Analysis: Vettel’s astonishing speed in Singapore – here to stay?
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 Sep 2013   |  11:00 am GMT  |  556 comments

One of the most commented aspects of the Singapore Grand Prix was the astonishing speed of Sebastian Vettel, particularly in the opening laps and the initial laps after the safety car. There have been many questions about how this was achieved and some interesting observations, such as Giancarlo Minardi’s comments about a strange sound coming from Vettel’s exhaust in these phases.

Here with the input of JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan, former Williams F1 team chief operations engineer, is our analysis of Vettel’s speed and a consideration of why it was so noticeable in Singapore and whether it is here to stay for the rest of the 2013 season.

Graphic: Mark Gillan

It is clear that Red Bull has made a big improvement in performance since the summer break. Compare the lap time charts from Singapore (above) and German Grands Prix (below). The numbers down the vertical axis are the lap times in seconds, with the lower times at the bottom. The number of laps in the race are across the horizontal axis.

In terms of relative pace to the others, Vettel and Red Bull were quite closely matched in Germany (below), but have obviously moved a long way ahead in Singapore.

Graphic: Mark Gillan

Mercedes had the edge in Hungary in July, where there are also plenty of sub 130km/h corners. Hamilton’s pace, when not held up by traffic, is still quite good, but Vettel has a clear one second advantage in the early part of the race and more like 1.5 to 2 seconds in the period after the safety car (the blue line in the centre of the graphic which loops much lower than any other run). This post Safety car phase is probably an accurate reflection of the true pace of the car fully extended, as Vettel and Red Bull were looking to build a big gap as he had to stop again and he didn’t want to come out behind one of the cars, like Alonso, Raikkonen or Button, who were going to the finish on the same set of tyres.

It’s quite rare to see a race so utterly dominated by a car and driver combination. Having built a gap early in the race, he backs off and manages the tyres and the gap to his first stop. But the safety car made him work to get the advantage back and he had huge pace, with very limited tyre degradation.

So where has the pace come from and will it show up as dramatically as this in Korea and Japan?

The key to this is that Red Bull has done a lot of work on traction out of low speed corners. On average, across all the tracks in the F1 championship, 25% of the lap time is spent below 130km/h on corner exits. It is the most significant single area to focus on. So if you can make a significant gain in that area, you can get effectively a 25% improvement, which will show in your lap time.

Singapore is an extreme example as it has 23 corners and many of them are below 130km/h – so all the gain Red Bull has been working for will show up on a track like that. This will be less the case in Suzuka, which is a fast, flowing circuit, but it will probably show up in the first and final sectors in Korea, which will be pretty good to the team. Much of the work has gone on in the diffuser area, which generates the key downforce for the low speed corners in conjunction with the exhausts, although off-throttle blowing (where the throttle stays open even when the driver lifts off) is banned.

Also contributing to Red Bull’s dominance in the corner exit area is work they have done in the wind tunnel on high steer characteristics, when the car is turning and in yaw (ie leaning). Red Bull chassis have always had very high amounts of downforce, but here they’ve worked to ensure that it isn’t just about high load, it’s about the stability of the load, which is a big focus. Red Bull has always been able to push the diffuser hard in the high speed corners, the key to their speed now is that they have tuned it to work at low speed.

Red Bull wheel - Photo: XPB

Also helping them is the Pirelli move to the harder specification tyres, since Hungary. They have won three of the four races on the new spec tyres. Beyond that, like Mercedes they have done work on the inside of the wheel rims in the field of thermal management and heat rejection. The slots and texturing in the magnesium alloy rims work on flow through the rim. It’s a complex piece of work and quite expensive to do, but it helps with managing the temperature of these tricky Pirelli tyres.

This thermal management work has allowed Vettel to run a longer first stint than his rivals and to balance out his stops perfectly in recent races.

The team has also raised its game with the pit stops: in Singapore four of the five fastest stops in the race were done by Red Bull.

One intriguing note on all of this comes from Italy, where former team owner Giancarlo Minardi spoke to Gazzetta dello Sport after Singapore and observed that he had been trackside in a hospitality unit and heard what he thought sounded like traction control, a stuttering sound in the exhaust note of Vettel’s car, during the post safety car period.

Needless to say this has picked up some echoes around the internet, as everyone looks for reasons for Vettel’s dominance. While there does seem to be some work being undertaken in engine mapping to work around the ban on exhaust blowing, which may have contributed to the strange sound, the issue of traction control is broadly taken care of by the common Electronic Control Unit, which is manufactured for the FIA by McLaren Electronics. Because the unit is specified and the same for every team, it is hard to conceal a traction control command in what is essentially a spec part.

Rather than traction control, some kind of mapping to blow into the exhaust within the rules is more likely and this all fits with the corner exit work that Red Bull has been carrying out.

Overall it’s an impressive piece of work in this field of low speed corner exits; all the more so when you consider that they had also recently done a very impressive piece of work on the low-dowforce configuration of the car for Spa and particularly Monza, both of which they won comfortably. Red Bull has huge resources, but so do Ferrari and Mercedes.

This work shows how effectively they use those resources in terms of technical development. And with Vettel clearly maturing and stepping up a gear as a driver this season, far more measured in his qualifying and race performances, the combination is devastating. It shows what the rest are up against.

Success in sport isn’t just about doing your job properly, it’s about never giving anything away to the opposition. A brilliant footballer can dribble around 3 players and score a wonder goal, but if one of his defenders makes a mistake and gives the opposition an easy goal, it nullifies the adavantage.

Michael Schumacher brought this mentality to F1 together with Ferrari in the 2000s – never giving anything away, push everything to the limit all the time and in this he was supported by his team, with the key management figures all sharing the vision.

To be successful in F1 today you have to have this mentality and never let it slip. Red Bull Racing and Vettel have understood this and they have the limitless financial backing to support it.

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Finally some common sense instead of "traction control" conspiracies


I think this car is illegal,there is something wrong here.This car should be investigated by the FIA>

Tornillo Amarillo

James, in theory if VETTEL's car is illegal, Sebastian can be sent out of the Championship? ALONSO wins?

Did that occur before in F1 history?


"Like us, most teams will have now switched their development focus to 2014 so we wouldn't expect a dramatic change to the relative performance of each outfit between now and the end of the season. That leaves us in a tight scrap with both Ferrari and Mercedes, and with both our guys performing at this level - coupled with the potential from the car at the coming tracks - we should have a good end to the season in prospect." Lotus' Alan Permane.

It seems to me that Red Bull's unusually large advantage comes from the fact that the opposition has already stopped developing their 2013 car. Still, the good work that RB has done to continue to develop their 2013 car should be applauded - and probably very closely studied by the opposition!

It will be interesting to see when Newey stops showing up at trackside, in order to focus on 2014 car development. Or perhaps the last 3 races will be extended test sessions of 2014 development ideas.


He (Newey) has already made a comment, as had Whitmarsh (I think) that they've tried out some parts that might rollover to the 2014 car.

Tornillo Amarillo

I disagree, how can be said that the extraordinary Red Bull mapping is "within the rules"?

It's the car. VETTEL has something WEBBER doesn't, and ALONSO also has a launch system very different of the rest of the grid...

For me this season is between Webber, Hamilton and Raikkonen really.


LOL. Occasionally they put the launch system in Massa's car too.


lol 🙂


I know you always say that Vettel car is different to Webber, but there is no way to prove it, I would say that Vettel is a better driver than Webber, also has a better support from the team, there are some motivations issues for Webber as he is leaving F1 and should be thinking more in Porsche than in RB, his starts are really bad and finally he doesn't classify in pole in a car made to win in such position. About the Alonso launching system, well, Massa also has shown incredible starts, so is pretty clear they have done a good job there, but also, you need skills to not to crash and some luck to go where no cars could go, that is the example of Singapore, Alonso made it well and have some luck choosing the way but Massa which made a really good start also choose a way with many cars that couldn't overtake. By the way, I'm not saying Vettel is 2.5 sec faster than Webber, it's a more complex combination of elements that for some people see as a conspiracy theory, but I guess that the Red Bull's owner, a businessman, wouldn't loose money slowing Webber when he can earn even more money if he goes as fast as possible.


I vaguely remember an interview with Newey back in 09' where they were trying to get webbers car balanced better. But his extra bulk 10-12 kg was a factor. And does any know why webbers old engineer swapped to Vettel, Rocky is it? and when that happened?


+1 and then a few more +s


I remember my first F1 season :/


Webber lol


@expertf1 every year SV looses more points through reliability problems, if you doubt me go on Wikipedia and run the numbers.


david. what about the countless reliability then? is that the same on both cars?


Hi Tim, on the most part i would say yes that the cars are the same (even MW himself said this year that the drivers are supported technically the same) but I believe there are ocasions when only one new part is available it is assigned to the driver with the greatest chance of winning the title, However these instances are rare and by in large (as stated by MW himself) the cars are technically the same.


Out of interest, do you think Webbers and Vettels car are the same?


yes and look at what his team mate achieved in the same car, unless you have proof that the cars arnt the same ....... which you dont!!!!

Tornillo Amarillo


3. Lewis Hamilton 151

4. Kimi Räikkönen 149

5. Mark Webber 130


How do you explain Vettel only being a tenth of a second ahead of Rosberg during qualifying, but more than 2.5 seconds a lap faster during the race?

Please don't tell me that Vettel was "sand bagging" during FP3 when he was only a few tenth of a second ahead of Grosjean and about 1/10 of a second ahead of Rosberg during qualifying. Nobody is that good.

Since Mark Webber is not a person to mence his words, it will be very interesting to hear what he has to say about this after he leaves Red Bull. Mark usually wins 2 or 3 races per year. How come he hasn't won at least one race this year? Maybe he doesn't have the same car as Vettel.


Read Gary Anderson's article. As an ex-technical director he knows a lot more than anyone here


Hi Matt,

If you are going to summarise my response, it would help if you read it carefully an thought a bit.

Relatively simple words like "restart" are unlikely to be used to mean lap one when in a race with a safety car.

When I write "the start" I mean the start and not the formation lap. The tyres distort massively at the point of clutch release and are transferring large torque levels in first and second gear for a relatively long time.

Ride height sensitivity is an aerodynamic property. Ride height control is a property of the springs.

The reference to engine modes is about something the driver selects. The cars do not start with a fuel level that will allow the cars to finish the race if they ran in a maximum power mode for the full race. If one driver is in a high power mode and another is in a conserving mode then you can get a lap time difference. The Vettel and Webber collision in Turkey 2010 was facilitated by Vettel being in a more powerful fuel mode. This has little to do with Renault being better than Mercedes, although there are some journalists who have claimed that the Renault has lesser fuel consumption than the Ferrari and Mercedes engines.

So in summarising four points you got all of them wrong.

On the conspiracy theory, why would Red Bull only deploy traction control in the race and not in qualifying? Fresh tyres in qualifying will help a little, but there is still a performance benefit.

It might be worthwhile considering that not all people contributing to this site are completely ignorant of engineering and unread about F1. If there were simplistic answers to F1 then we might just see a more random distribution of winners.


Wow! I don't know what you do for a living, but you have a very bright future in politics.


I think James makes a reasonable case for caution before jumping to conclusions. Minardi has been out of it for a while. He knows not what technologies are under the skin. Traction control may be outlawed, but clever engine mapping and other gimicks in the drive train can perhaps optimize traction without actual traction control being present. ECUs control the traction control - and with them being standardized there is no question that the software is not present on the RBR.

This is F1. You find a way to do something clever to optimize traction at certain scenarios, too bad for competition. If they can't figure out the trickery of the RBR that is perfectly legal - too bad.

I tell you one trick RBR definately uses. It was a speech to the RBR team by the Big Red Bull himself. Probably went something like this.


We're going to do special things here at RBR. There is only one thing I won't tolerate - anyone leaving the team. You want to leave - leave now. If you choose to stay, I expect your commitment to the team, to your fellow team members, to me until we collectively decide as a team this trip is over. To my left is a man who needs no introduction, but for you young kids - it's Chuck Norris. He will ensure the team stick together.

As that funny joke goes. Fear of spiders is aracnophobia. Fear of tight spaces is chlaustraphobia. Fear of Chuck Norris is logic.

Team dismissed! 😉


LOL! Very funny. Thank you


All team bosses would deny it but if one of their technical advisers said to them that they had discovered a way of utilizing an illegal piece of tech by concealing it in a way as to guarantee it will not be detected, the super competitive nature of Formula 1 would make such an opportunity too good to resist. Of all the incidents of cheating that have been exposed, it is a fair assumption that there is at least as many incidents which were gotten away with.

