Analysis: How does Sebastian Vettel find the speed?
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Nov 2013   |  1:41 pm GMT  |  348 comments

Never one to hand out praise readily to his team mate, Mark Webber said after the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, “Seb was on another planet today and was very, very strong in the first stint. He was in another category today.

“He was super quick and his tyres didn’t wear out, which is a recipe for disaster for the rest of the opposition, me included.”

Indeed the opening stint is a talking point; not only Vettel’s pace but the length of the run at 14 laps.

Webber had taken pole position confidently on the Saturday in the same car, his second in three races, indicating that he is driving well at the moment and is hooked up with the car, as he himself has acknowledges. So how did Vettel manage to perform so far ahead of his team mate (and everyone else) in the opening stint of the race, in the same car with no adjustments made overnight?

With the help of JA on F1 technical adviser and former Toyota and Williams chief operations engineer Mark Gillan we will analyse that opening stint and look for insights into how Vettel has raised his game this season with the Red Bull car.

In the graph below the vertical axis is the lap time, with 102, for example meaning the time in seconds. So the times at the bottom of the graph are faster. Where the line goes up steeply indicates the driver going to the pits. The horizontal axis is the number of race laps. So the first stint is the sequence of laps on the left of the graph. This graph is fuel corrected which means that the effect of 2.6kg per lap being burned off each lap is removed. This is a measure of pure pace. This is exactly the kind of graph that the F1 teams study after each race to look at their drivers performance against other drivers and cars.

Vettel is the dark blue line; Webber green; Rosberg light blue; Grosjean red.

It is self evident that Vettel’s pace in the opening stint is, as Webber says, like a different category of racing. The other teams will look at fuel corrected graphs like this one and conclude that he is on average 8/10ths of a second faster than anyone else and sometimes it’s more. Now engineers and teams look at time margins in terms of development time. How long would it take in the wind tunnel to find that time? In the case of Vettel’s 8/10ths of a second, that is 20 weeks, or half a season of development. That’s how far ahead he is. It is a good job that the rules are changing for next year.

Exhaust blown diffusers will not be permitted next season, so the drivers will have to adapt to a totally new way of driving. This in itself will be a race, to see who can master the car they have in the conditions required to get the maximum from it, as Alain Prost was saying at the weekend.

Part of this speed, is from his mastery of the exhaust blown diffuser, which is particularly effective in the 13 corners at Yas Marina circuit which are below 130km/h. As we explained in a previous post, Red Bull has really focussed on this area in terms of aerodynamic development and optimisation of engine mapping for exhaust blowing the diffuser.

But it’s clear that Vettel has adapted his driving style over the last few months to maximise the strengths of the package in this condition; the two go hand in hand, as it were. And given that Webber is driving the same car and is extracting the maximum out of it over a single lap in qualifying now, it’s remarkable how Vettel has developed his style for the opening laps of the race, taking into account that the car is 150 kilos heavier (due to the full race fuel load) at the start.

Faced with such an overpowering performance from the sister car, Webber was forced to admit after the race that he struggles to feel these Pirelli tyres once the initial peak performance starts to fade. It has been the case since Pirelli entered F1 in 2011.

Setting the car up to take more grip from the tyre on a single lap is usually detrimental to long run performance as it eats up the tyres.

Vettel has found a way in terms of balancing and driving his car, to extract close to the maximum consistently in qualifying, but then to push hard on heavy fuel at the start at the same time as maintaining the life of the tyres over a longer period. It’s about not sliding the tyres too much, being precise with the steering in those sub 130km/h corners, being precise with the throttle on corner exit to avoid wheelspin which also overheats the tyres.

A lot of development has gone on by Red Bull and Mercedes to dissipate the heat from the wheels so the tyres don’t get too hot. Again there is an optimum way to drive this condition and that requires adaptation.

Of course it helps to run in clear air and Vettel’s tactic is to push hard in the opening two laps to get clear of the DRS detection zone and then to drive precisely. One of the most damaging things to tyres is having to defend from a car behind.

Gillan does not mince words when analysing this graph: “This is the most impressive stint I’ve seen,” he says. “Especially when you compare it with his team mate who is no dummy and who qualified the same car on pole.

“I always wondered how good Vettel is and now I see that he is really very good.”

