F1 Winter Break
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel frustrated by lack of running and inconsistent tyres
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Mar 2013   |  3:57 pm GMT  |  164 comments

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel says the Pirelli tyres lack consistency and admits his disappointment with his Red Bull team’s final days of testing.

The Milton-Keynes based team managed 158 laps over the weekend, compared to the 248 Mercedes managed.

High degradation with Pirelli’s new 2013-spec tyres has been an issue for all the teams so far this year and Vettel, who has won the title for the last three years, said the lack of mileage has meant the team didn’t quite gather all the data they had hoped for with regards the tyres.

“We haven’t been able to tick all the boxes we would have liked to and the last two days weren’t as good as we had expected, but there is a bit of time left until the season starts,” said Vettel who finished eighth fastest on the final day of testing.

“I think we all have been limited by what the tyres can do. It was extremely difficult to read some set-up changes and find a direction with the car as the tyres were simply not good enough.”

However, Vettel said he was still positive ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

“Testing was good for us as a whole but surely we would have loved to have had more consistency,” he said.

“Especially from a tyre point of view, I think all the teams suffered the same kind of problem, therefore it was difficult to really read the changes and the steps that we tried to make but that’s how it is.

“We need to have a good look at the data between now and Melbourne to have a better understanding of what to expect in Australia and the first few races of the season. In my opinion lap times didn’t matter all through the winter tests.”

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Something with trowing sand in the eyes...


My thoughts exactly...

We will know the truth in less than two weeks.


We know one truth. Last two posts about Vettel by James feature the fewest comments I have ever seen. Considering the guy is a current and 3X champion, it's really surprising.

Suddenly I understand why his face wasn't on any of the books over last 3 years. If comments level and DOTD voting is anything to go by last little while, James would have a garage full of last 3 years of books.

Is he that disliked?

Are his fans only German?

It is really surprising how his success has failed to translate into fan support. He may not be the smoothest PR machine or baby kissing politician, but neither is Lewis. Fascinating how fans connect with certain drivers and not others. Subject should be scientifically broken down. Then again, perhaps McLaren already has and Ron safe guards the blue prints under his pillow.


I'm ultra new to the sport...but have always been been inclined this way. Just saw "Rush" and am now hooked. I picked Vettel for a few reasons: 1) His number is 1 ( I'm a hockey goalie and wear that number ) 2) Red Bull, love it 3) He is German...I have German blood 4) He has been a winner that now faces adversity. Will be interesting to see how he handles it. LOVE this sport and glad to follow it now! ( Even thinking of going to Austin )



Did you know that every lactose intolerant F1 fan hates Kimi among main reasons is his flaunting of ability to eat ice cream?

Funny you bring up Michael, because for the longest time he was repeatedly voted the most hated professional sports figure. And being a stand up private guy with strong family values and dedication to hard work, and quite selfless and giving ($10M donation to the Asian Tsunami relief comes to mind) I have no idea why that could be. He wasn't there when I went to knock some laps out at his Karting track, but I sure as heck felt like he was giving even there.

I'm sure Michael and Sebastian went for a sushi dinner together and Michael passed on some wisdom to Sebastian that haters don't matter.

If Sebastian does manage to successfully follow the Schumacher model, as he appears to be doing, well, how can we fault him? Alonso, Kimi, Lewis - they are all on the record admitting long time ago they will not be able to break Schumi's records. In my mind Vettel going for it vs. defeatist attitude of others also sets him apart for me. I want someone in my lifetime to try to take on Schumacher's numbers. Every F1 driver should have that as a goal in the lock box. It shows a certain mental state of mind.



I wasn't trying to put together a dirty laundry list on Vettel and I have no intention of putting one together - and you're right of course, I do have one of my own - but I was trying to raise a couple points on why people don't support him as much as they probably should.

I tried to be objective about it, and to that end I started by mentioning some of his good points and finished by saying the reasons I listed aren't really fair to him.

You're also right in saying that everything the drivers do and say is over-analysed. I respect they way most of them handle it, especially the drivers like Michael who are inherently private people.

I would definitely not like to be in that position, and I very much doubt that I could handle it better.

Vettel does deserve some slack and he will go down in the history books, no matter what anyone says. 🙂


Random, that Schumi move was ruthless and careless perhaps, but it was men putting it all on the line. I'm not saying we need deaths and wrecks, but it sure has become safe out there. What Schumi did to Rubens by the way used to be the way of life not so long ago. That was by a more mature geenration I think. I'm not sure most of the drivers today know the consequences of such moves and are willing to be on the other side of the coin. It's probably why FIA cracks down on it so hard. Senna's era is so remembered because of the danger and risks. It's strange, but the dangers and visual reality of it is what is missing from F1. No one breaks their leg in a huge reck anymore. Or even a finger.

Kay, No doubt you put together another dirty laundry list on Vettel. As I said we could put one together on any driver about what we don't like about them. We could put one together on me, and possibly on you. We are just human, we make mistakes, we have flaws. Some of us are good winners, gracious loosers. Some of us are not used to that situation. I thought I was a good winner, until recently a friend recorded me raking a big pot at our poker game, and my body language and facial expressions are certainly not endearing. In the past you didn't have this type of constant involvement in driver lives. You saw them do their thing, you saw them on the podium, and they were gone for 2 weeks. Today, every sound bite, interview, photo, radio transmission is analyzed. It can be too much. Put your self in that position.

Not making excuses for him, but at 25 I won't say I was a kid, but I had plenty of youthful indisretions. I said this before too. He deserves some slack. We forget that no one has ever done what he has done before in F1.