All this can be avoided. If only the technical regulations were relaxed and more innovation allowed, Formula 1 would be as good as it was in the late 80's early 90's. Williams, for example is a team that excels in the area of new mechanical technologies however they have been stifled for at least 10 years because of the ridiculous restrictions. If there is a new FIA president I hope he revives the resource restriction agreement idea and drastically relaxes the technical regulations. Formula 1 is getting closer and closer to being just another control formula.

Less scrutineers checking if the cars are legal and more accountants checking if teams budgets are within a set of agreed parameters. This is the way to go.


Hi Wade,

Kinda agree with you in some areas, especially regarding technological innovations..but not too sure how budget restrictions will work in parallel with relaxed technical regulations.

Anything associated with F1 is pricey and so is technology..and the case may be that budget restrictions will lead to more car parts going down the standardization route, hence we come full circle to another 'control formula' of-a-sort which is the very thing we're trying to avoid.

Maybe someone should try to funnel more of FOM's revenue to reward "teams + technology partners" with the most innovative solutions...maybe something along the line of a 'Technical Championship'...since we already have a Drivers' Championship and a Constructors' Championship so why not?


Hi Mstt,

There are many possibilities with the speed differences between qualifying and the race. In qualifying the teams are using tyre pressures to get the ride height optimised for the aerodynamics combined with the low fuel level. The Red Bull is known to use a lot of rake in the car. The nose down tail up attitude of the Red Bull is less ride height sensitive than many of the other cars. So that is one potential factor.

Traction control is highly unlikely to be the answer. As the article suggests the control ECU makes this improbable from a detection point of view. The nature of the engines running on four cylinders out of tight corners, the relatively low torque of the engines and driver sensitivity all mean that there isn't a huge amount to be gained on a dry track anyway. Go back to the Australian race and the comments by the Lotus team that Kimi had two wheelspin events in the whole race. These drivers are highly skilled and Vettel is known for his adaptability with the throttle.

An engine mode that aids exhaust blowing on light throttle during the turn-in phase is entirely plausible. It will chew through a fair bit of fuel, and so combined with the safety car, a full power mode for the post safety car period and then cruising at the end is plausible.

The initial speed on the opening laps probably has a lot to do with tyre temperature management. The start tends to make the rear tyres very hot, so if a car has to managed temperatures as much as the Mercedes do then that gives opportunities for others to exploit. After the restart, Rosberg was compromised by the rubber in his front wing, which will have reduced peaked speed a bit and hurt tyre life even more, so he had to slow down. The rate at which Hamilton could catch him at the end each time Rosberg gained an advantage with the traffic to me suggests a wounded car as it seemed too great to just be Hamilton's talent.

A further comment on traction control is that that would be a RenaultSport thing, not a Red Bull development. Renault is more conservative with the rules, and has reason to be following Singapore 2008. Red Bull's engineering expertise is much more in fluid dynamics and material science. There have been comments from within the team on how the team is quite a mechanical engineering shop in its interests - still lots of technology though. The team does not have a strong interest in KERS for example - it is not where the expertise is.


Let me see if I can summorize your response. According to you, Vettel was leading Rosberg by 2.5 seconds after the first lap because of (1) Red Bull's better ride-height control, (2) better torgue mapping of the Red Bull's engine, (3) Rosberg's rear tyres were over-heated during the formation lap even though his race engineer can see the telemetry of his car and could have told him to back off, and (4) Rosberg's pace on the openning laps were compromized because of rubber in his front wing even though it was the first laps.

Wow! After reading your many, many hypostasis, I'm surprised that Vettel weren't leading by at least 10 seconds after the first lap. I mean you forgot to mention (5) how Vettel has raised his game, and (6) how Vettel and his car are now a perfect union of man and machine.


+ 1


Vettel didn't make a second run in Q3 like the rest did on new tyres and a more rubbered in track.


webber has lost his mojo this year, nothing to do with the car




He didn't really lose his modjo, Seb and Christian took it from him in shocking style in Malaysia.


1 number: 2011

All there is needed to understand.


In Q3, Vettel did only one run. He said he could have gone a tenth or two faster. We didn't really see Red Bull's speed in Q3.


My friend,

Vettel was 6 or 7 tenths ahead of Rosberg and everyone else when he did his lap. After he finished his lap, he decided to stay in the pits when the track was getting much better. You can see the advantages that everyone else gained (more than half a second) but Vettel stayed in the pits, and whatever advantages others got was not enough to catch up to the gap Vettel had created.

Conspiracy theories are cool, but if you think Webber is as good a driver as Vettel then i don't know what to tell you buddy.

I hope this shed some light on why the gap was less than a tenth in q3.


Try telling him that, I wonder how many more of our lol english speaking fans will implode after the torture of the Vettel asian season at Korea, India and Japan, I expect a lot and many more excuse will be out, something along the likes of he's allowed more power, bespoke tyres I'm sure outrageous claims will be running rife, anything but praise for the true champion doing his job.


Ok, lets say that Vettel did a second run in Q3 and he was .7 to .9 second faster than Rosberg because of the track rubbering-in. How do you account for Vettel being 1.5 to 2 seconds faster during the racing? They all take on the same amount of fuel for the race so where did the additional proformance came from?


For starters Vettel was about 1.2 sec faster than Rosberg in the race on average, and also in a perfect quali lap he would have been at least 0.7sec faster than Rosberg, quali has always been Merc's strong point in the race, you could say how comes the Ferrari is always 0.6sec slower than the Merc yet they are 0.2sec faster than the Mercs in the race, explain that, same goes for Lotus, if anything its Merc's Q3 performances thats out of sync, and the bottom line is Vettel is now in his prime and by far the best driver in F1, in race trim he is worth at least 0.5sec on average over a race stint over the likes of Webber, Hamilton, Rosberg and even Raikkonen, I wouldn't bet against Seb out pacing Alonso over a race distant too, but at Singapore he was on a different level yet again it reminds me of Senna at Monaco 88, complete utter dominance and almost inhuman like performance, quite remarkable and I for 1 think Im lucky to be watching Seb's era in F1, he will win the title with Ferrari too I believe it now.


"Vettel is now in his prime and by far the best driver in F1, in race trim he is worth at least 0.5sec on average over a race stint over the likes of Webber, Hamilton, Rosberg and even Raikkonen"

At least 0.5 seconds! LOL


2.5 seconds on a clear track that is. Everyone else was battling and checking their mirrors.

Only one car had clear air and that was Vettel.

Since you claim the other teams do not employ idiots, why ahsn't a single teammember said anything? Why would it take a retired teammanager, who never raced KERS-engines, standard ECU and a complex diffuser to spot a sound in one of the most reverberating tracks on the calendar? Ever thought of that? Don't you think spotters from the other teams would have taken notice long before Mr. Minardi?

Finally: What motivation can be at heart for Mr. Minardi to make his claims. He didn't even make the claims, his words got blown out of proportion and he only hinted towards something.

He wouldn't be the first to step into a journalist-trap or nor would he be the first to think his own judgment cannot be clouded after many years away from F1.


Gazza, while I agree about Senna looking even better b/c Prost was in the other car, Monaco '88 surely isn't the example to use ... sure, he made an incredible gap between himself and the rest at the start of the race, but in the end he crashed into the barriers after a lapse in concentration.


Put anyone of the four-five best drivers on the grid in an RB and they will out-drive the other ones.


Sorry Tealeaf but this race wouldn't hold a candle to Senna Monaco 1988.

For a start Monaco is a drivers circuit and Senna,s team mate was no less than Alain Prost.

When Vettel gets in the same machinery with another WDC in the other car and whips him like Senna did to Prost I will sign his praises along with you.

If it ever happens..........?


@ Tealeaf

Monaco 88 had Prost in equal machinery in the other car not webber in the lame car


In the beginning of the season, Mercedes were great in qualifying, but terrible during the races. After the illegal tyre testing and Perilli switching the tyre construction from steel belts to kelvar, Mercedes have been very good in qualifying and the races. At the British Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton was leading the race when his left-rear tyre blew. Nico Rosberg won the race when Vettel retired due to his transmission failure. Lewis Hamilton went on to dominate the Hungrian Grand Prix.

1.2 seconds? What race were you watching? After the first lap, Vettel was leading the race by 2.5 seconds.Oh! you must mean after Vettel used the Adrian Newey illegal traction control( the sound Minardi said he heard whenever Vettel would push hard) to establish his 30 second cusion on the rest of the field and then he would "throttle back" and manage the gap.

I really don't think you understand how huge 2.5 seconds per lap is in today's Formula 1. Tyres are the same and engines are basicly the same. Adrian Newey is the king of aerodynamics, but 2.5 seconds per lap? They other top teams may not be on his level, but they are not complete idiots either.

Now that the world will be watching( and listening) because of Minardi's article, lets see how dominant Vettel and Red Bull the remaining 6 races. By the world, I mean race stewards, the other formula 1 teams, and the media (Sky Sports F1, BBC F1 and other publications).


Maybe just that Vettel has raised his game to a new level since 2009, and Webber's performance has remained the same.


Of course Vettel's raised his game and now is almost untouchable but the thing is he was better than Webber in 2009 and he was only a kid back then, Mark is a bloody fast driver and has demolished any team mate he has had which includes Rosberg, Heidfeld and Coulthard and that makes Vettel look more impressive this champion is here to stay and will be gunning for Schumacher's records, that pole position record could well fall next season along with the youngest 5 time world champion.


Oh Matt...

I will explain it to you by saying read the article.

James clearly says that RBR find improvements in all areas and compound those improvements. You can see James points that they aim to be best everywhere.

This is why I think the argument of changing teams to win WDCs is null. I think it's much harder actually to stay on top of the mountain longer. You get comfortable, not as hungry, etc. It's really impressive to see such a run. Beside Ferrari with Schumi, can goferet perhaps remind us of stats for longest runs of WDCs/WCC? Is it Ferrari, and now RBR? Did McLaren put a string of 3 or 4 WCCs in the 80s or early 90s? I think many teams put together two back to back years, but never 1/2 decade like Schumi and Vettel.

As for Webber, sure he's open and honest but he would be silly to reveal corporate inside details after departing RBR. It would make him look bitter for one. Also, it would make him unappealing to sponsors. Why would he burn bridges at Red Bull? You don't think they will support him in an LMP car? In his cycling charity? In other forms? When you have a strong relatinoship with a sponsor like Red Bull you'd be an absolute fool to ruin it. Webber is definately not cut from the "fool" cloth. Like DC he will probably do Mark-eting duty in the older RBRs around the world too.


With the amount he has already earned, he would have to be super ultra major greedy to even care about any Red Bull marketing opportunities. Unless Red Bull are sponsoring the Le Mans Porsche team, why would he give two hoots. Besides, if there has been any unfair or underhanded goings on within Red Bull, he doesn't seem like he could keep it to himself.



"It’s amazing to me that you would take the words of a journalist as gospel instead of a former team owner..."

There's always F1 tech experts chiming in for these articles.


Mark-eting duty! Oooooo

James are we near 300k 😉


It's amazing to me that you would take the words of a journalist as gospel instead of a former team owner who did not use pie-charts and graphs, but instead his eyes and ears.There is a saying about graphs and servays. "You can interperts them any way you like to prove your points".

One is on the outside looking in and the other was at one time, on the inside. He owned a team when traction control was legal. He knows what the engine sounds like when a driver is using traction control.

I'm not saying that I believe Minardi 100%, but I'm not so quick to dismiss it like most on the people on this website. Teams do cheat! If Nico Rosberg didn't say something to Vettel during the driver's meeting in Monaco, we probably would have never known about the illegal tyre testing that Mercedes and Pirelli carried out.


Conspiracies only where Mark Webber is concerned. Next year, when Webbo is finally gone, we'll see some competition at Red Bull from young Ricciardo.



What makes you think they're driving the same car? Who has all the best upgrades? Who has the most reliable car? Who is supported most by the team? Who is given a car that can get off the line correctly? Who has the best strategy? Seriously, take a moment to think about this and put your bias for Vettel and your disdain for Webber aside.

Just take a look at the starts -Webber who is a ten year veteran of F1 can't seem to get off the line without getting bogged down. He's being deliberately sabotaged. What makes me say this you might be wondering? It only ever happens if he's qualified in a competitive position to Vettel.

Now, I'm not blaming Vettel, I don't know if he's involved in that but he is of course taking the best of everything the team have. If I were to blame anyone it would be Helmut Marko and Christian Horner and Adrian Newey.