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i will only know how good vettel is when he goes up against one of the world champions like button raikkonen alonso or hamilton as teammates.

that is the only natural way.



Could you explain the algorithm for the 2.5kg fuel burn per lap.




I appreciate, your very well run site, but in spite of all who prise your analysis very high, I dare to have different opinion.

VET’s and WEB’s cars are different.

RBR team clearly favours one driver. It is a pure business and marketing.

It doesn’t mean that VET is bad driver, but it means that he is not exceptional.


There’s always something. If the two RB’s are identical down to the last detail it’s “That car was designed for Vettel and is not optimal for Webbers driving style”. On the other hand if they make some changes to his car to suit Webber then it’s “The cars are different and Vettel has the best one!”


Read the text and previous ones from the same source. It is not only “That car was designed for Vettel and is not optimal for Webbers driving style”. The differences are simply too big. They are not small details. Besides, who is a testing mule in RBR?



I’ll be diplomatic and just say that piece was about the Japanese GP


We’ll I’m pretty sure RBR will find one way or another, to get the exhaust blown diffuser onto the 2014 car. Call me stupid or what ever you want, but I’ll talk to you again when the 2014 season is nearly over.


James, with the greatest of respect, your objective analysis is incomplete until we can quantify the X in this equation:

Seb’s great talent + X = 4 consecutive titles (X being Newey’s input)

Until the RB9 gives up its secrets, and other top designers can agree on exactly what Newey gave Seb to drive, compared to the competition, we can’t objectively say what was man and what was machine.

This is not to doubt in any way that Seb is among the very best of our current drivers. But is he really greater than the other 3 I could mention??


Phil’s question goes to the crux of it.

What is your view James? should the FIA undertake greater scrutiny of title-winning cars at season’s end to out secrets. There is an Italian journalist/illustrator who outed Lotus’s planned low ride front end, and it was deemed illegal by Charlie. Funny, that seems to be what RBR have now …


You could say all of that about every WDC winner in history. How much of Alonso’s WDC’s wins were his and much were his cars and his engineers? How much was the mass damper? How much of Hamilton’s WDC was his and how much was his cars and his engineers? And so on for every last WDC winner in the history of F1. It’s a silly argument.


Its easy to spot a driver that is pushing to the limit, and one that is in a car that needs no pushing to do better delta times then all the other cars.

Newey gave Vettel and easy delta time to work with.


It maybe also the answer why nobody likes him..they associate him with questionable countryman….


Certainly a race that need to be watched with care!


Replying post 40 – our German loving friend Val from Canada


To imply that the 8/10s per lap advantage is due to vettels driving skill is ludicrous …..the answer is simple the red bull is simply 8/10 s faster than the rest.

The correct benchmark would be an identical sister car , unfortunately that is being driven by a guy well past his prime who has been mentally demoralised

into accepting a submissive role since 2010 and driving a car developed exclusively for his teammate…..the fact that he still managed to wring a pole out of it on satuday simply shows that vettel is not as good as made out to be.

Hamilton or Alonso would surely beat him in the same car. 🙂


There will NEVER be “identical” sister-car because different drivers like different settings. Full stop.


@ padre

how enlightening 🙂


Nonsense. Yes, I agree Ghillam infers that Vettel is on average 8/10ths faster than everyone else through raw pace, and I agree that this is missleading.

It is missleading in IMO becasue the true figure is more like 3-4 tenths actually, where 2-3 tenths of that is the car advantage

Some observations;

Assuming that all the top 5 cars run at the minimum weight limit during Quali, the true bench mark is in fact quali time, as ALL of the drivers are in free air during their Q3 hot lap, on mimnimum fuel. FP times are skewed, since we never truly know what fuel loads are being used. The comment that Mark is past his prime and a journey man, and that’s why Seb beats him regularly, are ill informed. Mark is perhaps 2 tenths at worst off of Seb in quali, which when you consider he is 11kg heavier, and each Kilo costs 5/100ths of a second in pace per lap, it adds up to nearly 6tenths per lap which Mark has to drive around!, Assuming him and Seb are awlays running at the car minimum weight limit, which I don’t see that RBR wouldn’t. Unless Newey sheds extra weight from Marks car to compensate for carrying and extra 11kg???, I doubt it, since Sebs car will be running at minimum weight limit too.

