than what Jenson Button was at a similar stage. Indeed, Button was dumped by Renault at the end of his third season in F1 and was offered a lifeline by Dave Richards.

Hamilton's championship-winning season comprised more than the odd mistake, and even last year he made unforced errors.


"It’s the mentality of a champion." Correct - Good observation James. Seasoned F1 fans know this well.

Racing for wins or podiums is very different to racing for points.

Vettel could still potentially cruise it - the next races look crucial though eh?


As in most sports, VETTEL's problems are all within his own mind. He simply cannot straightforwardly accept his own mistakes. Even when he does go towards accepting them as he tried to this weekend, he remains defensive and makes countless excuses about this and that and god know what else. Just look at the crash with WEBBER earlier in the season.. 99 people out of a hundred thought it was VETTELs fault with only VETTEL believing WEBBER had caused the accident despite all footage including on board showing VETTEL moved into WEBBER and he had not passed him. He has an arrogant, typically germanic (schumacher like) mindset and for all his smiles, is a sly, devious, spoilt little selfish brat without an ounce of team player in his make up. You only had to be at Becketts this year as I was to see what the F1 public think of VETTEL as he went off in front of us. I want to see HAMILTON re-gain the title but if WEBBER wins that will be a sweet victory. He is almost incapable of overtaking without driving into the side of other drivers.. pathetic.


"typically Germanic mindset"...hmmm. Not entirely sure that's a valid observation. "Schumacher like" is allowable tho ;o)


A thoughtful article James, my sense is that you would like to see Vettel get through this.

Unfortunately, Vettel has developed a reputation that will be difficult to erase. People are questioning his 'racecraft', a general term that covers a wide range of skills. At the same time, they do not deny he is quick or that he can win in front of the whole field.

If he were to win the next race from start to finish, completely dominate the field and win by a clear minute, it won't address the critisims that are being leveled at him, or restore his reputation.

His actions off the start line at Silverstone & Hockenheim, the pass in Turkey, the safety car in Hungary and now the Button incident, will take some time to erase.


Hamilton is a one-off, he has it all, a real racer

alot of talk about vettel these last couple of years, the next schumacher and so on but,the thing is, i never really believed mark webber to be a potential world champion, but he's certainly driving like one right now and putting vettel in the shade

yes, vettel is fast and quite young, but he can't take the pressure, especially as the more webber achieves, the more mistakes vettel makes


I am a fan of Vettel, even though at times I'm tempted to jump ship because the kid has been quite petulant and has done things that are just annoying and stupid. Still, James made a very good point that we need to remember that he is still fairly young and inexperienced. And although it looks a bit ragged now, I am quite sure he will only get better as the years go by.

Remember, prior to his calculated approach of winning the WDC in '05, Fernando Alonso was also quite ragged back in '04 after a solid showing in '03 (e.g. Monaco 2004). But in '05, he displayed extraordinary calm and precision to win. And in '06, he combined that trait with a controlled dose of aggression which made him even stronger and more consistent. Lewis Hamilton too developed strongly after a superb yet messy and lucky title winning '08 and a character building '09. Just look where he is now and how strong he is. Even Michael Schumacher had to go through some tough times with Ferrari ('96 - '00) after winning two titles in '94 and '95. He only became ultimately hard to beat in '01, even in '00 - despite winning the title - he still sometimes appeared vulnerable and desperate.

I think the case with Vettel is success just came in too quickly and the people around him rather fed his ego. This is perhaps another flaw in Red Bull's Young Driver Development Program, in that it fails too keep their graduates grounded and potentially destroys more careers as opposed to launching them (look at Liuzzi and Speed).

I have no doubt in my mind that Seb is a top driver and is a future multiple world champion. He just needs time and maybe to surround himself more with the right people; meaning more of Christian Horner and Adrian Newey allied with some personalities the likes of, Flavio Briatore, Ross Brawn, Jean Todt, Ron Dennis, Pat Symonds, etc. LESS HELMUT MARKO and THE RED BULL "EXTREME/PARTY" LIFESTYLE!


If Vettel was 31 points clear of Webber do you think that Webber would be designated number 2 driver and asked to move over?

I think he would be, and suspect so does Webber, hence the reason for his comments after the race. If Red Bull threw all their weight behind Webber now they would be massive favourites as it is they are about to let Hamilton sneak a second title. Hope Ham does win it however as I think (with Kubica) he has out driven his car this year.


This is exactly what I was thinking when I heard Mark's comments.


James, this reminds me of an article you had posted a few weeks ago about driver coaching (or the lack thereof) in F1.

Rather than letting a young, talented individual like Vettel deal with the pressure by himself, a sports psychologist may perhaps be able to resolve the situation quickly. It's sink or swim in F1 but it does not have to be that way.


James great article. I thought Vettel would walk the championship this year and so did he but a couple of early setbacks and Webber's pace has left him unsure of himself I think. He seems to be the product of being the centre of attention from an early age where all the resources were given to him. I think this season reminds me of Hamilton's first when he had a great competition against Alonso however Webber is made of sterner stuff than the Spaniard and it seems Princess Petal cannot handle that. Well lad, it's all part of life's rich tapestry. Get use to it.


