F1 Winter Break
Communicating the sporting drama
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Apr 2013   |  10:57 am GMT  |  306 comments

This season I have been working with a new producer on BBC Radio 5 Live, who comes to the sport for the first time. She has worked extensively on athletics, football and other sports, but sees F1 through fresh eyes.

Likewise in my work with Australian TV Network 10, the 27 hour live spectacular they put on for their home race was staffed by people for whom Melbourne is a once a year touch point with F1.

The result is that I’ve come to see the sport anew, particularly the way that the key players communicate with the media. F1 is unique in that the narrative is, to a large extent, woven by the participants themselves. This is a special thing for a sport. Tennis players speak eloquently after a five set match, but never just before it, likewise athletes and golfers. Footballers seem the most remote, only one or two are put forward after a game and anything pre-match is always recorded during the week. Generally it is the managers who do the talking.

What other sport has the key participants speaking live to the media just before the start? Not just the managers, but the players themselves, moments before they go out there to risk their lives for 90 minutes. The grid walk has become an established favourite because it is so unique in sport.

The participants are also accessible during (if they retire) and immediately after the event. And not just for the main TV company – because there isn’t one – but for all the TV and radio broadcasters on hand.

A typical post race for the top three is a podium interview, then a 30 minute press conference in English, then they go downstairs to the “pen” where they speak in several languages for another 20 minutes or so to dozens of TV and radio crews.

A typical Thursday afternoon for Fernando Alonso, for example, will see him sit down in the Ferrari hospitality area with the international media, speaking in Engish, then after about 8-10 minutes he will switch to Italian then finally Spanish. Nico Rosberg can do that in five languages. Sadly all the British drivers can speak only in English, even the ones who live in Monaco.

The managers also speak frequently throughout the weekend. So the opportunity for key players to tell their own story across a race weekend is unparalleled. Commentators and correspondents like me interpret the action as it unfolds, but with so much of it narrated by the players themselves, the picture the viewer or listener gets is truly rounded. In any pre-race build up the viewer is introduced to a cast of dozens of characters, all of whom have a story to tell.

Also impressive is the way the key players present themselves when things go wrong.

The post race press conference in Sepang, which I moderated, was electric as the full drama of the Red Bull team orders ‘betrayal’ was laid out before a hungry media. It was right there with dramatic set pieces like the post qualifying conference in Monaco 2006 when Schumacher had deliberately spun, or Vettel’s Thursday press meeting in Montreal 2010 after the notorious collision with Webber in Istanbul.

Schumacher coped badly with the Monaco set piece; he would not accept he had done anything wrong and he resented being probed about it by the media. Webber, sitting next to him, observed that his hands were shaking as he spoke. He was later castigated by the stewards and sent to the back of the grid.

Webber contained his anger in Sepang, speaking with as much dignity as he could muster of his race and his feelings. Vettel knew that to pursue a Schumacher line of defence would not work so he came clean and apologised, inviting the ire and prurience of the media onto him. I watched him very carefully; he stayed calm, the lights were bright and they were all trained on him. But he said his piece, all improvised and in a second language and then exited, to have heart to heart with his team mate and managers. It was an entirely human drama but he managed to contain it.

It was a compelling piece of theatre, which enriches the narrative of a Grand Prix weekend.

Seeing the sport through fresh eyes thanks to working with people who come to it without background knowledge or prejudice, I see a sport that is brilliantly communicated by its participants.

No-one ever says this; it’s taken for granted. But it needs saying from time to time.

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Hadn't really thought about it before and compared the access with the key players to other sports.....F1 is light years ahead in that regard


Came across this on UTube: Mark Webber discusses team orders, its from Radio 5 in 2010, interesting to hear Mark's take here



The problem with this article is the huge assumption that Webber was backing Seb into Hamilton.

What evidence is there to support this?

Surely the more logical explanation is that he was conserving his tyres (the big unknown for the weekend for RBR)?


By the way Shaun, I'm not sure F1 is light years ahead. I hate to bring NASCAR back, but each time I catch a race it is quite impressive coverage. Yes, pre-race F1 access is nice, but what I'm most interested in is in-race action. Their real-time feel abilities are amazing and F1 could pick up a thing or two.

Let's start wtih the fact that NASCAR commentators actually talk to drivers under yellow flag for example - which I find amazing. Or radio to team personel during the race is cool too.

Beside the endless camera angles on all cars, including side view, the NASCAR GPS tracking of cars and ability to overlay real time data to show different line/track position/lap time gains at certain track points is nothing short of amazing each time I see it.

I also think it's high time we stick more cameras on F1 cars and go to when needed. Mirror cams pointing in and out to capture each F1 driver and car next to them is one thing that should immediately improved.

When an incident happens it should absolutely be broken down from 5-7 different angles each time. I'd rather look at footage of the incident from onboard 12 different cameras than see the safety car go round in circles for 3 laps.

Same with the GPS data. I don't see a reason why F1 fans should not see a summary of quali by having P1, P2 and P3 cars GPS data all overlapped showing track position on their fastest lap and where each one gained an advantage to get the position. It doesn't even have to be real video. Could be CGI from the GPS data. It would still be interesting 2 minutes to watch, more so than watchign the cars come in for the press conference.

So yes, access has improved. But there is still plenty of room for improvement. And the fact that NASCAR is out doing F1 in my view on technical feel and fan involvment side is disappointing.

And don't get me started about explaining the technology! NASCAR is relatively low-tech. But every time something happens to a car, they magically have the part to show you, or a car cut in half to show you every piston, valve, gear, safety feature, pump, cable, etc. It's amazing that in NASCAR something can fail on car on the race track, they go to the cutaway car to show you exactly what and where it is. The car comes in for service and then they show you the actual failed part that was perhaps replaced in that case before they put the car back out on the track. All in a span of 2 minutes that all the drama took place. You never see anything like that in F1.


I absolutely agree 100%.

NASCAR IS light years ahead of any motor sport when it comes to how comprehensive and compelling their coverage is.


thats old news.... Australian V8 supercars have been doing this for over 25 years now.... We invented the first in-car camera, and everyone else followed.....


Beat me to it Domes. Peter Williamson Celica, 1978(?). Talking the commentators round a racing lap, overtaking, ducking under the tree at Reid Park. Was totally amazed when I first saw. It was like he was on a Sunday afternoon drive...


Yet another reason why F1 should be doing more.

I find it funny that F1 is usually last to change. Wasn't F1 - the pinnacle of motor racing - last motor sport to go to HD feed?


I completely agree!

NASCAR is the sports leader when it comes to getting fans involved. As you mention when they show the car cut in half and explaining what has failed and where this is just amazing to watch and learn. I wish F1 would take note! I also think helmet cameras from inside the visor would be brilliant, it has been done in CART before.


Getting back to the Sepang drama, came across this piece with some data breakdown.


You all know I was supportive of Vettel's move. But this detailed outline of the play by Webber of backing Vettel into other traffic is quite visibly broken down in this piece, and looks quite intentional.

Being on a team on which the other driver has won 3 WDCs in a row could make an individual quite vindictive. Add to this the whole, Turkey, Brazil '12 and Webber's BBC article that Tutti posted the link to, and I think Vettel can be forgiven for looking out for #1 at all times. In fact, with a week of distance, and some of the info that has been analyzed since, I think Vettel is actually looking to be on higher ground in terms of Team interest.

When you look at the Sepang GP intent, his views, previous actions by Webber, I am starting to think he may indeed be a source of negative energy on that team.


The whole issue is quite simple Sebee, even for you to understand :

1. Team Orders are allowed in F1 whether we like them or not.

2. Christian Horner is the guy that issues them at RBR whether you like it or not.

3. Vettel was given a direct order to hold station after the last pit stop, again, whether you like it or not.

4. Vettel quite deliberately disobeyed that direct order.

5. He was wrong.

End of Story.


Sorry, Scuderia McLaren, by your handle, I suspect we have similar sympathies but point 5 is decidedly not up for debate.

Vettel is an employee of RBR and I'm quite sure that his contract clearly says he has is required to follow legitimate instructions given by the team.

If this was not so we would have a free for all in F1 with drivers doing exactly what they like.

The fact that Vettel issued a grovelling but insincere apology was a clear demonstration he knew he was out of order.

If I were the team owner, I would have fined him at least $1m or maybe 10-20% of his contract pay for the year just to demonstrate who is in charge. I might then have increased Webber's pay for the year by the same amount.


Well said MOnza71 short and simple, people here get biased either by being Seb's fans or reading reports that arent official nor correct. Seb broke something that neither Shumi or Senna did two most ruthless guys of any era in F1 now that should tell you how wrong Seb was. Also stop trusting you tube images since they are allways incomplete only to support the claim of the uploader either wach it live on telly or be at the race otherwise stop making fool's out of yourself's.Why not complain of Pirreli and FOM for giving us boring tyre fest where all you need to care is tyres, bring back 20,000rpm limit to see how Newey's car implode(remember Mclaren days with Kimi). There are better designers than Newey and also he was allways assumed as designer that creates fast but fragile cars not so since they cut rpm's so sick of this fake RBR dominance to the point I dont want to watch it anymore.

Scuderia McLaren

I agree with points 1-4.

Point 5 is up for debate. Point 5 is essentially what is being debated world wide.

Few people actually deny that Seb was issued with a direct order from Horner. Few deny that he simply kept his foot down and went for it.

The issue is about how Webber has crude foul despite similar tactics over the years and whether Seb should have been issued orders at all at Rd2 of the championship.


@ Sebee

Very interesting article you linked too which does put things further in perspective...

Only part I disagree with is Silverstone 2011. This is a total non-story. An (understandably) angry Webber DID follow team orders. There have been numerour replays of it on UK Sky Sports. Webber came along side on pit straight and comes off the throttle to pull back in behind Vettel! My summary - Webber is a team player - he could have run Vettel off the road in Sepang, and did eventually help him in Brazil 2012. Though the start line stuff was unnecessary. He clearly just hates Vettel / Marko combo at RB.


This really is just a red herring.

(a) They were racing at that point and Mark was controlling the race, he is entitled to run at whatever pace he wants. As has been said a million times, drivers don't drive flat out these days because of the silly joke tyres.

(b) As far as I know there was no pre-race agreement that Mark and Seb would not race each other for the whole race, just up until the last pit stops if they were running one-two. Mark didn't break any agreement between the two, Seb did.

And sorry, but if you really think this:

"I think Vettel is actually looking to be on higher ground in terms of Team interest."

then you need your head read. Seb broke team orders and an agreement between the two of them personally because he was looking out for the team? Come on.


I don´t think you understand what this is about. RB didn´t mean to help Webber. They didn´t want Webber to win. They made a mistake with Vettel pit stop strategy. So they ended up with Webber leading the race with 10 laps to go. RB was still happy because they have both drivers in P1 and P2. Their priority at that point was not Vettel. It was constructors points. So they didn´t want to risk those points by letting their drivers fight for the win. They fear they could crash. That´s why they gave the order. Vettel was asked to be a team player not for Webber but for RB. Vettel ignored all about the team and he took matters into his own hands. He was selfish not toward Webber but to the entire RB team


Quade, weren't we told that all Red Bull F1 racing staff got 10K bonus after Seb's 3rd WDC title?


I've got to the point where I really couldn't care less, and Vettel is only 3 times champion because of Adrian Newey as without him Red Bull would not have enjoyed the success they have.


And he will pay them back for it...



Very clearly stated.

It seems as if everyone is forgetting that the team's main concern with these guys will always be the possibility that they crash and wipe out their constructor points - especially at this early juncture and in a season where Red Bull may not have the total dominance of a 2011 style run.

Vettel not only disobeyed an order on the track, he disobeyed a rule that was already in place - it was a standing order by the teams account. This was not two title contenders in the same situation, it was all a knock-on effect from Seb's premature tyre change which lost him his advantage as he was too slow on the early slicks.

He disrespected the team as much as his team-mate.


Well I think it's all conjecture, and one can put any slant on it, but the bottom line is that Vettel disobeyed team orders.

More important are the comments from Lewis Hamilton about Pirelli tyres in general, and how they affect the racing. I've been saying it all along that they are not good for proper full on racing.