I think this can be gathered into bullet points:

1. his 'finger' - where do you normally see this? Drivers? No. Grown men? No. School kids? Yes. I don't think the world likes seeing Vettel keeps thumbing his finger in the air when he wins, just shows his immaturity

2. Turkey / Spa / Silverstone incidents. Accidents happen, yes, but when it gets to the point that he gets patted on the back to tell him everything is ok by everyone in the team, and Marko over-protecting him certainly doesn't help his image, and in fact enhances his iummaturity. It's one thing to have team support but quite another when it gets to the point that he's always right and teammate is always wrong even though if Vettel is the wrongdoer. In short: people like fairness not bias

3. Having fast cars to win WDCs, personally I am fine with that, and like some said it's not his fault that he has a fast car. He has his lucky stars to thank that RBR has Newey onboard. But it does show that given withOUT the fast car, he cannot perform, unlike Alonso, Raikkonen or Hamilton who could still drive every ounce of performance left in their cars despite being slower. Vettel just has to show he can still put up a good fight without the fast car, which so far he hasn't shown. If he can show this then he can tell and convince the world he doesn't need a fast car to win anything.

4. Marko, as mentioned earlier, does not help Vettel's image at all. The more Webber bashing Marko does, the more damaging for Vettel because he is Vettel's manager. It's understandable that Marko wants Vettel to succeed and written in history books as the best, but coming out blasting his cannon around like that does more damage than help really.

5. His talk - some people find him funny, some people find his jokes and talk are really bad taste. It's a really personal preference thing really. I think it's just when his talk added up with his immaturity then people dislike him.

6. TRY to be mature - go back to Australian GP 2011, and the end when he won it, he said some really strange things and tried to be mature and philsophical about things. Sounded more weird than anything else. I'd rather he just went on the radio and go "woooohoooooo 1st win of the season!". The way he did it makes him so... fake, if you know what I mean.

Things said above just based on my observations through comments on various websites and forums, not necessarily my personal opinions nor intended to open a war of words.



@Seebee (10.07)

It's sad to say but I think you're spot on with everything...except maybe about Schumi being nice in his 40s. Not looking to start an argument, but I think Barrichello might disagree after Michael tried to put him into the pit wall.



He is simply not an inspiring driver. Done.


Fact remains, if Vettel didn't win, many here would say that he's not good enough because he hasn't won with he best car. Its not his fault if the car is good is it? People somehow seem to have an attack of amnesia when they claim Schumacher won when the car performed. They seem to forget that he won many times when the car didn't. Vettel has driven cars which were not great, they forget he drove in middle of the field with BMW to start of with and moved on to Torro Rosso. Yet all that is forgotten. Bottom line is every driver has their preference to the type of setup they require to perform. If Vettel likes the rear end to stick, that's just how he likes it. Give the guy a break. The idea of "characters" is just a mindset that some have. In 20 years time we will be talking of Schumacher as a character and Vettel will soon join that elite group. Senna was great but became an absolute icon when he passed on. I'm sure Prost would have been viewed in the same breath had he encountered a similar fate. Vettel is only 25, give the guy a break. Some say it has come easy, well that's life. Being in the right place at the right time is all part of life and then delivering when required.


So people hate a winner?

hero, I think we could put together a dirty laundry list for every driver as to what there is not to like about him.

But as for FIA being on RBRs tail about developments and changing rules to slow them down...well, I think that shows that RBR are doing their job as an F1 team. If FIA has not knocked at your door it probably means you're a pretender not a contender.

And you know, advantage is not something you order in the self-help section of Amazon.com It is hard earned. It is in F1 DNA to carve it out and maximize it at all times. Nothing wrong with flexing muscle. We've become too PC. I want a team and driver to throw down the guantlet. Come and get me off this mountain peak. I sure as heck ain't coming down to you.

Anyone who wanted hugs from Schumi should have got a Schumi Bear at the Ferrari store. Anyone who wants hugs from Vettel should get a 6 pack of Red Bull and let it warm up before they hug it. I liked my Schumi cold and ruthless. Scalpel precise. Bring your A game, or stay in your hotel room with your Playstation. But perhaps all those years of getting participation awards in schools have made the latest batch of F1 fans a bit soft around the belly as they say.

Schumi had plenty of time to be nice in his 40s on the grid. So will Vettel. For now, you want it, take it away from the best. And numbers clearly say Vettel currently is the best. He should not have this held against him in my view. But indeed, I can see why this would not endear him to fans. Yet it's a conflicting result, because everyone loves a winner - right?


Why was my post removed?


The finger thing is also graceless and enormously annoying.


I recall Vettel swearing rather easily and fluently on live TV. When a person is so free with the f word, they don't tend to attract many.


I couldn't stand Vettel in the beginning [mod]....but then I saw him on Top Gear when he did his lap and he seemed like a decent enough guy, and as I got back into F1 he comes across as a decent enough guy....he's not that arrogant at all, and always seems genuinely humble when people go around telling him all the records he's broken.

He did his time at Torro Rosso and managed to win at Monza in the wet with one....

Sergio Perez has had what, 2-3 seasons with Sauber and now he's driving a McLaren and at the pointy end of the grid...should we hate him because he seems to have had it pretty easy.

People just don't like it because he has the best machinery and can actually race when he has to, as 2012 showed us because it wasn't handed to him on a silver platter...he had to work for it.



Interesting points sebee.

I think Vettel is not well liked for a number of reasons. Many of them have similarities to MSC.

He wins when the car is dominant.

He wins with cars that are constantly pushing the edge of legality. How many times has the FIA had to readjust the rules to counter their cars. Not just flexing wings, but engine maps, or holes in floor or dangerous camber levels to name a few?

The public generally hates to see teams favour one driver over the other. We, the fans, may understand reasons, but Australia 1998, Austria 2002, Turkey 2010 or Germany 2010 cause disharmony.

Vettel has shown petulance when not winning, and verbally attacks other drivers, inc Webber.

The RBR group seems to defend him as often as possible.

Adrian Newey. This last point I feel also explains why Hakkinen isn't particularly respected. Only won in Newey car, first 2 race wins gifted to him by DC and only just beat Irvine to the 99 title.