That's just the start of it too.


You are ABSOLUTELY right. Now that Webber retires from the sport, he no longer has the 2014 vision, so give the updates and the development parts to the kid to evaluate. Honestly, RBR killed Mark Webber's carreer. How can anyone preserve the will to go on if every single effort goes to the other side of the garage. Here in JA on F1, as in other sites, they keep us telling how good and great Seb is. Really? I would like to see what would the kid do w/o Helmut protection. That's why he doesn't go elsewhere to prove how good he can be. Look at Lewis, he praised and was in love with Macca but at the end he decided to change team. I am no Hamilton fan, but I recognize how ballsy that move was. He has won 2-3 races now whereas McL has done nothing. That kind of stuff make greatness. Alonso overdriving the red thing for several years now makes him great. Schumacher benefited from premium tyres and limitless testing, along with carrying over Byrne and Ross with him. Certainly he had to drive but look at Barrichello, Irvine and Massa, carreers practically shredded. Say what you like about Seb. Is like the Messi factor, would want to see him playing w Arsenal, Chelsea, Juventus, whatever, and see if he can cut the cheese there away from his comfort zone. Rest my case.


You offer no evidence, this just sounds like your pure frustrations (which we all have). The lobbying for older tyres has more to do with it!


a very optimistic view, danny's got a lot to prove. Webber's lost his spark this year but danny isn't up to the standards of Webber's form prior to it.

he's the right man for the job but it'll take a while for him to improve enough (if he can)to be a serious challenge for vettel.

the sooner he does the better though, vettel's domination is impressive but very dull.


Wishful thinking...

It will take a while for Ricciardo to get accustomed to the new environment, even though he's been part of the family for some time now. An then, we don't know yet if he's able to take the fight to Vettel.

As much as I'd like to see someone bring an end to the RB/Vettel dominance, it's hard to believe that there is any reason this won't continue to be the case in the new season, even with new regulations and new competition from within the team.


Renault's dominance in 2005 and 2006 was Michelin tires combined with suspension designed by Michelin. And the fact that Bridgestone wasn't competitive and the competing Michelin tam had hopelessly unreliable engines.

It's highly unlikely that Red Bull is going to have a catastrophic flaw (like the Mercedes V10s) and the tires are equalized. It's simply drastically less likely that someone will benefit from the kind of combination of fortuitous circumstances that Renault did 05&06


It is statistically likely that Red Bull dominance will be curtailed. Ferrari dominated with MS for 5 straight years but then were defeated by Renault. This year is the fourth year of Red Bull (Vettel) winning constantly. Next year, with the rule changes, someone else could take the lead. Try as they might to keep up the form, becoming complacent is an inevitable human trait. Brawn, Todt and Schumacher were all eventually bested by Briatore and Alonso.


It seems like Redbull have the best technical team fullstop, and no matter what regulations/changes are thrown at them, they seem to find a way to rise to the top. Then its just up to the driver to perform.


You just have to love RedBull and Vettel.

They work smart... Brilliant...


+1 I truly love watching his exhibitions. his precision, time after time, is a thing of beauty.


On the other hand, Ferrari.....


The Newey/Vettel/Renault combination is unbeatable and will be for a long while I suspect.

Back a few years ago, RBR signed an engine agreement with Ferrari but on Newey's insistence, RBR fought tooth and nail to back out of it - passing the Ferrari engine deal to STR. If Newey had not insisted on the Renault deal, they wouldn't be where they are now - because Ferrari would have gained valuable information about engine maps and diffuser blowing etc.

Also, lucky Mercedes vetoed decision for RBR to use Mercedes engines.

With RBR being the Renault works team, Renault and RBR they are getting up to all sorts of engine / gearbox related tricks to gain extra downforce - all within the rules. Sharing nothing with other teams.

This is why the Renault/Newey/Vettel combo will most probably be unbeatable in 2014 and possibly beyond.

Also, does anyone know if RBR ever perfected the passive DRS?


Interesting. I was thinking the same thing in that Renault don't get enough credit for these cool engine ideas/tech. Renault for the last few years have been super clever innovating during an engine freeze. Renault have managed to think outside the box and come up with stuff that I find really cool. It is even more impressive when you consider that they keep changing the rules to keep the Renault engine back with the others and yet Renault keep coming up with great things. There is just no stopping this juggernaut. It is a perfect storm of RedBull/Newey/Vettel and Renault with their smart engines.

@Hberg, your thoughts regarding history being completely different is so so true. You are right RedBull wouldn't be where they are today with Ferrari engines for the several reasons you have cleverly given us.


You think it's harder for a driver and team to stay on top this long(so far 4 seasons), or for a driver to win WDCs with two teams?



I just had a quick tot up of multiple WDC's and cross referenced which teams they won them with. Multiple WDC's with different teams comes out comfortably ahead! So, on that basis I guess you are right - mind you the stat's are skewed, somewhat, by existing champions muscling/politicking their way into a winning team/car 😉


Hey, speaking of when Kimi left...

Was RBR looking at him then? Was it possible for him to have given up the Ferrari payout and gone to RBR to take Webber's spot for 2010? Was that one of the shoulda woulda coulda scenarios for Kimi? Does anyone recall what options Kimi had before calling Time Out?


Yes, this is my problem Tim. You see Senna get antsy and want to move to Williams because they have the car. Many drivers have been seduced by teams with their cars, and as a result have won their championships in different cars.

But in F1, to out think, out work, out perform your competition over many years, I think it's a way harder achievement.

Let's say you've always wanted a 911, you get one - it's out of your system. Only a really motivated guy will get 5 more. Same for WDCs. Look at Kimi - he walked away from Ferrari and F1 because he had a WDC in the pocket. Made walking away easier. Had he not had a WDC, I believe he wouldn't have left. Same with Lewis and Button - I think now that they have their single WDC their drive is not the same. Let's take Alonso, say he jumps to RBR now and wins a WDC, how valuable is that? Sure, he'd win in 2 cars, but so what? He built nothing. He developed nothing. He arrived into a scenario that got him his 2nd car WDC as many champions in eras past did.

Which brings us back to Vettel, RBR and that whole lot. To keep doing this now into 4th year, finding the tricks, driving forward, and getting the big prize...well, I really think it's more impressive than WDCs in 2 cars/teams. Just to not call it a day and say - enough, and to keep wanting to win, and find the edge, the will to be better day in and day out - not only what F1 is about, but life. WOW...that's deep!


How many current WDC's have won it with 2 different teams?

Of course it's hard to do it with multiple teams, but it's also damn hard to do it this many years in a row.

It isn't easy to win one with one team and then go jumping from one perinnial contender to the other searching for that elusive championship with a different team either.


sorry - forgot

.. with ferrari to go onto schumis 7 wdc's



first vettel wants to beat schumis four in a row .. make it five .. (or even 6 - horrible thought .. )

then i bet he will move on and will do the "second team" with ferrari



I would say winning WDC's with multiple teams is harder. Over the last 4 (including 2013) seasons can you think of a team where Vettel would have been better off (than Red Bull)?


The 2012 mclaren


@Equinox and Rockie

If there are other teams that would have been better for SV then why didn't he leave and go there. Instead he chose to extend his contract on a relatively modest salary (in F1 terms and compared to LH and FA) and remain a Red Bull driver. Why do you think that was? I suspect he knows which side his bread is buttered. 🙂


Like Schumi when he took entire Benetton staff to Ferrari?

When/if Lewis wins, it will be with 1/2 the McLaren team.

I understand your point of putting the magic together at a new team with new people. Problem is, it's usually same people, just wearing different color shirts. How is that so magical.

By the way, I personally think it's way harder to stay motivated, hungry, and at the top.




Exactly Tim


Actually the 2010 Ferrari was a all round good package, the 2012 Mclaren was the fastest overall car of the season even James will admit that, then on 2009 would you have chosen the Redbull over the dominant Brawn then? Ah see aint forgotten about that 1.


Vettel and Red Bull currently seems like the perfect driver/car combination. Full credit to Vettel for guiding the team to create such a great car for him to work with. As we have seen, the car appears designed around the driver as Webber just isn't anywhere near Vettel.

That isn't just Newey, but a combination of Vettel's feedback and engineering ingenuity. Both titles will be richely deserved by driver and team this season (barring a disaster).

Alexander Supertramp

I forgot Seb's got 3 masters degree and a PhD.. Is he already nominated for a nobel price? Engineering ingenuity? Come on!


How many Nobel prizes are given each year? How many F1 championships?

I'll take the one that's more rare. 🙂

Beside, just look at the forums to see how Vettel and RBR bring people together. I'd nominate them for Nobel Peace Prize.


LOL comedy at its best.

Masters degree and PhD what next? proffessor emeritus like you need that to be smart in F1


Combination of vettel feedback ?

Come on, do not Kid yourself mate. vettel is better than webber and quite consistent in the RBR nothing else.

This is all down to newey and his leadership or management of the technical crew.

I simply cannot understand why people here try and big up vettel to this level. Logically vettel only has to beat webber who drives for the same machinery (We assume). Rest of the competiton was blown away by RBR technical excellence and newey



Get ready to duck, you will have all the SV fab club on your case 😉


Before you ask Tim, dealer was beaten because they kept yelling Blackjack! When really they only had a dozen, and not even dirty.

This one just keeps on giving.


Touché, Tim!

The pitwall is dealer, and they too were beaten.



Surely in blackjack, it's only the dealer you have to beat 😉


Why? He's perfectly right. The first guy you have to beat is your team mate.

Which brings us back to Blackjack. 🙂


It's a bit like people arguing about climate change - the deniers are mad and the supporters are sheep following a herd of economic vandals. My chosen facts are better than your facts and beliefs. Just replace with preferred drivers.


There are only 2 fan clubs where there are members that writes on here if thats what you meant by "fab club" number 1: the Hamilton brigade and number 2: the Tifosi.


It looks like you started watching F1 only recently, Newey was designing cars for F1 for 12 years without a championship before Vettel showed up.. How do you explain that? 3 years with RBR and Webber amounted to no more than 8-10 place finishes. The driver has a HUGE impact into the car's design and it always was this way. Vettel is completely responsible for his own car set up too and Horner did mention that he refuses to sit in any car that he doesn't like the set up to. Vettel is probably the smartest driver of our era, may not be the most skilled but his understanding of car design and what he can do on the track with it puts him ahead of anyone. Go do some google searches about how the Toro Rosso paddock were amazed at what he was able to do with their car set up as a teenager before he joined RBR.


Tickityboo thanks for the pointless just reiterated exactly what I said, he wins with great drivers and Vettel is the best he's had since 98. So what's your point?


Bedoman: "It looks like you started watching F1 only recently, Newey was designing cars for F1 for 12 years without a championship before Vettel showed up.. How do you explain that?" Please don't show your own ignorance by insulting others when not fully apprised of the facts yourself... (Google him)

Newey is the only designer to have won drivers' and constructors' titles with three different teams going as far back as '91, thus:

Williams: 1991-96. Drivers' titles: 1992 (Nigel Mansell), '93 (Alain Prost), '96 (Damon Hill). Constructors' titles: '92, '93, '94, '96

McLaren: 1997-2005. Drivers' titles: '98, '99 (Mika Hakkinen). Constructors' title: '98

Red Bull: 2006-present. Drivers' titles: 2010, '11, '12 (Sebastian Vettel). Constructors' titles: 2010, '11, '12


smart yes 'smartest of our era' complete nonsense. several drivers were and are as smart as him, just not as quick.



You see, this is EXACTLY the reason why the paddock, FOM and FIA should stop messing about with silly PR issues about tyre suppliers and start legislating that the public / TV crews have access to set up info, engineer interviews, design details and so on - lets start showing what these guys are up to!

It's actually interesting, seeing who brings what to the party. And it's only teams who would bemoan doing so, everyone else wins and in the end it would benefit all teams and have no negatives. Having Seb constantly say rubbish like "We're just going to do our best and blah blah blah" is really getting irritating.

It's a technical sport, would be nice to know something of the technical stuff the drivers get involved in!


Newey have always produced quickest cars in the grid. Even with Williams and Mclaren newey has done this. Only issue was the relaibility or fragile cars here and there

Now RBR have clearly found a solution and fixed these realiability concerns, except 2010 RBR have produced real monsters and with improved reliability. Vettel has dominated the WDC's

"Vettel is probably the smartest driver of our era" - complete notion

Vettel is good and consistent driver who deserves his titles. Nothing more than that


What happened in 2008 and 2009 then? Vettel was driving Newey cars both years.