To put that into perpective, Mark is also on average about 4-5kg heavier than the other top 3-4 drivers, whom all come in around 68-71kilos. That actually demonstrates that when Mark has the car hooked up he is blisteringly fast, to be nearly matching Sebs quali pace to within a tenth, and beating the others. That is quite impressive. In the race with Maximum fuel load, I suspect that Mark’s additional weight+driving style, allied with not getting clear air by lap 2 (which Vettel almost always gets) hurts his tyres far more than Sebs, and more than others. The RBRs advantage of 3 tenths say, plus Marks pace, allows him to still mix it up, when he is on the correct tyre stratergy, despite a weight penatly of 6/10ths per lap. Seb is superb at getting the top two spots in quali, his starts are superb, and he makes sure that he gets ahead for clear air by lap two, simply because he is able to drive around the cold tyres in the first two laps better than others. To suggest Seb is the tyre master, is not fair, since the likes of Hulk, Kimmi, Di Resta are just as good at manging them as Seb, but they dont have the clear air, or the car pace in the first place.

Seb is very talented, but until you put another 65KG driver in the same car with clear air from lap 1 or 2, we will never actually find out how much raw driver pace Seb has over everyone else. I certainly dont believe it to be 8/10ths.


Really? In certain circumstances a driver can be much better than others for example was Senna really 1.5sec faster than Prost at Monaco 88? Or was Schumacher’s Ferrari at Barcelona 96 really a lap faster than the field in that race? The point is when a driver and car hooks up a race well they can be miles faster than the field even Hamilton at silversone 08 showed that, its not all car as Kovalainen couldn’t do a thing.


your example of Monaco 88 is not really valid because Senna was not merely a driver hooking up to his machine as you put it ….Senna was a racing god


Vettel seemed to be leaving everyone for dead by the time they exited the hairpin on lap 1. The Redbull seems to have incredible traction, so it’s surprising that Webber couldn’t outdrag Rosberg on that first straight.


The question is how different of a car i vettel’s to webber?


Mate, give it a rest. Webbo can’t match it on these tyres and with the blown diffuser. Vettel’s beat him fair and square. I’m a big Webber fan, and I don’t enjoy watching it happen, but let’s give credit where it’s due.


Difference is amount of ballast (-10kg less on webbers car) and ballast placement.

Also – settings on wings, dampers, camber angels etc settings. All these settigns which driver can adjust to his liking.

Thats all.


It is another car altogether of course. I know that because they usually don’t share a car over a race week end. I am kidding of course, I do understand the question asked. I don’t know if it is legal but maybe for the sake of many fans of Webber, maybe RB should let him have the car bering the number one to see if it changes the deal. That RB is strongly behind Vettel, there is little doubt, but that the cars given to their driver is different, I won’t buy. In any pairing, one will always come out on top. It might be close or not so close but, one will always turned out to be a notch better than the other. That’s life. Marc


Do you watch the races? Webber got pole in AD if you’re not aware. The answer is…. no, the cars are no different at all, he’s just able to drive it faster as Webber has openly admitted several times recently.


James, thanks for providing a wonderful insight. It makes the boring racing truly insightful.

I’m interested to hear your opinion on Kimi’s adaptability in light of A: Sebs ability to work with the car and engineers, and B: What we’ve just looked at above.

Kimi is known for his finite connection with what’s happening with the car and it’s setup, and that he can (at times) struggle when the car is not to his liking. Could this prove to be a problem for next years required driving style? Or will it be negated by his ability to tune the car to his exact liking?


We’ll refer to Kimi in a similar post soon


I’d be interested in analysis of Kimi’s qualifying, what in his driving style has caused him to dip this year from the tyre change, compared to RomGro.

Also how it links to his career, he was amazing in qually at McLaren, there was a dip at Ferrari when Massa was doing well – was this tyres or car. Has his qually speed dulled slightly with age – doubtful.

Is it the guys who race well on Sunday, like Kimi and Alonso who have a style that gives tyre heating issues in qually or is it their car not suited to the new Horner-Pirelli?


Excellent, I look forward to it!


I wonder: would re-introducing adjustable front wings (like they had in 2010) be a helpful tool for drivers that are stuck in ‘dirty air’? I reckon the increased tyre wear from following a car is due to a loss of downforce and hence more sliding at the front. Having an adjustable front wing can counter this for a bit, no?