By the way James, didn't Massa overrun his starting position at the start? I remember Martin Brundle saying that Massa would get a penalty for it! Why didn't he?


Whitmarsh's "Crash kid" comment is consistent with the pompous twaddle that his arrogant, self-righteous and grossly hypocritical squad is renowned for. In the last 18 months he has gone to great lengths to attempt to improve the image of McLaren, however it is a shame that he is unable to appreciate the fundamental reason why so many F1 fans feel cold towards the team in spite of its immense accomplishments.

Flippin' Burger

"... All that’s lacking now is the mental poise that comes from maturity." Really now, Mr. Allen? I'd like F1 journos to be assigned "write through" penalties for articles such as the above. Bumped into more vague analogies and conjectures there than Seb could find competitors to crash with at Spa. I doubt any sports psychologist would be willing to go publicly on the record to analyze any one person to such a degree, professional ethics and all. You might find an aerodynamicist and a mech engineer, though, to reasonably examine why and how RB6 is a bit unsettled to drive in close proximity to other cars. Perhaps even a race strategist to look into the ramifications of race orders preceding Seb's failed attempts.


Vettel is said in this bad at comming through the field (and maybe weak at close racing), but one has to take into account that this is not just Vettel weakness but one of the soft spots of Red Bull car last year and this year. The car is great when it is at starts from the front row and blasts away into the distance as it did in 2009 silverstone, but the same car with the Renault unit in not going to be able to hold a candle to any Ferrari or a Mercedes powered car once it is behind them.

It is kind of sad that Martin Witmarsh wants to play mind games with a young driver for their own gain, I think racing should be left to the track and hats off for Vettal for a great try on Button.

Button said that he did not know what Vettal was trying but one should also ask if Button knew the way around Spa last sunday. He was having another horrible race when compared to his team mate and once again proves the market value he had in the winter of 2008............ZERO!!!


This isn't about Button, it's about Vettel. Jenson has not caused one wreck this year, nor has he been penalized by the stewards.


WOW! A hats off for that move. You've definitely got a different idea of what constitutes a great move than I do.

I usually praise moves that don't take out the other guy.


Prefer drivers who put it on the line rather than just parading around all afternoon.

Zobra Wambleska

The race i watched had Button in second place at the time of Vettel's attack, in my book, that doesn't constitute a horrible race compared to Hamilton.


I don't know if you actually watched the race, but Button had a damaged front wing that was adversely affecting the balance of his car. That's why he had a bit of a queue behind him.

Also, it wasn't a great try by Vettel. If it had been a great try he would have made a clean move. As it was he got it wrong and crashed. That is a poor try. I'm not singling him out as lots of people made mistakes, including Hamilton and Alonso, but Vettel's was the worst (actually 2nd worst after Barricello).


I feel sorry for Vettel, I definitely don't think he is the "crash kid" that everyone makes him out to be.

With the Button crash, i thought the way the car handled was significantly due to a slippery track (contrary to Jenson's interview words) - you don't often see cars spin like that there in dry conditions. And the Sutil incident was mostly Sutil's fault, clearly driving into Vettel's rear wheel.

Turkey was close to call, and definitely didnt look to be as clear cut Vettel's fault as everyone made out. Webber squeezed him too tight, Vettel made a slight move for the corner, and they both went off. More Vettel's fault than Webber's, but far from entirely Vettel's.

Admittedly he has done some bad overtakes (Sutil at Silverstone springs to mind), but he is not a "crash kid", or even hugely uncomfortable passing other cars - he has just been unfortunate this season.

And now comes the comparison. When Lewis was learning at the front, any mistake was termed his "natural racing appetite" - something to be encouraged; Vettel is termed "impetuous" and "crash-kid". Not really fair - I'm sure if he was English, he would be treated rather more sparingly by the media.

Maclaren are exploiting his lack of experience and lack of mental training to unsettle him/put pressure on him in the car, and it seems to be working. I think he will mature into, one of the greatest racers of all time, he's just learning the art of handling the pressure at the front end of the grid.

And I'm a Maclaren fan.


The track wasn't slippery, Sebastian lost control of the car when he tried to perform his flick to the left partly because he had lost front end grip in Button's turbulence - which had unsettled the flexi front wing. In the onboard shot, you see the wing moving violently before he moves the wheel, at which point the car becomes unsettled at speed, and goes on to swap ends via Jenson's sidepod. Frankly, the car probably should have been black flagged for running such a dangerous wing, but I suspect in the heat of the moment it went unnoticed.


If you watch the onboard shot, theres rain streaming down his camera. That's not to say there was rain, but certainly does indicate the track wasn't entirely dry at that point - the sharp change of direction definitely pushed him over the edge. Though interesting the flexi front wing, it was moving round quite a lot - can't say i'd noticed it before. Is that kind of movement unusual in the turbulent air?


