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Vettel vs Alonso: Who has done the better job this season?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  15 Nov 2012   |  3:07 pm GMT  |  376 comments

And so it comes to this: Two races in eight days to decide the outcome of the 2012 world championship. It’s been a long road to this point, but which of the two drivers has done a better job? Here we present an analysis of what has led us to this point.

The margin between them is small at 10 points. But it will be all over this weekend if Vettel wins with Alonso 5th or lower. It can also be settled if Vettel is 2nd with Alonso 9th or lower or if Vettel is 3rd and Alonso is out of the points.

Experience this season with Red Bull’s alternator problems and the two start line accidents in Spa and Suzuka which cost Alonso so dearly, tell us that there are no foregone conclusions. This is motor racing and anything can happen.

A few weeks ago we looked at the battle between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel for the right to be the only three times world champion in the field next season.

There’s a good, comprehensive piece this week by Andrew Benson on the BBC F1 Website looking at which of the two drivers in contention for the world championship this weekend is the more deserving of the crown and that is worth some consideration at this stage.

Today 1978 world champion Mario Andretti, who serves as an ambassador of the new US Grand Prix at Austin, has commented on both Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel

“I have a very high opinion of Fernando and I often send him messages. He is a driver to appreciate for his determination and intelligence. For Ferrari he’s been doing the impossible. It will not be easy for him to take points off Vettel, but I’m not giving up.”

Meanwhile of Vettel he says, I’ve met him, he’s a great kid and a top class driver. He will be one of the greats.”

Ferrari has not won a race or been on pole since Germany in July. It may be too little too late, but Ferrari has been straight line aero testing this week with Jules Bianchi in Spain, trying out revised versions of solutions which were seen in Abu Dhabi as well as other new ideas, no doubt.

Ferrari’s development has been its Achilles Heel this season; the car has been through some positive development stages, but the team was unable to sustain the rapid growth which Red Bull managed to bring through, largely due to inefficiencies in the wind tunnel at Maranello, following its upgrade from 50% to 60%. This painful infrastructure upgrade is one which has also cost Mercedes this season, although they hope that the pain is now behind them as they seek to build Lewis Hamilton a winning car for next year.

No doubt if Red Bull wins both titles there will be dark murmurings in the aftermath about them spending far more money than the others to achieve it. And it is a great shame for the sport that the teams have failed to police a cost controls.

Both men have driven superbly – as have Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen – but we should consider two areas in particular: car pace relative to the fastest qualifier and results relative to qualifying position.

Who had the faster car this year?
In terms of pure car pace, if we look at the fastest lap from both drivers in qualifying at the 18 rounds so far, Vettel has had the faster car on 12 occasions.

Taking an average of the gap to pole for the 18 races, Vettel has been 0.43s off pole while Alonso has been 0.6s off. So the big picture is that the Red Bull hasn’t been that much faster a car this year.

However, in the five races since Monza, Vettel has had an average qualifying advantage over Alonso of 0.5 secs.

Looking at the season as a whole, Vettel has had an advantage of 0.26 secs, factoring in the days when Alonso was faster.

Breaking that down further; of the races that Vettel has had the faster car he has been on average 0.57secs faster in qualifying.

Of the six races where Alonso had the faster car he has qualified 0.358 secs faster than Vettel.

Who has done a better job in races?
Looking next at how they converted their qualifying positions into results, Vettel converted pole into a win on three out of five occasions. He made up places from his grid slot on eight occasions, gaining a total of 22 places from his grid slot in races where he started behind pole. (Plus in Abu Dhabi he made up another 22 places after being forced to start from the pit lane).

He lost places from his grid slot on two occasions (3 places in Canada and Germany), then had two technical retirements and a collision in Malaysia.

Alonso, in contrast, made up places on 12 occasions, gaining a total of 48 places in races where he started behind pole. He also had two DNFs and two races (Canada and GB) where he lost places from his starting slot. He had two poles and converted one to a win.