All the SV fans are desperate to, some how, vindicate their drivers actions. First they tell us he is a racer and what he did was instictive. Now we are expected to believe (during the race) that he was analysing the respective lap times of MW, himself and the rest of the opposition. In a flash, he realised the dastardly plan MW had - to back him up into the pursuing pack.

Please take off the SV blinkers - it's quite simple, he wanted the 7 points and took them. Unfortunately, in doing so, he reneged on a pre race agreement and disobeyed team orders.

He is clearly the faster driver of the pairing at RBR, he is also clearly untrustworthy and without honour.


Vettel being 1 3 time WDC matters very little to the team who provide him with a car and employment. More importantly, the constructors brings the team money (winnings and advertising). The WDC on the other hand, brings in zero money for the team.

If Vettel breaks more team orders, he will simply be sacked as the RBR have nothing material to gain from his WDC's.


I wish Murray Walker would put his 2 cents into this one. Hey Murray, was it a forgone conclusion, but then suddenly it wasn't a forgone conclusion? 🙂

I will come back to the few points that there is more to the whole story than we know. There are egos and pride on the line. There is unnecessary goading of Vettel going on - who let us remember is a 3X WDC. While Webber doesn't need to be helping, he certainly needs to not get in the way. Even if for completely selfish reasons and in contrast to team orders I'm glad Vettel did what he did. It was the right result, right action by a 3X WDC, right for his 4XWDC effort push, and we were well entertained to boot!


I don't understand how people can defend Vettel and then condemn Webber if he was indeed backing him up. Vettel put himself ahead of the team. If Webber did back him up, he was putting himself ahead of the team as well. Seems exactly the same thing to me. The tie-breaker is that they had a pre-arranged agreement that Vettel reneged upon. You don't need to be a F1 follower to have your opinions about that - unfortunately for Vettel fans, most observers of the events in Malaysia don't react well to those who break commitments to suit themselves (which also risk a crash and the team losing 43 important points - they won the constructor's last year by 60).


If Webber was backing him up, why didn't he just drive past like he did later on?

After all, if he could ignore team orders at the end, he would have done mid-race.

Or is there more to the engine not being turned down than we have been told?


So what will you say if Vettel wins the Championship by less than seven points and Webber is not his closest oponent? Maybe he is just thinking ahead a little more than the guys who are actually paid to do so. Ever thought of that?

Scuderia McLaren

+1 Sebee. There is more than meets the eye. Webber is no angel and has been playing such games for years. Vettel, in my veiw, "Webbered" Webber. The animosity toward Vettel is merely that he succeeded in trumping Webber whereas Webber's indiscretions tend to fail overall.

Scuderia McLaren

HWS, I think your post is spot on.


If you look back at Webber's history in F1, he has always played hardball with team-mates. Be it Pizzonia, Wilson and Klien at Jaguar, or against Heidfeld or Rosberg at Williams?

At RBR he has been paired with DC and now Vettel.

Throughout, he has offered no support to any of his team-mates and has generally been quite an unpleasant type of driver.

Typical Aussie? Maybe.

The problem is he has been paired with Vettel, a top driver, IMO not the best, but certainly top 3.

But, Red Bull have supported him so openly, that Webber has won the high ground in public opinion.

Personally I don't like Webber, but when the car has been ordinary, he has measured up to Vettel.

Only when the trick exhaust system works, and needs counter intuitive driving, does Vettel gain the upper hand.

Ferrari took a lot of criticism last year for breaking Massa's seal at the US GP, but at least they were honest for their reasons.

Honesty, something that the Red Bull organisation would do well to emulate.


One thing I've seen nothing in the English language press is the fact at the final RB pitstop, SV went on to a set of new Options - saved from the previous day and MW onto a set of scrubbed Primes. I'd say BIG advantage SV. No wonder he was faster and overtook without second thought. Similarly, it was payback for Brazil 2012, and Silverstone 2011.

Funny how SV laughs these incidents off yet MW airs his dirty laundry in public. Definitely NOT a team player..

Also, poor communication by RB to the press leaving this important issue out.


Exactly; only one English language analyst mentioned the tyre strategy.

Rumour has it that this whole apology thing is due to Seb having refused to extend his contract (till 2016) and instead wants to wait ....


Wrong: Gary Anderson and I mentioned it live as we commentated on BBC Five Live, we mentioned it again in the podcast, then he wrote it on BBC Site and I wrote it here on the Strategy Report


Generally Seb has the RBR propaganda arm to air his dirty laundry for him. Why be forced to speak publically when he can rely on his minister for disinformation to slam Mark in the teams own briefings and in-house magazine?

Button and Whitmarsh got endless stick off the Hamilton conspiracy nuts - but can you imagine if the McLaren press-release was Whitmarsh discussing how Jenson was a the only driver mentally equipped to win and Hamilton was a crumbling wreck?

Even Ferrari with their clear history of contracted Number #1 and Number #2 drivers don't openly criticize Felipe in their online magazine or press-releases. They stand by their drivers even if we know there's a distinct pecking order.

Red Bull actively have a media policy that until Sepang actively blamed Webber first. The crash in Istanbul, which every tv pundit watching blamed on Vettel was instantly blamed on Mark by Herr Marko.

The fact that Webber has toed the party line and kept his mouth shut 99% of the time suggests that your 'national-bias' is actually way off the mark. Sebastian had a huge backing in the English language press - even back in 2010 he was lauded as 'down-to-earth', 'smiling and affable' and 'a future multiple world champion' even before the season began.

The bias against Vettel has occurred over the past 3 years for only two reasons - 1 - the boredom many fans (especially Hamilton fans) have had with RBR's dominance and 2011 in particular (this is not Vettel's fault in the slightest) and 2 - Vettel's perceived and vocal protection against any wrong-doing by the team's media wing when they are more than happy to throw Webber to the wolves.



Yes read that poor article...but this one is interesting reading as well.....


It's an interesting theory, but ultimately irrelevant to what I believe is the real story: the total lack of leadership in RBR. Actually, it makes it worse!

If Webber was destroying Vettels race, why did the team told them to hold station? And why did they drag Vettel around to apologize? They should have radioed Mark to either stop messing around or the race-to-the-final-pitstop deal was off.

If the theory is correct, then RBR are not only ignored by Vettel but have no control over Webber as well. Astonishing.

Either way RBR has no authority over the drivers. If we forget about Vettel and Webber for a second, the team itself, and therefore the Red Bull name, is coming across as a bit of a joke.

If this is how they deal with success, then what will happen if they hit a dry spell? It is always harder to go backwards than to be on the rise. That time will come, and it will be fascinating to watch.


I think the only true leadership that are cementing RB is A. Newey.


The article the link below points to draws some rather serious conclusions from vapour, it is primed to hoodwink the public:


Concerning the link above; one of the reasons for which I love this site is that there is hardly any manufacturing of events, or drawing concrete (and malicious) conclusions based only on speculation; as happens on a lot of other so called F1 sites. It isn't right for the press to misuse power in the arrogant manner displayed in that unfortunate article, aferall F1 isn't football hooliganism.

Thank goodness this topic is about the quality of communication in F1. We must appreciate the effort and quality that goes into what is dished out on this website.


This article assumes Webber was out on track running his own race and his own strategy. The reality is completely different, he was running to lap times set by his engineer that was considerably slower than his ultimate pace in order to make the tyres last. When Vettel complained, Webbers engineer upped the pace and Webber responded as requested. This story has the same level of truth as the one about Vettel stopping on the apex in order to force Alonso to run into the back of him and break his front wing.



That article draws conclusions from speculation and voodoo, thats what put me off from it.

If Red Bull had whipped out Vettel and Webbers telemetry and scolded Webber, then I'd believe that article, that because Red Bull alone can tell us with authority if one of its drivers was driving below their capability. Instead, they got Vettel doing clockwork apologies, that tells us the opposite story to the one in the article. Press people, bloggers, webmasters etc who manufacture "news" and "facts" are despicable.


You don't think it is valid to ask why Webber was pushing Vettel back, into clutches of P3 during that point of the race?

If Vettel was following team orders and not attacking Webber and in exchange Webber was pushing him into P3 territory, you don't think this would have set Vettel off to say "enough"!

Also, you don't think it is valid to look at when Webber turned it down? And why he squeezed Vettel?


Read the article Sebee, but I would counter the argument of Webber backing Vettel into the Mercedes. There was a clear radio communication to Mark about the lap times he needed to be turning, and judging by the live timing I was watching at the time, Webber was lapping within a tenth of this target. If this was backing Vettel into the Mercedes, either Webber was employing some canny race-craft or someone on the prat perch was behind it. As it transpired, the Mercedes didn't have the pace or fuel to keep up until the end of the race.


The retaliation would not be just against his team-mate - it would be against the guys that gave Mark the lap delta times to make his tyres last. As Mark demonstrated shortly after the Seb's complaint, he could go a lot faster - quicker than Seb was capable of at that point in the race. If he was as quick as he claimed, he would have been able to pull a gap on the Mercs too. I can imagine that Seb was filthy that Webber made the right call switching off the wet tyres, too.

And as far as Brazil is concerned, I have noted a lot of angst amongst Vettel supporters about how Mark squeezed Vettel at the start. Webber was out of kilter off the line - again - and was blocking Ferraris and Hulkenberg from getting ahead. Sure, it looked like a squeeze, but there was always more than a car width on the inside for Seb. It prevented any desperate moves up the inside, which is where most of the problems occur at Interlagos - I would rather my team-mate being close by than being on the other side of the track letting the Grosjeans of this world have at it... Seb's problem was that he missed his braking point at the first two stops on the the first lap, the first corner losing him places, and at the third corner which sent Kimi off track in avoidance and invited Senna up the inside.

At the end of the day, the car is mostly responsible for getting off the line these days, and the defensive actions of Mark would not have been necessary if Red Bull had rectified Mark's start issues which have plagued him since late 2010.


In race no one could know about what Mercedes was going to do last few laps. 8 laps to go Brawn could have come on the radio and said "Lewis, we're good on fuel. Have a go at P2."

Remeber, we are talking about events in the 23-29 lap range, which appear to have been an irritant to Vettel and resulted in Vettel falling behind Lewis, right? If you knew this was intentional, would you not retaliate on a team mate who pushed you back? Who squeezed you every which way in Brazil while you were racing for WDC?

Stone the crows

Interesting comments about Webber deliberately slowing force Vettel into the pursuing Mercedes. Don't know if I buy that line of argument, but even if its true team orders are team orders and you follow them like it or not.


This is just another opinion which doesn’t prove anything. What if, could be? Two sides to every story.

It could just as much be that Webber was driving to a plan. Delta lap times to make his tyres work to his strategy. This is the issue caused by the tyres they have.

The situation is that it looks like you want Webber to move out of Vettels way everytime he comes up behind Webber? Hmmm, sounds the opposite to Silverstone 2011. C’mon it’s only race two, long way to go.

Negative energy in RB = Helmet Marko ?

Maxime Labelle

Everyone is entitled to his opinion, of course. I suspect we shall never really understand. Incidentally, here is an article with an opposite conclusion to the one you referred to:


Not so simple, isn't it?


yes Sebee, that's one of the few objective articles on the Sepang saga.

What's not written though (but mentioned by bbc's Gary Anderson shortly after the race) is Vettel's original tyre strategy (as opposed to Mark's) was to enable him to race flat out at the last stint (possibly with racing Alonso in mind)and understandably he must have been irked for not being allowed to do so.


That is spelled out in the Race Strategy Report we did here on JA on F1 on Tuesday after the race



Point well taken.

However, please, note that I'm in no way comparing JAF1 with the site I'm referring to, nor any other sites for that matter. I think this site is fantastic and second to none.

I'm fascinated by the insights that all commenters on this site bring from elsewhere as well, that's all.

Scuderia McLaren

Opinion and analysis articles from that blog are not impartial and are dubious at best. Added to this is the fact Mark Webber is adored over there. The writer has expressed this frequently in past articles. I'd question any Judge13 analysis of the Vett / Webb conflict personally.

It is however a fun site to check out. But comparing James Allens stuff and the analysis Sebee has provided against the Judge13 article is not apples and apples.


"Wouldn't" was what I should have said...


Would pay too much attention to that blog IMO.

Strange and highly propagandist muttering emanate from that site.


Thanks for the two articles Maxime and Sabee.