In both 2010 and 2011, if you doubled Webbers' point haul (i.e. have two Webbers in RBR instead of VET-WEB), it was enough to win the WCC.

Since the second half of 2012, though, Webber has decidely gone off the boil. In reality, he shot his bolt in 2010, and hasn't been the same since.


What it shows is that anyone booing Vettel or Red Bull are narrow-minded turnips who can't see the big picture – the brilliance of this team and the extraordinary talent and consistency of its driver, who are making F1 history for us to witness. I am not a Vettel or Red Bull fan but I have to give credit where it's due. Anyone dissing these guys are feeble-minded fools who easily fall for the propaganda dished out by the likes of Alonso, Hamilton and their teams, who have no answer for this embarrassing dominance. Red Bull should let Vettel off the leash and let him win every race by 30 seconds, as a two-fingered salute to the haters!


That's quite laughable. You think people booing should read this and say oh ok RB is a well run outfit, outperforming their peers, so I won't boo any more. They boo because the dominance of this team is making things boring. The championship is a formality again. The fact that Vettel screwed his team mate and that he celebrates his victories in a way that some consider arrogant, lets them feel somewhat justified in doing it. When it was Schumacher at Ferrari it was similar. Remember the talk of handicapping teams so that they can't dominate so much?

Why do people care if some people boo or not? Judging by the way some people on here write, it ruins their whole weekend. Pretty sure Vettel and RB don't give a damn whether people do or not.


I never said anything about it being right or wrong to boo Vettel. My favorite F1 is Fernando Alonso, but I would never boo Vettel because he's dominating the races. It's not boring to me because there are still some great racing going on behind Vettel. Kimi's pass on the outside of Button was awesome! Real F1 passing. Not "just press a button" DRS passing.


Now we see why you are annoyed Vettel is winning as he's beating your hero oh well brace yourself for a while as its gonna continue.

Keep on booing!


I really don't think that the booing has anything to do with Vettel's or Red Bull's dominance. When Vettel was dominating the 2011 season, no one was booing. Whether it's Michael Jordan winning championships, Usain Bolt winning in track and field, Michael Phelps winning Olympics gold, or Tiger Woods winning Majors, people like winners.

What Vettel did to Webber in Malaysia is what started the booing. Even though Jensen Button and Lewis Hamilton were born and raised in Great Britain, Mark Webber is the only F1 driver who calls it home. That's where the booing started.

Vettel decided to ignore "multi 21" because he felt that he deserved the win more than Webber. Vettel was not seen as the cute, little boy anymore. One magazine had him on the front cover with half his face and the other half Darth Vider.

I live in the States. To see my New York Giants play the Dallas Cowboys, I pay $410 per ticket, $60 for parking, and $8.75 per beer. If the Giants are not playing the way I think they should be playing, I'm going to boo. They are getting the hundred million dollar contracts because of us, the fans.


What is there to read what is surprising is you cite Malaysia its obvious you are happy for Webber to win with team orders thats being a hypocrite as you objected to it when Alonso was allowed to do it!


Wow! I know my spelling is not the best, but my grammar and sentence structure are very good. Can you please read what I wrote again and point out to me where I said that I objected to Red Bull's "multi 21" or team order in general?

Explaining why the fans started booing Vettel doesn't mean that I think it is right. In fact, if you scroll down a little more, you would read where I said that I would never boo Vettel because he's dominating the races. As a fan of F1 and many other sports, I don't think it's right to boo when you're watching excellence.


Streuth Matt. $8.75 a beer? Being America, that would be like a gallon cup yeah?


Very funny 🙂 12 oz

There are some Americans who don't smoke, don't eat fast food, don't drink coffee, don't drink soda, and actually exercise.


Amazing, what magazine was that? When I was at Spa this year I refused to join in the booing of Vettel (but completely agree with you why he was booed) but instead tried singing the Imperial War march as I thought it was much more appropriate, unfortunately no one else joined in 🙁


There are words to the Imperial March? Or y'mean you started humming it?

I fear any lyrics would completely ruin the Imperial March, but I wouldn't put anything past Lucas!


The cover was on an issue of F1 Racing.


I live in the State, but I think it was a European magazine. Maybe you can Google it.

James, do you know the name of the magazine?


So why boo Vettel/IRBR and not the others under-performing?


Please go back and read the part about Vettel's action in Malaysia again.


I know I'm massively in the minority, but I don't see the problem with booing. I don't have anything against Vettel, I think he's a really nice person, and deservedly in the top group of F1 drivers at the moment. However, if I'd been at one of Vettel's victories this year, I'd probably have booed too.

It's the nature of sport. It's tribal, it evokes strong emotions and passions. I would love my team (McLaren) to win the championship again, but it's not going to happen this season. I'd love them to win a race again, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen this season either. The person standing where my drivers should be, is one Sebastian Vettel. I don't want him there, and I get frustrated. If he's there every race, then naturally that frustration is going to multiply.

Of course, if I thought about it logically, I would consider the fact that Red Bull are simply doing a far better job at the moment and they're there entirely on merit. My team - and every other team - aren't performing anywhere near their level, and wouldn't deserve a victory even if they got one. But it's sport. If I was thinking logically then I wouldn't be emotional, I wouldn't be passionate, and Formula One - indeed, any sport - wouldn't be any fun.


Sir. I salute you.

This is the first real, acceptable, understabable explanation i have read about the situation.

Instead of giving excuses of to why boo Vettel, you come with honesty. And for that again I salute you


I know I’m massively in the minority, but I don’t see the problem with booing...

In fairness you aren't massively in the minority at all. The vote on this site, a week or so ago, stands at 55/45 against booing. This might suggest that posters have voted contrary to their comments - who would have thought it 😉


What would happen if everyone was booing Hamilton?

I suspect the media and bandwagon jumpers would be out in force saying it was disrespectful and racist.


Charlie if you think that Hamilton was getting the same pathetic bitter treatment Vettel has been getting then I just give up.

But as Dave C and the rest says all this booing is making Vettel stronger and stronger keep going!


If something hypothetical happened, idiots would do idiotic things. Yep, that's fair. So what?


I've been underneath the podium at Monza for the last few years and I'd say the treatment that Vettel received this year was exactly the same as that aimed at Hamilton last year.


a very good article james and one which needs massive expansion. it is interesting to note that minardi was quite specific when he mentioned the 'exhaust note variance'. he emphasised that it was coming from vettels car and not mark webbers?

that alone should trigger some interesting questions........


Here's the engine sound by Vettel. Judge for yourself -


Vettel car's noise is normal. All cars have it. I was at the Melbourne GP all three days of the weekend, thats what they all sound like.


I heard that same sound on vettels car in Austin last year. It's not something new, to me it sounds like they have a different engine mapping and use better their exhaust gases.


Vettel's can be heard solo, while Rosberg's sound is already partially drowned by the others. But I still hear the same grinding sound on the Merc, although it sounds a bit different, but hey, they use another engine brand.

We need Webber's solo sound here.


he gets on the gas sooo much sooner that the merc behind, and its a bit harder to tell with the cars following.

That sound comes on before hes out of view where the merc comes onto power way out of view. you'd think TC or some advantage is at play here...


Sounds like left foot braking to me.


I'm inclined to say it does sound like TC at work there.


Because it doesnt sound like the others, then it must be TC.

I'm perplexed at that someone has just told you how to think and you tow that line as well!

Do you even know how the engines are meant to sound in all honesty?

Alexander Supertramp



WOW, I hate to say it but Vettel's machine DOES sounds totally different to the other runners. To me this sounds like a misfire, a bit like traction control.


@Chris, I wasn't talking about you. I was talking about Mr Minardi. 🙂

A lot of people are saying he should not have made accusations without evidence. Although he sums it up well by saying that he just wants to raise some questions.... maybe to help get the other teams out of the development rut they find themselves in.


What difference does it make if you have a manipulated season (by Pirelli AND FIA) to favor RBR???


Hey HBerg,

I was not making accusations dude, just commenting that it sounded a lot like a misfire to me, and it still does. I believe Martin Brundle commented on Sky about the different tones coming from Vettel's car also.

I mean come on, your first "question" that we should all be asking is really what everyone is discussing in the first place, namely what is that noise! Also, by suggesting off-throttle blowing (quite a valid and reasonable possibility) you are also potentially making accusations.

Anyway, this engine sound (whatever is the cause) coupled with the 2 second advantage Vettel "appeared" to have over the field has raised some interesting debate and understandably so. We have not seen that kind of difference(dominance) since the Schumacher days and back then testing was unlimited if the team could afford it, budgets and resources were not capped and Ferrari had their own test track with dedicated full time test team and even their own specially made just for Ferrari tyres. Redbull have none of this.

Do I think Redbull would risk TC or some kind of rear slip management system at this stage of the season when they basically have both titles in the bag (again), nope of course I don’t. But it's still interesting to discuss none the less even if I doubt we will ever know what it is. Be interesting to see if it’s noticed during this weekends GP.

Here's hoping the rest have closed the gap this weekend and I agree this is a great article James.


In light of post 73, it does seem like the Caterhams also have this noice coming from the engine.


As Seb leaves the frame, he brakes and there is a grinding noise from his engine.

Instead of making accusations, we should ask the following questions:

1. What is causing that sound?

2. Do other teams also have same symptom when braking? (since it is not clear from the footage).

It sounds like off-throttle blowing to me - whether it is hot or cold, not sure. And how much is still legal, not sure either.

Btw, great article James


Vettel's is the only one you can hear on its own. The next car you can hear a bit of a different sound, but it's hard to tell because the one after is much closer then all the rest are nose to tail and you're not going to hear much detail there.


Dear Lord. This is what you gained from this great article.


Mr Minardi also noted that Webbers car did not make the same sound from the exhaust as Vettels car. If they are doing something to assist with traction out of slow corners, why wouldn't you have it on both cars? My understanding, and I am often wrong, is that engine maps are very restricted in regards off throttle / on throttle. I also thought these maps were submitted for approval earlier in the season. Hey, I'm a RB fan and am happy to see them squash the opposition but only if it's kosher.

Good article James. Lots of new stuff there for me.


Conspiracy theories aside, several articles over the last couple of years have asserted that Webber has trouble using the driving style required to get the best out of an EBD. Maybe Mark is faster without the new trick?


I agree. This is where I'm thinking at the moment too.


With Mark leaving not just RBR but F1 entirely if I were Christian Horner I woul not be putting a back door Traction control system on Marks car. That just prudent Managment


Its well known fact that difference between Vettel and Webber is related how effective blown diffu/coanda team has. When FIA have cut down RBR´s advantage for a moment, Webber have been closer. Webber just never learnt to take advantage of that technology. Anyway, Webber was hold by traffic throught race at Singapore, so he wasnt using same engine settingss. Most likely he was saving fuel to be able to pass later when Vettel was pushing 100 % to build gap for stop.


That kind of driving is couterintuitive, it's great for Vettel's driving style but it's completely opposite to what Webber's best at. This could be why Mark's car didn't sound "unusual". Of course, given it did sound different.


For sure Red Bull have for a long time put fear in their rivals just like what the Roman legions used to do.

But just like the Roman Empire, whenever one has this sort of domination, when the walls begin to crumble, they do so really fast and dramatically and what's more, never to be seen again.

Yes Vettel looks like the massive favourite for the remaining races to the point Mercedes believe he can win them all.

Therefore, it will be nothing of a spectacular performance for any driver to beat Red Bull to the flag at the remaining races as all teams seem to have frozen development on the 2013 cars.

Regards Vettel, he has been improving as a driver each season from he can't overtake, to he can't win from a non-pole position, to he can't race through the pack.

Now, the only question that needs answering is can Vettel really work a difficult car because what the fans saw in the first half of 2012 wasn't convincing.

As a reminder, F1 champions really get their stripes and medals not by what they can do in a quick car but rather a difficult car e.g. Lewis Korea 2012 + Senna at Mclaren 1991-1993 + Schumi at Ferrari 1996-1999 + Alonso at Ferrari 2012 etc.


Torro rosso, LH never drove in anything other than a front running team and I for one rate LH and I believe you do to. SV won in a Torro Rosso which was the sixth best car that season, look at the constructors championship. He also took LH in the rain in Brazil in that very sixth best car. Even FA has never won a race in a team that finished lower than 4th in the WCC. Can you please tell me exactly what you want from SV??? 7th best car?


LOL every season they come up with new challenges and he smashes then.

He's gonna get to the point of record maker turns record breaker.