Alonso’s average gain of four places compared to Vettel’s 2.75 places gained is one of the main reasons why Alonso is even in the championship hunt today.

For all the latest news from Austin ahead of this weekend’s US Grand Prix click here http://connect.jamesallenonf1.com/f1-website-news/

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1

Vettel, no, Alonso!

No, Vettel. Wait, Alonso!

Hummmm… Whatever…

2

I voted for Vettel. He has won five races and recovered well in Abu Dhabi. Alonso has won three and inherited two of them. They have both made mistakes. Vettel damaging his car in AD and cutting off Narain Khartekeyan in Malaysia. Alonso putting himself in harm’s way of Raikkonen in Japan and with his team screwing up his tyre strategy in Canada. As outsiders, we don’t really know how bad the Ferrari is. As for Newey’s super Red Bull design, it takes a great driver to unlock its full potential, and Vettel is doing a great job at it.

3

Ok here we, go, I [mod] Alonso and I am a McLaren Fan, so not a Ferrari guy at ALL. But Fernando has done all he can, with that ugly car. Vettel has it served. So no much merit driving that car.

Don’t really like any of them, and in the end I prefer anybody else but a Ferrari to win the Title. But I can’t deny how good Fernando is and how good his mentality towards the title is.

But I [mod] the manipulations Ferrari makes ALL the time. WHat is going to ask Felipe to do next? Crash into Vettel?…. It wont surprise me.

4

So finally RBR grabbed their 3rd WCC with a pretty clear lead despite reliability issues.

In other words the RB8 is the best car / tyre combination again over this season. A result of $$$$ and technical matters ….

I might be wrong here, but this is my opinion following F1 for over 30 years now.

Now the fact that neither Vettel nor Webber have bagged the WDC as well, imho is a clear indication that their driver performance is certainly not top of the bill.

Looking at US GP race again it is very strange to see how performances rise and fall for several teams. Vetll lost one place, where Alonso made up 4 valuable places ! Massa and JB had bad luck, but did a great race since MGP and Williams were nowhere. Lotus was off pace.

Scuderia once again had great troubles with getting the tyres working and lost valuable time here to RBR. But close to the end both Massa and Alsonso showed that a competitive pace in the car was actually there….??!!??

Sao Paulo will be wet: Alonso last ace card.

5

This is what is so painful to watch. Another Championship slip away. 2007 with McLaren, 2010 with Ferrari and now again. What does this man have to do??

6

James,

what happened to Alonso in Q3 today?

I wonder what the results of this poll would be if we started it today from scratch again. 😉

7

How interesting…

The season isn’t over…why such an article??

Well, Alonso’s perfomance was just great today…

In Monaco Felipe complained in the radio about the low speed of Fernando in front of him during the race. Same in Bahrain. Of course, he isn’t allowed to overtake Fernando since Hockenheim 2010…

In Silverstone Felipe was much quicker (-0,7secs) than Fernando and Webber at the end of the race…

Barcelona Alonso was quicker than Maldonado and Red Bull. In Valencia, a podium for Felipe was in range,

but we all know, what Ferrari did to MAS at his pit stop… 😀

In Monza Fernando said on the podium, we had the fastet car. He finished third :p

Felipe in Suzuka from P11 to P2…

In Korea Felipe was quicker than Alonso AND Webber!

In India, Ferrari complained over Alonsos bad qualifying speed….

Abu Dhabi, Massa with an old Ferrari only 0,124 seconds behind Alonso in Q3…

etc. pp. …

Just imagine Ferrari… they put hundreds of millions into F1 and Alonso goes to journalists and says, it is all because of him 😀

8

Digits do not tell the whole, real story.

F1 racing is far too complex to just rely on such calculations only. Why ?

Imagine for example how much a tyre quality spread of only 2 % will have influence on lap times ……

And what abt. technical legality issues and its influence on car performance / results ?

Non conformities should be penalised with a DSQ by the FIA …..