There are a few bits of info missing on both articles. They did not compare the 2 drivers in clear air. Vettel was slow mainly because he did not want to get too close and ruin his tires. The only time he was on free air he showed he could runaway from Webber.

The thejudge13 fail to consider that Webber is harder on tires.

The planetf1 analysis seem to indicate that Webber is a bad person who intends to backstab Vettel. I am not sure he is like that. Alonso is like that and Webber/Alonso are good mates. Still evidence are vague and circumstantial.

For the time being, I'll wait and see


I'm not sure I agree Maxime.

Your article is quite genaral about lap times here or there.

PlanetF1 article is very specific about a situation, breaking it down by lap and noting why it was significant.

I think it puts forward a really solid theory that Mark was in the very least holding Vettel up, and in the very worse trying to put him into the clutches of the Mercedes - which at that time was fast and not instructed to slow to conserve fuel. It also proves it with data that is not averaged out.

The article you link with 0.1s slower or 0.2s faster is not right and is the type of misleading data that is not specific enough and clouds the point. Webber clearly dropped a critical 1.4s on a single lap and with Webber's slower pace started pushing Vettel backward as you can clearly see with the lap times and gaps. The question we all should be asking is - why?


Ummm, why are we "getting back to Sepang drama"? I thought this article was about communication in F1. There are 3 other articles where Vettel's move has been discussed (with hundred's of comments), why carry it here?

James, the comment section has been so much better than other websites; it has been informative, civilized, revealing and generally pleasant to read through.

This is a good article and gave even you a different perspective. I know the comment doesn't break any rules but these comments on driver X is better than driver Y are taking away from the quality of discussion in the comment section.


Agree with TheDrivingG. There's no sense in repeating the same comment over again from a previous post. And always tagging onto the first post. Leave a comment if you wish but do it normally, don't reply off topic to the first post to get yourself higher up the page.


We are talking about communication. Even James brings Sepang back to limelight here.

This info is newly analyzed and quite interesting for us to look at.

F1 is often not as open as F1 fans would like it to be. And I don't mean hard core fans, but casual fans. Blogs have to dig for info and piece it all together best they can. But by then, many fans have tuned out.

If such incident happend in NASCAR, we would have had full radio communication recordings, all video, telemetry, everything - as it was happening. I think this is important to the casual fan and it's the responsibility of the race presenter to instantly be on top of things. All this criptic talk and secrecy in this case added to the drama for us knowledgable fans. But just imagine how many fans were left confused?


Very interesting article and very true.

Red Bull has got a big problem now. I very much doubt that Webber will ever become a World Champion. If they keep him till end of the season, he will scupper the chances of Vettel becoming World Champion this year. Wonder what Red Bull will do ...


Not only is webber not championship material - he is unlikely to win races.... just look at his performances through 2011 - when RB had a reasonable car...

he had a good race in monaco in a williams a few years back - but he doesnt deserve a top drive - and is proving awkward to manage..


I have to say that between that whole Turkey, British GP, Brazil 2012, Webber's BBC article, there is certainly a pattern there. I wondered out loud here about it with questions, fun theories, etc. I almost feel like Webber is just trying to win sympathy and public support with his moves.

This boils down to the fact that RBR will have to choose between these two sooner than later like you say. And there is no chance Webber gets chosen over Vettel. It must be hard for him to yield to a 10 years his junior, but he must. RBR is going for a dynasty standing here, 4th WDC and WCC in a row. Webber needs to realize he is really but a supporting actor in this script. His attempts at the lime light are misplaced. No matter how likable he may be, hs is not the one going for 4th.


If I were Vettel, I'd win the championchip this year, preferably by less than the seven point, and would then remind the oh so hard done by RB employees, management and team mates of the episode in Sepand and would then leave...

On top of this, this entire episode has shown to me in how bad a shape motorsport is. No objectivity whatsoever, no looking at the more intricate details of this episode, just plain and simple driver bashing.


You lot seem to have gone way off topic. Personally, I am fed up reading about Vettel. v. Webber, it's all a matter of opinion in the end.

Great article James, all the people who criticise F1 should take a good look at the others. Also F1 is not populated by "oiks" like one other very popular sport that sets an appalling example to our young


@Sebee : yeah mate I saw your comments and how you had a hard time defending Seb. But this article is remarkable and proves a point. Incidentally I also posted the same link with my Note 2 below. Great read and intentional!


I think talk of Webber deliberately backing Seb up at Malaysia is gobbledygook. If you're in a sensible team, you can drive fast. If you're at RB or STR, you've gotta drive defensive, cause your teammate is quite likely to do something stupid. At all his previous teams, Webber has been a team player. However, I'm surprised there wasn't more comment on his driving at the start of Brazil 2012, when the obvious position in a sensible team is to try to achieve the DWC rather than fight him for the 1st corner. There is A LOT of suspicion that Webber's car is tuned to be fast, but not quite as fast as Seb's. Especially at starts, and in late race 1-2 situations. RB is not helped by Helmut Marko, who fills the Nikki Lauda role at the team. Ie. he's from Austria, he used to drive fast, no one is sure what his job is other than 'Loose Cannon', and when you point a microphone at him, he says something stupid that causes problems for the team. If Mark Webber is not a team player, the blame lies directly with Red Bull.


Firstly, by my tag, it is obvious who I support.

That said, I found it interesting that Planet F1 released a post that BE confirmed that engine power was different between vettel (higher) and webber (lower).

The article did make a lot of sense regarding strategy of backing up vettel, but ultimately the drivers where not on a level playing field when it counted (based on the PF1 post)


With respect I disagree, Webber was being told to drive to a target lap time. Team radio broadcast to Webber demonstrated and on the previous lap from the broadcast he was within one tenth. I expect Vettel was being told exactly the same thing. Webber even said post race they were driving at eight tenths all race and he'd prefer to drive flat out like in years gone by.

If you also look at when RBR took their pitstops they were reacting to the Mercedes pitstops, they had to cover them against the undercut. The PF1 'analysis' takes none of this into account.


That piece of data and analysis is really eye opening in my view.

Suddenly you realize that Seb wasn't being selfish and disobedient. There was something else going on quite possibly.

Horner knows all the data and all the details best. If Horner concludes that Webber indeed intentionally was backing Vettel up - I don't even know how he can handle that as a Team Principal beside putting Webber out to pasture.

It's a very serious situation if true, and this whole thing may not be over yet.

Who's their 3rd driver anyway?


I'm glad you can see a brilliantly communicated sport through working with Channel 10, but us Aussies certainly can't. Thanks mainly to the cross promotions and countless ads. Many of us have had to find other methods of viewing the race online so we can actually watch those gridwalks and pen interviews.


At least it's better than Ch7 and the V8s. 5 mins of broadcast then a 5 min ad break.


Channel 10 is going bankrupt so I for one can deal with the adds, they're usually well placed anyway. If u cant stand it buy a recorder and start the race half an hour later then fast forward the adds.

If foxtel were to get their hands on it do u truly believe it would be better? Who would they get to cover all the analysis. Why would Australia get the red button functionality? Does any country other than the uk get it, italy for example?

I certainly hope people have seen gp advantage on Speed before they hope for anything better than Rusty.

At the moment we are paying over $1200 dollars a year for the sports package and I wouldn't pay that if it was just me and my partner.

As for the article... I've read so much recently about how f1 is behind in terms of new media, that I hadn't considered the access the approved media already gets. This human aspect is what I enjoy from f1


A quick straw-poll re Aussie F1 TV rights beyond 2015.....

keep it on a commercial TV network in a similar format, OR award the rights to Foxtel on the proviso that we get the exact same SKY TV broadcast (ie. all sessions of a GP weekend as well as pre/post race and qually, and analytical shows like The F1 Show)?

I'm interested in peoples' opinions out there.


I wouldn't get Foxtel. Couldn't afford it.

Would turn to online streams instead.


I would love it to stay on free to air. The ads do not really bother me really.

BUT, in saying this, I love the idea of it going to Foxtel, but they must show ALL coverage, that would be amaazing, and I would get foxtel JUST for that. 🙂


Foxtel....years ago i would have said keep it 'free to air' but commercial tv is now so full of self promotion 'ads' or other ads every 3 laps ir has lost me


Foxtel for sure. I'm already a Foxtel subscriber, but I'd pay extra (even pay per view) to have Ad Free F1 and better coverage/commentary


I'm mindful of F1 being put on a Pay TV network: sure the coverage detail might improve, but it also restricts the audience. Half the reason why these guys get to race at all is because of the corporations investing millions of dollars for advertising, and this loses its appeal if the market is behind a subscription-based or pay-per-view curtain. GFC aside, it could be one of the reasons why we have only had minimal involvement from the world's major corporations in the last few years. I'm surprised that this wasn't considered before the trend took off in Europe...


It's definitely better than what we got prior to 3 or 4 years ago. At least now it's live and we also get qualy. Before that every race was delayed until after midnight and no qualy.

I'm not going to start complaining just yet.


Agreed, I remember that too. The old Ch 9 telecast started after the late movie and after the race had actually ended. People forget that.

It not brilliant but far better.

Ads...well that commercial TV isn't it. If F1 went to pay TV with no ads then people would complain as well..


Coming from the UK to Australia it has been quite a shock as to the difference coverage.

I moved about 18 months ago so I was used to the BBC covering all races with practices sessions on 5live and the extra content on the red button.

The channel 10 coverage benefits from input from JA but the adverts are too frequent and I personally find the main presenters a little under informed and annoying. Their coverage is understandably focused on MW and DR, but it does hark back to the ITV coverage of Lewis Hamilton's early career which is fine if you are a fan of those guys.

The worst thing is the timing of most GP's, which probably impacts significantly on viewing figures.

If Brundle wasn't commentating on the race it would be poorer still. I guess the quality of the reporting is as important as the accessibility of the key players.

Vaughan Morris

I too am from Australia and am annoyed by the many commercials. Too often they happen when something interesting is about to take place and you miss out. And then you have to listen to Greg Rust speak about a crash or an overtake or whatever after the break instead of immediately going back to Brundle.

Don't get me wrong - I think Rusty is great - but I don't want his comments - I want Crofty and Brundle's. They are the source.

However - I understand the need from the breaks. Channel 10 is a struggling network. Each year I'm amazed at the commitment they DO have to F1 - I hope it stays after their current broadcast deal expires (2015) and am very happy they have the funds for pundits like JA.

In a way we're lucky to have what we have in a country that doesn't much like F1.

Thanks JA for all your great work for our media. And to the Ch10 team.


Agreed. Just wish they would switch the main race back to One so we get a full HD telecast.


Best way lve found to get rid of channel 10s excessive comercials is to just attend the race. It was only $150 for the 4 day pass and you can sit on the grass in the sun. NO ADS! 🙂


Don't you worry mate, I was there. First corner, all four days. It's the other 19 races that is the problem. :/


I do agree... They seem to go to ads just as it gets interesting too. Like the webber/vettel display. Its frustrating but not much we can do.


Good analogy JA. I like the comparisons between sports. Makes F1 & Football the 2 most political sports in the world, F1 has the upper hand in my view as far as political influence goes.

Schumacher was punished really badly for parking his car (the whole world thinks deliberately, resents him for that too) & not admitting it. Vettel did not admit anything until after Red Bull management made him to do so. But the result stands as is. What's the consequences for Vettel? Red Bull seem to think that the matter is resolved. Nearly the entire world is resenting Vettel at the moment which I doubt will ever wash away from his career. But what is the punishment from racing point of view? Red Bull is not going to suspend Vettel & FIA has nothing to do with this anyway. So, what's next?


". Nearly the entire world is resenting Vettel at the moment"

No, just the British media/fans and Alonso/Hamilton fans do that. You know, the same ones who always were targetting Vettel with red herring arguments.

The rest of the world is actually applauding Vettel for being a racer and now consider him in the same league as Senna.


wrong, the rest of the (unbias) world supports Vettel


Well, I'm British and I love what Vettel is doing at the moment, I can't stand Hamilton, Webber is Australian and I'm indifferent to Alonso.

You need to get over your problems with the British, most of us see F1 for what it is, a couple of hours entertainment on a Sunday afternoon.


No the whole world IS resenting Vettel !- because no human being likes seeing dog acts - no matter how good a driver and no matter what is at stake. If you cannot win on equal terms you cannot look yourself in the mirror if your honest with yourself.