Vettel only won in 2010 because Ferrari made a strategic mistake. It's also interesting that despite Webber having a considerably better chance of the WDC, they still let them race. Almost as if Red Bull would prefer to lose the championship than to let Webber win

2011, exceptional car and driver combination

2012, a nagging feeling that when the car was in ordinary spec, Webber had the measure of Vettel. Once the rear end had been made to work, he performed again. He was as lucky with his driving in Brazil on the first lap as Alonso had been unlucky at Spa. Probably more than this, many people feel Hamilton was let down by McLaren last year

There's many other reasons people don't like him but you can't please all of the people...


It's not rocket science, you know...

Loeb (the 'other' Sebastian) is unquestionably the most successful rally driver ever, with quite a margin. And he didn't even have the air of... Schumacher-ness that made Schumi controversial, even at his very best.

So: is Loeb the most liked Rally driver, even in France?

Personally I think people like characters... and Vettel just isn't a 'classic' F1 character. Again personally, I don't like Alonso, as an individual. I still remember his antics (bordering on blackmail) with Ron Dennis when he was at McLaren, and I don't like what they say about him, as a person. But I believe history will be kinder to Alonso than to Vettel, because Alonso is one heck of a character in F1.

Ironically, at the moment the stronger character in RBR is neither of the drivers... it's Dr. Marko. What does THAT say about RBR and F1, today?

I miss the Irvines, the Alesis, the Mansells and the Villeneuves of this world. I think the current media-driven, spokesperson-saturated, clean-shaven F1 will eventually turn us all off. I hope I'm wrong, though.


People just generally prefer a hollywood underdog story to a Golden Haired Child success saga. Red Bull as a whole are a popular team because they were once the underdogs. The whole fact that they're always slowest in the speed trap as well makes them seem more underdog-like. But their number one driver puts them in a bad light due to a number of incidents that essentially highlight the point that he's had an easier path into F1 than others. He's proved his value no doubt but popularity and value are not the same.

People like Jenson Button and Nigel Mansell are popular champions because they've appeared as though they've worked harder to earn it. It's only recently become that way for Hamilton as his success has diminished even if his talent hasn't and Alonso wasn't all that very well liked until he started not winning championships.

It's bizarre that popularity and success don't really seem to correlate and that both can be irrelevant to talent but that's all just part of the circus I suppose. This is also a site with primarily UK fans so it does make sense for Vettel not to be well liked when there's two English drivers who could've had two or three world championships by now.


I am German and not a fan... Let's say that he hasn't convinced people of his status of a great F1 Driver. Successful with good talent behind the wheel, but not exactly filling the mold of a great F1 Champion. I always say, if he was humble in victory and gracious in defeat, he would be a lot more liked.


In general people do not like Somebody for whom success come easily. Look at Alonso he was so disliked at first and then came his struggles with ferrari where he put lots of hardwork and has not achieved much success and now he has lot of fans. Masses can relate struggles for achievements to themselves.

I am pretty sure when Vettel start struggling and have to work for championships, he will be more liked. It has been too easy for him so far, last year was exception,but again we thought Alonso was more deserving. As for Lewis he was very much disliked initially, but last year he was great and was let down by the team, hence people again related to their struggles and consequently has more fans.


Glad to see you're taking your newly appointed post as Official Comment Counter seriously 🙂

From everything I read he's probably one of the most genuine and down to earth guys on the grid - it's just that watching races we don't really get to see that. All we usually get to see is him winning races, pointing his finger, crying and making that crazy frog sound.

I can think of two reasons why he wouldn't have the support he probably deserves:

First: A lot of people like an underdog. Conversely, when someone starts winning all the time people lose interest and start hoping for someone to beat them.

Second: If you support Webber (as I do), you almost have to not support Vettel.

I'm not sure that either of these are fair reasons not to support him (especially the last) but they are reasons nonetheless.

Oh, and when you say the subject should be scientifically broken down down I hope you mean the topic and not Vettel 😉

Mind you, if Ron has already done this and has the blue prints for making his very own reverse -engineered Vettel then I can understand him keeping them under his pillow 🙂


He is just saying they could not do all things they wanted because of the gummy tyres, not that he was unhappy with the car or the team.

They seem very confident and Vettel is bad at pokerface.

I am more amused by the fact so many people think Mercedes found 3 seconds since Brazil. Mercedes is doing their usual thing of grabbing headlines during the pre-season, have a decent start to the season, then fight with Force India half-way the season while focusing on next year's car.


I was glancing through some old posts and imagine my delight ,when I chanced upon your confident predictions. How Many poles have Mercedes taken this season ,is it 5 or 6 I can't remember, oh and 2 wins. Overall second in the WCC - not exactly as you suggested, eh? 🙂

Tell me, are you still amused at people who imagine that Mercedes have made up so much ground? 😉


If you look at the qualifying times from last seasons Barcelona GP, Rosberg did a fastest lap of 1.23. Hamilton in a mclaren was the only person to hit a 1.21 lap time so Mercedes must have found at least 2 seconds, when you take into consideration the 0.5 of a second lap time the new compound of tyres that Pirelli have made. Also the temperatures are cooler now than last seasons Barcelona gp which bring the tyres out of their operating range. I won't be surprised to see Mercedes within the first 2 rows of the grid in Australia.


The front runners in Melbourne are always the teams that have shown pace in the Barcelona test. Check the stats.

Its logcal to conclude that Merc is fast. But no one has said its faster than RBR. Why the attention on Merc, though? It is not the only fast car, there's Ferrari and Lotus as well. Why Merc?

The tyres are a problem, not just for RBR, but all other teams as well.


Why the hype about Mercedes? Very simple answer. Lewis Hamilton


I'd say Hammy is doing his job in dragging more performance than what the car can give in that Merc imo.


Merc is the one doing these on fumes fastest laps, of course people will talk about them.

And last year Schumacher was fastest at the Barcelona test so there goes your theory.


