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JA on F1 Podcast #10: F1 expert panel season review and World champion interview
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Dec 2012   |  9:51 am GMT  |  56 comments

The final JA on F1 podcast of 2012 is a real cracker, with a panel of F1 experts in the studio analysing the key talking points of the F1 season and we also have interviews with World Champion Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Boss Christian Horner.

In the studio we have McLaren Sporting Director Sam Michael, Oliver Weingarten, general secretary of the F1 Teams’ Association, leading F1 journalist Mark Hughes, and F1’s top photographer Darren Heath, who brings some fascinating observations on driving styles from standing trackside, with input from Pirelli’s motorsport boss Paul Hembery and insight into F1 business from Zak Brown, founder of JMI.

(L to R) Michael, Heath, Allen, Hughes, Weingarten

In a lively episode we discuss the key talking points of the year:

– How the World Championship was won, analysis of the performances of the main title contenders..and whether Fernando Alonso is the “Dick Dastardly” of F1
– The two halves of the F1 season; was the sequence of multiple winners in the first half of the season good for the sport? We get a handle on why 2012 happened the way it did.
– The big stories of 2012: Hamilton to Mercedes, Kimi Raikkonen’s triumphant comeback, the Concorde Agreement negotiations.
– Why the racing in 2013 will be even closer than this year.

You can download it here, or from ITunes. Please take a listen and let us know your feedback.

No player? Download the podcast directly.

Running order
0.00 Introduction
1.41 World Champion Sebastian Vettel
3.30 Big lessons of the year
8.29 Red Bull team principal Christian Horner
10.56 Red Bull – champions
15.00 The racing during 2012
22.16 Pirelli’s Paul Hembery on the 2012 season
24.55 Big stories of the year
34.16 Sponsor finder Zak Brown on F1 business in in 2012
37.07 Lewis Hamilton moving to Mercedes
40.42 Engines for 2014
45.04 Thoughts on 2013

Total duration: 47.40

Thanks for listening throughout 2012 and many thanks to our partners UBS for making it possible and for their support throughout this year.

Look out for a Special Podcast on December 24th; “The 12 F1 Questions of Christmas” with readers questions answered by our expert panel.

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your panel seems to suggest that it was Alonso who pushed for the seal to Massa’s gearbox being broken at the Austin GP. Is that really true?

I think it is hard for us outsiders to appreciate this ruthless edge to Alonso. So this is definitely something new I learnt from your podcast!


James your podcasts are top-drawer, I always look forward to listening to them. You have open my eyes to more than the racing on a Sunday afternoon. These podcasts have made F1 an even more interesting sport. Please keep up the EXCELLENT work. I am looking forward to the 2013 season. In my humble opinion I think MercedesGP will surprise a lot of people. What people forget is Honda was the laughing stock of F1 till they bailed out but produced the PHENOMENAL car that won the 2009 championship. This time next year people will be hailing Ross Brawn and the contribution Michael Schumacher made. Lewis will be challenging for the Championship despite what the naysayers are predicting.


Thanks. Seems odd to think of Honda as a “laughing stock”, but they did lose their way as a chassis manufacturer, for sure


Who was that [mod] who said Alonso never had a truly amazing drive this season, like Senna’s donnington or Schumacher spain 1996? Did he not watch the Malaysian Gp when Alonso won in the 6th best car, which was 1.3 seconds off pole, and where his team mate was lapped in 18th place??


I think that it is quite widely recognized that the Ferrari was one of the best cars in wet conditions even in the early parts of the season. Besides, the person you are quoting did acknowledge that Alonso’s race in Valencia could possibly be considered to be in the same league as those other legendary races.


Based on what? Alonso winning? I guess under that logic, Senna, and Schumacher also had one of the best cars when they had their greatest wet weather wins.

How could the Ferrari had been one of the best cars in the wet, when Massa, a very competent driver finished 18th? Do you really think he is that bad to finish 18th in one of the best cars? Nonsense. Senna’s donnginton was mainly about smarter and luckier pit calls.


Massa might be erratic in the wet but he is usually fast. Monaco 2008 dominated in the early wet, China 2009 storming through the field , while team mate kimi was nowhere. Yet at sepang this year he was dead slow.


Not calling Alonso a god, and pointing out that the Ferrari was actually a fairly good car in certain conditions is hardly minimizing Alonso’s accomplishments. I agree that he drove a very good season. Whether for example his drive at Malaysia was at the same level as some of the most legendary drives in F1 history is not as clear, in my opinion, and one should be able to say that.