Ofcourse you’ll get a more oversteery car, but when it’s a front-limited track I reckon this wouldn’t be the biggest of problems.


I disagree and I might be wrong but that’s always the case in life.

I agree that Vettel probably knows how to drive these tyres. But 8 tenths of a second a lap faster than anyone else? That’s absolute bull s**t.

But hey, that’s just my opinion.


Where was Vettel the last time he wasn’t enjoying massive car advantage? In Hungary, crashing into Button and losing his wings again.

Where was Vettel amazing stint length in Hungary when he was back in traffic and using the old 2013 Pirelli tyre?

The bloody guy who designed the Vettel machine said Redbull stepped onto another level once they went back to 2012 tyres after Hungary and therefore could use the cars massive downforce, they could put the tyre through far more strain without ripping them to bits.

It really bothers me no end that people think Vettel is some sort of genius. ‘zomg how did he make his tyres last so longz!!’ His car is stupendous and he got out infront in clean-air, simple.


So true I think Sebs a top driver but all this he’s amazing and a level ahead of the others is frankly rediculous. All those banging on about his win in torro Rosso, monza etc let’s look objectively

1. This torro Rosso qualified 4th in the hands of Sebastian bourdais and only fell back because of technical issues

2. Changeable conditions which shows he drove well but really retirements etc helped greatly – while it was a great win it wasnt impossible like some suggest

3. Torro Rosso was Ferrari powered newey design with a solid package especially in the wet. Brazil 2008 showed the car had pace it wasnt seb pushing the car himself

4. Yes Sebs good but come on guys all top level drivers are good seb is making the most of a great team/car package that is all he isn’t

Seb bourdais must be equivalent to Hamilton alonso and all these great driver if this was a case of seb dragging the car to number one which is rubbish


Vettel made his debut in 2007(not 2008) and competed only in 8 out of the 18 races during which he finished ahead of both Scot Speed(10 races)and Luizzi(18 races). in his first race he finished in the points(8th). Finished 4th in china. Was heading for a podium(p3) in Japan crashed out behind the safety car and was giving a penalty which was later taken away because it was found that his crash was as a result of Hamilton recklessly driving behind the safety car. Even after the crash he still finished 14th having more points than the combined points of his other teammates who had 28 races between them.

In 2008 he finished on 35 points exculding the 10 points for Monza he would have had 25 points to bourdais 4(bourdais had 5 retirements to Vettels 6) and contrary to what people assume he was choosen for Redbull in july way before the Italian Gp which he won. He finished 9 times int he points compared to bourdais 2. He also finsihed the year in 8th much ahead of Webber Coultard and bourais(Since people say all 4 drove the same car only the engine was different) Btw in Monza due to rain and damp condition no one would run their engine on high revs for obviously reasons. That means Mark and Coultard had pretty much the same machine underneath them and without an engine advantage due to the rains they all had equal opportunity to finish on the podium. Bourdais was obviously unlucky. But both Mark and Coultard went backwards. So obviously there was something different in this lad. Does it make him greater than Alonso, Hamilton who know we cant compare but for a rookie to have that consistency even though he made mistakes proofed he had what he takes to be given that opportunity. And when he got the opportunity he proved he deserved it by achieving what Webber couldnt do


Exactly in fact here is what the consensus is among the team bosses. Vettel and Hamilton great qualifiers. Alonso and Kimi better race day performance. But this year has shown that Vettel has even improved his performance during the race. And yes the gaps between all of them will be only 1/10 to 2/10 on any given day in the same car. There is no way to ascertain who would be faster but When webber and Rosberg were team mates, Webber had an average single lap advantage of of 1/10th of a second over Rosberg. Right now Hamilton has an advantage of 1/10th over Rosberg. While Vettel has an advantage of 2/10th 3/10th over Webber that would give Vettel an edge of 1/10th. But i would think they would be about the same in the same car with Vettel having an edge during the race. Similarly Vettel would ace Alonso during qualification and if he can maintain his current form he would match Alonso during the race. Kimi can only be accessed next year because his comparison to Massa cant be validated as Massa was never the same after his crash


I’m not disagreeing with you mate I believe seb is a top top driver probably just shading it as the best at this moment. My point was simply he isn’t all the reason for his success and he certainly isn’t streets ahead of the others. We’re talking minimal the difference between Vettel,Ham,Alonso and Raikonnen. At this current moment the red bull, Vettel and Pirelli package is working. I don’t believe that he’s miles ahead of the others as some others seem to believe


It bothers most of us people that people like you still fail to see/admit how good he is. Which driver has won a championship without a dominant car?