Well, Maldonado managed it in the 8th best car last year, didn't he?!?

Special and unusual circumstances, y'say? Hmm ...


Great performance from Williams that weekend, I say. They hit the tire window just right, allowing Pastor the chance to fight for the win.

Surely we've all seen enough of Pastor by now to know that he is not a great driver, nor a very good driver. But he sure looked great that day in Spain, with a hooked up car. Much easier to look "great" when you don't have to overdrive the car. Hmm ...


great drive from Pastor I say, and if he goes on to win 3 world championships nobody can say he never performed in a bad car,he won in a bad car, however we have not seen PM in a front running car so we dont know if he has what it takes at the sharp end of the grid of luck to him though


@ David C

Actually there's a difference between a difficult car to drive and a slow one.

With a difficult car, either it wasn't designed to your driving style or there's something broken.

And so drivers able to extract performance out of cars in those conditions are the special type e.g. Schumi in Barcelona 96 or Senna's victory despite stuck gears in Brazil.


Ah I get it .... No matter what SV dose he's useless and no matter what LH or FA do they are great, sometimes you just need to do a bit more work twisting the facts.

Next you will be telling me that MW never ignored team orders and tried to overtake SV at the 2011 brittish GP the same way SV did o MW in Malaysia.

I got a fact for you mam ...... You just don't like the kid!


In the first ten races of 2012, in that difficult car, Vettel scored seven top five finishes, one of them a win and led the championship by race 5. After race 2 he was sixth in the championship, from race 4 to the end he would never be lower than fourth in the standings, in a difficult car.


Whilst the rest of the field (Mclaren especially) helped him enormously with incompetent race performances Vettel still kept scoring good points in a not so good car. I think he's turned into the most complete driver on the grid right now, as much as people rate Alonso, Alonso failed to defend an advantage, Vettel took a poor start to the year and smashed everybody.


No the car was not difficult just not as good as the Red Bull is normally. The Red Bull car was has always been agile just they had not by then found the sweet spot which came a little later.


@ J Hancock

But this still begs the question why Webber was doing better than Vettel during the teething problems of the first half ogre 2012.


Webber wasnt doing better DNF and bad luck made it look so a little season review would show you only reliabilty gets Webber close to Vettel.


A not so good car?!? Even in the first 10 races of 2012, the RB8 was the best car to be driving!

That's why RBR were leading the WCC from the 4th race on in 2012, and why after the 10th race, Webber and Vettel were lying 2nd (120pts) and 3rd (110pts) in the DWC. In terms of top-5 results (i.e. decent points), both Vettel and Webber were joint-second only to Alonso (7 T5's to Alonso's 8).

You can bet your bottom dollar that Alonso would've swapped them cars for the first 10 races of 2012!

It only seemed a "difficult" car b/c it wasn't dominant, as the RB6 and RB7 were. Of course they took a hit losing the EBD at the start of the year, but they were always on for decent points, at EVERY race. Then Newey worked his magic, and the car was again dominant at JAP, KOR, and IND.

Most, if not every other driver on the grid would kill to drive such a "difficult" car.


Shame that very advantage you were talking about was destroyed by Grosjean in Belgium, and partly by Raikkonen in Japan.


...which is a facile argument as Vettel also failed to finish races through no fault of his: in Valenica (while leading) and Monza, both with car failures. So, no, bad luck cannot really be blamed for Alonso's surrendering of that lead.


Just like his advantage was destroyed by one retirement from leading, one possible podium finish due to Narain Karthikeyan, and two retirement due to car failure. The two retirements compares to Alonso's two retirements during the season


Yeah same goes for Vettel's ture being punctured by a certain HRT at Malaysia the same car derailed Button's chances at the same race by taking off half the front wing and then at Texas the same HRT cost Vettel the win. ALONSO got lucky at Valencia with a gifted win so it evened out.


is that why red bull pay him what he's worth and pay newey what he is worth?


I don't think you have looked at the figures.


The pay structure in redbull makes Vettel F1's highest earner but most people miss this as he gets more money from bonuses than any driver.

James can correct me if am wrong here.

Redbull pay a bonus for race wins fastest lap and also championship win, not sure of exact amount.


There was nothing "difficult" about the Ferrari in 2012. It was an excellent car, nearly as fast as the RB and more reliable. (The RB in turn was not as fast as the McLaren, but more reliable) It's a media created myth that the F2012 was rubbish and that Alonso performed miracles in it.


No. That 2012 ferrari started off the season well but by the end of the year it was about the third quickest car on the grid. By all rights it should have been finishing in about 5th place or so. Alonso was performing miracles to keep putting it on the podium race after race. It was an astonishing piece of driving.


The F2012 looked plenty difficult from where I was sitting at T1 in Melbourne. It was all over the shop with some pretty lurid slides at various points from corner entry to on the throttle leaving T2!


I think you need to watch some onboard footage again because it struggled in traction zones heavily. It had an interesting season though; awful from Aus to Spain, great from then on to Monza (bar Hungary) and then it fell back heavily to Macca and Red Bull.



Totally agree. It was not the car that was rubbish ...


James with all due respect to your analysis Giancarlo minardi is hardly stupid to voice his suspicions ,It took a lot of guts on his part to bring this up and hes hardly a novice in this sport he has voiced what a lot of fans have been thinking for sometime ....I would like to reproduce an interesting post from GP247 to illustrate how similar tricks have been used in F1 and the culprits have got away scot free.

Flashback: A tale of dodgy traction control and alleged cheating in Formula 1

The suspicion raised by former Formula 1 team owner Giancarlo Minardi, that Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull could be using a clever form of traction control, has conjured up memories of a similar scenario that played itself out during the 1994 season when Ayrton Senna went to his grave convinced that Michael Schumacher’s Benetton B194 was using traction control – and he may well have been right.

Senna and Schumacher were clearly the two main contenders of that season. The Brazilian, a three times world champion, having moved to Williams and Schumacher the young upstart with the Benetton team packed with a back room of the brightest technical gurus such as Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne, all led by flambouyant Flavio Briatore.

From the outset Senna was struggling with the Adrin Newey designed Williams FW16, it was not as easy to drive as the all conquering predecessors, namely the FW15C and FW14B. Nevertheless those close to Senna claim he drove the car harder than anything he had driven before, and although he never finished a race in 1994 he did qualify on pole for all three races he started.

Senna explained at the time, “I have a very negative feeling about driving the car and driving it on the limit and so on… Some of that is down to the lack of electronic change. Also, the car has its own characteristics which I’m not fully confident in yet.”

And famously added, “It’s going to be a season with lots of accidents, and I’ll risk saying that we’ll be lucky if something really serious doesn’t happen.”

In Brazil, Senna confided with his close associates that he was suspicious of Schumacher’s Benetton, and that he felt the team was using some form of traction control which along with active suspension and ABS was banned for 1994.

He became convinced of the use of traction control when after retiring from the Japanese Grand Prix he stood by the side of the track and heard the difference in engine sounds and characteristics between Schumacher’s car and his teammate Jos Verstappen’s supposedly similar Benetton B194.

At Imola, Senna was killed during the race and the Formula 1 world was sent reeling

Coincidentially or ironically straight after the race the FIA impounded computer control systems of Ferrari, McLaren and Benetton. Shortly after Silverstone that year the governing body decreed that Ferrari had co-operated, and were clean, but two Benetton and McLaren were fined $100,000 each for attempting to deny the FIA’s inspectors access to their computer programme codes.

The Independent newspaper reported at the time: When the inspectors got into the Benetton computers, they discovered a hidden programme, and it was dynamite: a programme called Launch Control, which allowed Schumacher to make perfect starts merely by flooring the throttle, the computer then taking over to ensure that the car reached the first corner with no wasteful wheelspin.

Legal in 1993 but outlawed by the new regulations, the programme was still there – although now it had been concealed. To find it you had to call up the software’s menu of programmes, scroll down beyond the bottom line, select an apparently blank line, press a secret key – and, hey presto, without anything showing on the screen, Launch Control was ready for action

Brawn’s claim that the system had not been used during the 1994 season could neither be proved nor disproved; the FIA’s decision to publicise their findings suggested that they had their suspicions. After all, if Launch Control was now redundant, why had it had been left sitting in the software? Because, the Benetton people said, the task of isolating and removing it was one of impossible complexity. (The concealment, they added, was simply to prevent somebody switching it on by mistake.)

‘That’s enough to make me believe they were cheating,’ one computer specialist with another team told me last week. ‘Look, we purged our own software of all the illegal systems during the winter. I did it myself. It took me two days. That’s all. Perfectly straightforward. And the fact that they disguised it was very suspicious.’

Also that year, after an investigation by Intertechnique at Benetton’s team factory, the FIA revealed that the team had been using an illegal fuel valve, without a fuel filter, that pumped fuel into the car 12.5% faster than a normal, legal fuel valve that had a filter.

This may have explained how Schumacher was able to leap frog Senna and take the lead of the season opening Brazilian GP. Upon which the Brazilian was forced to chase hard, but to no avail as he spun out in front of his home crowd.

Verstappen, who suffered severe burns as a result of a fuel hose fire at the German GP, spoke to said of his 1994 season with Benetton alongside Schumacher

“I know what happened when we were together at Benetton. People think I’m looking for excuses but I know that his car was different from mine. I always thought it was impossible; I braked at the limit and took the corners as hard as possible, so how could Schumacher do it? There was something wrong. There were electronic driver aids. It was never mentioned, but I’m convinced and when I later asked Flavio Briatore he replied ‘Let’s not talk about it’. So I know enough now,” claimed Verstappen.

The tragic story of the 1994 season is now part of the history and folklore of Formula 1, but it begs the question: Would Senna have been pushing the limits (in and out of the car) had he not been up against a rival using illegal means to gain an advantage? And thus it obviously must never be allowed to happen again. (Apex)

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The only way to use traction control is via the ECU and the ECU is made and i bet monitored by Mclaren engineers. Vettel dominance was masked by the fact that Rosberg had tyre debris stuck in his front wheel and Hamilton couldnt get passed him(Just like Monaco a slower dictating the pace of the cars stuck behind)and this track is notorious to overtake on. Most of the overtakes at the end were aided due to really worn tyres on those who had stopped only once.

If Rosberg dint have debris or if There was no safety car The Gap wouldnt have been so huge. Alonso had to do a long stint on his tyres so he could not push to the limit he had to make sure his tyres lasted until the end. Webber was never in clear air to actually push like Vettel could



"Giancarlo minardi is hardly stupid to voice his suspicions..."

But he is, since his suspicions aren't based on facts. If he'd know current rules and how they're enforced, he wouldn't give such statements.


Quoted below is the official statement from the FIA concerning the Bennetton of Michael Schumacher after the top 3 finishers in the tragic 1994 San Marino Grand Prix where inspected. Highlighted are the parts journalists with an agenda conveniently leave out.

"The FIA World Motor Sport Council also considered the report of the FIA Formula One Technical Delegate in respect of the electronic systems used on car #5 (Michael Schumacher) at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

After hearing the representatives of Benetton Formula Ltd., the World Motor Sport Council reached the conclusion that, in common with the other two teams, Benetton's computer system contained a facility capable of breaching the regulations. In the absence of any evidence that the device was used AND CERTAIN EVIDENCE THAT IT WAS NOT, the World Council imposed no penalty involving the results of the event."

It all usually boils down to an agenda of diminishing the fact a young uncharismatic German in a Benetton was beating the great Senna in a Williams.


+1, and with the Vettel bashing going in now, it is just a dass of history repeating itself. Schumacher Bad bis faults, but so do all the other greats. For the others these faults are eventually put to Rest. Seems different for German drivers.


So, all is well then. Just Vettel walking in the footsteps of Schumacher and there will be no wheel-spin whatsoever.


Oh yeah, the World Motor Sport Council never gets it wrong.


Yes yes, that's right - after all how could anyone beat Senna...!

Surely for such a travesty to occur they MUST be cheating. I mean, it's Senna!

Nothing to do with the fact that Benetton had come up with a damn good car in '94, whilst the Williams in the early races was a handful (even for Ayrton, and despite the brilliance of A Newey); and that Schumacher was on fire and had clearly matured as a driver into the complete package that would end up dominating the sport? Is it really a huge surprise that he was miles ahead of Verstappen and Lehto?

Senna was just getting kicked off on his 1994 mind games, as he knew back in '92 and '93 who his new rival would be later in his career.

Vettel is now just getting the same treatment. I'm not a huge fan of Red Bull or Vettel, but the boos and the conspiracy theories are just getting a little annoying now.