Massa is hopeless in the wet. Remember silverstone 2008?


A particular set of circumstances that day.

What about Brazil 2008, which he won convincingly?


Blogs are nothing but opinions, and I don’t buy into the typical conventional assumptions of pundits. Like I said before if the Ferrari was so good in the wet then why did Massa have a clean race and finish 18th? It makes no sense. The other explanation is that Alonso simply drive amazingly well and figured out how to switch on the wet tyres better than the other drivers early in the season when everyone was still trying to figure the tyres out.

Everyone always minimises Alonso instead of giving him credit. He joins Ferrari and thrashes highly rated Massa and all we hear from the pundits is how Massa is not the driver he used to be because they cannot accept how superior Alonso is so they make excuses.


All you need to do is read this blog. It was quite early recognized that Ferrari and Red Bull were in a class of their own in generating heat to front tires in wet conditions, yielding better grip and providing them with a big advantage over the rest of the field. There was an article here on that after one of the wet quali sessions. Look for it.


“Valencia could possibly be considered to be in the same league as those other legendary races”

Which he only won due to Vettel and Grosjean having alternator failures from the lead. I doubt anybody would have much to say about Valencia had he finished third.


Obviously you have not seen that race Senna in Donnington ’93 thats why you would compare it.


So what’s the secret reason Kimi was slower than Grosjean for a lot of the season?


slower alot?? what race you been watching?? they are 10 vs 10 on quali, and 17-3 on race.

Which part of slower you mention??


I assumed they were alluding to Raikkonen’s ‘rock-and-roll’ lifestyle.

Jim "Wisemaker" St. George

My compliments on a wonderful season of podcasts. This most recent program was exceptional. Your shows are produced at such a very high level. Please continue to give us what you do. Many thanks.


Thanks, we appreciate that.


Nigel Roebuck aint got nothing on this!


Off topic James, I see the aero regs for 2014 are same as next year. Are the changes delayed or thrown out to be redrawn?


Thank you for asking the question I posed! Always interesting to find out what industry insiders think. Enjoyed listening to the rest of the podcast as well. Great job all around.


Always a pleasure, James. But, I’d also like to hear some discussion on the rehabilitation of disgraced engineers, Mike Coughlan and Pat Symonds and their impact on Williams and Marussia. On the face of it, it seems that Coughlan’s impact on Williams has been nothing short of immense over the last 12 months or so.


Fantastic podcast and loved the opinions. Thank you and keep it up


The Lewis Hamilton story provides a telling insight into today’s drivers standings. Now that Button has seen off Hamilton at Mclaren, I think that the only drivers currently in Button’s league are Alonso and Riakkonnen; Vettel has earned my respect this year and is getting close to that trio. For Hamilton to rejoin this elite, he has to prove that he has the ability to develop the car via excellent technical feedbacka dn nous. Along with driving in a weaker car, he will have to demonstrate that he can turn around a non-top team, like Vettel to Red Bull, Button to Brawn, Alonso to Ferrari. These drivers have proved it, let’s hope for the sake of the Ham fans that he will do them justice 🙂


Are you saying Alonso & Raikkonen are second-tier drivers?


Button was not among the top 5 drivers most of the year. He is clearly not one of the top3. Seeing off Hamilton at McLaren is nonsense. This 3 year stats about beating on points is useless nonsense, too.Everyone who watched the season that Lewis has been robbed about 130 points.

Lewis has beaten Button this year in every way possible. To say only Raikkönen & Alonso are in Buttons legue is an insult for KImi & fernando.


What do you think Lewus has been doing all these years at Mclaren- at the end of day Engineers build cars and drivers race them.. Lewis has been able to come to grips with new cars and tyres better than most. Jenson spent several races this year outside the top 8 even 10- That’s unheard of in Hamiltons case- if this highlighted anything is that just how much Kewis does contribute to setting up and developing a car- yeah he isn’t always got it right- like at Spa but even in poor set up he is still able to get the most out of it . Next year Jenson will have to dig deep to keep Mclaren competitive ! Btw Skysports voted Button 6 in 2012 and Hamilton in 2nd behind Alonso and I definitely agree with this. Although I think Raikkonen should be 3rd and not 5.

Mike from Colombia

Err….Alonso only considers Hamilton as being is his league.

unF1nnished Business

Yes, but I always take what Alonso says about other drivers as 50% truth, 50% mind games.