Didn't he go qualify P4 in Melbourne? So the theory holds here! P3 Malaysia, P3 China, P1 Monaco.

Of course Mercedes last year were bad on long runs. Michael and Nico spent all year getting overtaken. The difference this year is that they are good on long runs. As good as Lotus for example. They should also be able to develop the car better this year.


The Merc was a fast car at the start of the season last year, especially in qualifying. It chewed its tires, though. That was also evident in testing. Everyone looks to be in the same boat with tires now, so I don't expect the Merc to have any issues.


Schumacher was P16 at the last Barcelona test last season. Please look it up.

It's 2011 testing you're talking about. All the times are available on crash.net.


Every team has complained about this years tires, so have all the drivers that have been interviewed on the subject. Its not just RBR that is suffering, but all others are affected too (that includes Merc).

That said, those who run in front in the Barcelona tests have historically turned up as the top teams. Thats why we aren't expecting shocks, surprises or even the faintest hint of ballistics from Marussia and Caterham.

And, I don't have a theory, rather knowledge of who did times on fumes, even though that is not public knowledge is whats theory.


I am more amused by the fact so many people think Mercedes found 3 seconds since Brazil...

I am not sure where the claim of 3 seconds has come from in your post. However, it is a fact that they achieved a lap time in testing that was 1.5 seconds faster than last years pole at the same circuit. Whether that will translate into race pace is another matter. I am certainly not making any predictions.

On a different note can you honestly claim you expected JB and Brawn to win the championship in 2009 when they only completed the takeover from Honda, with barely a few weeks until the start of the season? My point is there will be a changing of the order at some point in F1, RBR will not be dominant forever. If the RBR is not winning then some one else will be.

Why not Mercedes?


Huge rule changes in 2009, not even close to what we have this season (pretty much no rule changes except small ones).


The rule changes for 2013 maybe smaller, but that doesn't preclude the possibility that Mercedes have improved their car significantly. To be fair, when you are way off the pace it's much easier to make a big gain.

I guess we will see if they flattered to deceive in just over a week. 🙂


I guess we wait and see, but Vettel's body language did not seem to exude confidence. My guess is that Red Bull are looking for other means to gain an advantage as clearly a number of other teams have by now achieved similar levels of aero efficiency. I hope you are wrong about Mercedes and if the experts are to be believed they have genuine pace, and they are quite a different team to what they were a few years ago.


Would that other advantage be the engine maps that were developed for this season? Could it be that RBR have to re-design their rear end?

Could this be why RBR seem unhappy with getting the car balanced?

We'll soon know, if Webber is quicker than Vettel, RBR have been handicapped


That map story has not been talked about, and I really don't understand how Renault would not be allowed to have a new map for a new season on new engines. I said it before and I will say it again - it is un-F1 and every engine maker should be allowed to update their engine as they wish before start of the season.


You may be right, but if Webber is quicker than Vettel because the car is handicapped, then that speaks volumes about the relative talents of Webber and Vettel 🙂

Bring on the handicapped RB9!


I think keys to this season where no team may have a huge advantage will be:

- Updates at the right time to prevent a quick response from competition and to optimize period of advantage.

- Race pace and strategy. I have a feeling that grid position will not be as important in this potential tire season.

- Q3 will be perticularly interesting. How will the soft/super soft handle a second cycle for the Pole sitter? Or will it be better to just get into the top 10 and not use the softer tire for fear of need to pit on lap 2 or 3.

For this season I think a strong point haul is needed at the start. But there are too many gaps in the calendar allowing catch up.

I think the winner for 2013 will pound hard for the last 3 races for the European season starging in Hungary, and then pound hard again for the Singapore onwards fly-aways. Perhaps the German/UK back to back is going to be key as well. Can't bring in something huge that will catch attention at a race that's followed by a 3 week pause.

That is going to be the secret to success. A bit like last year. Which means it may be back and forth as to who is fastest at a point of the season until we hit those mid-way season events.

Unless someone comes up with a very hard to understand aero trick. And who else could that be really? Even the darn Red Bull cans are different size from the rest, probably because they have been wind tunnel tested and optimized by Newey.


You will be less amused if Merc make it into the top three come Australia.

The "so many people" you are referring to are not mere fans, but people with very good understanding of F1 such as James, Mark Gillan, Gary Anderson from BBC, and the likes.

Merc have improved for sure as they stopped developing last year's car early and must have thrown a lot of money at it for this year and next since they realised that Red Bull and Ferrari are not interested at any cost restrictions.


Mercedes finally has a good structure with good people in place. They had more to gain with the stable regulations compared to the other top teams. It's not hard to expect them to be towards the top.


Red Bull aren't interested in cost restriction, which in turn forced Ferrari to pull out of the RRA also.


I fear that we may have a dog and pony show with these tires.

I am very interested about how soft and super soft handle a second cycle, as in Q3, and then start of the race.

I also have a feeling that we may end up with a scenario where an unusually hot weekend results in a 5 or 6 pit stop race like Perez mentioned. Think Mid-East races that have abresive tracks and heat and you have the perfect storm.


They only get 3 of each dry-weather tire, right? So 5 pit stops is the most, unless there's rain and they throw on some inters or full wets.

God help us if we see that many pit stops from everyone. If that's the case, and the degradation is that bad, then the 2-hour time limit might even come into play. I would think Pirelli would want to do everything possible to avoid such a ridiculous spectacle, which would reflect on them very badly.

OT, but why is it that after BIG matchups in the Champions League, I usually know the ref's name, b/c they've had a shocker?!! Why wouldn't UEFA put a ref from one of the five major leagues in to ref Man Utd-Madrid?


OT, there is no way any player could realize and push their foot through, in the amount of time in which it happened. It's only b/c of instant replay that viewers nowadays think deliberate or even reflexive action is possible in the elapsed time.

How many times have we seen a player bring a ball down like that? Any player will do that EVERY time. He wasn't aware of Arbeloa. A good ref shows yellow for that.

