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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"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."

I'm happy that the "its not VetteVettel its the car" crowd has quieted down in recent weeks. Seems a lot have jumped onto the VET bandwagon in recent days. Facts like this really start to set the record straight about this kids talent and what he's been able to accomplish.


Do you honestly believe Vettel would be 8/10th quicker per lap if he wasn't driving the Red Bull?


Wonder what the graph would look like if Webber lead from pole and Vettel was caught in the Rosberg train wearing his tyres.

Now before the Vettelettes jump on my back I'm not saying he isn't faster, he clearly is, and is clearly adapting to these tyres better than Webber - especially the softs - but he always has clear air to stop him sliding the tyres so again is hard to compare.

He is also clearly a great, (which every media outlet and pundit is sheepishly banging on about lately) - great compared to Webber, the only man racing in the same category of NeweyF1 😉

How can Gillian say...

“the most impressive stint I’ve seen,” “Especially when you compare it with his team mate who is no dummy and who qualified the same car on pole.”

...without referencing the fact Mark's pole gave him the advantage for the first half a second in the race before he was nailed by Seb and stuck for the stint wasting his soft tyres on heavy fuel stuck in a "Rosberg train".

As said, he surely does "not mince words when analysing this graph", he slices the words into two and throws half the first stint facts away by ignoring them and ignoring Rosberg.

It'd be a bit more realistic to analyse Seb V Web's practice long runs, though they are more evenly matched on the hard tyres.

Equally it's hard to compare Seb and Webs final stints as Seb is clearly just cruising as he had the gap and the job was done.


But you failed to observe that Rosberg and Grojean were pushing Webber, Rosberg and Webber were setting purple sectors. Webber was not cruising as you assume. Check out the timing archive Webber was pushing until the very end. He just dint have the same pace as Vettel.


Perhaps but he will lose a little edge due to no blown diffuser effect, but if the tyres remain the same he might be able to exploit them just the same. However i dont expect Ricardo to be push over. He MIGHT be able to match Vettel on one lap pace(as the Redbull team were clearly impressed with his test even though he crashed. And he is young and very hungry. He will try his best to make his Mark(no pun intended)

Vettel's strength lies not only in his speed and his consistency but also in his abiltiy to adapt to the the Pirelli challenge. If Ricciardo could match Vettel it would be very impressive. Although i expect Vettel to have an edge i dont think it maybe be more than 1/10th or 2/10th of a second


Very good point its no the first time when even RBR were dominating Webber can barely beat the field or even lose to them, right now in the pecking order over a race distant Seb is just too far ahead, Ricciardo will be scratching his head after races next year.


Yes you put it really well "Seb and Webs final stints as Seb is clearly just cruising as he had the gap and the job was done" only think you forgot to mention or undertand is that Webber was still pushing while Vettel was cruising. So how come he dint narrow down the gap?


Because he was beaten by then, 27 seconds behind Seb by the time he passed Rosberg. His team mate was first and he was second, he was watching his tyres and had done the job to take second.

It's obvious really.


Yeah, it was really good to see Vettel win WDC in 2008 when he was driving a Toro Rosso. Oh wait, he didn't win did he? Clearly, it was the driver at fault then. Same again in 2009, no?

Ah well...

Think what you like about Vettel, but the car deserves at least some of the credit. 🙂


Why some credit to the car - a lot of credit. its a team sport - No champions will ever say its just them and not the car... And Seb made it very clear by bowing to the car after clinching the championship - what else do you want??


What you said is irrelevant there, no a 21 year old Seb didn't win the title in 2008 but at the backend of 2008 he scored more points than the title contenders which says alot, no one could win the title in a Torro Rosso, not Senna, not Clark, not Schumacher, not Prost, not Alonso and certainly not Hamilton. The the point is Vettel drove that car to its limits and won a race and towards the end he was even fighting at the front, if it had been the prime Vettel of today in that car but with the works RBR providing all the latest upgrades and setup techniques from that 2008 season then who knows I wouldn't ebven bet against a title in that situation and Seb is the only driver on the grid thats capable of pulling it off. As for 2009 well he finished runner up to a double diffuser dominated Brawn no shame in that and just to remind you in that season RBR raced most of the season with a single diffuser, no blown diffuser, bridgestone tyres and yet Seb beat Webber from the word go til the last race, in fact the only race that Webber beat Seb on pure pace was Nurburgring and that happened again in 2011 with the Pirellis so all this new talk of Seb's only advantage is the Pirellis are nonsense he can win with any tyres he's better than Webber in any configurations and please remind me if it was such a poor championship for Seb in 2009 to finish 2nd then whats the top position Hamilton has finished since 2008???