Even a comparison of teammates has limited value since car ` specifications are usually not the same. Still Webber outperformed Vettel again first half of the season again. Now some insiders say it is due to inproper under-steering character of the RB8 initially, but Newey and RBR are to much experienced to make such a mistake (imho Vetll crashed Webber twice in Turkey 2010 …).

Technical failures can not be compared to a DNF caused from “outside”. Reliability is directly a measure for the performance level and capability of the team to manage their car. It is here where RBR clearly has a large deficit since they take larger risks and were helped by two DNF and lucky safe in AD…..

Then there is the BE factor ( Fernando is out since 2007, while Vetll is BE darling)and the fact that RBR runs 2 teams, and four teams are actually driving with Renault engines. Where is Petrov that manage to block Alonso in 2010 today ? I rest my case…..

No. Personally I see many similarities to the times where Ayrton (RIP) had to battle the FW14 of Newey and a suspect Benetton ` ….

In digits he lost both, but in fact he was miles above all other drivers. One legendary race in full wet Donington was enough to show it again. Digits are only for controllers….

9

Tell me who has ever won WDC without a reliable and a complete package behind him?

Not even Ayrton Senna & Michael Schumacher could manage that.

So, if Vettel is doing the same then why is he being discredited?

Hasn’t Alonso won his WDC on Kimi’s car failures and penalties and what about his Mass Damper Advantage?

To all you Ferrari fans out there…. Red is Passe… Black n’ Gold is En Vogue…. Go Kimi 🙂

10

Great to see so many positive comments for Vettel. It was getting beyond a joke specially after his awesome, truly awesome drive from Pits to podium in AD.

The guy is massively talented.

11

Please allow me to give you an hipothetical or a game if you wish. This is for everyone who wants to answer. Lets say you´re Sauber and you need to sign one driver. I mean the current Sauber, we don´t have Newey nor we have other factors in place. And you are so lucky that you have both Vettel and Alonso begging to be the chosen driver. Who would sign?

12

Vettel.

13

When Alonso joined Ferrari, it was a championship winning car. Look what he has done to the car in the past three years.

Now see what Vettel has done after joining Red Bull in the past three years. Three championships!

It has to be Vettel.

14

The 2009 Ferrari was a dog, just as the 2009 McLaren was (at least in the first half of the season). Only KERS kept both McLaren and Ferrari respectable in 2009.

15

Both, as rejecting either one would be crazy !

If that’s not possible : sign Fernando as he brings a sponsor with him.

16

There is a statement out there somewhere from Peter Sauber where he compared Vettel to Alonso. Anyway, he´d pick Vettel.

17

This season in terms of pure performance I would put Alonso at the top followed by Kimi Raikkonen. Then Hamiton and Vettel fourth. Vettel was nowhere in the championship until Singapore. He lucked into a podium in Spa when Grosjean took out most of the serious cars in front of him which leaves only really his podium in Australia and his win in Bahrain as standout peformances before Red Bull won the development race in the last quarter of the season.

In contrast, Alonsp has been driving a terrible car all season and extracting more than what could be expected of him throughout the whole season. He has won races where he could, gotten podiums were he could and hasn’t put a foot wrong all season. Had it not been for his two retirements neither of which were his fault (tho possible 50:50 in Japan) he would likely still be somewhere between 15-30 points clear of Vettel still.

As I have said before, I am not a fan of either Ferrari of Alonso but I can respect Alonso’s talent. He should undoubtedly win his season. An Alonso driver’s win and Red Bull constructor’s win would be the right and just result.

18

A ‘terrible’ car? Good grief…

19

The question asked is who’s done better between Vettel and Alonso. The answer is simple! Fernando Alonso by miles and miles and miles. I won’t even go into why, because everyone on this blog knows about motor racing. If the question had been between Redbull and Ferrari… Hmmm… No doubt whatsoever that Redbull Racing Team bears Scuderia Ferrari hands down this season.

20

I know about motor racing. Went to my first race meeting in 1976. I reckon Vettel’s got the edge over Fernando.

21

Like the majority, I voted for Alonso. I think it’s clear by most measures you care to apply that he’s delivered more.