If that's red everytime, what you'll get is opposing players running headlong to meet the foot of any player trying to take down a high ball.

Last I'll say on it. Don't care for Man Utd (Reds fan!!!), just tired of seeing too many games taken over by over-zealous refs. Not enough of them know the art of game management. Where's Collina when you need him?!


OT It was a fair decision. When he realises he's made contact he pushes his foot through. Intent or not it covers the reckless/dangerous side of things. Was a red. Please move on.


Think Canada!


O Canada!

Our most exiting race

True racers love thy break eating layout

With glowing hears we fill the stands

The Truly awesome hair pin first

From far and wide

O Canada, we fill the stands for thee

My musical side couldn't help itself again.


How many 5-6+ stop races have their been in the past decade? Thought so.


Didn't Schumi win on a 4 stop strategy...for fun of course, it wasn't necessary.

My point by the way is, that if you have races of 70 laps, and tires have optimal performance window of only 10 or 15...do the math. No drivers will sit there like a duck 4s per lap slower.


Let’s jump straight to conclusions. Maybe they’re only sandbagging……or maybe they really are struggling…..or maybe they’re hiding a new innovation…..or maybe they don’t have the hunger anymore….or maybe etc.

Oh my word this is killing me, will the season just start already?! I can’t take it anymore, come on, put the cars on the track, we want action!! I’ve never been so ready to sit on my a** and scream at the cars coming into turn 1 at Albert Park!

The F1 fans around the world are ready, let's do it


I think so much for Hamilton being like Schumacher and developing the car over time to win the championship!

I think they've given him the car to compete for it this year. Probably Red Bull will be too strong, but race wins for sure.

I think Mercedes designed a great car last year, but it had a fundamental problem on tyre wear that simply couldn't be fixed, therefore they gave up and focused on this year. Schumacher thought he's not getting any younger and can he be bothered to be away from his family for another year on the chance of a great car, Hamilton jumped him in the queue and appears to have jumped into a great car.




Do what? Sit on our a$$es and scream at the TV?! The first few races for me start at like 2am, so don't want to wake the wife and kids ... but I'll be right there with ya when the F1 circus rolls into Spain! 😉


MOST of the races I watch are on at midnight / 2am.

Do what I do: Scream quietly 🙂


Here come the crazy races again!


Slightly off topic, James, will you be publishing the strategy briefings and reports every GP during the season as you did last year? They were fantastic!


Yes, we start next Tuesday with Briefing and then Report on Tuesday morning after each Grand Prix.


Take it easy vettel....Kimi only managed 200++ laps and he isnt whining at all neither did he bash the team for poor reliability.


That's what separates Kimi from Vettel, and also what gives Kimi his huge fan base. He never complains!


That's why Kimi has so many fans.

He is quite a character, good & bad.

Nice to see him back racing, add another perspective to F1.


While I do not particularly warm to Kimi's character, I have a lot of respect for him as a driver and he is of very few current drivers who can be relied upon to race hard without putting another driver in danger.


Vettel is complaining about unpredictable Pirelli's...! Not about poor reliability.


james and some other pundits put red bull out front. I think like ecclestone says, in f1 no matter if you tell the truth nobody is going to believe you.

Vettel is saying he is not happy, but nobody believes him. I have to see him on pole at melbourne to believe the bunch of f1 experts.


Pole is one thing. Being handed a bottle of Moet after the race is what matters 😉


I doubt it they are sandbagging, for Newely

there is hardly any alternatives left for

this year at least,No engine mamping,strict

mesurement of front wing flex ( max ) 10 mm.

Renault ( KERS )never 100% thus alternator

problems and the most unknow factor Tyres,so

when you stich all together there is a question

mark hanging, would you not agree.


Does anyone understand the point of a team sandbagging, and if they do could they please explain it to me?

What difference does it make to, say, McLaren or Ferrari if they knew for certain that RBR had a faster or slower car than them? All the teams are trying as hard as they can. I can't imagine they would reduce their efforts if it turns out the RB is .25 seconds slower.

Ernesto De Puesto

Obviously, if one team is very, very quick, the others will start to look into why. Maybe the quick team came up with something you overlooked? So they will figure it out and then -if possible- copy it to become as quick or quicker than the team in question.

By hiding your true strength you can postpone the moment where other teams realize you are faster then them, make them adapt/copy you later and therefore maximize the advantage when it counts... in races, and not in some meaningless test in cold Spain.

Having said that, I still have a feeling Red Bull might be in as much trouble as last year, especially if it takes them longer to understand the tires, which will be crucial to the season.

Playing catch-up to some team might be even harder this year, considering the cars are supposed to be closer to their limit and there will be a lot of development for 2014 starting mid-season or so, so maybe everyone can hope for an end to Red Bull dominance, especially considering most rule changes seem to have been about slowing them down a bit more...


The point of 'sandbagging' is that it gives F1 fans, with little understanding of test procedures, something to talk about. That is, it's just an empty term with no real-world relevance but with huge 'entertainment' value.


+1 - At Last! Someone who tells it like it is!


It's always made me wonder that point in the 21st century.

I well remember years ago, Mclaren turned up with the MP4/4 in 1988 and in its first test at Imola, ran nearly 2 seconds faster than any other car had gone all winter.

Having Prost and Senna behind the wheel, Honda proving the most powerful-fuel efficient combination, this was psychological warfare on the rest of the teams.

Williams did the same thing during tests too.

Ferrari, in the Schumacher years, would travel to circuits which weren't being shared with other teams, this was to allow the team to test all it's secrets on circuits that they had relevant data from the previous season but keep prying eyes away.

A few years, they would run the previous years car for the flyaways and be developing the new car until they returned to Europe.

I suppose in a way, Ferrari brought about this change in secrecy. They never tested at Barcelona during winter testing because they knew the other teams could work out countless parameters.

Imagine 2013.