Rosberg in 82, prost in 86, Senna in 90, Alonso in 2006 also Schumacher would have won in 1999 if not for his broken leg


“Which driver has won a championship without a dominant car?”

Lots of drivers have won without dominating machinery. The ambiguity comes because people have their own perceptions of what ‘dominating machinery’ is.

If you actually crunch the figures in 2008, the Ferrari was the stronger car over the course of the year, and, even on the occasion the McLaren or Ferrari was quicker, they were quicker by tiny amounts. Hamilton won the title that year, you’d have to be delusional to think McLaren where _dominant_ in 2008.

The only time a driver won a race by a huge margin in that year was Silverstone when Hamilton won by over 60 seconds when he utterly dominated in similar machinery to his rivals, in the soaking wet.


@ tealeaf

Rosberg did not have the best car in 82

neither did prost in 86 the Williams Hondas were the best that year.

In 90 prost had the best car with the Ferrari 641 continuously improving to be the best by mid season

and in 06 the Ferraris were again the best to illustriate this in japan in the penultimate race the Ferraris of Schumacher and Massa qualified first and second, more than half a second faster than the Renaults in fifth and sixth….. nuff said


Only Rosberg in 82 as far as i’m concerned…


Maybe 82, but the rest no. How did Alonso not have dominant car in 2006? It was dominant with the Ferrari, plus it didn’t break down as much. Senna’s Mclaren in 90 was one of the best cars, they even won the constructors as well


I don’t know about Rosberg in 82 but Prost in 86, senna in 90 and Alonso in 06 all had the best car, we don’t know about 99 as you said Schumi broke his legs but I’ll say Schumacher in 2000 won in the 2nd best car and also Vettel won in 2012 in the 2nd fastest car.


nope. Already in Budapest Pirelli brought the new tyre spec for the first time. And where was Vettel? Well, Lotus had the fastest car in the german grand prix, which Vettel won and he also was extending his lead in the championship after Hungary with P3. So not bad at all, huh?

And the driver who lost his front wing 15secs after the race started was Alonso, when he crashed into Vettel in Malaysia.

Maybe you should actually start watching the races.


“And the driver who lost his front wing 15secs after the race started was Alonso, when he crashed into Vettel in Malaysia.

Maybe you should actually start watching the races”

What are you smoking mate? How oftern does Alonso have to fight vs cars of similar performance? much more than Vettel.. and how oftern does he lose parts of his car when hes actually in traffic/battles? Almost never. How oftern does Vettel lose parts of his car when hes not off out in front and actually having to battle for position against cars with similar performace? (coming from the back of the field and passing much slower cars ISNT what im talking about… although, he still managed to crash into a much slower Williams in Abu dhabi last year while scraping over the line to take another title.


@n, November 6th, 2013 at 8:51 pm

I don’t smoke and I don’t know how often Vettel loses parts of his front wing like Alonso against Hamilton in Montreal 2013 or Malyasia 2011 or losing the whole thing as in 2013 or Suzuka 2012…

Vettel won 4/5 front grid fights against Hamilton and also Rosberg without crashing in turn 2 unlike Alonso.

I think Spa 2012 was very good from Vettel, Bahrain 2013 wasn’t bad either, while Webber had no chance to pass Massa with his broken front wing.

But considering Vettel overtook over 70 cars in 2012 he never had to stop the race unlike Alonso. So that is not too bad.

“crash into a Williams in Abu dhabi last year while scraping over the line to take another title.”

“Crashing” or having contact with another car but still finishing the race is something different like crashing and stopping the race.

Alonso should have tried to do a Vettel in Barcelona 2012 or in Singapore 2012 against the “much slower” Williams. But he didn’t and that is why Alonso lost the championship.