Red Bull are doing a better job than everyone else. Even their pitstops are faster and their strategy better. It's up to the rest to catch up. Vettel makes the most of it, and he delivers... Webber has the same car, and he's in the pack. Really, as multi-million dollar business do people honestly think that RB spend tens of millions of dollars only to give Webber a deliberately hamstrung car? Seriously?

Vettel (like any consistent winner) simply makes a good villain for some 'fans'. Even Malaysia 2013 was part of a much longer saga with Webber, who for some reason always seems to be the innocent 'it wasn't me guv' party in everything, despite doing his damnest to wreck his team's chance of a WDC last year...

Sorry for the rant (!), but as a fan of the sport in general, hearing booing during podium ceremonies and daft conspiracy theories are just depressing.

Even including Giancarlo Minardi's comments honestly seems a little below the very high standards of all the posts on this site - especially when the article goes on to say ECUs are spec parts and as maps are controlled as well. Just adds fuel for people who don't believe that a damn hardworking, integrated and motivated team can't be clear of the opposition without something underhand being the reason.


Best post I've seen on here in ages, other than your James of course : )


Ignorance really is bliss!


Lol that's gold, you just downplayed Newey


Hmmm don't think so 🙂


Just a coincidence then ...


@ david Curtis

If you can turn this into a racist post you really need help 🙂


Sorry Clyde, the point im making is that people like yourself (german driver haters) always point out that Newey is the only reason SV can win a race because he is some sort of demi god of design. However when you guys (german driver haters) talk about MS it provides you with a problem as MS always fought against (rather successfully) Newey. So above Newey is reduced to the rank of mere mortal in comparison to the vastly superior Rory Byrne.

So Newey is a genius when working for drivers you dislike who win hence no credit for them guys however when working for a driver you like who dosent win Neweys incompetence is the only reason.


Actually Minardi did 🙂


Think it's pretty well established that Benetton were cheating in 1994.

I don't think Red Bull are cheating however, it's just the brilliance of Newey.


Sebastian is a very talented driver, not to acknowledge this is utterly blizzare.

He is the real deal and while its a great car, he too is a really great driver.

We're witnessing the ultimate combination of driver and engineering greatness and its a privilege to watch.

It's not Red Bulls fault that McLaren, Ferrari or Mercedes are not as smart, focused or determined. They will of course raise their game and win more races and championships and on again the cycle goes.

But either way Sebastian is here to stay as a powerful front running force in Formula One, he is the bench mark not Alonso, Lewis or Kimi.


@ Paul D

You don't think red bull are cheating .... Hmmm Giancarlo minardi definitely does 🙂


..and Vettel getting the maximum from it..


Sure Vettel is getting the maximum from it... or not. I mean, getting the maximum on pure performance level is getting those extra two tenths. When a driver is a second faster than other amazing top drivers (Alonso and Hamilton, and wen it comes to street circuits Rosberg too!) you can't really know if he really has those two last tenths of magic. Sure in terms of consistency he has been amazing, but consistency is not speed, as we will see next year when Kimi drives alongside Alonso. And when a car is that good an all rounder, when you have the material to consistently qualify on the front row, when your car is that consistent and that fast at times over the other cars, it is easier to achieve that consistency. Specially for a guy with the focus and discipline Vettel has.

Has Vettel those extra two or three tenths of Magic Alonso has over the others, as Lauda puts himself? It's hard to know yet, not enough data. As Ross Brawn said, we have to watch him drive a subpar car, and see if he is able to put it where Alonso does, and make a title challenge. We need to see him against other drivers in the same car, preferably drivers that did drive alongside other well known quantities of the paddock (as Rosberg, Button, Massa or Raikonen). A pity that we really don't know how good Ricciardo is. We need to see him struggle with car design and see how he comes on top of that (as first half of 2012, where he really had a hard time, not too impressive how he dealt with that). And finally, we need to see a close context for the championship, not in terms of points, but in terms of car's relative speed.

So we need to be patient, at the end we will have a clear picture. But the picture is not that clear right know.


well james, are you 100% certain that giancarlo minardi is 100% wrong?


Certain it cannot be traction control via ECU yes


Also what about Mercede's FRIC suspension? Has Redbull implemented that as well now?.maybe that helps


How do you know that? All you can say is that he get's more out of it than Webber, but then it's not hard to see why.



The examples you cited recently of similar situations with Mansell in 1992 and Hakkinen 1998 were spot on I thought.

I remember reading an article with Patrick Head in Motorsport Magazine where he said Mansell's fully committed early turn in style (carrying extra speed into the corner) was perfectly suited to the FW14B active car. He went as far to say he didn't think any other driver could have extracted the laptimes Mansell was pulling out and that if he had stayed on in 1993, he suspects Prost would have struggled to match him.

All about the driver and car in perfect harmony.


But in such a car there are at least 2 more drivers that can get that kind of results, what really makes the difference over the rest is the car itself, isn't it?


Yes, but it is always a combination, driver and car, when you are talking about this level of performance


You are spot on James


This is the mistake most commentators make they ignore Vettel's performance in the car, he leaves nothing on the table hence as you put it, its a devastating combination.


Great article, well explained, thanks James and Mark.

Things like Minardi's comments are always going to draw speculation especially with the way the poeple are always looking for a simple reason vettel is so quick and cheating is the less imaginative conclusion.

I noticed the Red Bull had the wet weather light on at Monza would that relate to some engine map cleverness?


I think it was when they were protecting Vettels gearbox. They had him use the wet weather map which consequently turns on the rear light.


might also explain a traction control sound....legally or not...just saying..


Vettel was instructed to select "rain-mode" to reduce the stress on the gearbox. Hence the wet weather light.


Referring to the stretch leading into the first chicane, Minardi said Vettel was able to negotiate it “without making any corrections, unlike all his rivals and also his teammate” Mark Webber.

“His laptime was also remarkable in T3, which is the track’s sector with the highest concentration of corners,” he added.

“On the same stretch, Sebastian was able to speed up 50 metres before any other driver, Webber included.”


All these observations seem to point to Vettel being a good driver. Able to drive with more precision and less corrections, and stabilising the car quickly and able to put power down earlier.

It is also consistent with the RB being a car with better downforce.

Webber wasn't driving in clean air for most of the Singapore race.


Now this is where I dont understand the sheep mentality in repeating this,

"On the same stretch, Sebastian was able to speed up 50 metres before any other driver, Webber included."

As in, is it that people cant measure or what,50 metres are you kidding me?

Usain Bolt runs 100 metres to put it in context.

Is this dislike of Vettel so great that people cant stop to think?


@ rockie

"how flawed the argument was anyway from Minardi! Anyone who has been following F1 knows Vettel gets on the power out of the corners quicker than other drivers"

Giancarlo minardi ran a formula 1 team and survived on an extremely low budget for 16 years he obviously knows a thing or two. He merely highlighted what he saw .... far from flawed Heh Heh


When last was he in F1 has he managed a team under the new regulations, or because he ran a team donkey years ago means his word is gospel how many championships or championship winning cars did his team produce?


There is nothing here to dislike vettel

There is no need to big up vettel as well. For sure he made the most out of the RBR rockets ever since 2010 and all his 4 WDC titles are deserved. Yet he is not a great or a legend although stats may suggest otherwise

RBR have always the stretched the rules and limits when it comes to development. It's quite logical as well. RBR are always prepared to take risks which helped them to clearly demolish the opponent's

RBR are smart and ferrari, claren / mercedes are dumb. Whereas vettel is not great while Alonso, Hamilton and co are miles better than the reigning WDC


What a load of tripe!

No one is bigging Vettel up its out there for all to see.

In Webber's hand its not a Newey rocket that tells you all you need to know.

Alonso and co are miles better unfortunately for you its your opinion and would remain so, since they are better they should be WDC's shouldn't they? irrespective of the car.


Rockie, what are you trying to say? deyanm13 didn't show any dislike, he just highlighted Minardi's observations which are indeed interesting to analyze.

And quoting someone is 'sheep mentality'? You did it yourself too.


You need to understand the reply,as I highlighted his quote and wasn't quoting him he took a quote out of it and I was merely pointing out how flawed the argument was anyway from Minardi! Anyone who has been following F1 knows Vettel gets on the power out of the corners quicker than other drivers.

He failed to note that in his analysis that to me shows how flawed it is!


I just wish everyone at RBR would stop saying that they are surprised, every time they dominate... surely, some of them must have noticed the trend the rest of us have picked up, over the past few years.


It's better PR for Red Bull if Horner comes over as surprised plus he doesn't have to discuss what new part made the car so much better.

I guess it may be less likely that the new innovations, grey area or brilliant, will be looked into in detail as well if he just says something like:

oh my, I'm amazed, his pace was phenomenal, wow.

rather than...

Woohoo, Newey has nailed it with his ground effect diffuser, that low pressure interation sucks our car to the ground in slow corners, we are downforce kings of F1 and they can't understand their formula ford jaloppies, it's so easy it's not even a race anymore, thanks Pirelli, thanks Adrian, in yer face Domeni and Brawny!

-or similar, with a tad less exaggeration 😉


Engineers are a modest bunch. They would rather be conservative and let the numbers do the talking. At the end of the day the Red Bull engineers won't know how much time another team has found between races.


This is what makes it so successful. Red Bull doesn't take it for granted, it keeps pushing. Despite crushing their rivals it doesn't talk about the championship endlessly like Ferrari.


Well, Ferrari didn't talk much about the championship when Schu was winning for them, either.


Sorry for my lack of use of commas in the last post.


During that period no one else really stood a chance most of the time. That is not the case this year with Red Bull. You have Hamilton moaning before the race in Hungary then he wins the race then he says he feels he can win the next ten. Now you have Red Bull killing it with Sebastian since then.


I was thinking about this. Maybe RedBull are being polite. RedBull can't really say "Wow we are like totally really surprised how far back everyone else is. We have for sure thought that the other teams would have caught up with us or copied our stuff by now. But like wow we are really like totally surprised that the other teams haven't done anything. Totally like for sure."


Yes, that's what Horner sounds like, to me... like, totally.


If they didn't say they were surprised by their pace compared to the rivals people would say they're arrogant. So they chose to be humble instead.

Alexander Supertramp

Kuddos to Red Bull for building this beautiful great machine. It should be an inspiration to the other engineers. Kuddos to Vettel for driving it that well. It's too easy for him and teams like Ferrari, Merc and Lotus won't even try to close the gap so Vettel should be able to win all the remaining races bar the odd DNF.

James thinks that efficientr use of the resources is the reason Red Bull left every other team eating their dust since the summer break, but what does that mean? I'm very curious, how can a big team make such a big impact in so little time? We always take it for granted,simply assuming Red Bull will be great after the break, but I never see anyone asking why. I want a look in the Red Bull kitchen, even if it's just a tiny peak. I love these analyses by Mark and I want moooore :D. Journalists should be all over this dominance instead of writing yet another story about a driver who thinks the next track will suit his car or whatever.

Thanks for the article James/Mark


My understanding of how traction control works is that a computer measures the rpm of the wheels, when the drive tyres (the rear ones) move faster than the front, this means they are spinning and have lost traction. The ignition is then cut until the wheels return to equil speed. Could the sensors be rigged to the KERS to retard the rear axcel in this situation? Hence providing a form of traction control. Is there any legal or technical reason why this couldn't be done?


FOr the Bull'13 it's got to be all about downforce, slow corner speed improvments, the new diffuser and floor, instead of traction control on the wheels.

They don't even have the traction/torque of the Ferrari at the start when the car is pointing in a straight line. (That is Alonso's start, still better that the Bulls, before he also uses his superior racecraft and skills to pass people around turn 1/2/3)

Newey is the aero king, plus Seb raced well and barely met another car in Singapore and was on a extra tyre set strategy compared to FA and KR. All making a dominant car look crazily dominant.


But why would the dominant team decide to cheat? Why risk it when Vettel looks like running away with the championship?


You don't need to measure anything at the wheels to make traction control work.

The systems on an F1 car are so sophisticated that they can achieve traction control in other ways. The differentials are so closely monitored and controlled that the rear wheels can be forced to remain in the correct sync with each other. Then the ECUs give so much information that the teams know exactly just how fast the cars can accelerate before the wheels break traction. If the engine RPMs increase faster than the known maximum acceleration rate then the wheels must have lost traction and the ECU program will back the throttle off a fraction. It's just like an outboard motor on a boat. If the prop cavitates (loses grip on the water by the introduction of air) the engine revs freely. You know it has happened because the engine suddenly screams - you don't have or need a sensor on the prop.