BUTTON says the track was bone dry and I believe him. Just look at the split times. Everyone was going flat out. VETTEL was trying his usual antics of trying to force the guy in front off the track because he has not got the race craft to do it properly. He lost control of the car not the other way round.


Turkey was 110% Vettel's fault. They were racing side by side and Vettel turned right into Webber. Those are the facts. End of story. You'll be claiming that Ruben's was partly responsible for Scumacher trying to force him into the pit wall next.


I disagree with that assessment. Very interesting to note that you choose Schumacher against Barrichello as your example to disprove the Turkey incident, here you blame the person squeezing for causing the accident. If Rubens had turned in on Schumacher, would you have blamed him? I think not.


I'm not saying Vettel was blameless, he was ahead and squashed on the white line. At that point, I certainly feel mark should have given him more room - he had lost the place.

I know I'm very much in the minority of this opinion, but to 100% (or 110% in your case) blame Vettel seems harsh. I see a number of parallels between the Web/Vet and Bar/Sch incidents, and im surprised you can so conclusively come down on different sides for each one.


There's a very clear difference. Schumacher tried a blocking/squeezing move, which was very dangerous. Webber held his line. Both cars were travelling in parallel and then for some reason Seb turned right. Webber gave Vettel racing room and Seb cocked it up. Very different incidents.


By the time you're in F1 you're the real deal supposedly. You've usually won every other category you've contested and things like race craft should already be well honed. Ok, you'll innevitably need to brush up a bit due to the higher speed etc of F1 but the basics should be there as second nature. So, no excuses for Vettel please, 23 he may be but he is in that position on merit and needs to deliver the goods. As my Dad would say, when the green flag drops the bull*#&t stops. Handling the circus and all the publicity be it positive or negative is all part of the game, you either can or you can't and that's all there is to it. Keeping your head whilst all around are losing theirs is key. We may just have to face up to the possibility that Vettel could be gifted with prodigous speed and not much else.


Very good analysis and insight why there is so much more to F1 that the engine, chassis and tyres.

If you look through the Formula 1 Hall of Fame there is an interesting mix of ages, personalities and talents.

No question Button's maturity was key to his success last season.

No question that Lewis' raw talent helped him to the 2008 title.

Long may this intriguing imbalance continue.


Maybe it was team orders to get Webber from 4th to 2nd! 😛


James, the moral of the story for Vettel is that, lack of maturity or not, he is failing to take full advantage of what might be his best opportunity to win a championship. I know everyone will think I'm crazy for saying this, but there is no guarantee that Red Bull will have the best car next year or in future years. Unlike teams with a long history of success, like Ferrari or McLaren, we don't know if Red Bull have the stuff to stay on top for the long run or fight back from adversity.

Right now, Hamilton is already a better racer. In the next few seasons, there will be some new hot shoe that arrives in F1 who will be quicker than Vettel, and this will take away Vettel's greatest weapon, which is his natural speed. Once that happens things will become very difficult for Vettel.

Fair or not, this is Vettel's time to shine. Whether he is mature enough or not, this season is a career-defining moment. Hamilton was the exception in his successful comeback from a devastating failure to capitalize the first time. We would be very generous to assume that Vettel will grow stronger, as Hamilton did. Vettel needs to prove it himself.


My main complaint about his antics this season is how he (and his team) handles the aftermath. If he simply owned up to the mistakes he would be so much better off. After crashing into Button, he should have gone to the press and offered Button and McLaren a heartfelt apology. Explain that you were trying to overtake Button, lost control and that you are sorry to have ended Button's race prematurely. It is racing, we all understand that these things happen, but own your mistakes. Run into your teammate while trying to pass, don't make silly hand gestures, just say "I messed up, sorry to my team, sorry to Webber, sorry about the late nights the mechanics will have to spend fixing our cars". Even if you were under the impression that Weber was going to let you by, you hit him, own it.

Own your mistakes, the sooner you begin to own your mistakes (even the ones that aren't 100% your fault), the sooner you will learn from them.


A bit late to the party here but it makes me laugh to read that Webber has racecraft lessons he can teach Vettel. Neither is great shakes in this department, that's why they're not both miles ahead in the Championship, when they clearly have the most significant car advantage since Schumacher/Ferrari in 2002 and 2004.

Webber has never been truly tested by a team-mate until now. In fact, at Williams in 2005 he was outshone by Nick Heidfeld (3 podiums for Nick, one for Mark, Mark only finishing ahead in Championship because Nick missed the last 5 races), other than that he's bullied rookies/pensioners.

Both Red Bull drivers have problems getting off the line, getting into incidents and seemingly unable to win when behind. Webber seems better able to deal with pressure, but with his experience now you should expect that. Dealing with Championship-winning pressure, however, is another thing altogether and if Hamilton/Button/Alonso are still close in the last 2 races, you would think that they would deal with that pressure better.


Of Heidfeld's 3 podiums you mention:

Malaysia - Fisichella lost control trying to pass Webber and took them both out, promoting Heidfeld 2 places. Monaco - Heidfeld 2nd and Webber 3rd due to swapping places in the pitstops. Nurburgring - another Webber DNF (although Heidfeld was ahead anyway in this case).