So I prefer what Vettel did.


and how long as Alonso been racing mate? Hamilton and Vettel are still learning. The fact is if you check Alonso career graph you’ll find similar mistakes too. Its part of the learning curve. Look at Romain, from the crash kid this year he’s suddenly turned into Mr consistent


Whoever is behind Vettel is always in clean air as well, but for some reason it does not confer any advantage on them.

The new 2013 tyre was used in Hungary.

It’s always amusing to see the way any contact between Vettel and another car is described as his “crashing”.


“It’s always amusing to see the way any contact between Vettel and another car is described as his “crashing””

It’s always amusing when people write blind statements like the above without actually looking at the incident in question.

Go on, go watch it again and try to argue that wasn’t Vettels doing, i’ll wait..


I was laughing at the word “crash”, not commenting on whose “doing” it was. Using your definition of “crash” most drivers on the grid “crash” many times every season. Alonso “crashed” in India, and he and Hamilton “crashed” in Spa. And of course Hamilton “crashed” at Monza and again at Suzuka.


hmm you mean like alonso crashing into the back of Vettel, or Kimi crashing out in Abu Dhabi or button to in Abu Dhabi?

In the same vein where was Hamilton stuck in traffic in Abu Dhabi? FYI both Vettel and Hamilton were handicapped by the setup in those respective races. Redbull learned a lesson and changed from the next race, same way Mercedes too admited they need to make sure their cars arent hampered during the race behind another car

Tornillo Amarillo

James, you say “Webber is driving the same car”, how do you know that? Because of the appearances and team comments? Who knows?

What I can see is that WEBBER is happier than ever, no worries at all for being destroyed by VETTEL, he smiles, why? Why he has the mouth shout?

Maybe WEBBER got a partership with Horner -team principal- in GP3 Series with their team “MW ARDEN” and they are doing good, so no point for WEBBER to try justifications about his F1 campaign in 2013 regarding the cars maybe are not equal.

I would like to know more about these business and Mark WEBBER humor, wouldn’t you?


Are Alonso and Massa driving the same car?


Webber was happy with his 2nd place in Abu Dhabi because he knew that’s the best he could have done. He openly said Vettel was simply on another level.

Compare it to other 1-2 finishes in the past where there’s been the possibility that the strategy worked against him or whatever, and you can see when he’s not entirely happy with the result. This time around though, he knew he’d been absolutely smashed. Even if he’d stayed in the lead at the start of the race, he just didn’t have Vettel’s pace. But he’d raced his nuts off, and finished in the best position he was capable of finishing in.


you happend to notice that webber got pole? didn’t you? or you want to say that he did so on car which is worse than vettels?!??

a little bit of common sense. PLEASE!!


Maybe common sense is not so common afterall.

Resultant Asteroid

lollll this is the perfect comment to such ppl, cheers man.


Tornillo Amarillo

Common sense says a lot and why they can’t see that.


I wasn’t a Vettel fan, but always admirer, just as I’m admirer of Alonso, but not his fan

I state “wasn’t” because Vettel’s hater’s turned me into one for not giving him the credit he deserved

Lets see:

Mclaren and Ferrari are historically the best teams in F1, meaning they usually produce the best cars

If Vettel was winning in a Mclaren or Ferrari, I have no doubt he would be considered one of the all time greats from the word go- Also there wold never be any shadow of a doubt about his driving skills, and his persona would be hugely praised

Since he’s winning championships in a Red Bull, so many people still keep stating anyone could do it, and the car drives by himself, and he’s arrogant. That’s Red Bull, a team that hasn’t go an F1 pedigree, and who where nowhere (even with Newey) before Vettel arrived

Does this make any sense?


“Mclaren and Ferrari are historically the best teams in F1, meaning they usually produce the best cars”



I guess you didn’t understand the point!!!


Can someone tell me what has happened in the last month? The majority of people were against Vettel, also on this website. Always! Booing all over the place. Now I can see more and more people respecting him and his achievements. Are these people just being silent or they have changed their minds?

I’m glad Vettel is finally getting some respect.



More likely, I think the lack of booing lately is partly down to the circuits they’ve been visiting. In Japan for example, it’s pretty much just not going to happen. Wouldn’t matter who’d won, the crowd would give them the appropriate respect. I think it was similar in India, and with the three people that turned up in Korea too.