Yes yes the DD was eventually installed but th car wasn't designed around it and Brawn kept their traction advantage all season just look at Monza, even with KERS Mclaren and Ferrari couldn't touch the Brawns, also you say the STR3 and BR4 was good in the wet maybe its not bad in the wet but then what could Webber do? With a superior car advantage to Vettel he was still nowhere at the likes of Monza or Brazil, and before you go on about the Ferrari engine vs Renault theres actually not alot difference since Seb joined RBR what could any STR driver do? No results no standout performance, just a few occasions where Ricciardo and Buemi flattered to decieve.

If you want to compare dominance of 2009 and 2011/2013 with the best cars Vettel destroyed the field but in 2009 Button actually nearly blew it and in 2nd half of the season even Barrichello was winning races and Jenson couldn't do a thing fighting in the midfield, Seb would have won probably 12 races compared to Button's 6 and we all know Button can match or even beat Hamilton over a season so that says alot really.

But still there's alot more to come I know Mercedes will use their engine/car package and probably lock out the front row come the first race next season but if you're celebrating just like in 2012 when Mclaren did the same at Melbourne then I would say calm down we know who will win in the end.


Wrong about the RB5's DDD. They had it from Monaco, so only 5 out of 17 races did they not have it.

You wouldn't bet against a title for Vettel in that 2008 STR, with RBR updating it? It's a silly comment. The STR3 was a good car in certain conditions, mostly wet conditions.


Let's get it straight, right, regardless of what anybody WANTS, we are in the Vettel era of Formula One, right now!

I've not always been a big fan, and still, don't particularly like what I see, though some PR says that he is such a great guy, IRRELEVANT!

Look at what he does!

I am a big fan of Mark Webber.

Yet as such a big fan, the dominance of Vettel over my mate Webber, can't all be put down to Vettel always getting the best of everything at Red Bull, even if it's true.

It's too much.

I don't think it is a poor reflection on Webber, he's about the same step behind Vettel, and the recognized top tier, Kimi, Alonso, and Hammy the Hampster. Pushing on that group is a few up-in-comers, and Button; I consider Webber definitely at the Button level or higher. Button is a world champion.

And it is also the zenith of the age of Adrian Newey; everyone who is paying attention cannot escape the fact.

That's fine.

But I'm still hoping somebody finds the 'double diffuser of 2014' so we can have a serious challenge.

I'd love to see Lotus find something, and we could see a great battle, separating the ones from the twos, between Hulkenberg and Grosjean; that could be good.

Also hoping that Ferrari find something, and we could get the Kimi/Alonso shoot out! Yeah, baby, but wouldn't that be nice, and a break from the Vettel-Newey-Red Bull complete domination, to boot.


Even with thw double diffuser and the longest gestation period for an F1 car the Brawn and Button wasn't a million miles ahead of Seb in his first year as a 22 year old at RBR, the Seb of today would probably nagate a double diffuser advantage.


The RB5 had the DDD by Monaco. Button won Monaco and the next race in Turkey. Certainly the Seb of today wouldn't have made the mistake in Turkey, going off at turn 9 to gift Button the lead.


Well, do they really have equivalent cars? Maybe RB has found something that is in a "grey area" of the rules and only have it on Sebs car, knowing that he'll be with the team while Mark isn't...?


Too many 'Sheldon cooper's here. It's called sarcasm folks! Brilliant write up though. I loved it. I see how you toyed around with Hamilton fans, you devil! ;)keep it up!


Hamilton's article in BBC F1 website has convinced me that these charts, graphs and statistics don't mean much.

Greatness is more nuanced, he writes. He was trying to answer the vexing quesion: Is Vettel truly great?

He removed my confusion by stating that "there are lots of elements that define greatness": "It's you come across in the media"; "how you treat people"; "how you are as a human being".

Even Shakespear can learn from him, as each sentence is measured, balanced and very, very thought-provoking.