The stewards have technology for review of incidents that shows GPS positioning. Are you to tell me that F1 teams don't have it available to read what the others are doing?

They do sound analysing on the engine revs that tell them what fuel levels the car is working on.

The team may cover the car, but photography gives us clues . The use of hi-viz will alert other teams to what's being tested, but maybe some of its bluff.

I'd imagine there's countless other ways to read this, but I think it's mostly gamesmanship. There's a few techie F1 sites, where by looking at the car they pick up on details, and these are fans, not professional designers.


I agree, but tell that to James and the others who all seem to think Redbull has the fastest car come Melbourne.

Bjornar Simonsen

The Ferrari fan in me hopes they are struggling, but the realist in me say they are sandbagging.

Since we live in a free world, i choose to believe the fan 🙂


Even if they are sandbagging, it still doesn't change the fact that Ferrari seem to have a decent car to start the year with 🙂


So what? Ferrari is not going to win 5 races in a row to secure the championship nor any other team. That leaves RB with plenty of chances to turn things their way and win it all at the end.

Yesterdey Manchester United had the game secure until Real Madrid score two goals


Well, that game required an external force (an external force to the 22 players, I mean) to alter the game dramatically, and inexplicably. A horrible, horrible call, that ruined a great game.

The F1 equivalent would be the FIA banning mass dampers in 2006 halfway thru the season, after first declaring them legal.


I think you missed my point...and what does soccer have to do with anything?

Val from montreal

Vettel speaks always more than what he wants to interpretate .. If he wins the first 2 out of races 3 races , its going to be a long season ... Who knows how many poles this kid will rack up in 13 ?


Crazy races again? Excellent news. Go rewatch an F1 race from the end of the Bridgestone years and you realise how dull it had all got.

I *heart* Pirelli.


Yes, the tires have certainly made the races entertaining! Last year was the best since I started watching F1 12 years ago.


There is a need to bring in competition with the tyres. Bring in one more supplier and build tyres according to what the teams want. F1 technology is mostly used in road cars down the lane. Where is this going? Research for tyres that don't last....imagine in future you need change you car tyres every 6 months.


I am so fed up with seeing comments like this. It is far too simplistic a view. These are clever engineers. Pirelli have constantly demonstrated they can make a tire do exactly what they want it to do, which is be a challenge and degrade quickly. Does anybody really think that if given the challenge of building a long lasting road tyre, that they couldn't do that too? Of course they could.


You obviously never used Yokohama


Me too, I love Pirelli .. 🙂


Couldn't agree more!! It is such a breath of fresh air with Pirelli. There is always on track action!!


2009 was a pretty interesting season, especially for a Button fan 😀 and also 2010 was a pretty exiting season, Two drivers went into the last race thinking they would almost certainly win the title, then neither of them did!


To quote William Goldman:

"Nobody Knows Nothing" 🙂

If I was running an F1 team, I'd definitely "offset" the start/finish line in testing- that'd really throw a curve ball...

I wonder to what extent they do this?


“ There are known knowns; there are things we know we know.

We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say, we know there are some things we do not know.

But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know. ”

—United States Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld

Sounds about right to me 🙂


I think it was greek philosopher Socrates the one who said I know that I know nothing


Not true: Schultz knew nothing 😉


Grammatic point:

Paragraph three should say 'with regard to the tyres'. Tsk tsk tsk 😉


Fantastic analysis! First time to this site?


Come on!

Point 1: I'd rather he get the article out in a timely manner with one or two small mistakes rather than sit there for 3 hours proof reading.

Point 2: Even if he did sit there for 3 hours proof reading, it's still notoriously hard to pick up your own mistakes. If I had a dollar for every time I wrote a post, checked it 3 times for typos, hit submit, and then smacked myself on the forehead I'd be a rich man.

Point 3: At least he spells tyres correctly 🙂


Point 3. 🙂 Well spotted.

It's always good when someone is nit picking about another post and drops a clanger of their own.


What he is saying is that they will only be 0,5 sec faster come Australia, whereas he was hoping to have at least 1 sec advantage


Yes, because he knows 0.5 quicker than Alonso is not enough.


Hahaha good one 🙂



Fair call - it's the 1 second advantage that gets you out of the DRS zone 😉


Why is everyone beating around the bush? The elephant in the room are those black round things on the wheels made by Pirelli that are very inconsistent.

It's almost sad that all the aero developments, design of the car etc. is nullified by 4 chunks of rubber with significant build tolerances. The weakest link in the whole car.


Although I agree with you, I think that we must wait for the first free practices / races, to confirm how bad the tyres are. Early last year was the same, but came second half of the season and the guys were doing one stop.


Very interesting reports from German press about Newey´s absence in the final day of test in Barcelona: definitely, a sign that he is not happy with his car.

This happened last year too...

So, something changed from the first week in Barcelona to the second: maybe those news updates have made the car more unstable? Or maybe that change regard off throttle from FIA demanded some change in their exhaust, hence this slightly unhappiness in Red Bull camp now?

I don´t know if it is related with engine torque, but all cars with Renault engine lost time in the last and slow sector of Barcelona circuit.

They will be strong in Melbourne, but it is true that something is not quite right in Milton Keynes right now.


Must be frustrating for RB to have unlimited funds at their disposal and yet be limited to the same amount of track time as 'less fortunate' competitors.

How long has it been since we haven't had all teams present at all pre-season test-sessions?




Looks like you misunderstood. Let me rephrase: when was the last time that none of the teams missed any of the pre-season testing sessions.


No, scratch that, Brawn weren't at the first tests of 2009, so maybe 2008?




Yeah, I bet that is exactly how Ferrari felt with unlimited testing, custom made Bridgestones and an open check book.

Ross to Schu - Oh those poor sods, maybe we should throw them a bone.


Hopefully the season doesn't start like last year, hate all these fake races due to Pirelli's tyres


Vettel just likes to be more prepared. He wants to emulate Schumacher by having more knowledge. I think his comments here can be interpreted as 'okay we're looking at more of a 2012 season than a 2011 total dominance scenario'.