As for some of the public opinion changing, I think maybe a few respected people (former drivers and whatnot) have been talking him up and saying it’s not just the car. Even Alonso has changed from simply trashing his own team and saying his main competitor is Newey, to saying that Vettel himself has been outstanding. And Webber in Abu Dhabi… normally Webber would look fairly miserable about starting on pole and finishing the race behind Vettel. But in Abu Dhabi he actually seemed fairly happy with his result, and quite plainly said that Vettel was just on another level.

When it’s just Horner talking up Vettel everyone goes, “Yeah yeah, whatever.” But I think with more people, particularly from outside the team (and particularly from their main rivals) saying, “No really, what he’s doing is freakin’ amazing,” it’s becoming more difficult for people to claim otherwise without basically looking like an idiot.


Just my 2 cent worth but the last booing incident was Alonso last podium. Maybe nothing at all to do with it but is seems to be more booing for Vettel if Alonso makes the podium too.


Seems to me that he has had a PR makeover since his “balls” comment, with Newey giving more interviews and the finger has been less prominent.


James, can you please include this post in your 2013 book?


Nice article James and thanks to Mark too. A good explanation of something SV has been doing for awhile. What would be really really interesting is an article explaining why other drivers don’t simply emulate SV especially MW. Surely the simulators can help with throttle application at the very least. I know MW said he can’t feel the tyres at a particular stage in their cycle and a simulator will not help much with that but mimicing SV’s throttle application is (I say humbly) all he has to do, surely he can learn that in a simulator.


Could quality of simulator be a factor? Does Red Bull have a significantly more accurate simulation of their car which allows Vettel to learn how the real car is going to react when he’s in it? Maybe with the ban on testing Red Bull put more resources into getting the simulator spot on. Do we know if Mark does as much simulator work as Sebastian?


Vettel is doing nothing more then what Jenson did for Brawn… he was in the right place at the right time, with the right politics.

A racer, Vettel is not.


Its really not the same! Jenson almost managed to lose that championship with a dominant car, vettel has demolished the field and scored more points than all the other top teams (2 drivers combined!)


The same as Alonso in the Renault in 05 and 06 then?

We can do this all day.


To compare shows you don’t understand what you are watching!


Absolutely. Could not agree more. Like Villeneuve as well….


Vettel will fall apart when he is in a car that he needs to genuinely push for results.

You only have to look at the booing and the severe media push to make Vettel appear better then his is, to realize that he is a hollow winner.

At least with Villeneuve, there was an element of racing (despite the car advantage), and his competitors could push to get close to him with talent…


Aaron Noronha, I did not say equally matched, I said more evenly matched, and it has happened before more than once. Often when this occurs the teams involved will alternate as they make their steps forward, and because of this uncertainty the formula is more interesting. Now the formula is so convoluted in it’s requirements that it makes the probability of this happening even more remote. Vettel’s dominance is due to a huge technical advantage, and yes he knows how to exploit it, but if other drivers had the same equipment the outcome would be far more uncertain.


Richard even on Durable tyres you will never find cars equally matched. Its just that you hate Vettel so much to actually look at facts. Never in the history of F1 you would find cars equally matched. Infact the gaps in the beginging between cars was such that the car in finishing position 2 would be a lap down. Its never easy to create a gap and maintain it. It only looks easy because he makes it look easy. Its a lot difficult driving in any condition and look at stats even the most dominant cars starting from pole dont finish first. He was also winning during the DURABLE tyre phase too(2010).


It’s not very hard to identify why people boo Vettel, and it’s nothing to do with how easily or otherwise he has won the championships. Vettel is fast and consistent, but the manner of his wins are largely boring because of the nature of the car and formula. If you have a car fast enough to qualify on pole and also has good race pace it’s fairly easy to create a gap and control the race from there. It’s far more interesting when cars are more evenly matched and drivers have to genuinely fight for the win, but that is only really possible on durable tyres.


There is no media push

It’s simply a case of reporting and giving credit where it’s due

He’s done something exceptional so we analyse it

When people mess up we analyse that too

It’s called journalism

Looking at your other posts, you are just here to bash a driver it seems and that falls foul of our moderation rules


I understand that the FIA, Formula One Management and all the incumbents that live around the business have to praise Vettel in support for the maintenance of a myth. If it is all down to the car then people will lose interest as it is already happening. Sports live off legends which attract audience and $.