I don't think "number of podiums" is necessarily the best measure of a driver out-shining his teammate.

Webber outqualified Heidfeld 9-5, but that's also not necessarily the best way to compare drivers... although it doesn't add credence to your claim he was outshone by Nick.


If Vettel didn't have the fastest car to score pole positions in he wouldn't even be a title-contending driver. He has not made a single solid pass for position on anyone that was as quick as him, and when he does try to do it he crashes into the other person (Webber@Turkey, Button@Spa). This idiot needs to get his superlicense revoked and he certainly doesn't deserve a championship. Lewis came into F1 in 2007 against a then-dominant Alonso and almost won the championship in his first year. He did it in his 2nd year and in 2009 the McLaren went from the back of the field to the front throughout the season and Lewis learnt a lot about driving in F1 without the best car. Too bad Vettel is the 'golden boy' at Red Bull and won't get booted out even if he kills someone.


No question Vettel has some serious gaps in his skill set.

But what about his front wing flopping all over the place right when he lost control of his car?


There could be the new record this year that . . . The most performance advantage team who record almost 100% pole, aren't be the World Champion.

Now, Rebbull know how to the fast car but don't know how to fight. . . even his boss still say this time is not Vettel fault, he said that the button faullt for brake to early. . . I think this is the bad support.

If the boss still think like this, when Vettel going to grow up.


I think the comparison between Vettel and Hamilton shows how large a gap there is between the two. I always thought Hamilton never got enough credit for being able to handle the pressure and expectations associated with being on a good team.

As a rookie, he had adversity with Alonso, a 2x WDC, and all the drama that ensued from that. Added to the mix was the Ferrari IP scandal. And yet he was able to maintain his focus in the midst of all those distractions. Sure, he ultimately threw away the WDC his first year. But the flip side of that is that he did well enough in his rookie year with all the intra team fighting to be even in a position to lose it.

Until this year, Vettel had remained largely out of the glare of the media spotlight. Now with the focus on him, he seems not to hold up as well to the pressures of having to deliver. And while Hamilton has had his gaffes, he always appeared to learn from them. Vettel, on the other hand, seems incapable of learning from his mistakes. He has a propensity to turn in on the other car when attempting a pass. Either his passes are ill advised or poorly executed, but I've seen no corrective actions on his part.

And I don't think that the Red Bull management style is helping him. They seem intent on making accommodations for his actions, rather than trying to get him to improve them. There is no question that Vettel has enormous talent, but right now he is hardly putting it to good use.

Hamilton's natural instinct is to race. But this year, he is also driving with an underlying calm that makes him seem immune to the pressures around him. He seems better at seeing the big picture than in prior years. Maybe one day Vettel will get there too.


I feel that Mcclaren are more furious of Vettle for his overtake on Lewis( Brazil 2008 almost lost WDC) than Button at spa. And Lewis canada 2008 was the most idiotic incident compared to vettle at spa.Still he won. I am not in fvour of Vettle, but give the guy a break.

He should have won the first two GPs but for an unreliable car compared to webber who has had bulliteproof car. He lost 50 points due to bad luck. And we should be thankful to vettle for not dominating the season and provide ample gppurtunity for rest to fifht for WDC and making the competiton more ferce. I will take that any time than shumi in 2004 or Alonso in 2005-06.

The last thing we want an f1 drivers to be conservative in overtaking and not risking. The show would be complete boring. Today I see Vettle as Kimi of 2003/05 losing due to unreliable car and risking to much for pride. ( kimi in germany 2005)

At the start of the season vettle was mentally strong winning even when Webber was on pole. But bad luck and Webbers stong performance is affecting him mentally. Right now He needs someone of shumi's calliber to guide him( unlike Massa 2008) and pull him out of his mental block.

Last point Lewis maturity shuldn't be expected from Vettle cause he has beem groomed by his dad and Ron Dennis right from his childhood till date. And his loss of WDC in 2007 was more of a lesson to Lewis cause he lost by only 1 point compared to Vettle in 2009. And lewis showed more maturity after his WDC and Australia 2009( Stigma on his F1 career).



funnily enough I commented on this on another post yesterday. I wonder if seb will ever match his talent with title success.

The one thing that is creating bad press (which is not something I particularly think he creates) is the whole helmut marko interference.

I guess I can understand seb trying to push his interests in redbull as at present he is not producing as a clear leader in the team. Mark knows this is his best chance at wdc and doesn't give two hoots who he upsets this year.

He suffers from the same interference that lewis had from ron and dad. Lewis has come across much better this year and more public facing than previous years.

I still wonder whether he will be another talented race winner with the potential to win wdcs but never achieve (coulthard, montoya, Rubens).

For me the difference is right place, right time, and maximise that chance. Damon did it, mika did it, jenson did it, jacques did it.

Only the next 5 years will tell. I think lewis will win another title in the next three years and I genuinely think if mclaren get their car nailed next year jenson could add to his tally.