Senna never needed an unfair advantage to beat his team mate he quite often beat opponents in inferior / faulty cars . I would suggest that only one Muchael Schumacher was capable of such low acts.


@ Elie +1


If people want watch drivers going toe to toe in the same machinery watch a different motorsport. Part of the appeal of F1 is that it's the differences between the machines, whether design, technology or team tactics that make it so interesting / boring depending on your point of view.

As for Senna driving Prost of the track, as someone pointed out earlier, Vettel is still young, if he's prepared to disobey an order whats to stop him doing so again in future...and say when he does try to pass a tyre blows?? (All what ifs, but we wouldn't be in this position if Vettle just did what he was told)


Vettel won fair and square. That is racing.

Senna won a championship driving Prost off the track at 200mph, endangering killing him.

Stone the crows

Whenever there's a story about a controversial champion I count how many posts it takes to bring up Senna's name. Senna was great, but he was no angel either.


Yep seems to be the trend for some reason. So have you counted how many times? Lol


Correction: there are some people ..."applauding Vettel for being a racer and now consider him in the same league as Senna.”

Not in Sennas league for a number of reasons however he has a long career in from of him. Time will tell


well well, it doesn't matter how quick a driver he is, if he can't follow orders, there's a big negative against him as a driver and his persona. Had his tyre blown, what you be your thoughts then?


Ha ha ha ha ha

To be a racer you have to take on team mates and adversaries with equal cars. All Vettel is proving, is that he shares a lot of MSC qualities.

I do not doubt a great driver but he is no Senna, never will be. Unless, of course, you would compare Webber to Prost?

Scuderia McLaren

C'mon HWS, lets hypothetically say Vettel and Webber didn't have equal machinery from 2009 to present and the cars all of a sudden equalised, do you really think the result between Webb and Vett would be much different?

Personally, it is my view that of all the teams, RBR have had equal sporting and technical opportunities for both drivers to win titles. But that is neither here nor there.

As for Vettel / Senna comparisons. I wholly agree with you. Vettel and Senna are not alike. He would never do thing that Senna did.


"The rest of the world is actually applauding Vettel for being a racer and now consider him in the same league as Senna."



I guess, judging from the extensive booing right when it was Vettels turn to talk, at the AUS podium (a week before the WEB overtake), you will have to add the Australian/WEB fans. Probably all those booing were not WEB fans, but in anyway...


I am a WEB fan, because he is an Aussie. I would not boo a driver.

I just think that ignoring team orders, is ignoring team orders. Plain and simple. And for that reason, his overtake was wrong, regardless what spin vet fans want to put on it. I would have thought it wrong even if it was not against web.


I just heard Red Bull demoted Vettel to Torro Rosso for Chinese Grand Prix!!! Is that true JA? here is the link to that story


If it is, the championship just gotten even more interesting.


They got me too, I was like holly s...


Someone told me that RBR decided to give Vettel's car to Schumi in China, so clearly your story of Vettel to STR makes perfect sense.


If it was Webber they could have fouled me too. 😉


Of course it's true, it's on the internet isn't it?


My thoughts exactly :))


Really great piece James!


I agree! Fantastic piece!


I have a complaint about the Melbourne GP coverage by the Ten Network to which you refer; most it was woeful.

The producers appeared more interested in endlessly promoting their own shows than covering the sport in any detail - there was precious little technical information for example, so that the uninitiated could easily be forgiven for still having little idea about F1 after those 27 hours - and who honestly cares who's in 's tent, and/or what they're eating?

Most of the "Channel Ten personalities" they brought in to host the coverage appeared to have little interest in the sport, and certainly no great insight to bring with them, but at least that horrible boor Paul Henry wasn't there this year.

Your (sadly meagre) contribution was however, as always, appreciated James.


Lindsay, I have been watching the Aus F1GP boadcast since 96 and this years was by far the best yet, sure the celebs have no idea whatsoever, and it is at times very very painful to watch, but when you consider all these guys are AFL/Swimming/flys racing up a wall fanatics, and F1 followers in Australian-TV-sports-land don't exist, they do quite well! The GP breakfast was well worth watching, and Alan jone's comment was very welcome. I continue to look foward to the improvements 10 are making year after year.


Lindsey and Alex.

I have followed F1 for some years and resent watching what any broadcaster believes are celebrities on the grid walks. Perhaps Monaco being the worse. P Diddy, Liz Hurley, Naomi Campbell, George Lucas or Quentin Tarantino. Even Swarznegger a few years back, all because they are paid to be there!

Some years ago we had a footballer Michael Owen being shown around a Jaguar F1 car by Johnny Herbert and after getting out of the car asked about what type of engine was under the bonnet... Herbert turned him around and showed him the engine at the back of the car...

The other bugbear of mine is the phone in competitions, where they ask, British driver Button has an unusual Christian name. Is it a) Valhala, b) Jenson or c) Ransom?

Calls cost £1.50, winner selected at random in 2 weeks time, for all expenses trip to the Monaco GP with exclusive behind the scenes access.

So the company make a squillion from the phone lines and someone who happened to be passing a shop window as the question was shown wins the trip, usually someone who couldn't care less about fast cars.

I'm not one for kissing ass, but how refreshing to know that any winners on this site are huge F1 fans

Scuderia McLaren



Lol I couldn't agree more with this comment Hero was Senna !


Great post, James but as an Australian it just highlights what we miss out on. No grid walk pre-race (except in Australia) and since the podium Q&A has been introduced, we don't get the post-race press conference afterwards either. I was hoping given the drama in Sepang, and Mark being a key player that Ten might show it but we weren't that lucky, unfortunately.

I'm grateful we get F1 on free-to-air but there are definitely areas where the coverage could be improved. Having watched races on European TV, I'd love to see Ten introduce the model they use for advertising (where the race is still featured in one-quarter of the screen) as well as the grid walk and press conference.


Its the world feed.

I was annoyed at the start of last year as well until someone explained it to me. I'll just have to move to the UK 😉


Agree with your thoughts. I feel like we are missing out on a lot of coverage and special features, thank goodness for you tube. I would even be happy for ten to pause the coverage at each add break so we don't actually miss any of the racing. Start live but then get further and further behind as the race goes on, too often we miss out on critical pit stops and events which tell the story of each race.

I do enjoy hearing the banter between the top three just before the podium ceremony as well. For example 'multi 21 Seb.'



"we don’t get the post-race press conference ..."

Of course we didn't. David Attenborough was on straight after the ceremony. We're lucky we got that much 🙂

I love having AJ on the team. I only wish he could say what he really thought about stuff 🙂 The guy might be drier than a pommies towel but he's good for a laugh.


No doubt James, F1 has great access compared to many other sports and with the social networks its getting better all the time. Nice to see most teams embracing this and expect it to increase greatly. Fans of F1 have a massive appetite for information, keep sharing!


Never read anything like this anywhere. It's so basic and in the open and like James said "taken for granted" but we -or I, actually- never thought about it like I do now. Never actually thought that is one of the very few or only sports where the participants are so easily accesible by the media.

Great, great piece James. I believe this is one reason I never really got to like Kimi as much as other fans. He is too cold with the media, and therefore, less information gets to me.

I know they are drivers and not PR people, but I like to hear the drivers POV and the pre-race and post-race shows that BBC used to do were unmissable to me.


Motorsport in general seems to follow this throughout, not just F1


Must be something to do with motor sport, as all motorcycle racing does the same, MotoGP, Superbikes and British Superbikes. I think they have more confindence in themselves and their machinery. Also on the Motorcycle side they seem to have a more laid back ethos, and a better sense of humour.


Its something that i've been saying forever now ! Despite the fact that MotoGp has been "watered down" in the recent years, it is much much closer to core racing ethos than other forms of Motorsports. The fans have loads of fun on race weekends, the riders so much more approachable than the demi-gods of F1 .

To put things into perspective, during the 2011 Motogp race in Mugello, Dovizioso overtook former world champion and teammate Casey Stoner to take 2nd place on the last lap after a risky dive down the corner. In the post race interview Casey was calm and defended Dovizioso saying team orders have no place in Motogp. The media hardly made a news about it, the fans didn't go bonkers talking about it and life went on..

F1 is as much a tabloid as it is real racing. Maybe being tabloid-ish is also its biggest selling point. But for a regular joe like me, i can use some real racing and less politics. The glitz and glamour be darned, and so be the whining about some guy overtaking in a race.


+1 to both.

Although we have to remember that one of the reasons Stoner left was because of the lack of respect people have in MotoGP, which is partially true, and could be put down to the fact that it is 'too relaxed' and there are not that many rule enforcements.


Excellent piece James, and it reminds us exactly of the accessibility F1 provides its fans. And with today's technology, driver quotes are beamed around the world in print and video in a matter of seconds. This is great to keep us (the fans) informed, but it fuels tension on F1 news sites and forums with fans labeling driver's answers and comments wrongfully as "whinging", or "not sincere".

I tire of fans calling drivers whingers when they're doing no more than answering questions thrown to them by the international media. The media interpret the event for us, and the drivers are merely responding to whats put in front of them. It seems to be the more open drivers are, the more of a whinger they are "classed" as.

I love F1 for this accessibility on race weekends. As fans, we need to respect the answers provided back to us from the drivers and teams, as its our only window into the greatest sport on the planet.


An interesting insight. Many thanks, James. I used to find the gridwalks rather boring, with various celebs using it for personal publicity and cliche-ridden comments from the drivers ("I'm hoping to make a decent start and we'll see how it goes from there . . .") but I take your point that no other sport does this. However, one aspect of F1 is that with so much corporate sponsorship, most drivers tend to be careful what they say. Thank heavens for Kimi!


Interesting piece Mr. Allen, but tennis players especially in the biggest matches almost always give an interview in the tunnel just before they walk onto the court for their match. So they give short interviews ten minutes before the first point is played.


Really? I've been watching Wimbledon for years and have never seen that. They seem to be allowed space because they are in the zone


See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNoGp53mJA4

I know it happens at the US Open as well.


Didn't know that, interesting thanks


At the Australian Open the Australian TV channel gets 20 to 30 seconds with the players before the featured night match. I didn't watch much of it this year and I cannot recall whether it was done for final or semis.


"The participants are also accessible during (if they retire) and immediately after the event" Just imagine if they did that in soccer when a player had been substituted!


Taken for granted indeed. I am surprised though that the post race interview format on the podium was kept this year. Am I wrong in thinking the majority (maybe TV viewers only) of fans preferred the press conference format. I think it was vocalised? Having said that, I'd be happy with Martin Brundle interviewing the drivers every Sunday afternoon. He did very well at Sepang.


I was cringing so much last year that I had resorted to regularly turning the TV off prior to the podium interviews, but Brundle was really good in Sepang. I think they should keep it at that level or move back to the previous format.


I think it was a great idea but it's already proved that it entirely depends on who's asking the questions. Jackie'sStewart and Ickx along with Brundle have proven brilliant at doing this, but the fewer Nelson Piquet's asking questions the better.

Grayzee (Australia)

I'll second that! I thought the way Brundle asked the questions was very professional, thoughtful, and dignified. Well done Martin!


In any walk of life, it's only a compliment to call someone 'professional' if they're actually an amateur. By now Martin Brundle is well past that stage. To call a professional commentator 'professional' is rather patronising, don't you agree?


What else should he have called him?

I'm a professional, but if someone tells me I've done a professional job I still take it as a compliment.

Out of curiosity, you said that Martin is 'well past that stage'.

Did you mean well past the stage of being an amateur, or well past the stage of being a professional?

If the former, then yes. If the latter, well...usually I would called that being retired 😉


I hated the podium interviews last year but have to admit that Martin does a great job of it.

The press conference still takes place but it's not televised in Oz. I usually get it from the FIA website or the official F1 website a few hours later. It's only text but hey.


I'm still not keen on them, but yes; if they have to do it then Martin's the man 🙂

It is frustrating to have to wait for the text, but it does have two benefits:

First, you get to 'hear' everything. Sometimes when the drivers mumble it's hard to understand them. Thankfully someone else has the job of pressing rewind / play until they figure it out 🙂

Second, you get the whole thing; from experience we usually just got the initial press conference, and as much as that can be insightful personally I think the questions from the floor are usually the most interesting part.