Much like any driver he'd rather go in with a staggering car advantage. He's not got that - maybe just a slight advantage. But he also knows that - even if the car isn't the best at the start of the year, it will be competitive and Adrian Newey and the financial backing blank cheque will ensure he gets the opportunity to lead races from the front sooner or later.

Hell - even webber was smiling in his interviews this testing - he never does that! So I suspect red bull are still confident of being competitive - they just mourn the days of 2011 when they could crush everyone totally (probably helped in 2011 by mclaren having an awful testing winter with the doomed octo-exhaust). Red bull know the testing hasn't been a disaster for their rivals. At least last year they could see Ferrari struggling badly. This year it's probably more that other teams have completed somewhat successful outings.


Believe me, Vettel is nothing close to Schumacher. Not even nearly.

Schumacher is easily about the only f1 driver that could possibly fit in an engineering role.

I never liked Schumi in his time, but his calibre was inarguably well above and beyond the cut of the field; whereas, few believe Vettel would be where he is without the total domination of the Newey inspired Red Bull.

Schumacher is a legend.


Such a brilliant engineer that without Byrne at Mercedes, they didn't develop the car at all.

MSC was a workaholic and would test everything, but his engineering prowess was shown up for what it really was in 1998 by Irvine, the playboy.

Schumi tested a front wing at Imola which gave no improvement on lap time. The squad was confused as it should have been quicker. Taken away, checked in factory, next day Irvines testing.

Front wing on Irvines car is worth half a second.

Basically, Schumi had the ability to drive round a problem which made development difficult.


I merely meant vettel wants to emulate Schumacher and his attention to detail. I didn't mean he is capable of the same exact level.


Vettel talking rubbish in my eyes. I don,t think he is sandbagging,just talking rubbish. Reckon the Merc,s looking good, as are Ferrari. Mclaren look worried, Lotus look lost. Just preying the tyres don,strop the best team from winning!


From the graphs of last article by James for day 4 Barcelona, it seems their times were very consistent and were definitely not slow.

Maybe Vettel is not fully satisfied with whatever RB was testing in the last 1-2 days.

Let racing in Melbourne do the talking.


While shedding a tear for Serb and RBR...

Its not just RBR that'll feel this pain. The field will feel it too and qualifying might suffer with teams not inclined to slug through Q3.

In fact, if not for the mid field and lower teams taking advantage, most teams would see Q3 as a waste of time. In order for the front runners to take advantage, we might see Q3 and the entire race being run on the hard tyres, so teams don't get crippled in the earliest stages with heavy fuel loads. The super soft compound might only be used in a fast dash in the last couple of laps.

It is possible that for some races, the new compound will be torsed out for lasts years rubber.


Vettel and Button have been voicing their unhappiness for a while now (because they actually drive these cars).

But funny enough fans just choose to in 'denial' about this 😀


I suggest teams start challenging other teams to non-Championship races. I'd love to see the RB drag race the Mercedes down a quarter mile, for instance. Simple, easily achieved, entertaining.


Not a bad idea...but a Red Bull on a straight against a Mercedes would have no chance.

I'm not anti-RBR or pro-Mercedes: It's just a fact.


There maybe something here.

Yes, as has been witnessed in past race weekends, whenever Vettel isn't a happy lad seen up and about the paddock >>> that's the weekend he loses and in this case >>> mean the whole season.

So the way things are headed with these new tyres, exactly why wouldn't we have a similar opening season to 2012 and judging from last season's first half, Red Bull don't work too well when everything is up in the air.

Interestingly (as is usual in these circumstances) haven't heard from Webber about his concerns, maybe it's during such times of imperfection that Webber does his best work.

Basically what am trying to say is Webber prefers chaos whilst Vettel likes order and perfection.


This is basically the car that won both titles last year, so why should we believe that all of a sudden it's become bad? If they have found 0.5 sec the other teams (exept mclaren) will have to gained more then a sec to overtake it. So this is sandbagin at its finest, and I expect red bull to be a challenger all year.


Vettel was also frustated that their latest updates didn't deliver the results they expected.Furthermore they couldn't get a decent car-balance the last two days.

And they lost a lot of time in the third sector of the track.So did Lotus and Williams.Ferrari and Mercedes were 0.7 to 0.8 seconds faster in the last sector.Maybe this has something to do with the Renault engine mapping Red Bull , Lotus and Williams use.Rosberg took 0.3 seconds of Alonso in the second sector, but Alonso was ahead in the topspeed tables together with Sauber.

source : auto-motor-und-sport.de

I like Cheesecake


Vettel is the benchmark in F1 now ! Regardless of what Alonso does, Vettel will still win 4th WDC. I wonder why all Ferrari/Alonso fans always want to see Redbull/Vettel not doing great. Are they not sure of their team/driver being able to beat Vettel in a straight fight for championship ?!


@ I like Cheesecake

"Vettel is the benchmark in F1 now ! Regardless of what Alonso does"

Are you joking or in wonderland ?

This is the same guy who was easily beaten by PDR in lower formulas.

Vettel is nothing more than a average driver. All he has to do is drive the quickest car to win WDC year after year. He only needs to beat webber which is not the toughest task in the world.

Get a life and have a reality check. Comparing alonso with vettel is like comparing apples to oranges

"Are they not sure of their team/driver being able to beat Vettel in a straight fight for championship"

Alonso has done enough to win the WDC. However Ferrari need to work harder than RBR if they need the WDC on the evidence of past 3 seasons

Vetel is not even a benchmark for the likes williams or force india or torro rosso drivers


You accuse him of being in wonderland, then come out with this? Are you serious?


A straight fight?

How many races will the FIA have to make a rule clarification because of RBR bending the rules?

We already have one with the engine mapping.


How can SV win the WDC regardless of what FA does?