I find it very appropriate that the driver steward at Spa was Nigel Mansell. In his own early F1 career, Mansell personified impetuousness and apparently stupid moves. With experience and maturity he went on to channel that impetuousness into the ability to pull off some of the most brilliant passes in F1 history.

I can't think of a single person who is in a better position to judge the Vettel/Button incident and to assign an appropriate penalty than Mansell. I hope Vettel matures as Mansell did, because if he does, we have some very exciting racing to look forward to.


I just love the way this is unfolding and putting the past into perspective.

+ It shows what a good job Brawn did to capitalise on a dominant car last year. Red Bull are making a mountain out of the same thing.

+ It shows how mature Massa was when he lost to Hamilton by a point in '08.

I'm pretty neutral, but I'd love Webber to win it. Hamilton hasn't done enough for me, ditto Alonso. Both drove better in their championship years. Vettel will get another chance. I'd love Webber to take it now. (But on the last race 😉



I actually think Hamilton has driven a lot better this year than he did in his championship year. He has done an astonishing job to be leading the championship in a car that often hasn't even been second best on the grid.

I'll be very happy if Webber manages to win this year, but if Hamilton somehow manages to take it he will definitely deserve it.

As for Vettel, somebody needs to have an honest and frank discussion with him. Horner & co. do him no favours with their obvious mollycoddling. Suggesting the Spa incident was somehow Button's fault is just laughable.


Alonso drove better in his championship years while Hamilton is driving better than he did before! Has Hamilton caused a cataclysmic shunt like Webber did in Valencia? Has Hamilton made the same amount of qualifying mistakes Webber did? Not at all. Hamilton is the one leading championship in a more often than not slower car. Hamilton has been by far the more impressive of the two this year.


Great article and analysis as always.

I would be interested in James (or anyone else) view on similarities between Gilles Villeneuve and The Sebster? To be honest I ve never seen Gilles race as it was waaaay before my time, but I have read lot about him and watched old videos and noted that even Bob Varsha of SpeedTV picked up on some similarities!!!.. I guess naturally blinding speed comes with a bit of drawback as James points out. Sebastian needs to find a way to deal with it


I saw Gilles race against Keke Rosberg in Formula Atlantic in Edmonton, Canada; it was electric.

Gilles came home first, Keke second. One of the cars had a tire-sized round black mark on the left side of the tub, from them going through Turn 5 side-by-side, neither giving way.

Note that they both finished, and well, even though there was high-speed contact. Sebastian doesn't appear to be there yet.

Aside: After writing this, I miss Kimi. 🙁


Very nice article James; thoughtful, balanced and as usual, impeccably written. I fear though that Vettel's problem could well be his fatal flaw; his lack of judgement as opposed to impetousness. Its a fine point, but one can be outgrown and the other not.


James, thank for this excellent article on Vettel - I totally agree with everything you said. Let's hope he can calm down, and knuckle down, and get a string of podiums for the rest of the season.


I've always thought that Vettel could only win from pole position or when pitstops gave him an advantage. He didn't seem to be able to overtake with the craft that Lewis and Jenson can, and now he's making bad mistakes with this lack of ability. Then to add insult to injury he blames 'the other fellow' when he runs into them!


One thing I really just dont get, is the b**cks come out of RBR media statements post the crash. "Vettel was surprised where Jenson braked"Hes defending his line, so of course Jenson is going to go there and brake on the inside to defend

How surprised was Jenson when he found a RB6 jammed into his radiator.
I think he was very surprised, and annoyed that Vettel was able to continue his race.

Hes heading for a race ban, just like Schumacher received when he was at Benetton.

Another Rookie mistake Sebastian


Many of those who defend him, point to Vettel's age 23.....I'll bet those were the same people who savaged Hamilton when he was....23.

At Fuji in 2008, and the incident regarding Hamilton and the safety car. Vettel crashes into Webber, yet there were those who were trying to lay that on the doorstep of Hamilton. Lewis I imagine with some, had the responsibility of driving 2 cars at the same time. This is another example of the double standard that Lewis has to face, when you look at the actions of Jenson Button, while leading the field behind the safety car at China in 2010. As Mark Hughes of Autosport noted, " Button slowed outrageously at the hairpin causing low speed mayhem as everyone fanned out, tripping over each other in their efforts to not make an illegal pass ". Hardly a peep regarding Buttons actions behind the safety car, but Lewis....well Lewis....many of his critiques were frothing at their mouths, and in The Twilght Zone regarding Fuji.


And this is the same Jenson Button who had a big moan about M Schumacher slowing the field down whilst behind the safety car at Monza in 2000.


Totally and utterly agree. With Vettel the most we hear is, he's young, he's going to be a champion, he's a prodigy, he's quick, he's this, he's that....Only till this incident do you even see any critics come out, while with Lewis, oh wow....if he even breathes wrong you have a horde of analysis calling him immature, arrogant, stupid, never be a great driver....

I fully believe Hammy is the best driver in the field by far, and Vettel, however talented(debatable) will never be an equal to Hamilton as far as challengers are concerned.