Still, can't complain too much - at least it's still free... 🙂


From the looks of it, the British drivers have a slight advantage in terms of media appearances for they do not have to repeat their statements in different languages >>> that's always a plus especially after a hard day's work at the office.

Yes, F1 has to be commended for trying to bring the fans closer to the sport with these before and after the event interviews for it's always interesting to hear what drivers feel about their chances heading into the weekend/race (though it has to be said, most of the drivers don't seem happy or patient to answer questions at that moment of high concentration).

Also the human drama created in the press conference immediately after a race can even get the best of them caught out e.g. When Schumi cried in the press conference after equaling Senna's number of wins back in 1999 or when Lewis teared up after winning his 3rd 2011 race at Abu-Dhabi.

So yeah those questions on the podium don't quite work for me for it's difficult to let out one's true emotions in front of thousands of people.

Last but not least, one of the best steps F1 ever took was to allow the cameras to follow the podium finishers all the way from par femme to the relaxing room behind the podium.

Yes, it's always revealing to see which drivers get on with whom on the grid and more importantly what each driver's body language says about their result/championship aspirations i.e. The drivers that immediately sit (and remain sitted) in the chairs aren't feeling too optimistic about the future.


Monza 2000 was the race MSC equalled Senna's record and cried during the conference. I think he had also been informed of a marshal's death that afternoon.


If I remember correctly from James' book on Michael "The Edge of Greatness", that a mentor from his formative years in motorsport had suffered a heart attack prior to the race.

That, coupled with equalling Senna's 41 victories, coupled with the marshal's death brought about his emotions.


Not to mention that the championship which had been five years in the making was slipping away.

He won five of the first eight Grands Prix so it looked as if the title was a certainty, then he retired from the next three races - which I remember being enraged at as a 9 year-old at the time!

The relief of the victory at Monza after that, along with the previously mentioned simply overwhelmed him.


Those 2 reasons plus the fact that there had been an incredible amount of pressure on him after a string of bad races before Monza. When they arrived at Monza, the championship appeared to be slipping away once again..they were probably tears of relief . It was a strange press conference nevertheless, with a dumbfounded Mika passing the question onto Ralf and a confused Ralf mumbling something..


+1, the driver interactions after the race - while still probably a little for show - can show us a lot more than what they've been trained to say by PR experts.


What, no podium stats mate? Surely there's enough data to show us a trend or something.

We need stats 😉


@ Glennb


Hadn't thought of that.

Schnell! schnell!

Something that often gets forgotten is that F1 is present in so many markets, in so many languages that the consistency of portrayal that it receives masks that variety.

Pro cycling is possibly the only sport that is more accessible, it's certainly the only other sport where I've seen a potential winner interviewed DURING the event, matches F1 for global reach with European focus but lags way, way, way behind for technology and investment.

Interesting thoughts James, reminds me in part of why I started watching F1 as an 8 year old and still haven't moved on......


Another sport good for interaction with players and use of technology is Cricket. They are interviewing players on the field during Twenty20 games, players walking on and off the field, different camera angles, sound mics (snicko), Birds Eye, speed radars, Heart Rates, distance covered, shots played, bowlers placement/bounce and spin.


It would be good to see a similar technology like birds eye used in F1 to show drivers lines and corner speed through corners.

I remember seeing a screen animation during a race weekend many years ago, illustrating the different lines Montoya and Kimi took-

Out of the exit of one corner

The approach and turn in point to the next corner

Then the line through the next corner.

I think this would lend more weight to conversations and opinions about driver styles and who is harder on tyres etc.

I'd love to able compare how different drivers and cars attack different corners at each race.


THank you for bringing up pro cycling. Very true. Many times I have given interviews during more tranquil moments in the race, on the bike, speaking live into the camera. Ex.



For me was a bit "weird" the absence of FOM's images just after the Malasyan Race was ended. Two big battles in two teams in a track with 2 of 4 team mates asking for "their rights" and, when the race was over...No images immediately? General views of the paddock? For me that was really impressive, but maybe not in the same way as this article does. We lost the chance to see driver's reactions, but well this race has been so enlightening in all fields... Especially about media


That's sad if you missed it as the FOM feed was shown on SKY UK channel at least. It was possibly one of the few times this was more tense than the on track action!

First Hamilton nearly punched the camera operator for trying to film him and then he slumped against the wall. Then Seb clearly beginning to realise that his joy wasn't shared when he saw Adrian Newey's stern headmaster face and tone. Vettel started to jump around like a precocious but nervous kid as realisation dawned. And Mark making everyone wait, until he walked in, shook Hamilton's hand and then proceeded to ignore the others.

It was electrifying drama. I know the on track racing is why we watch this sport, but that was intense. I suppose there aren't many sports where you can have the winner and loser on the same side in the same room and film it live. It won't make a 'highlights reel' on tv packages at the end of season but I estimate it will be better tv than at least two of the races to come combined!


Very strange. Where I am we got to see the drivers in the cooldown room immediately after the race. Were you denied that?

If so it's a shame; The interaction between Webber, Vettel and Newey spoke volumes.


My impression was that Newey was there to stop a possible boxing match between Vettel and Webber... Had they been alone they could have killed each other live on t.v. Cooldown room? that room was more like a pan full of boiling water



@Scuderia McLaren

This is just speculation on my part, but I would guess it was anger possibly stemming from shame...although I'm sure that the camera guy bumping him didn't help.

That's nothing against Lewis - to my mind he seemed to genuinely feel for Nico, who is his friend after all and that's a rare thing between team mates - but Lewis would have wanted both himself and Nico to have the chance to fight and win that particular battle on merit.

Both drivers did the right thing by the team that day (and Ross did the right thing by the team too) but to both of them it would have felt like the wrong thing; Lewis would have felt like he cheated Nico (hence the shame and anger) and Nico would have felt that he was cheated (hence the 'remember this...').

As I said it's only speculation, but speaking for myself I've been put in a similar situation where I've been told to do something by a superior that cheated my workmates. I followed orders and felt the shame and the anger and afterward made it very clear to them that it wouldn't happen again.

I'll be very interested to see how the situation between Lewis, Nico and Ross develops from here, but personally I respect them all - particularly Lewis - who could have taken 3rd without remorse or a thought for Nico - and Nico, who could have chucked one hell of a tantrum but stayed professional.

Scuderia McLaren

Wouldn't it have been funny if RBR sent Marko up instead of Newey. Something tells me he'd haven even in danger of losing the other eye also!

Also, anyone know why Hamilton acted like such a child in that room? Was he angry? Did the camera man hit him like the Montoya incident a few years ago?

Or was he just doing the whole brooding thing due to benefitting from Merc team orders?


I think you're right about Newey - although it really should have been Horner in there - and 'cool' was definitely the last word you would use to describe the situation. 🙂

As a side note, is it actually called the 'cooldown room'? Just sounded right to me, but I'm not at all sure. It could officially be called the the 'post race get together and chill for a bit room' for all I know 🙂


a very good look at how lucky f1 fans are. bernie is simply ahead at all fronts. many don't like some of his ideas but when you look at the whole picture, he is a genius.

as for the vettel webber competition, as always it wasn't a fair fight. vettel has yet to prove how good he is against a world champion teammate.



The team confirmed the engines were same level power. The British media make up stuff now because they know there are people like you who want to believe it.

The only advantage Vettel had were the tyres that he saved himself, which is fair play, Webber could have done it too.

Also, for 2/3 of the race, Vettel was told to slow down and maintain a 3 second gap to Webber and he would get his chance later. The team screwed up many things.


...here we go again..."the British media...etc.etc". Firstly, planet-f1.com is a South African website, not Britsh. Secondly, if you're so convinced the British media is out to get you why bother visiting a British website? I think you'll find the majority of sensible, British based media (including this website) have given a pretty balanced story.


I didn't realise PF1 was Sth African.

Anyway, I have seen many forums that advise users to maybe not believe everything that Planet F1 or Crash.net offer as F1 insider information.

Be aware


"If you listened to the radio messages and Webber literally saying “WE turned our engines down” and you still ignore the facts, it means you are biased and want to believe what you want to believe."

I must've missed when Webber said on the radio "we turned our engines down". If it was on the radio while still in the race, I am pretty sure he was refering to his car and his team(his side of the garage). Anyway, would you be able to let post here the radio message you are talking about?



Im sorry but i dont beleive what you say.


Do you believe everything the teams say? 🙂

I personally don't believe Horner. After the race he was asked the question if Vettel had his engine turned down. He avoided to answer twice, but Suzie Perry insisted on the question and Horner said he THINKS both had the same setting.

Come on! He's the team principal. Their drivers are chasing one another and he didn't think of asking the engineers in which engine mode are the drivers given the fact he instructed one of them to turn the engine down?

Look, I ain't that stupid!

Everybody can believe what they want!


If you listened to the radio messages and Webber literally saying "WE turned our engines down" and you still ignore the facts, it means you are biased and want to believe what you want to believe.



Really interesting to read your version of what happens especially in the post race interviews.

A question….how do you prepare for an interview like that when you know it’s not going to be the normal and could be explosive???....do you do anything different or do you ‘prod’ a bit more…your heart rate??..do your hands shake???

Living in Australia, we are lucky to have yourself and TC to add to the Ten Network broadcast. I don’t like negativity and whilst everyone can pick faults’, we don’t have the experienced F1 commentary teams and broadcast times like overseas, however they do a good job and it’s good to have Alan Jones back.

Interesting to hear the part on Schumi in Monaco. You would have thought that he had been through so much before that he would have nerves of steel. Maybe he was nervous since he was ‘caught out’. Schumi never did apologise for anything I can remember unless it was years later.

Vettel however was different. He apologised for a start. After all the dust has settled I believe he did truly make an innocent mistake and was not intentional. is mind was only winning. The way his mood swung in a second after Webber confronted him in the room on TV was the tell tale for me…his face told the story…and I believe that lead to a ‘less explosive’ post race interview.

Maybe the ‘team’ had more to do with it than we think and should have been more assertive??

Thanks again for a great article.


I believe that there was absolutely nothing sincere in Vettels apology. It is apparent in the body language displayed just before they were ushered out on to the podium. Newey wasn't in the best of moods and Vettel was defiant when talking to Webber about "multi 21"

It was only later that he apologised.

Tell you what, I wouldn't want to play Webber at poker. I don't doubt Vettel broke an agreement, but Mark is one savvy player.


I normally agree and enjoy your comments...we must think alike....but on this one I still think when Vettel got out of his car he knew something was up and after Newey spoke with him his demeanor changed. After the blast from Webber, Vettels head dropped. It was a big thing from any 3WDC to apologise, whether sincere or not.

I actually can normally pick Webber ( since I have followed him since his younger years). He is pretty easy to read. Just plays it straight which is not the normal in F1 and yes this sometimes hurts his status. 'Wears his heart on his sleeve'.

Hopefully with more JA columns like this, we will get closer to answers. More to come on this


Amen to that:)


Superb piece - this is the kind of article I love.

The observation of the differences between F1 and other sports is great, but it's the insider details like Webber's comment about Schumacher's hands at the Monaco 2006 post-quali press conference that I love. More of the same please!


Actually, shaking hands it's about the stress of the situation and not necerary you are guilty at that moment. If Webber was a doctor - then probably we should take his comments.

Just imagine that you are innocent but you could think that everybody thinks that you had done that intentially. That could be just a stress.


well said Nick_F1, after the Sepang race Kimi's hand was shaking so badly that he couldn't hold a water bottle, and that was due to exhaustion.


Nice article James. It's often said how the drivers are too remote from the fans, Bernie's built this wall of exclusivity thats locked out a lot of the people but thinking about there really arent many other sports where you can walk up to the sportsman and talk to him 10 minutes before the event starts.


I agree that F1 has led the way in this regard. A lot of other forms of motorsport have taken the lesson - the gridwalk is ubiquitous now - but some have even taken it a step further.

In BTCC we hear drivers interviewed over the radio during safety car periods. I wonder if we will ever get that in F1. On the other hand maybe it's more entertaining just to listen to Kimi talking to his engineer 🙂

If you listen to the radio coverage of the Isle of Man TT, you hear riders being interviewed by the pit lane reporter during pit stops. With 2 second pit stops I guess that's never coming to F1!