I just have a simple question. Out of the many wins by Vettel, how many have they been running behind 7-8 drivers, without clean air?

How many of these championships have been won with an inferior car?


So who’s your current on track hero then? Alonso? Raikkonen? Maybe Hamilton? Which one of them has won in an inferior car?


I have seen the 3 of them escalate from P18 to P2 MANY TIMES.


Yes they have but only when they had superior cars. Vettel went from last to p3 last year in Abu Dhabi doesnt mean anything because his car aided him just like Alonso Hamilton and Kimi


By your own statement you just made the point.

P18 – P2.

Thats where it ends, when Vettel goes P1 to P1 hence importance of qualifying well!


I just have a simple question: What exactly is the point of qualifying on a Saturday, then, if not to give an advantage in the race by starting at the front?


“How many of these championships have been won with an inferior car?”

Name any championship that’s been won with an inferior car?

No?… because you can’t, except maybe for Rosberg in 82.


correct me if i’m wrong…championships in inferior cars

Rosberg ’82…when the Ferraris were killing it (bad choice of words, sorry, but the Fezzas wer damn quick!)

Arguable, but Piquet ’83 when Prost was with Renault – that RE40 was fast but the turbo went bang when he least could afford it at Kyalami

Prost ’86 when the Williams Hondas were vastly superior.

Senna ’91 when the Williams Renault was quicker but unreliable

’94 Schumacher, although the Bennetton was better at the start, i think we can accept had Senna lived he would’ve likely been Champion or challenging once the FW was developed towards the end of the season…arguable maybe…

My 2 cents…

Don’t forget Raikkonen got MIGHTY close in the MP4/17…that blown engine in Nurburgring cost him that title, just as a few years later the snapped suspension would cost him at the same track.


Well, that is debatable, so debatable. For example ALO did not win last year, but how would you define coming 3 points behind VET in 2012 with a car WAY worse? (0.7 to 1.0 sec behind in average pace). Where would VET have finished on the Ferrari? It is easy to win if your car is ALWAYS on clean air.



Debate away…

I don’t for one minute believe that the Ferrari in 2012 was way worse, otherwise he wouldn’t have finished within 3 points of Vettel, it’s self explanatory really.


All credit to Alonso for creating this myth of they being 0.7 to 1.0 sec slower!!


Alonso did not have a car which was 0.7 to 1.0 second behind the Red Bull in average pace in 2012. That’s a complete fabrication.


How many championships in the history of F1 have been won with an inferior car? None.

If that turns you off to F1 then so be it.


Of course all top drivers want a superior car which only goes to prove it is the car not the driver. The Pirelli era will go down as one of the most boring eras ever with driver only pushing about 20% of the time.


Alonso was qualifying 0.8 to 1.2 seconds behind Vettel in 2012. That is a fact.


2012 Ferrari was like this years lotus it was slow in qualification and fast during the race and very easy on its tires. you can check the stats and live timing charts on and


No, it’s a fabrication. Alonso qualified 0.4 seconds behind Vettel on average in 2012.

Alonso may have qualified 0.8 seconds behind the pole winner in 2012, but that’s something very different. Vettel only won six poles that season.


That’s a lie not fact Alonso never qualified behind Vettel by such margin also Alonso is poor at qualifying as evidenced this year in the top 4 teams, he’s the only driver not to have been on the front row, I mean Massa has qualified in 2nd place.


The graph also shows Vettel’s out laps post-box are significantly quicker in comparison to the other traces which combined with short stop times also represents considerable time advantage…


James, when the formula changed from Turbo to Atmo, it allowed a huge increse in downforce levels to occur almost overnight…It became and aero formula rather than an engine one…

I always wondered why nobody developed a car with the aero capabilites that were evident in 1989 onwards at the height of the Turbo era…was this purely down to packaging or just a limit of what was possible with the resorces that they had?

Will the dwonforce levels we have today be able to be replicated next year given the vastly different delivery of power and torque that will be available…will it go back to the style of the previous era i.e. get it pointing straight as fast as possible?


Really hope for vettels sake the competion up there game next year , he will never get the credit he deserves till they do . How nice would it be to see all five world champions battleing it out in the final race . Love to see lewis win because i honestly believe hes the most talented on the grid just seems to spoil himself at times by wingeing and sulking .


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