A giood article, and your thoughts mostly mirror my own. I am finding it hard to be quite as generous though in my thoughts towards him.

If he really wants to show maturity now, he will support Webber fully once he is no longer a contender for the championship.


I think the whole problem is, Horner and RedBull had a clear view of what Marks roll would be and that was to support and develop Vettel.

Something happened earlier in the year that change all this, perhaps it was Turkey or Malaysia when Vettel won the race,to me tried to rub Marks nose in it.

Mark stopped playing ball and you get a sense of this when you hear Horner say in public "Marks a team player" the team comes first,this is an effort to get Mark to play ball.

The problem now is Mark has completely destroyed Vettel's confidence and the only people you can blame are Redbull for not keeping Vettel in check early in the season.


I think the whole problem is, Horner and RedBull had a clear view of what Marks roll would be and that was to support and develop Vettel.

Something happened earlier in the year that change all this, perhaps it was Turkey or Malaysia when Vettel won the race,to me tried to rub Marks nose in it.

Mark stopped playing ball and you get a sense of this when you hear Horner say in public "Marks a team player" the team comes first,this is an effort to get Mark to play ball.

The problem now is Mark has completely destroyed Vettel's confidence and the only people you can blame are Redbull, for not keeping Vettel in check early in the season.


Superb article. I really like Vettel and on a personal level he comes across incredibly well but I have to admit that he's just made too many mistakes but I have complete confidence in him succeeding and he will no doubt win a championship still in my mind.


When you look back you can see clearly that Mark Webber more often than not has enjoyed an advantage over his team mates throughout his f1 career, especially in qualifying performances.. I can't help but wonder if this is a part of Vettel's struggles being that Mark is a f1 veteran and would have more than a few tricks up his sleeve to unsettle his team mate..

Now Vettel is playing with the big boys this is something he will have to live with throughout his career and as he progresses from year to year he will learn to deal with it better an better as well as dish out some psychological torment of his own to a younger teammate at some point in the future..

I'm not saying this is the only cause for Vettel's struggles this season but when you start to add all these things up..


I think the same thing happen to , Vettel may now upset as does Alonso in 07.

When Alonso think that he can beat Lewis easily, the frist few race Lewis is not in Alonso eye . . then it go another way, he got the tough teammate to beat especialy his teammate is just rookie, that why aloso so upset about his quality, the best driver was beaten by the rookie.

the same happen to Vettel, he think he could beat Webber easily too, Webber just not in his sight . . everyone in Redbull think about it that way too. And also thing go another way, Mark get stronger and beat Vettel in several occasion, so Vettel get upset then do messy thing.

What Vettel did well in only in Qualifying, but in the race he is so so . . . Like Jarno Truli that he is Qualify very well but does not shine in the race. . . . Is Vettel can be just Mr.Qualify ?

Mark was rated as ordinary driver, good one but not the extra one. This year, with the result of Mark Webber. Is he getting better? or Vettel is actually just the ordinary driver who was overrated.

If we put another tougher teammate like Hamilton or Rosberg or someone else, Vettel may look so so . . not overrate like he is right now.

If he is so good, he should beat Mark Webber easily but that is not the case.

Is he so good as people rate him?


I don't rate Vettel that highly and I certainly don't feel sorry for him. He's fast in a fast car granted, but where is this "intelligent" coming from? Is he good at Maths? Does he study Astrophysics? Because I can't see that "intelligent" relates in any way to his race craft. I suppose it makes sense given his lack of carting experience - perhaps he has more experience with bumper cars by the way he smashes his way past other drivers 😉

That said, I really hope he does mature because he could be as good as Hamilton or Alonso if he does, and that would make him exciting for the right reasons rather than the wrong ones.


James I like what you have to say. I am of the opinion that Vettel did not deserve a penalty for his crash at Spa, I think it could have been avoided by not racing so close, but then why don't we just cancel F1 if we are going to penalise close racing?

I do however think that Vettel's current position on the learning curb once again highlights just how good Lewis Hamilton is. I am amazed that more credit is not given to Hamilton and I am amazed that he is not rated as the clear No.1 driver in F1 today. His Rookie season had to be the toughest team mate competition for any rookie ever, and his coming out the victor was simply astounding.

That Vettel is not as far along as Hamilton was at the same age, but with a LOT more experience, is further evidence that Hamilton is more special than he is given credit for. Hamilton out races his car, his team mate, the track conditions, the competition and even the biased stewarding in the past. He is the No. 1 overtaker and the No. 1 results fetcher; best results he can get more often than anyone else and that's why he is leading right now, despite having a lesser car than the 2010 Redbull.

If Alonso was Hamilton's team mate this year, Alonso would be behind him on the standings in my opinion!


Not even in his early career but even after three world titles Senna made this kind of mistakes. Just because he always wanted to win the race.

I clearly remember him driving in the back of Mansell in the last GP of 1992.

Maybe a more calculated approach (like Prost) would have gotten him more world titles, but he is seen as one of the best ever.

So maybe Vettel will be in the future. Because he is fast (regularly faster than Webber).