However, as a number of posters have noted, that doesn’t mean Vettel has been poor or doesn’t deserve to be champion.

The margins are very fine, Vettel is right up there, and we shouldn’t forget that he’s done as much as he needed to do to be leading the championship – in a weaker car he may have driven differently.

22

James,

any insight from any of the engineers as to Vettel’s phenomenal lap time in FP1?

He was 1.4s faster than Hamilton, 2.2s faster than Alonso and 2.5s faster than his team mate Webber.

How on earth did he do that?

23

They said he set that time on new tyres, whereas the others didn’t. Still a cracking lap though

24

Is this really a fair evaluation? I thought I read somewhere (here or on the BBC) that Ferrari from the beginning designed a car that would be fast in races, not necessarily in qualifying.

Hence it is not really surprising that FA makes up places in races etc.

I think what we all can agree on is that both SV and FA are exceptionally good drivers who have made the best out of the material given to them by their teams.

25

Largely a waste of time these discussions, as everyone will support their man regardless of any “facts”. That’s what sport’s about.

I am increasingly sad thinking about Hamilton at Mercedes next year. His natural enthusiasm seems to have been tempered already by events over the past couple of years; goodness knows what he’ll be like mid-way through next season. Mind you, with Button and Perez, McLaren will be equally downbeat I imagine.

26

Well, that’s an interesting result to the poll.

The hardworking 10 years experienced driver without WDC for 6 years vs. the hot young kid on the way to his 3rd WDC.

I guess Alonso will pick up all the conselation prizes while Vettel continues to steamroll the WDC charts.

27

Vettel has done a better job because Vettel is leading the WDC.

That is all that matters.

28

I remember KAR from HRT saying that they would be doing the equal job to SV if they were in the red bull. I agree…

All the drivers on the grid are very good. SV is a good driver and maybe in the top half of all the drivers on the grid.

I personally don’t think he’s any higher than that. If he drives against one of the ‘really good drivers’ at the same team everyone will see how good he actually is..

29

So KAR is saying hes betterr than Webber?

30

Really……all that counts, hard to believe that is a correct statement.

31

I agree in principle with this type of comment, but its a team sport, can’t isolate the driver completely. Takes a good team to make the car and “orchestrate” the grand prix. Takes the driver to max out what they are given.

32

I think james has failed to mention some significant.

1) red bulls car has been set up to lead from the front. hence even in qualifying their car flies. but ferraris car is more of a race car built for overtaking purposes. their kers unit is better that that of red bull.

also alonso has not made too many overtakings as off such . he hasgained positions because of ferraris tactical expertise on many occasions and also at the the start where he more or less intimidates people.(pushing kimi out) and when the same happens to him he says that u must give space which is ….

another thing is that alonso had superb luck in malaysia. if it were not for the rain i really dont think he would have won that race.

also ferrari have overplayed thier car as a bad car. it is not great for qualifying but during the race alonso and (massa ) put flying laps.. . ferrari also started working on this car way back in 2011. they spend just as much money as red bull….

33

Ok, I was reading the Vettel – Newey comments and it got me thinking – when Vettel was at Torro Rosso they finished the season ahead of Redbul. Now the Torro Rosso and the Redbull where simliar cars however Newey’s attention would have been more focused on the Redbull – basically meaning Vettel plus his engineer beat Newey and his team! Taking it a step further it stands to be reasoned that Vettel may be making Newey look good and not the generally accepted view that it is Newey that makes Vettel look good….

34

The Toro Rosso that year was a Newey-designed chassis, with a (faster) Ferrari engine in it.

So nope, it was still Newey.

35

I think you need to re-think that Newey designed Toro Rosso as it was the 2007 car but did it win in the redbull guise in 2007? because i dont get the Newey designed point

36

And in 2009? They also used the Ferrari engine but with Vettel now at Redbull guess which team came out on top? Anyway – You totally missing my point – while the basic car was the same Newey was focused on developing the Redbull throughout the seaon, not the Torro Rosso. It is accepted that when Vettel joined Toro Rosso in the middle of the 2007 season, Vettel got used to the team and the car and developed it very quickly – that had nothing to do with Newey.