I was thinking about BTCC and the mid race interview. The TT pit stops are 30 odd seconds so its easier to get a quote. It might be interesting if they could interview some one off the pit wall mid race.

Maxime Labelle

Last year, F1 was broadcast in France free to air and, at each race, the commentators did interview Éric Boullier for a couple of questions.

Sometimes it could be interesting, such as during the belgian GP 🙂

Clay in Australia

Accessability, accesability.

Does F1, BTCC, or any other category do this!!




Try Bathurst 1980. Peter Williamson, Toyota Celica.

I think it was the very first race-cam developed by Ch7.in 1979.

I was 15 and was gobsmacked that a driver was giving an entertaining commentary at full noise around a mountain.


Mohammed Al-Momen

I've been following for years and this the first time I actually notice that compared to others sports its true, I guess we just get used to it.

Dimitar Kadrinski

Hello James,

I do agree the sport is trying to be more open, but to be honest, other than Webber and some of Alonso (Renault years)the drivers always say the same things... nothing specific. I can almost guess the answer by hearing the question. The drivers are trained by their teams to respond to the media.... in a way that they would learn a few phrases that will get them out of any kind of question and that is it..

As for Vettel containing the situation after the "win" - it is northing extraordinary to do so when you KNOW you have the win and the points already (a bit of embarrassment compared to the huge joy from the win) . It was different for Schumacher as he knew he had nothing to win and all to loose from the situation he put himself into.


I think you can remove the quotation marks from the word "betrayal".


Well said.


Very good insight James. Its your high level of insightful observance of subtle points with significant impact that makes your commentary both written and spoken so worthy of ones attention.


What other sport has the key participants speaking live to the media just before the start? Not just the managers, but the players themselves, moments before they go out there to risk their lives for 90 minutes?


NASCAR does. More than F1. Watch and see for yourself to see how it is done right.

Scuderia McLaren

I guess you are using the term "Sport" flexibly right?

NASCAR, like US pro wrestling, is rigged. It's entertainment, not sport. Plus turning a trash can only left and not needing a brake, even if not rigged, is hardly a sporting challenge.

It's about fights, drama, "wrecking cars", fake saftey flags to bunch up etc.


And Twenty20 cricket. They interview the fielding captains as the game is in play.


Yeah they do, they even do interviews with the drivers in the cars during cautions.

The only thing you got wrong is it is for 3 hours plus they go round and round. Oh and the PBP and Color crew for Fox are so bad I can't watch it.



Australian V8 Supercars do too.

They do driver interviews during the race as well 🙂


Thanks James, a very interesting and excellently written piece of journalism and insight. Impartial and helpful, a great way to present F1 and it's many and varied components!

Regarding the post itself, the way the drivers have 'upgraded' to meet the demands of the modern press and the internet age is pretty incredible. It doesn't stop with the drivers either, with whole teams (including Ferrari) providing such an open attitude these days. The access they allow, languages skills they seem to all possess and general approach has changed since the mid-00's and the last Ferrari-era F1.

It all makes us fans and viewers feel close to the action and the players. Bring on China, the next episode and some more fantastic racing!


Nice one James. Fresh eyes can often be good. I like some of the comparisons with other sports - and helps explain why I enjoy F1.

F1 is an interesting mix of sole sportsmen like tennis players and golfers and team sports. Arguably drivers have greater pressure than a tennis player as they have no breaks but, of course, they are still so dependant on their teams. It is no wonder we see the variety of responses (or not) on grid walks.

We should also not forget that we are exceptionally lucky to hear so much from teams during races - radio messages are brilliant ... especially some of Kimi's! What other sport provides such involvement? Ref mikes are great in Rugby and some of the tennis outbursts are great but what else is there?

Other sports have an enormous amount to learn.

I guess we are lucky that drivers are able to cope with being so busy and remain in control - I don't believe there can be many other sports that would result in so little bad language.


Dear James,

Now Bernie has hinted that Seb was running higher horsepower compared to Webber in the final stages of the race and Red Bull has confirmed it.

Considering that the issue has raked so much press and possibly a negative opinion about Formula-1 and team orders, is it possible that the FIA could open a formal investigation into the incident and loom into the telemetry and the radio communications?




Team orders are legal. Vettel ignoring the team order is an internal issue. There is nothing for the FIA to investigate.


Hi Jake,

Nothing is beyond a review if it is against the spirit of competition or damages the name of the sport.

Team orders are legal because it gives the team an opportunity to maximize their potential to win. The Formula-1 championship's objective is not, by definition, a drivers championship. The general public likes to see it as a drivers championship because they like the drivers more than the teams. If Red Bull had actually instructed Webber to move aside for Vettel it would have been acceptable, though we may not like it.

This incident, by generating so much of online discussions I think has brought the sport into disrepute. If you read some of the posts, there is a questioning of 'should team orders exist?'.

If the FIA investigates the incident, only good things can possibly come out. Tell me one bad outcome of a potential investigation. The FIA may ban team orders again. Or they may mandate that all driver-team communication be public.


As I said there is nothing to investigate however they can review whatever they want.

The main reason I believe team orders are allowed is that it is impossible to enforce a ban since the teams would just go back to using coded messages. At least we now know when team orders are being used. I thought all radio messages were potentially public and any message can be selected for general release.


Interesting comment. When Alonso complained against Ron when he was getting beaten by a rookie driver, FIA immediately sprung into action monitoring McLaren operations to ensure equality. Why havent we heard FIA monitoring RedBull?


No they didn't.

In fact, they penalised Alonso 5 places after Hungarian qualifying, even though the matter was a Mclaren issue, it did not involve another team. Therefore the FIA had no jurisdiction over the team.

The FIA sent monitors to the Brazilian GP to ensure that the team ran euqal cars for Alonso and Hamilton.

Funnily enough, it wasn't the first time the FIA sent stewards to observe Mclaren.

They had stewards present after the 1989 Italian GP because the FIA's President Balestre's friend Alain Prost had complained that Senna had preferential equipment.


Please read this first. You'll take your request back!



Hi Sid,

Are you telling that this incident doesn't soil the reputation of the sport?



The thing that shocked me as new to the sport is the lack of controlled message by the drivers. Like I said before for me it was Webbers behavior after the race that bothered me more than Seb's pass. Anyone could plainly see that Webber never stood a chance because of the difference in tire.

The truly shocking thing for me is the lack of sponsor endorsement during these interviews. Here in the states whether NASCAR, IndyCar, or NHRA drag racing that is all the drivers use these interviews for.

I thought these interviews would go something like this:

Mark Weber tell us about Seb's pass:

Well I had a great car today and thanks to Red Bull Racing for setting up the car. I would like to also thank Pepe Jeans, GEOX, Infinity, Renault, Nissan, and my mother for the great car today. Yeah I thought I had it won but in the end Seb did a great job saving his Pirreli tires for the last stint. I used the hard compound and with the way things worked out I just couldn't keep up. Next race the Infinity, Pepe Jeans, GEOX, Renault.....

So yes James very very interesting and entertaining.


Well, if they had a pre-race agreement to not race after the last pitstop, then it's perfectly reasonable that Webber took the slower, more durable, tires for the last stint. He was already ahead and just needed to bring it home safely.

A pre-race agreement will effect your entire strategy if you are smart about it and believe the agreement will be upheld.


Mazirian. Wrong. Seb saved 1 set from qualifying, Mark couldn't and didn't.


Pepe Jeans: The new title sponsor for McLaren 😉

+1 mhilgtx. Obviously sponsors are a big part of F1, but hopefully it never gets too silly 🙂


The only thing l really dont like about F1 is that the season is too short! I cant stand Aussie rules football! Aaaaarrrgggg!!! Bernie bring on more races! Make it cheaper for the teams to enter and im sure they will attend more races. Also some tv coverage of practice!!!!!!!! Please 🙂


Great article again James! My only lingering doubt regarding journalism in F1 relates to fact that as F1 is such a closed house (invites only), if one was to report anything controversial, one may find themselves outside the house rather quickly and out of a career. So I feel that we don't see the real side very often.


Joe Saward has commented on this several times. He's always said Bernie has never threatened his pit pass even though he's been heavily criticized. The problem for a lot of journalists is unlike covering say domestic football, the sheer amount of travel and costs involved is a much greater investment of time and money for anyone who wants to cover the sport.

Too many journalists in F1 are simply repeating articles from James here, Joe Saward, Autosport and occasionally Bild etc. So it's less that there's no dissent and mostly that people copy the opinions of a handful of journalists that are involved in the sport year round.

Controversy tends to sell stories, and you can hardly say that F1's controversial stories have been hushed up can you? The business dealings are obviously done more secretively than say football where agents purposely leak to the press for more attention and revenue. But F1's controversies are out and about there - James comments on them regularly and we all read about them.

Sue - as for the British bias towards drivers - I think you'll find that the British press does tend to do that, whilst the Italian press favours Ferrari and whatever drivers it has, German press still seems to mention Schumacher more than most drivers and he's retired again!

If you look honestly - the past few years the British media has overwhelmingly voted for a Spanish driver in an Italian team as the overall greatest driver in the sport. Yes Hamilton has adoring fans and Button has gathered more respect ever since 2009 but the British media don't seem overwhelmingly likely to put these drivers or Max Chilton or Paul Di Resta above their teammates. All the british journalists have rightly praised Bianchi as the best newcomer. Adrian Sutil got ample praise for his Australian performance.

There is nationalist bias in most media outlets - but I don't think it's overwhelming or overtly selective. In fact F1 is one sport where commentators and journalists are just as likely to be in love with an Italian car firm as they are a British one.


Some great points, but just want to add something.

The Italian press favours Ferrari. Period.

The Italian drivers do not get any press coverage in Italy in comparison.

I say this as someone who visits family regularly and sits and reads La Gazzetta dello Sport etc.

The only Italian in motorsport that receives massive coverage is Valentino Rossi. But then he's performing in a different sphere.

It's difficult sometimes to get across what Ferrari means to Italy. It's a symbol of excellence, of beauty and prestige. Something to aspire to and be proud of.

Over here, in the UK, the only way I could describe something similar would be support of your favourite football team.

For example, it's Man.U or, Tottenham Hotspur or Arsenal etc etc.

Did you stop supporting the team when Van Persie left, or Beckham left. Of course not, the team is always bigger than the individual

I have great memories of Lauda, Villeneuve, Alesi, Mansell, Schumacher and now Alonso. But as each has retired or moved on, my heart will always support the team.


I would agree with much of this. I've never had my pass threatened. I work for BBC and Financial Times in any case, so it's not like I'm on some two-bit accreditation!

Try telling them your correspondent is barred because he said something unpopular with the powers that be.

It's a line put about by websites that don't have a representative at races, to make it look like they are the only ones who are "independent" and "unbiased"

I think you can work out which ones I'm talking about...


Thanks for your reply James. Didn't martin brundle have his access/pass threatened by MM a few years back for airing his opinions in public ?


No, he and the Sunday Times got sued!


Absolutely agree, no one is willing to make waves . Lots of commentators agreeing with each other most of the time, we definitely don't get to hear two sides of an argument; no one really questions what they are told or carries out any proper analysis. Also we tend to get a very British bias towards drivers.


Spot on Sue


It's a theory


If you watched the race and followed live timing, then it's more than just a theory!


No, it's a hypothesis and conjecture as it doesn't contain any facts from the Red Bull team and it ignores the teams press release about the timing of the engine mode power downs.

There's also the fact that Red Bull has a policy of allowing the lead driver to make the pit calls but Seb pulled in to alter his strategy and had made the initial call himself which led to him losing the lead.

It is an interesting article for PlanetF1 - which has no actual reporters at races and just subscribes to Autosport for it's feed, but for now, it remains a 'theory'.


But the live timing doesn't show the times each driver are driving too for their strategies and tyre preservation.....so it's an opinion and possible theory, that's all.


Okay, the way I see it it could be two things:

First, Webber did as instructed, took it on good faith that Vettel would hold position, and then got caught out, which makes Vettel an opportunist and Webber a little bit silly.

Or second:

Webber deliberately backed Vettel into Hamilton (with the entire team not suspecting a thing), knowing that Vettel would push harder to stay ahead, thus bringing Vettel closer to him in order to bait Vettel into passing him, in which case Webber was little bit crafty but very silly to give up a (virtually) guaranteed win, while Vettel was silly enough to take the bait and win a race.