In other words, whilst traction control is technically banned, the reality is it is impossible to prevent the teams achieving the same result by other means.


Thanks mate. Food for thought.



Expanding a bit. Traction control is simple these days (as you describe) and common on higher-end road cars, but it is illegal in F1. As James mentioned in the article, the ECU's that control all of the electronic systems on F1 cars are a standard part, built by McLaren Applied Technologies, issued to the teams by the FIA - all teams use exactly the same unit.

All of those identical ECU's are subject to in-depth scrutiny at any time by FIA technical experts, so any team would be silly to try to hide a traction control program in amongst all the other code. I can't imagine RBR are directly breaking any rules - but maybe they have found a way around a few of the rules regarding exhaust blown diffusers, which were made illegal for the 2013 season.

I'd guess the FIA 'know' what RBR have done by now - I'm sure they would have asked for an explanation after Singapore. I assume that it must be 'legal' or we would have heard about it by now. Having said that, if what RBR have come up with is too great an advantage then the innovation may well be banned at a later date for the sake of closer racing.

The rules in F1 attempt to walk a fine line between encouraging innovation and not leaving too many doors open so that one team can come up with a killer idea and walk away with it (or just spend more money than anyone else and so win it all). That situation would never be allowed to continue for too long (as with blown diffusers).

There's always lots of conspiracy theories around this kind of stuff. It makes for interesting reading, even if the theories are often rather crazy.


RBR is great in all aspects, but do not forget their corporate image is to take every risk in life. Snowboarding to the limit in cliffs, bikes jumping around the border of death accidents, the Red Bull Air Racer´s nearly touching water with their fingers, Red Bull Cliff Diving Word Series, or...

Red Bull Stratos, the perfect and most expensive attempted suicide made by a crazy Felix Baumgartner... From the Stratosphere, mate!!!

If they let people to risk “their lives” just for fun... and funds... (RB Funds)…

Why would they stop at using any technical invention in F1? Legal or not?. Why?

There in F1, they just risk money, not life.

They just go too far, in my opinion.

All F1 teams and engineers have not became silly. It will go to an end, sooner that later, I guess.


Risk through extreme sports or Stratos or whatever else is a bit different to the risk of being caught cheating and the penalties that might come with it.

I think Red Bull at this point are pretty well aware that anything "risky" they put on the car, at the very worst they have to be able to get away with it being deemed illegal post-clarification/re-wording of the regulations. If they cross that line and do something that directly breaches the regulations, they're at risk of losing their WCC points, being thrown out, etc. I'm pretty sure the big RB boss wouldn't be too happy about the flagship sporting team with his company's name on it being caught out as cheaters. It wouldn't just be the WCC or the RB F1 team at risk... it's the entire Red Bull brand.

Just to point out too, anyone jumping out of planes or doing ridiculous tricks on bikes or whatever... they'd be doing it whether or not Red Bull were involved. It's not like Red Bull reps are approaching random people on the street and offering them large sums of money to convince them to do risky things that would otherwise never do.


Livestrong!! Could be theirs slogan!!!

Sebastian is the Lance Amstrong of F1!!!


And as a passionate F1 fan I love JAs forum for my crazy ideas. Brilliant to be able to discus this stuff with engaged and interest people like yourself.
Whatever RBR is up to it didn't diminish what Vettel has achieved. He is simply the best right now


Not without the ECU knowing about it


Could you have a second ECU connecting the telemetry to the KERS?

I note that Mr Whiting has declared the cars legal (which I never implied they weren't)


But what sort of readout would the FIA be getting from RB's ECU then?

People will try anything if they think they might not be caught ... just read some story about an athlete using a fake penis to try to get around drug testing!!


Maybe the ECU is sealed area but the sensors on the engine aren't. Isnt it possible to influence a signal from à sensor or from sensors from the engine to the main ECU when wheels are spinning thus correcting power to the rear wheels?

You only need a second small ecu for it to detect wheel spin and translate it to the main ECU.

To be clear: I don't assume or say RB is doing this, just fascinated 🙂


Thats exactly what I was trying to explain above! But you did a better job than me.

I assume you have seen the YouTube clip of Vettel's car in Singapore; I absolutely sounds different than the rest of the cars coming out of the corners.


Hi Team! The method i outlined above would not require the ECU to function. The sensors are connected to the KERS unit which would trigger harvesting when the wheels are not running at similar speeds.

I hadn't considered whether the ECU runs the KERS. Does it? Because all traction control does is get the wheels to rotate at similar speeds by retarding the rear wheels as necessary.

Could someone find out if the 'harvesting' of KERS energy is controlled by the ECU?

A final thought, as KERS harvesting affects the break balance of the car, if RBR are able to harvest energy coming out of a corner instead of going into it, it would allow a car to be better set up on its breaks and overall balance of the car through low speed corners. This would be provide an advantage to a driver in the first few laps of a race on a car with heavy fuel loads.

A second final fought, assuming a system like this was being used it would explain why Minardi was able to detect a difference in engine note on the RB9 and the way Vettel could get on the power earlier than his rivals. Because if the KERS system was harvesting energy coming out of the corner Vettel could get on the power and wait for the system to provide power to the ground earlier. The 'traction control' would provide torque though the drive shaft stressing the engine (because the rear axel is being retarded) and once the speed of the wheels were matched by the telemetry the KERS harvesting would disengage providing optimum traction several meters before his rivals could do have the same.

Sorry if this is long winded, i'm not an engineer.


@ Scott

Hi Scott.

Thanks for bringing the subject of speculation up. No I am not an engineer but that doesn't stop me thinking about the sport I follow. I doubt you have a media degree, but that doesn't stop you from critiquing peoples comments on online blogs.

Your assumption that I dislike Vettel is incorrect, I am not on that bandwagon. An example of my opinion can be found here–-who-was-your-driver-of-the-day-2/#comment-776287

I was, am and always will be interested in the technical elements of this sport and yes I think about these things often! Like Hansb below I am fascinated as to how the minds at RBR are able to maintain such an edge over their competitors; and personally I find their commitment to the pursuit of competitive advantage inspiring. I am a marketer in the financial services industry here in Australia.

I remain convinced that the RBR cars are legal and Vettel's car has something that no other car has. IF this is true (and the performance advantage would favour this position) I would not equip Mark's car with the same 'solution'. He is leaving F1 and though I assume bound by a non-disclousure agreement (like I am in my work), given they will likely win both championships, it is not worth the risk.

Thanks for taking the time to reply to my comment

@James Allen

Could you do some investigation into NDA's for drivers and engineers? Given the silly season now seems to include the brains trust of this sport; how busy are the lawyers?


"...i’m not an engineer"

Therefore, what is the point of such - self-confessed - ill-informed speculation? I'm not getting at you particularly, but do people really dislike Vettel that much as to sit around thinking up ways in which he could be cheating, even if they are technically unfeasible?


is there KERS units run by same common ECU ?

Thought the chrage / control of the KERS is separate ?


I think separate, but not 100% sure. That´s a good point!!


Great insight as always James. Is Vettel's superior ability to understand the technical side of the car and therefore the quality of his driver feedback to the technical team an overlooked factor of his success? Does this partly explain the gulf between him and Webber?


There's no doubt the Red Bull car is in a class of it's own, and just keeps getting better and better with the careful study and development work which has become so characteristic of the team. I think Vettel is highly unlikely to go to any other team with such a tour de force within Red Bull's design team. The Red Bull team have given Vettel a fast extremely agile car that other teams can only dream about. I don't believe Vettel is any better than any other top driver, but he has learnt over the years to drive the Red Bull car extremely fast, and a car like this improves driver confidence like no other. I think it very unlikely that the remaining races will be won by any other team unless Red Bull have a failure. The unfortunate thing in all this is that it is unfair to other drivers, and makes for very boring racing indeed fans will discount Vettel and watch the remaining drivers as a result.


Vettel is a integral part of the "Red Bull team", he is not the passive recipient of the "Red Bull teams" work who is being generously "given" a car.

"don’t believe Vettel is any better than any other top driver, but he has learnt over the years to drive the Red Bull car extremely fast"

And what exactly is the difference between being better than any other top drivers, and learning to drive your car faster than they do? Because the two things sound remarkably alike.


The difference is that you have to compare like with like. Put Alonso or Hamilton in a Red Bull car, let them aclimatise for a few years and then see who is the fastest. Vettel like any other driver in a team can impart information as to how the car is performing, and describe how he wants the car, but he is not an engineer or an aerodynamicist. Vettel like any other driver is given a car to race while is is employed by them, but it is the design team that actually work the magic in producing a car that is so agile and fast.


Aaron I'm afraid your assessment of each driver is flawed as it is based on the performance of their current cars. You really do have to realise just how good the Red Bull car is in terms of driveability, downforce, traction etc. Currently I suspect it tops every area you could think of with the current tyres. It really does perform as though it is on rails, and such a car other teams/drivers can only dream about. Given a top driver it is engineering design prowess that wins races and championships such that the car is the single most important element. In another car Vettel would look ordinary, and that's the reason he will atay at Red Bull for the forseeable future.


At the end of the day the driver contributes only 10% to the success of the team but that 10% is the most important contribution because that's what the world is watching. At the end of the day every driver has a tool, some better than the other some equal and some worse. What matters is how you use that tool.

People have the opinion that Alonso and Hamilton would beat Vettel in the same car without having any concrete proof to back their theory. Just like some idiots said Hamilton will finish off button and then Rosberg. While both of them did pretty well to dispel that theory. Though over one lap Button was not able to match Hamilton over a race distance he did pretty well. Rosberg and Hamilton are evenly matched. So peoples expectations and reality are two different things. Just like one can say its quite possible that Vettel would have won the championship in last years Mclaren or in Ferrari both in 2010 and 2012 doing what both Alonso and Hamilton failed to do. At the end of the day these are all speculations. We dont know. But do consider for a moment that Ferrari and Mercedes are interested in Vettel. I mean for Ferrari to openly declare a preference for Vettel over Hamilton(If the consensus theory is that Alonso is a class apart and they need someone as fast as Alonso why not replace him with Hamilton as they were pretty well matched at Mclaren, instead of taking Vettel a Driver who most Arm Chair Pundits and Self proclaimed experts consider to have lucked in or as they put it 'not in the same league as Kimi, Hamilton, Or Alonso? Unless they feel Vettel has an edge over Hamilton)

If you were to compare the strengths of Alonso and Hamilton you'll notice that While Hamilton has an edge during qualification and over one lap his consistency on long runs or race distance isn't that impressive, and while Alonso's performance is Unmatchable during Race Day, Qualification isn't normally his strenght. Now consider Vettel extra ordinary on Saturdays and equally impressive on Sundays. It doent take an expert to figure out you are getting the best of both world if you were to hire him.


Well done Bulls! Great job by Newey and his team, and great job by Vettel, who knows how to get all the performance out of this car.

I've been reading articles about Vettel and RB car. It is being said that to get maximum out of the RB car, it requires "counter-intuitive" driving style and Vettel does that better than Webber.

Vettel and Red Bull deserve all the titles, they are all doing the better job.


Oh, and thanks for another great article, James and team!


In regards to the very exciting and fast speed Vettel demonstrated.

It seems that Giancarlo Minardi is mentioning some kind of traction control on the Red Bull. According to him the engine of Vettels car sounds completely different than his teammates or other Renault powered cars and when Seb is coming out of corners he can plant the throttle 50 meters before any of his competitors can. Is it possible that RB found something within the rules which others haven’t thought about and any idea what it could be?


This explains why Vettel plants the throttle earlier...

He is more confident in the car and this is how Red Bull car should be driven.

Quote from BBC (

Team boss Christian Horner said this was down to a number of changes to the car, both aerodynamic and mechanical. But the key seems to have been what Newey describes as "developments" to the diffuser, or rear floor.

Ironically, these were initially aimed at helping the car on high-speed, low-downforce tracks such as Spa and Monza, but they have also given it a significant boost in the high-downforce trim that was required in Singapore, and will be for the remaining races of the season.

This has allowed them to further exploit their main advantage - the use of the exhaust gases for aerodynamic effect.

Vettel has perfected the driving style that getting the best out of this requires - turning in on the brakes, getting the car rotating around the inside front wheel, and controlling the resultant slide by getting counter-intuitively EARLY ON THE THROTTLE and using the exhaust gases to nail the rear end.

Webber is less comfortable with this - and admits he is not as good as Vettel at exploiting the peak of the softer tyres used in Singapore. There were two cars between Vettel and Webber on the grid and the Australian's race was compromised by being behind slower cars, before his last-lap retirement with an engine failure.