Yep, that’s correct, they both lost to Vettel the past 3 championship, same league 🙂


Buttons League ? Huh ?

He was nowhere this year so maybe in a league

of his own !


I struggle to see how Button turned Brawn around. The engineers who created the double diffuser are the amazing ones. The same can be said for Red bull and Vettel. No doubt, he is amazing, but it is the guys in the factory that turned the car around. Even Hamilton fans must credit Button for surpassing expectations, yet he has been outperformed by Lewis throughout all 3 years apart from his meltdown during the second half of 2011.

We love supporting the drivers, but the engineers are the real stars.


What’s the punch-line? Or is this just bait?


Just bait, don’t bite!


Button didn’t turn Brawn around. He just waited for the call to jump in the car.

It was also Newey who turned RBR around, not Vettel. Vettel did help alot I believe, because he was the one who got most out of the blown dif. Much more than Webber did.

And Alonso don’t think did much to help Ferrari. Ferrari are still behind RBR and McLaren.


Very interesting session James, Left me wanting more as the end involved efficiency of the sport as a whole and the Vettel-Newey combination.

I think F1 should consider using solar power to power their operational needs and only use the generators on occasions they fail to harnest enough solar energy. This would set an inpressive example to the rest of world sport.

I’d finally like to add that Adrien Newey uses CFD to study air flow around the car, he writes programs for this, and uses the information to draw shapes which reduce air flow adversities, on a drawing board using a pencil with the help of a T square. All the teams do this but he seem to have a better bigger picture which helps him lead to other engineers to finetune their designs to bring a faster earo package to the car Vettel drives so well. Here is Newey talking about it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7b-U4Qs7PGs

Someone who writes computer programs will not use a slide rule.


I’m pleased that a few people mentioned how important the new engines are for the future and found it interesting that they they couldn’t understand “some critical comments coming from the top” regarding the engines- I guess you have to expect technical gurus & engineers always love these new challenges anyway!

I tend to agree with Sam Michael as far 2013 is concerned. When you have very little rule changes the biggest gains can only come from the mid- field teams and Im guessing that means Lotus and Mercedes. If Lotus are only slightly stronger and are already a bit wiser I expect to see them win a few races next year and I think Mercedes will be on the odd podium too. Personally I think Mclaren will struggle to get the best out of the car – I really believe this is something that Lewis excelled at – they will start the year with a strong package but will not develop it quite as strong as RBR and even Ferrari.

Many thanks for terrific insights this year and I will welcome any more silly season breakers as well.

cheers & best wishes for Christmas & 2013



Hi Ellie,

I have a slightly different view on McLaren. While I don’t buy the common argument on this site that McLaren can out develop other teams (using 2009 as an example), I expect them to keep pace in general.

With Lewis, he was able to exploit the available grip, so if the car became fundamentally faster through more downforce he’d find a way to go faster. Jenson needs a particular balance, so if new bits make the car faster, but affect the balance, he tends to struggle in qualifying. When he’s happy he’s fast.


Fantastic! I look forward to these. They add extra zest to your articles/site.




Im still waiting Mclaren Kimi to comeback =)

Prakhar Mehrotra

He won’t. It’s too corporate for his liking. He seems to enjoy the lotus environment


The lotus position, even..


Looking forward to the book … been reading the last three over the last week, forgot how good the are.

Why choose Lewis for the cover though??? Interesting …


Sells a lot more copies in the Uk than a much lesser known German on the front which is fair enough!


We can be relentless, right James? But he is the most successful driver in the field with this year’s result.

I’m sure James will write a lovely book about Vettel one day, once he matches Schumi’s records. Either that or as of 2013 James is going eBook with choice of cover based on book purchaser’s geographic location.


Nice idea!


Biggest story of the year


Bigger than youngest ever triple champion?


Agreed. At start of the season it was a clear possibility. But after first lap in Brazil, not so clear anymore.


Borg you can´t deny Red Bull was a clear candidate to win again. They are one of the top teams, there is no doubt.



I’m sorry to disagree with you, but it was car from clear.


It’s a massive story and it will be a big story next year as well – maybe the biggest talking point throughout 2012 and 2013!


Vettel winning the championship was a clear possibility. Lewis going to Mercedes it was very hard to believe it could happen.


I wonder i it will be the biggest story of next year a well, for good or bad reasons.

Well … it’s a cool cover anyway. Looking forward to receiving my copy.


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