37

He developed it very quickly? By retiring all the time? By testing its crash-worthiness against Webber’s rear wing? In 2007, of the three two-car finishes with the Liuzzi/Vettel pairing, Liuzzi finished ahead in two.

As soon as the STR3 came on in 2008, it was clear it was to Vettel’s liking, and he instantly starting getting points finishes with it. It was a very decent car, like the Sauber this past season. But it doesn’t indicate any development of the car.

38

If Alonso is spectacular then you have to create a new word to describe Vettel. I hope that one day people will just say this guy is just Vettel. ……….and there were others too.

If HYPE would be kingdom, then Alonso would be king. Little Frodo with his ring.

It should be very interesting to hear, what Hamilton and Alonso are talking if they are together, maybe: “Wow, you drive super, Alonso, you are the best”. “Thank you, Lewis, you are very good too. With that car you look like a driving god, you shine”. “I like your shoes,Alonso.” “Wow, really, you got very cool socks and shoes”.

39

Ordinary spectators don`t get anything out of this Alonso hype. I have to think why it is happening. Why to push Alonso all the time against Vettel. This is the place of bad language…… . Well, having said that, this is very benefitial to media. They start the war so they can sell a lot of armory. You have to greate controversy to sell your magazines, tabloids, F1 trademark and so on. So, to all the people in medialand, keep commentating stories, whos better, because in one day maybe you will benefit too from all of that hype.

40

I actually like Vettel more after he said this in response to the swearing incident, “If you are sensitive then you should watch some kids’ programme,” Vettel said. “You have the remote control in your hand. It was not intentional in the last race. It was unnecessary to create such a big fuss.”

41

I was watching F1 on TV when I was 9 yrs old … granted, I probably never watched the interviews then, but it’s not the best example to set. It was unnecessary, and embarrassing. He could have easily said “it was a chance to screw it up”, and he’d’ve been fine.

As the FIA said, other sports professionals manage to keep it clean when interviewed moments after they’ve been competing.

42

Footballers swear constantly during matches, often coupled with anger and rage. I know not in interviews but it is still clearly view-able to the public, I think this is much worse than kimi and seb calmly letting out an expletive. People need to lighten up. I actually feel sorry for the people who lodged complaints with the BBC, do they really have nothing better to do.

43

Do you respect footballers when they do that? Remember when Rooney shouted some expletive at the camera during WC 2010? It just reinforced his image as a hothead with some football skills. You don’t see Messi or Ronaldo swearing and cussing.

I almost think that Kimi throws the swearing in now b/c it’s in keeping with the image he’s crafted. If so, it’s contrived, something I doubt Kimi was going for.

44

For me the points reflect perfectly who has done the better job. Both are very close but over the course of the season Vettel has been slightly better so far.

I don’t like the idea that when Vettel wins it is the car but when Alonso wins it is all down to him. Alonso has had the full resources of Ferrari behind him for 3 years now and the team have stayed at roughly the same level. Vettel has had long periods of dominance but this year he has proved his grit as at the mid-point of the season he looked unlikely to win the title.

Yes the car has improved, but I don’t think you can write off Vettel’s involvement in that with the feedback he is giving the team. Alonso has Ferrari focused around him to a much greater extent but still hasn’t been able to influence development into the car that is perfect for his style.

That isn’t to say Alonso hasn’t done a good job this year, he richly deserves his place in the standings.

However, if you really want to get serious about which driver has done the better job, then you have to add Kimi into the mix who has been absolutely outstanding in a team without the resources of Red Bull and Ferrari, and after a two year lay off. Kimi has been much closer to his 2005 form and I firmly believe that if he was driving the Ferrari or the Red Bull then the championship would already be over at this point.

I say that as a neutral, I was equally critical of Kimi over the ice cream incident and his 08/09 seasons.

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