Vettel has no such problem. He is totally at one with the car ...


Thanks for posting that. Somebody here mentioned that Vettel was driving the car in a different way, great to see it confirmed.


I keep seeing this whole "counter-intuitive" comment re driving technique. go back and find some of the bibles of race driving or engineering where this and other "strange" techniques were lavished upon Fangio, Nuvolari, Moss, Hawthorne and others in the '50's.

all along with photos, diagrams, and detailed explainations...


mmmm.... it really isn't hard to see why they wanted the tyres changed.

It the tyres had remained unchanged Vettel would no be able to slide like this for many laps.


Thanks for your comment it made me understand just what was happening. Totally amazing. I imagine it must take some getting used to and a whole heap of faith that the exhaust is going to give you traction in the corner by accelerating. Just WOW.


Also likely explains why in the first part of 2012 Webber was more competitive relative to Vettel. With exhaust blown diffusers as they were being banned, it took a little while for RB to get back on top of optimising exhaust flow to diffuser with the new restrictions. Once they did Sebs skills at driving EBD cars again gave him an advantage.

Full credit for him having the talent to master it, and be so devastatingly consistent with it.

Sebastian "Traction (in) Control" Vettel

It's not faith, it's perfect understanding of what this strange animal RB9 is and how it works. It's not that he closes eyes, start praying and kicks the throttle while taking turns.


Have you read our article?


Actually I thought I had, I am at work and in my haste I missed a part.

Well, you summed it up well and answered the majority of my questions 🙂


At least you're honest.


@ Mickey78. Don't answer that question. You are going to look a little silly either way you answer it.


Too late mate


It's gonna be some boring end to the season if Redbull's Singapore's advantage is maintained, I for one don't want to see any one team run away with it and when you have the likes of Hamilton and Alonso powerless to battle what's the point of watching it?

Cars going round with no chance of a change of lead is just plain old boring.

This season hasn't been helped by McLaren's dexterous decision to scrap their winning 2012 car - let's not forget that it was widely acknowledged as being the fastest car of 2012, fingers crossed they, together with Mercedes and Ferrari (maybe even Lotus) get their act together for 2014 though I fear Redbull, even if they have an engine disadvantage will still romp away with it - the bottom line is Newey is simply better, by some margin than the rest at designing an F1 car 😉


Maybe McLaren is playing a longer game by introducing design features in 2013 that are really precursors of what they expect to be needed for the big regulation changes coming in 2014. For example they introduced pull-rod suspension this year (following Ferrari last year), which I think is viewed as a very radical change.

I think they did say at at 2013 launch that the 2012 car (good as it was) had reached a plateau. If true this left them in a bad position of having to make a big change in 2013 and then another even bigger one for 2014.

Whatever their reasons and whatever else they changed it was a big risk and in 2013 it has obviously hurt them badly. We should know in about 12 months whether it was a good strategy.


My heart always sinks when I hear Mclaren are 'going radical' like they said at the start of this year.

They went radical in 1995 and 2003 as well. Look how that worked out.

Amazing that you can end a season (2012) with the fastest car and decide not to evolve it. Poor management and high level strategy.


They didn't take the decision at the end of the year though. They would have been well into working on 2013 before the end of 2012.

It's not the decision to do something different that's the problem, it's the execution of it that's the problem. If they'd gone "radical" and come out with an amazing car that indeed as planned had more development potential than any of the other front runners' cars, we'd be calling them geniuses for having the foresight and guts to do it.

And it's not like every year they just completely forget about the developments of the previous year's car and all the years before that. A "radical" design doesn't just mean they're going into it completely blind with crazy ideas and just hoping for the best.


Bring back Dennis!


And alonso""


They're in a very luxurious position, where the base car has been very good and the all round class of the field since late 2009, which allows them to focus on very specific areas which they can devote resources to until they get it right.

The other teams are playing catch up most the time chasing an outright performance improvement. It's smart work by Red Bull and shows why they've been champions and championship contenders the last 4 years.


This is the Newey way, the Williams car from 1991 to 1994 were all very similar, and then the 1995 to 1997 Williams again and the 1998 to 2000 Mclaren,


It makes you wonder why Mclaren insist on trying to reinvent the wheel every year. Rory Bryne had the same philosophy of evolution, so its a concept that can work in F1.

Interestingly the downturn of Mclaren and Ferrari happened when there was a big regs change in 09, and have been unable to consistently challenge RB/Vettel year after year since. Plus even race to race because RB every so often come out with a massive step forward, like we have seen in Singapore for the last two years. The big updates RB have always seem to work whereas Ferrari for example never work as expected.

With another big regs change next year, unless they change the way in which they design, develop and create there cars I fear RB/Vettel will take the championship again.

I also see Mclaren having another barren year unless Newey/Renualt makes a cockup of some kind, as they don't seem to be getting any fresh talent in the same way Ferrari or Merc are doing. At least Ferrari and Merc are trying different avenues of talent, or buying in talent at least.

The three big teams chasing RB really need to change there philosophy, whether thats design, developing, racing, strategy, pit stops and anything else related to racing as I feel RB has all bases covered and are not leaving anything on the table.

Sorry a long ramble but just some thoughts that occurred to me


The Red Bull is clearly the class of the field.

It's a real shame Red Bull didn't opt to put a higher quality driver in the second seat next year, allowing us to get a real benchmark as to how good Vettel really is.

Only when Vettel goes up against another top line driver (in the same car) will we be able to end all these debates / posts about who is better out of Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel (which no one really knows the answer to)!


i watched hamilton, in his rookie season, race against alonso, the then youngest ever back to back reigning champion with 6 years f1 experience, in 2007 an i am confident which one of those is a better f1 driver.

i was hoping raikkonen would get the seat at red bull this season but vettel's super friend didn't allow it to happen.

if vettel races against alonso or hamilton as teammates, i will be able to identify the better driver.

i suspect newey is a shareholder at red bull because he is as good, at what he does, as he is.


No one on that grid can match Vettel right now in the same car as he has Hamilton's speed Raikkonen's nack for collecting points and Alonso's consistency, so I dont understand why you need to measure him against anybody all you need to look at is his level of performance or you honestly believe Alonso would out qualify him? and the would have the same race pace so I fail to see the point you are trying to make as putting either of them in the car won't lower his performance.


for vettel to convince me, he will need to take on a world champion teammate at least. hamilton alonso and raikkonen haven't shied away from taken on world champions as teammates. by doing this they have of convinced me how good they are.

if vettel convinces me by taking on a world champion teammate, red bull will pay him a lot more than they pay him now. until then, newey wins those championships.


That's kind of my point though. Both of these are valid opinions.... but we won't know for sure until it actually happens!

Hopefully one day!


Great piece of analysis...


That's what we were expecting to understand that ultimate performance. Great analysis James and Mr. Gillan.

Following 3 tracks do usually favor RBR (plus such usual post summer break improvements) so it is hard to imagine they are gonna be beaten by the competitors.

RBR seem to wrap up both championships ASAP to shift all focus on 2014.


RB can not do so much with aero package update but combination with full Renault f1 resources looks like they are cheating competitors for sure what should be checked but......?Compare Lotus!


That's a horrible comparison! Lotus have major financial difficulties atm while Red Bull budget is almost endless. Add to that that the Red Bull have much better technical employees leaded by nobody less than Adrian Newey.

It's not because they have the same engine that they should perform the same. Caterham and Williams have Renault engines too...


Financially looking horrible but on ground is different flwg:

1.Prior switching tyres Lotus/RB equal after benefit to RB(Pirelli).Lotus(Kimi).

2.Renault engine to RB and Lotus not same because Infinity is brand of renault-nissan

official sponsor to RB and engine free of charge with max support.Williams and Catreham are out of game.

3.Kimi and Vettel as drivers not comparable.

Kimi is complete driver Vettel still learning

will see next year fight RB/Ferrari fin equal who will be better.


Now you make even less sense. First you say "Compare Lotus" and then you say they're not comparable...

Either way, just because Red Bull is outperforming all the rest doesn't have to lead to them cheating. That's a rather unjust conclusion you make with no proof.

But I understand for some people it's much easier to accuse them of cheating than to admit they just did a better job than the rest.


Well, everyone just keeps focusing exclusively on how good the Red Bull car is, and that the rest of the field drives a Flintstones mobile

I too had that impression for some time, as it's about the only thing being mentioned in the press for the last few years.

But if the RB car is that mutch better than the rest, why is is Webber not coming out at least 2nd place in all qualifying and races?

There are only two reasons for this, either Webber is a poor racing driver, wich I don't believe he is, or Vettel is an excepcional one

I think this fact isn't being fully appreciated by most people


Or they are not driving the same car. Minardi's comments suggest this but we will probably never know so it is only speculation


Yeah, a team would invest millions of dollars into building 2 cars, just to sabotage one of them!!!

I think people these days confuse more and more Hollywood and Video Games with reality.

It's so much easier to come up with fiction than to accept the facts of reality, isn't it?

I'm a fan of Hamilton, I like him to win, but I hate that he thinks Vettel is winning championships only because of the car. Now I think he's getting it a bit more, but didn't fully realised it yet. Last year, taking all GP's into account, the Mclaren was the best car, and still they didn't won it

Newey is a great designer, no doubt, but I think both him and Red Bull benefited at least as much from Vettel, as Vettel did from them.

It seems the current generation, who never had the chance to boo Schumacher for his actions, or never cared to because he was dressed up in red, have found Vettel the perfect guy to have a go at.

It disgusts me!!!


Wow, I think you miss understood my comment. I never mentioned or even thought they were sabotaging Webber's car. I am just suggesting that he may have been driving a different car to Webber at Singapore, it's not like it's the first time it's happened (remember Silverstone 2010?). It is plausible that Red Bull have developed a new device that was only present on Vettel's car at Singapore and that could have been for a number of reasons - they may have only bought one to the race; they may have tried it on Webber's car and it didn't suit his style; or (now here's the conspiracy that was suggested by Minardi) it was illegal and Vettel's do anything to win attitude meant he wanted it.

It is obvious that Vettel is an exceptional driver, it is hard to argue otherwise, but 2 seconds a lap faster??? Vettel, especially in the Perelli years, has completely dominated Webber and the rest of the field and I'm not denying that but I think Minardi's comments are very interesting. If it is true it wouldn't be the first time it has happened just look above at comment 9 with the story of Schumacher using an illegal traction control device that was not present on his team mates car. Unless something comes out about it, it is only speculation and will stay as such.

ps I also do not like the booing and refused to join in when I was at Spa


Great article.

The only thing I don't quite get is why is it discussed in terms of Vettel's dominance. He has nothing to do with any of this stuff, the aero, the rims, the engine mapping. He just drives around and Red Bull keeps on improving the car under him. He just does not have to do anything at all to achieve 'greatness', other than not screwing up big time. That's not too hard, is it? Sure, Adrian Newey is a genius, though, and I am sure the team under him is equally capable.


That's not right at all. It's a combination of car and driver. He exploits the potential of the car and gets the maximum out of it.

It has evolved with him and because of him and his requirements. It's facile to say this is a world beater of a car and Vettel's just lucky to be in it. F1 is so much more complex than that and it's a process of development and refinement that brings you to where RBR and Vettel are today.

The 2011 blown diffuser car was a different case, that was a rocket ship because of one clever idea. But even there it was a refinement of the 201 car and Vettel evolved a way of driving it which was devastating - car and driver together - which Webber for example couldn't get close to and he is a very good driver. Less well known is the part Webber has played on the aero development side and how that dovetails with the work on control systems that Vettel does.

This will all come out in a 30 minute feature interview I've done with Adrian Newey which airs this Thursday night on BBC Radio 5 Live (Also available online and via Tune In app)


To put it in a fairly simple way, if the engineers improve the car, the driver has to then go out and drive the car to its new limits. Driving it in exactly the same way means there's just untapped potential in the car going to waste.

People go on about, "Oh it's so much easier to drive these cars compared to however many years ago. They've got sequential paddle shift transmissions instead of a clutch pedal and H-pattern, all the fancy diff controls and engine settings and whatever, huge downforce, etc." It's not necessarily easier, it just moves the bar. If the cars stop quicker, corner faster, accelerate faster... the drivers need to find that higher limit and drive right on the edge of it.

I remember in 2011 in Monza quali seeing Vettel sideways through Ascari keeping his foot flat and thinking, "Yeah, he might have the the best car, but he's still driving the hell out of it."