Surely if FA scores a greater number of points he would beat SV.


Yep, Water tight logic.


You might be right, Vettel might win his 4th WDC this year, but keep in mind that Alonso almost beat him last year with bad car.

In a straight fight I'm pretty confident he'd win.

RBR doesn't have to do bad, Ferrari just has to do a little better 🙂


James, why didn't everyone test in a warmer climate this year like say Dubai as they did in seasons past? They're all whyning about the tyres in the cold, bad weather, blah blah... newsflash, it's winter in Europe.

Is it cost? And if so did everyone not lose money and time just by going to a track that does not represent conditions for the rest of the season? They all seem to hint that it wasn't very productive..


They mentioned something about this on Sky and it's basically a cost related decision. Flying the cars to Dubai is far more expensive than driving them to Spain in trucks. Sending them by sea would take too long.


Thought it might have been.. although like I said I'm not sure running around on a cold or wet track where the tyres aren't effective is a sound financial decision either.


hi james - one aspect that hasn't been mentioned about the likliehood of extra pitstops.

the second driver to pit in every team is looking at a potentially compromised pit strategy. having to wait an extra lap will probably be a disaster given the tyres performance drop off.

it would probably be better to stack the cars in the pitlane rather than do an extra lap. is stacking allowed?



Any more podcasts on the horizon?


Yes there will be the first of the 2013 season this weekend


Name any driver who is 100% happy with their tyres, that said looks like there could be a lot of pit stops in 2013 and who are great with fast pit stops REDBULL so I see a 4th title for vettle...

come on Melbourne 🙂


McLaren have the fastest pit stops.


Last year Ferrari were the fastest and McLaren fumbled the most of pit stops than any other top team.


No, McLaren hold the pit stop record. From the top of my head, it was for Jenson and lasted 2.35 sec.




There were bags of sand delivered to the pit, so they said.

Close racing will be very much welcomed for 2013. WDC won by 1 point.


Interesting. Perhaps this will be similar to last season - early struggle for consistancy, and then the car/tyres marriage comes alive as they get it sorted.

I'm in Melbourne and it appears we are going to have a two week spell of maximum temperatures above 30C. The forecast supports this out to the 12th of March. Melbourne may get clipped by a cold front on the 13th (according to ECMWF charts). Could be a warm GP weekend.


I heard during these tests that, "Red Bull is one of the strongest team this season."

But now the news is different. I just can't understand who is telling the truth?


The fact is nobody knows. It is all educated guess work and some not so educated speculation thrown in for good measure.


No-one is telling the 'truth', everyone is just making educated guesses.

Wait for Melbourne and the first few races after that - then we'll all know the truth 🙂


News are not different. Vettel throwing sand in your eyes, that's it. They will be 0,2-0,4 sec faster than the rest in qualifying 10 days from now.


Sorry Off topic. James any information on how the current situation in Venezuela is going to hit Williams?


Election in 30 days. Could be interesting if the opposition gets in.


Doubt the opposition will gain power - with all sympathy votes going to the ruling party...

Instagram @f1captures

It's all smoke and mirrors. I'd be stunned if he isn't at least on the podium in Melbourne.

The fact that they haven't even bothered to do long runs surely shows how confident they are? If they thought they were in trouble I'm sure they would have done some just to get an idea of how far away from the pack they are.


Marko is adamant that RBR's current issues are not due to the ban of Renaults controversial engine mapping.


Hmmmmmmm! I wonder why Lotus (the other major Renault user) seem to have taken a sudden dip in form as well?

Val from montreal

I just feel sorry for Vettel ..The F1 Press which is 70% covered by English media, are waiting for the slighest little mis-hap from Vettel so they can start calling him a cheater and scripting him as the new villain ... They could'nt trash Schumacher until adelaide 94 and have'nt let go since ...

Somebody has to ring Britain and tell them WW2 was over a long time ago !

Schumacher hated yes but idolysed by milions and millions .. 85 year old Italian grandmothers would be glued to the TV on sunday after noons , or mornings shouting :

Grazie mille Michele !! Bravo Picciotto !


My mother is one of those Italian octogenarians you mentioned.

I guarantee that her and countless members of the family couldn't give a damn about Michele or Ferrari.

If they supported anyone in Motorsport, it was Vale, the local bambino.

Ferrari supporters of that age are predominantly male, only in the last couple of decades have young women begun to enjoy the spectacle of running round in circles. I believe it's to do with celebrity over ability.

Regarding trashing Schumi in 1994 onwards, I believe that there is still an element of German dislike in the English psyche, it's something very obvious in international football, here in England.

What always amazes me is the irony of the hooligan mentality with xenophobic stand point, yet they all aspire to drive German machinery and use German power tools because of their "quality"

I don't know the full details of the "illegal" 1994 Benetton, just that when the FIA ran software checks on the Benetton, Mclsren and Ferrari, secret software programmes were found in the Benetton and Mclaren packages. Ferrari gave the FIA full access.

Sadly mud sticks, but rather than blaming MSC, the press should have investigated Tom Walkinshaw, a significant part of the F1 team and someone with very shady practices in motorsport...

Val from montreal

Lol - It halso had illegal traction control when Schumacher from second out muscled Senna at the start of the Pacific 1994 GP, from which Senna now second spun out again , due to Larini slightly touching him ...


Hi Val, what time was it in Montreal when you wrote this post - about 1.00pm.

It's sure gonna be a long day if you've had that much of the cooking sherry already. You need to pace yourself, try sipping water in between glasses 🙂


The teams are not even required to run a race legal car so Mercades could have simply took some ballast out and run under weight just to spook the competition. We will never really know.


Unless my memory serves wrong, did RBR not delibrately miss the first test?

That most probably translates to why they don't have as much mileage than most other teams.

Since they're so confident in their car that they could delay their test, I'd say Vettel is just sandbagging.


Vettel is 3 time champ, but not really deserving.

He needs to change teams now and prov he is champ.

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