Hmmm...that's a tough one...

Val from montreal

I don't know why it's still being talked about all these years ...His car locked up the front and went wide ..Todt was ''disgusted'' with the stewards decision ...

It was also the first time in Ferrari's history that both cars started at the back of the grid ...


So was Brawn.

I think it was the supposedly Ferrari International Assistance, aka Mosley wanting to screw Ferrari over. How Ferrari ever got the mass dampers banned is beyond me.

I lost a lot of respect for many in F1 that day, refusing to believe that a mistake had occurred.

Still he proved a point over who should have rightfully won, he finished 5th from the back of the grid, so would have won with ease..


MS pace in the final laps were nearly 5sec/lap quicker than DC and RB. Its a shame he got stuck behind Button and later RB,else a podium was well within reach.

Val from montreal

Buona Pasqua HWS ! If we can put our differences aside for a second , but last week , March 21st , was the happiest day of my life ! My first child was born ,my son Vincenzo ! Apparently he's born on the same day as Ayrton Senna , imagine that !

When he's older , I will sit him on the couch, take out my box of taped VHS cassettes with all of Schumi's wins and poles , and tell him : " Son , this guy here was the greatest racing driver ever " .... And in about 10-12 years , I will bring him to his first F1 race here in Montreal so that he can witness Mick Schumacher win in the scarlet Ferrari !

Cheers !


Sounds good to me Val. Pizza and pellegrino, wonderful. And if they do Melanzane alla Parmiggiana like mamma used to make... mouth watering now, need food!

Arriverderci !

Val from montreal

Anytime Hero ... Anytime ... Thanks !! Yes they do bring a new perspective , u realize what's really important .. If u come down and visit , you wont starve to death since we got the finest Italian restauraunts in North-America ... We will share a pizza and some Pellegrino ... It's on me,

You deserve it after having to put up with me !

Ciao !!

Val from montreal

Thanx Mike ! Lol - very funny !


Buona Pasqua Valentino.

Congratulazioni per la nascita del' tuo primo figlio.

Great choice of name, shortened to Enzo maybe? lol

Kids bring a different perspective to life and I wish you every happiness. I always wanted to visit Montreal, I'd like to go to Bertierville and see the GP there too, remember the 1978 GP.

Who knows, maybe I could buy you a beer and we can chat about our passion.


Healthy long life to you and Vincenzo!!!!!!

Hopefully he will not be swayed into the modern Red Bull propaganda or similar, although with you, I can NEVER see that being allowed!!!!


Great piece! Thank you James.

rob in victoria bc

With every major rule change, the demise of Formula 1 as a viable and legitimate sport is generally predicted. Until the drivers are actually removed, and the cars become driven remotely from the pitwall, it will be just fine. This is why I love Formula 1. So, thank you Bernie, Seb, Mark, (and James Allen).


Good piece, James keep up the good work.Your take on formula one is greatly appreciated.

I look at this site at least once a day.Looking forward to the next chapter on the formula one circus.


Here in Greece ERT (the Greek state tv station) aquired the rights to broadcast F1 but there were no commentators at the first two races due to strikes. So no drama communicating here in Greece, just the V8 sounds in HD:D


I have a sneaky suspicion you prefer it that way 🙂



The Greek commentators are not good at all especially compared to the ones from Britain. Hopefully the strikes will carry on and we'll keep having just the glorious engine sounds...


Lol, best of luck to you! 🙂


James -

I compare you to Google.

Every article that you come out with, is extremely insightful, thought provoking, useful, very rare (as in you cannot find the article elsewhere on the net), and yet after reading it, the reader feels like "how come no one thought of this before"?

Brilliant... keep it up....

One question, due to the sheer success of JAonF1, have you found yourself having to "watch your back"?


I mean professionaly have you suddenly found peers being jealous of JAonF1?


Thats an interesting point you make James.

I actually agree with the view that you do get closer to the drivers & team members which contribute to the 'show'.

Question - these new people you work with do they care who wins or see the whole #1 and #2 driver thing and better cars as drama or farce?


On driver interviews, no offence to other sports, but I would assume 22 top class, high paid drivers travelling all over the world are smarter and better educated than 100 +- defense football players from the Premier League, and thus are able to communicate better with the media

Maybe only top golfers and tennis players would be able to match them

As for languages, we have an old saying in Mexico: if you speak three languages you're trilingual, two, you're bilingual, only one, you're American(as in US)

English speaking drivers or engineers, techs, etc.(Brits, US, OZ) do not need to learn another language to talk to the team, the rest have to at least learn English

Smarter guys like Alonso and Rosberg can use other languages as well

In Latin America broadcasts Nico always gives an interview in very good Spanish and fans love him because of it

Probably the best option for upcoming drivers is to learn German with an Austrian accent


It's a great point you make and something I have seen written about over the years.

It would be far to simple to say that F1 drivers are more intelligent than football players, but if you look at what experience a driver has by the time he's reached a professional standard, they have to have a very good understanding of vehicle dynamics. Not necessarily to design the car but to advise the engineers in which direction the car should go. They will have spoken to corporate level guests at most events, ie sponsors, and generally they are self motivated and dedicated athletes.

Football is essentially available to every kid in the world, be it at football academies, or in the street or on the beaches.

If you display skill with a ball, clubs will carry you through. You do not have to bring sponsorship and as a member of a squad, you don't have to speak at sponsor events if you choose not to. Despite their fitness, I doubt they have the overall fitness of a F1 driver.

To compare, Schumacher, Alonso, Button, Rosberg or Vettel against Rooney, Ronaldo (Brazilian), Beckham, Gascoigne or Maradona?

In fact compare 2 world champions from 1986.

You have Prost and Maradona. Both supreme individuals, yet one descended into drugs, obesity and dangerous living.


While the podium interviews can be a good thing when done by someone who is involved in the sport such as Martin Brundle, we now miss out on seeing the post-race press conference.

A few people have said they don't get to see it in Australia. It is not just in Australia but here in the UK and presumably all around the world. It's a great shame and I've only realised myself recently that I wish we could see it. Of course, that realisation is heightened when events happen such as those in Malaysia.


You make some great points. My only issue with F1, and I think it's just indicative of media as a whole at the moment, is that there is a concentration on the medium. Sure, we have fantastic access to the drivers, team staff, pits, etc., but the actual message is mediated to the point where it's almost useless. When watching a pitwalk, how often do you know how the driver will respond to any question before it's asked? The drivers have their handlers to give them scripted answers to everything. Sure, we see a few candid moments here and there (most of Sepang, for example), but on the whole, it feels like this 'transparency' is a way of F1 and the media tricking us into thinking we get to see what's happening. F1 just fools us a bit better than the others!


James, I'd love to know how honest the drivers are when they talk about their cars and their form. JB, for example, often tells you how the car is working and not working. I'm often a little sruprised by this, but it really helps his fans and the viewers to interpret what is going on. I think it's so important for those of use who like to know the real story rather than the simple headlines. But I also wonder if teams use this as a way of fooling the opposition with false infromation. F1 teams are so competititve, it wouldn't surprise me if many teams create a fictional narative for the fans and media.


No driver is going to say that he/she is a dud and he/she has had headache throughout the race.


Excellent insight as ever, James, thanks. Sometimes it needs to be set out like this for us to realise just how good we have it.

Is there anything extra you would like to get out of all of the race-weekend media opportunities that would aid what you are able to pass on to us mere viewers and readers?


Does Rosberg really use all his five languages for media interviews after the race? I am amazed!

What are his five language anyway?



According to this site, Nico speaks fluent German, English, Italian and French, but not Finnish.

That's four, but if you trust ferggsa (comment 43) he also speaks fluent Spanish - that's five.

Very impressive if you ask me - for myself I only speak two languages: English and Bad English...erring toward the latter.


Excellent, thanks.




English (US)

English (Austsalian)




Scuderia McLaren

I don't know what Rosberg speaks but I know Webber speaks 5 also: English, Australian, Canadian, American and New Zealander. Pretty good ay mate!


Lol, nice 🙂


English, German, Italian, Spanish, and Swedish.


Obviously English and German, but I suspect one of the other 3 is 'Diplomacy' ...


I assume he speaks German as a mother tongue, English as all drivers, Spanish because I see him on TV, probably French because he lives in Monaco, and Swedish from his father? Rosberg is a Swedish name, but we need James to answer properly


I know only 3. He speaks German, English and Spanish.I´m guessing also Finnish because of his father but that´s my own speculation. That leaves either French or Italian as language number 5



Great article. I agree with a post above is the best way to see the GP is to attend the GP. I attended my second with daughter this year. We especially enjoyed the whisky after qualifying was suspended due to the rain.

I was interested do other GP have other races (V8s, celebrity etc.) on all weekend like the Australian GP ?


The British Grand Prix doesn't. I haven't been to a foreign GP for a while so can't comment there, but I find it frustrating that considering the cost of the British GP, over the weekend is GP2 and Porsche Supercup.

I started going in 1982, the British GP programme that day was

1) Mail on Sunday House of Lords vs House of Commons Race

2) British Saloon Car Championship, Rd 8

3) Formula 1 Warm up

4) Lunchtime display ( not only Red Arrows, but Concorde, Harrier Jumpjet, Stunt riding by Eddie Kidd etc

5) British GP

6) Historic Championship race

7) British F3 Championship

Thats from the programme, not my memory.

I've heard of different reasons for the lack of races now.

The cost of a championship actually participating in a Grand Prix weekend is too prohibitive.

The tyres of other championships destroys what the F1 cars have put down on the tarmac.

Insurance costs

I'm not sure of the real reason, maybe it's elitist here, because its known in Australia its a fairly full programme. But after having attended GP's 30 years ago and watching the event become sparser over the years, it does frustrate.

I go to MotoGP too, and there, myself and my daughters are entertained throughout the day.

Memories. Just remembering back, we used to have driver parades after the finish, the podium finishers on an open topped car for a lap waving to the crowd.

I blame the demon that has become television scheduling

Stone the crows

Racing is unique in how it communicates with the participants. But F-1 does control access to the drivers and team members very carefully. Anyone who's gone from F-1 to Nascar or Indy car will be astonished at the accessability around the track to virtually anyone. I'm always struck by the way that after an Indy race there's a reporter right next to the winning car putting a mic in the face of the driver before he's had a chance to get out of the car.


I notice a lot of planetf1 links appearing here as well as planetf1 style comments - as in sensationalised trollop. This is a shame. As a fan of many sports, this article is another reflective article on what we have with motorsport/F1 that is unique. And then I used to read the comments for some intelligent well thought out opinions that added to the site. Now it seems there is a majority of 'children' invading 🙁


Well said. Really has started to 'go down' in the last 6 months....it's the childish 'mine is better than yours no matter what' attitude and not accepting that people can have a different opinion 'unbiased' to their own. Shame really.


It's the constant battle between good and evil.

Reading some of the comments James put up at the height of the Webber / Vettel debate it sounds like he's going to be cracking down on that a bit, and while I do value free speech I think that's probably a good thing.

I do think it would be a good idea to have a link somewhere on the page to a set of guidelines for posting comments. It wouldn't stop everyone, but it might lighten the load a little 🙂


Yeah good review James. With the amount of money going into sponsorship and media coverage into the sport it has become almost an aspect of the sport. In one way it's terrific because we all get such good media access to the drivers and top team figures but I guess the downside is that the responses from teams and drivers are very carefully guarded and scripted pieces in most cases. Also unless your JA you cannot get close to the teams and drivers on race weekends like you do in other racing formulas.

For me the best events I ever attended was the Indy GP's at Surfer Paradise- because it was a few notches down in terms of politics compared to F1 but had far more face to face accessibility to the teams and drivers on race weekends. Obviously not as much tv and stats analysis/coverage ( few years ago now ) So being there was a must and a real privilege that I still miss.


Agree about Surfers early days. I think it comes down to being an American run series. My cousin raced there for many years in the support race to the original CART series. Always speaks about the US organiser who, trying to understand a V8 issue, ended the discussion with the drivers by saying....well what do you think the fans want.......that's what we'll do..!

Access to drivers in US series has always been second to none unless you go back to F1 in the 60/70's

Ted the Mechanic

This is why the off-track is often better than the on-track action.