And Webber made the same mistake when trying to overtake Kovalainen this year.

And after seeing the footage from within the car I wonder if the front wing caused the problem which made him crash into Button.


So Vettel has a few crashes. Thats no reason to call him the Crash Kid. It is F1!. I like the moniker of "Biscuits". Because like a biscuit, he crumbles under pressure.


Well written James. Keep up the good work.


What Vettel needs to learn is that sometimes the inside line is going to be occupied by his competitor (i.e. Webber at Turkey and Button at Belgium). He thinks just because he's in the slipstream it's his God given right to be given space to attack on the inside. I'm sorry Seb but experienced racers like Webber and Button don’t hand out freebies and are never gonna leave the door open like that, it's obvious.

Also, Christian Horner says Button braked early into the bus-stop and that's what caught Vettel out... well duh. I mean for goodness sake Christian, Button had a damaged front wing and was on the inside approaching a tight right hander at over 200mph. If Button broke at his usual point he would have almost certainly outbraked himself and not made the corner. Vettel needs to take these things into account when followings another car so closely, he was clearly surprised but the point is he should have assessed the situation well in advance. You could tell he didn't want to get out of throttle when he realised the inside was covered but violently trying to switch the car to the outside at that speed was always gonna end badly.

This mistake much like the way he cut across Webber in Turkey shows a clear lack of maturity in his racecraft/overtaking. I'm a Brit so I'm probably biased but I honestly believe Jenson and Lewis are 2 of the best overtakers in the business and could definitely teach Vettel a thing or 2 about how to pass fairly and decisively.


Very fair and balanced, James. Perhaps these "young driver" programmes, the like of which Vettel has come through (Hamilton too, being a Mclaren protege from a very young age) are actually doing as much harm as they are good? Vettel has the talent, but he's been put into the position to use it at a stage where he is simply not grown-up enough.

I'm hoping, too, that Messers Horner and Marko are being constructive in the background, analysing mistakes and not just making excuses for the golden child. His reputation has taken a bashing this season, but so has Hamilton's in recent years, and he's come out of it stronger. As I still feel Vettel can be good for the sport, I hope he does the same!


I really don't see how people can claim that Hamilton was immature in 2007 and 2008.

Thinking off 2007, sure he went off in China, but McLaren kept him out so long that the rubber was completely gone.

Schumacher was on supersofts for the last 30 laps in Canada 2010 (where supersofts lasted only 10 laps really) and the result was that he got humiliated by almost the whole field coming past. Alonso came out on intermediates in Spa and had to switch back to slicks 2 laps later. Are these veterans making rookie mistakes?

The only real mistake Hamilton made in 2007 was to battle Alonso and lose a lot of places to boot in Brazil. If he'd just let Alonso go and followed him around he'd be wdc. indeed THAT was being impetous and a rookie mistake (although his car going into neutral didn't help either)

In 2008 Canada was bad, but other than that he didn't do a whole lot wrong. Bahrain maybe, but accidents happen when you drive a damaged car. Fuji maybe then, but I though his first corner penalty was ridiculous and ultimately he was taken out by Massa. Not Hamilton's fault. Hamilton made a perfect pass on Massa and Massa couldn't handle it.

So what says that Hamilton was acting immature before 2009? Where do we see the improvement?

Hamilton makes one maybe two mistakes a year. Seems perfectly the norm for even the most veteran drivers.

In 2009 vettel took himself out of the points due to dumb mistakes in 4 races (Australia crashed into Kubica, Malaysia grid penalty + spun off, Monaco crashed, Hungary Crashed into Raikkonen and damaged suspension)

This year again already 3 big errors. Crashing into Webber in Turkey, "impetuous" start in Silverstone landing him a puncture and now his crash and subsequent drama in Spa.

His drive-through in Hungary was pretty dumb too, but it didn't cost him that much. Similar to his cutting corners in Singapore in 2009 resulting in a "speeding" driver through penalty.

Still he, just has too many of these big points losing blunders. Even though he has been in F1 as long as Hamilton.


The closing laps of the 2008 season proved enthralling because a certain driver who supposedly can not overtake had no trouble disposing of Hamilton...


After Hamilton went wide when his tyres were overheating. Not exactly impressive.


I agree with you, James. I also think you are spot-on regarding Alonso. I wish Ferrari curbed their enthusiasm (hello to Larry David!) with a little bit of rational thinking.


Button definitely moved in the braking zone by veering left which caught out Vettel.

Apparently such moves as this are supposedly frowned upon. Button complained about this regarding Nakajima or Kobayashi in Brazil last year. DC has moaned about this before in his RBR days. Nice to know he kept quiet on this after the race.


I think you are wrong about Vettels overtaking ability but right about his impetuous nature.

The reason why the red bull finds it hard to overtake is due to the lack of straight line speed and power. It may be the fasted car through the corners by a very significant margin but there is only one line through the corners.