James, we've been screwed in New Zealand by SKY TV for years. I rejoiced last year when it was announced that SKY would be lead broadcaster in Great Britain and that Martin Brundle was going to work for them. Yay! I thought, we'll finally get to see Martin's famous pre-race gridwalk! No such luck...

Obviously we can't afford to pay the piper and now we not only don't get the gridwalk, but we also lost Martin as well because SKY TV in New Zealand have stuck with the BBC coverage for Practice sessions and the Race. Not all bad though as we pick up you during Practice and keep DC for the race. Would still love to see the gridwalk though.

JAonF1 and Joe Saward are my first stops for F1 updates online - please keep up the good work!


Been said before, but I really like the way the camera now follows the drivers into the cool down room. This more than compensates for the fact that so much of the drivers emotion is hidden behind a helmet for most of the event


I agree. It been the best improvement or addition to the telecast for many years. Simple and very effective. Must watch viewing.


Come on guy's its all about theatre and drama. The the fact everyone is talking about this means sponsors will be lining up in the future.

I although I don't see any on this sit.


No sponsors on this site?



Sponsors these days do not essentially lien up when something is popular or is being discussed to death. They want to ensure that the image of the sport is in alignment to their brand.


Hey James you must be an expert on body language as sometimes this can be more descriptive than what the driver says.

Great article as always and loving the podcast.


''Footballers seem the most remote, only one or two are put forward after a game and anything pre-match is always recorded during the week. Generally it is the managers who do the talking.''

Gee James, I thought that would have been obvious why this happens !!! (esp. aimed at rugby players).

In general James, there are a lot of sports minded people out there ( both in TV and not in TV) who have great views on F1. Sometimes fresh thinking is best however it is hard for the 'tried and tested' brigade to change their thinking. F1 needs to change more, but get rid of some gimmicks. You highlighting the freshness is great hopefully more to come.

Think outside the square. I know you mentioned it before, but the GP Breakfast in Melbourne was great for example although that was only local organising, not F1 overall

Yet the driver appearances to the general public is absolutely minimal. 15 minute driver signing sessions. All this may be good for TV and media but not good for the fans.


Thanks for this article James. It doesn't hurt to remind people from time to time just how awesome this sport that we all love is besides the action on the track!


I would say that access to to the drivers is excellent, but what normally leaves their mouth is boring coprorate drivel.

e.g. 'Team did a good job', 'made a step forward', 'thanks to everyone back at the factory' (Yawn)

I'll miss Webber when he goes, as he's one of the few that actually says what he is thinking. Look up Portugal 1992 for how a proper press conference should be!


Kimi joining Sebastian at RB next season? Is it true?


Ever since his come back I have told whoever would listen, that Kimi would replace the next driver to leave RB. He is a perfect fit, they wanted to bring fun to f1, and not be a stuffy typical team. Plus they sponsored him in rally. Just hope RB have ice cream in there catering area.


Me too, Ashboy. That would be my dream team, we can expect a lot of clean, exciting and fun racing.


I think I can guess where this came from, but I do have two questions:

First, why would Kimi leave Lotus? It's a relatively simple setup with minimal politics, he's the no.1 driver, he has a decent car capable of winning races and he's is obviously very happy there. It's generally agreed that performance in F1 is cyclical, so I would also argue that Lotus is on an upward curve, while RBR might just be starting their downward curve.

Second, what of Torro Rosso?

In eight years they have promoted a grand total of one driver to RBR. Fair enough that driver has done exceptionally well and set a very high standard, but if Webber does go at the end of 2013 and his seat is not filled by DR or JEV (or worse, if DR or JEV are given the flick altogether for two more young guns) then it seems to me that running a second 'development' team is massive waste of time and resources and kind of a joke...and at the risk of upsetting some people I would say that the joke has been on the TR drivers themselves who drove for the team with the reasonable expectation of being promoted to RBR at some point.

Having said all that, I might as well all the way and say that my hope is that someday TR is sold to a major Italian organisation, rebranded Minardi, and turned into a proper race team again - just hopefully with better resources and performance 🙂


It's a story that puts the heat on Webber, so you can imagine what's at work there

That said, it makes a lot of sense, so wait and see


What then would the chances be of a straight swap, with Webber going to Lotus (if he doesn't retire)? He'll still have a car that can win races, and a less threatening team mate, plus Boullier did say a couple of years ago (before Kimi) that he would welcome Webber with open arms.


Didn't Red Bull sponsor Kimi's rally activities back in 2010-11? Could well be true about Kimi to RBR in 2014.


It would be very interesting to watch whether Kimi and Seb could remain freinds.

Jim St. George

Not that it's my expertise, but commentary on the tragi-comedy of humanity can only be enhanced by a broad, multi-disciplinary background. So long as everyone respects what each party (specialists in F1 vs. non-specialists) brings to the table, the work done together will be great. I'm looking forward to listening to more.


In a way, Red Bull has the lingering tension between Vettel and Webber out of the way for now. Vettel has demonstrated once again why he is the Red Bull No1, taking matters into his own hands and opening a 14 point gap over Webber instead of following him home and being level on points as a result. Yeah Webber will act like he is the tragic heroine in a 1930s Bette Davis movie for a while yet, but so what thats hardly new. Vettel risked an early exit in qualifying to save a fresh set of the faster option in Q1/Q2 which he put to good use in the final stint of the race. He should be applauded and not villified, but thats the soap opera aspect of the F1 travel circus for you. Should Vettel beat Alonso by less than 7 points to the championship Red Bull staff can once again thank him on their knees for delivering the goods.

On the other side there are the unresolved situations at Mercedes and to a lesser extent Ferrari and Lotus, not to mention McLaren who might join the pack at the front later on. Rosberg is a China specialist and could still correct his wrong behavier (from his point of view but not the teams point of view)in Malaysia by winning the first race for Mercedes in 2013 in 2 weeks. He didnt play second fiddle for Schumi for 3 years so why now for Hamilton ? Its a convenient situation for Hamilton and Wolff/Brawn if Rosberg keeps playing the poodle, they could focus on the bigger name sooner than expected and make him undisputed No1 for the all important 2014 season. But Rosberg has nobody to blame than himself if he is now seen as a No2 driver in the Barrichello, Coulthard ... tradition for the rest of his career. Its up to him to confront the issue and take the fight to Hamilton and if necessary to Brawn/Wolff/Lauda, but it should start in China or it will be too late. Hamilton will never repay him anyway but sees him as his No2 for now.

At Red Bull they should calm down now, they have the car and the drivers to deliver a 4. double title. Thats all that really matters. They could actually laugh at the desperate competition trying to profit from a blown up non event that didnt give any new answers that we didnt knew before. Its Mercedes pretending to be squeeky clean with their tree hugging driver line up that will run into trouble if Ham keeps beating Ros in Q3 but Ros is faster in the races. Sounds just like McLaren in 2011 !


Should Vettel beat Alonso by less than 7 points to the championship

Funny isnt it, if Vettel wins by less than 7, the team will applaud him.

Yet 3 years ago, if Alonso had won by less than 7, him and the team would have been crucified...


I don't think we can praise F1 drivers too much. Granted they are better than footballers but they have a long way to go. Compare it to Indycar or Nascar and they are lightyears ahead of F1 in terms of driver accessability.

At one race last year Franchitti retired on the warm up laps and then joined the commentary team about 30 minutes later and provided a good chunk of commentary. Drivers that retired were only too happy to speak to the media immediately, team managers were accessible during the race on the pit wall, winners were interviewed as soon as they got out of the car etc.

They did all of that and it didn't come across as stage managed or controlled as F1.

As for the grid walk. It is becoming pointless as it seems to be the same couple of drivers that want to talk (always seems to be Button or Webber), and all the big names seem to be doing exclusive interviews or don't want to be approached.


There's a rumor floating around facebook that Red Bull has demoted Vettel to Toro Rosso for the Chinese GP with Daniel Ricciardo coming up for the drive, to punish Vettel. But I can't find any other stories on it. I'm guessing the story isn't credible?


April 1 story maybe?


I think this is a very interesting article. I can definitely see the point that the reaction of Vettel here was quite different to the reaction of Schumacher at Monaco 2006.

However, I think if you compare the after race reaction of Vettel in Malaysia 2013 with the after race reaction of Schumacher in Austria 2002 the two champions seem far more similar.

When Schumacher crossed the line in 2002 he celebrated his win as he did so. Similarly you can see after the race in Malaysia that Vettel seemed quite happy with his win as he crossed the line. When Schumacher witnessed the negative reaction of the crowd he was suddenly far less happy with his win. Similarly after a telling off from Red Bull team Vettel also suddenly seemed to regret his race win.

The similarity to me is that it was only after

it was clear that opinion was against them that they suddenly both changed their tune.

I would like to add however, that from my own point of view I dislike team orders and I like to see the close racing we saw.

Many people have pointed out that Webber also openly disobeyed team orders at Silverstone 2011. I think he got an easier time for it because he admitted it openly and didn't try to claim he didn't understand the order. I think the PR blunder for Vettel was the contradiction between his reaction as he crossed the line and his reaction when he realised his actions were disapproved of.

For myself Vettel would have far more credibility if he had just admitted like Webber in the past that he disobeyed the order because he didn't agree with it.


Agree 100%

I would argue that if Vettel had just done that at the start then this whole thing wouldn't have blown up half as much as it did.


James do you know anything about this new dupont f1 team? is it for real?



No it's a spoof, a pr stunt to launch an F1 novel


Interesting piece, also big thanks for stating that all the British drivers only speak English I have always been curious to know if they spoke any other language


I thought Jenson spoke Japanese, considering his fondness for Japan, and his half-Japanese girlfriend. Well, he did speak Japanese in the Tooned episode related to last year's Japanese GP.


The WEB-VET pandimonium helps to keep the void of a 3 week break. I hope there will be more this year amongst team mates. 3 teams will be involved and I'm sure you know who they are. Then there are 2 more teams too. But I think I will be watching Bianchi the highlight for me so far.

Besides racing and technical issues, without human drama F1 means nothing.


I dont understand why Seb would say "get mark out of the way, hes too slow" when at that stage mark was 4sec ahead and Seb had Nico on his rear..


An interesting development....

I just watched the race edit video of the f1.com website. At 2min 41 sec Vettel is cleary instructed by Rocky "Sebastian Multi Map 21"

Up until now I hadn't heard or read a transcript of the radio communcation with Seb reagrding the instruction. Now we have it.

Assuming the video refelcts the events in real time both Seb's physio annd Mark's dad were both surprised by the move - everyone in the team understood the instruction execpt for Seb it seems....

As an aisde I thought the F1.com race edit was one of their best, capturing Mark's chop on Seb straight after they passed the finihsing line as well as the interaction between Seb and Mark post race....


No doubt they do a good job with the media. That is their job..

Look back to Australian touring cars in the era of Dick Johnson, Peter Brock, Alan Grice, Alan Moffat etc of the late 70's and 80's. Race cam (in-car cameras) had been developed and drivers spoke live to the commentators.. It was riveting stuff..


Hi james,how important is it for a team to keep its name in the regular online news feeds from a commercial point of view? (if at all...)

Would red bull see the last fortnight ass damaging to their brand or just any publicity is good publicity?

Reason i ask is that this week mclaren had a piece on how fantastic perez was and only a few days earlier the roles were reversed.


Great question! I'd say it was good publicity, it also added a very human drama to the story of the season, which is the kind of thing we recall from the past with Prost and Senna and other clashes of personalities


Firstly, the difference between most sports and F1 (and other premier motorsports) is the accessibility. Most of us have access to a football pitch, a tennis court or a running track, so we immediately relate to them. We don't have access to an F1 car, so we don't know what driving one is like ... hence the interest in and need for an insight from the drivers both before and after the race. Secondly, if Webber was noticably backing up, why didn't the team tell him to increase his pace?


This is an open question to any Sebastian Vettel fans that care to respond.

Prior to Vettel was M.Schumacher your favourite driver?

Prior to M.Schumacher was Alain Prost?

just curious.....


I felt the total disdain in the tone of Vettel's comments when he was behind Webber spoke volumes. Words to the effect of "Get him out of the way, he's too slow". It wasn't just what he said, it was how he said it!

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