This will also make it one of the most frustrating cars to drive, to be so much faster than the car in front through the corners where it is impossible to overtake, unless a mistake is made, then as soon as you are on a straight where it is possible to overtake the car in front will just sprint away.

you cannot compare his overtaking to hamilton, who has always had a car with the the most powerful engine and highest straight line speeds.


Straightline speed often has little to do with overtaking in racing. Most passing is actually done under braking conditions, that is, outbraking your opponent while going into a corner.

The reasons you cite for Vettel's overtaking skills, or lack of them, simply don't apply.


I think that Vettel has the potential to be WDC because of the fact that he is in the fastest car this season, and not particularly because of his percieved talent. Of course he is talented otherwise he wouldn't be in F1, but in my view he has nowhere near the talent of Hamilton, who consistently outdrives the car that he has been given. Nor does Vettel have the ability to, like Button has, to exploit the car's potential, apart from in qualifing where he has acheived 9 front row starts in 13 races.

Weather or not he can learn to maximise the potential of his race car remains to be seen, but its doubtful that he will have a car that is 1 or 2 seconds a lap quicker, at the some circuits, for the rest of his career, so its only going to get harder for him to win the WDC if he manages it at all as clearly he is up against some immense drivers. If the cars were all equally matched, I think that he would be behind Button, Hamilton, Alonso, Kubica, Schumacher, Rosberg and possibly Massa and Webber.

He may well learn his craft and hone his skills, and I might be proved wrong but if he can't take the WDC when its been offered to him on a plate by Adrian Newey, can we please stop this talk that he's going to be a WDC and wait for him to do it, if he can muster it at all.


Well said. Amen!


23 or 33 if he doesn't come up with the goods next year he will be looking for a new drive.

For sure he is fast, but put 70% of the grid in the Red Bull and you will have a contender for the wdc.

Ron Dennis called him impetuous, which is a perfect description of him.

If Button concedes the wdc in the next couple of races. I'm sure he will back Hamilton to the hilt in getting him the wdc. I cant see Vettel ever doing that and that is another weakness. Sometime you gotta smell the coffee.

How perfect is the McLaren at the moment. Support them or not, their driver line up is the best on the grid. Both wanting to beat each other but loads of respect. Where else is that in the top teams?

Whatever happens this year Hamilton is becoming a legendary driver and I will look back at some of his drives with the same admiration as Mansel and Senna.


I suspect that Vettel's probably having a few dashes of self-doubt with his morning omelets these days. It's pure sports psych...if you miss the jump/throw/pass a few times, and especially if you start hearing the voices saying "He can't pull it off without duffing it", then you're toast. If RBR was smart about it, they'd sit him down with someone to do a quick counseling session or two & work that doubt out of his head. I know of an Olympian or two who's had the same kind of issue, and it's not something you can just practice away.


When you compare Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, it is very clear that Hamilton is better than Vettel. When you compare them based on their best F3 results where I think gives a clear indication about driver talent, Hamilton in 2005 had an average of 7 Pole Position, 7.5 Wins, 8.5 Podiums, 8.5 Points Finishes, 5 Fastest Laps and 81 Points from 10 Races. In 2006, Vettel had 1 Pole Position, 2 Wins, 6 Podiums, 8 Points Finishes, 2 Fastest Laps and 56 Points from the 10 Feature Races (points based on 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 formula, no points for Pole Positions and Fastest Laps). It is quite clear that Vettel is less talented than Hamilton, and will take more time to develop than Hamilton, and not to the same level as Hamilton. Vettel's talent earns him a place in a midfield team, Hamilton's talent gets him a place in a frontrunning team.

Red Bull are doing no favours for themselves this season, as it should have been all over by now. They are not only harming winning the championships this year, they are also harming the competitiveness of the 2011 car. I will not be surprised at all if they turn up with a 'dog' or a car not running at the front in Bahrain next year.


While people talk about the number of points on offer for a race win implying that drivers have a chance in the championship for longer, the picture over the course of a season is turning out differently. Under the old points system, Vettel would now be 10 pts behind Webber (61 to 71) – a gap he could close in one race (even if he would still have one less win than Webber as it stands). Now, he is 28 points behind (151-179), and requires at least two races even if Webber has a DNF.

Is this new points system really sustaining a close championship fight? Mathematically, not for Vettel.


As a Seb fan, I look back on this piece and think you deserve a great lot of credit James. I found it really impressive that at least one F1 journo was able to look on the situation and bring a balanced, objective viewpoint to it, while everyone else wanted to lay the boots into him.

He was nothing short of awesome for the rest of the season, and from the outside looking in - I thought he was much more his usualrelaxed, funny and happy self from before Singapore onwards.

It was a stunning last few months he had in which he managed to see off the sheer quality of Alonso and Hamilton (albeit in very slightly inferior cars MOST weekends), but also a quick, hugely experienced teammate in the form of his life, with the upper hand a pretty big lead.

Seb wasn't beaten by his teammate since August. It was nothing short of ridiculously impressive and dominant recovery, which is a testament to his great character and self-belief.

A truly, truly deserving champion and I couldn't possibly express just how delighted I was for him on Sunday.

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