For example, while Vettel was practicing cooking perfect donuts between races, Hamilton was visiting poor children in "Calcutta". It is the same place Mother Teresa did her great work, for which the Church is deliberating on giving her sainthood. Hamilton is raising awareness that these poor children have no food, no home, no clothes, and no school. To them Vettel's 4 WDC don't mean nothin'. They were more inspired by Hamilton's sparkling diamond earrings.

With his blessings, one day these inspired children will grow up to become successful doctors and engineers; and some will even build him great F1 cars (unlike his present-day

"dog of a car"). These futuristic cars will drive and park on their own. Hamilton writes: "When the car is able to win, I think I'll win."

Hamilton is doing the mankind a service. He will become Saint Lewis one day.

Vettel, on the other hand, is only concentrating on winning WDCs, races and poles. As if F1 fans cared much about these. But he seems to think that this is the path to becoming an all-time great.

Hamilton correctly points out, "Greatness is such an abstract concept." Just because Vettel has won twice as many WDCs, "he is not twice as good as Fernando Alonso". Or for that matter, four times as good as himself!!!

Why, one doesn't even have to win any WDC to become Great. Allah is Great, and so is Jesus; and neither won any WDC. Yes, Krishna of Hare-Krishna temple was a driver; and guess what...he used some cunning plan like Schumacher to win. But that's not the point Saint Lewis is making, what he is saying is: "You have to be in the right place at the right time." And we can't, but agree.

Hamilton makes another interesting observation. He sees himself as a "trailblazer" in F1 for cultures other than western European, just like "Tiger Woods is in golf". He hopes that "Indians and other asians" will follow him into F1. I'm sure, just like Vettel was inspired in his childhood by Schumacher; Narain Karthikeyan will be equally fired up in his retirement.


Cool story, bro.


WOW, what does it have to do whith F1. It´s more in the style of Scientology. Yeah people with all mixed up. Science, Religion, Nature, Psicology.... WOW


Looks rather jealous piece of post to me from Hamilton. He has to find a way to be 'greater' than the winning champion. Instead I like to see him improve on his driving and challenge the champion properly on the racing circuits.


This is the best post I read, it should be nominated for some award (Y)


Come on everybody, so obviously sarcastic!


Ha ha ha ha . . . . .

Enjoyed that. A bit unkind to Hamilton, but funny!


Absolutelly love it!! hahahahahahahaha!!

Good entertainment - common guys - Just enjoy the creativity instead of disecting & trisecting every line. Its far easy to comment about what others write than post something original!!


The only way you can inspire people in a particular job or sport is to be the best that you can be in that sport. At Abu Dhabi I was for the first time in a long time angry at Lewis for ignoring his race engineer about preserving his tyres. Had he listened during both stints he would have made up ground on the guys ahead and most likely finished ahead if Massa.

So before you and Lewis save the world- focus on the subject matter and that is work as a team and win races which is what Seb is doing - inspiration will follow once people get used to seeing your face where it belongs.


Eh? Am I missing something, I could swear Hamilton was ahead of Massa?!?


You didn't understand Simon's post - did you? read again..


This post is fantastic. Judging from the responses people didn't get to the "dazzled by diamond earrings" part or have poor reading comprehension.


I'm pretty sure when we talk about the 'greats' here, its in the context of F1, not everything else in life.


This post made my day:-) good humor:-)


This may be sarcastic, but I'm not convinced! I'll have some of what Simon's smoking!

Comparing Lewis "legend in his own lunchtime" Hamilton to Shakespeare and Mother Theresa is amusing to say the least. Then there's a lot of irrelevant BS about Allah, Jesus and Krishna which unfortunately is neither clever or funny.

One thing you can say for sure about greatness is that, like so many things, it can only be said about you by other people; you can't say it about yourself. Now, whilst Hamilton stops short of calling himself great, it seems to me like he is fishing for other people to apply his own criteria to define greatness. He is doing this purely and simply because he is jealous, and not great.


Thats why Hamilton, threw his helmet on the ground yelling and looking like a compleate ass a few years ago... When he suddenly saw a camera, it was all a smile and wave.... He has done so many stupid things on the racetrack that i lost count. And now smacktalking another drivers "greatness" i think i am going to get sick. After i started ganing a little respect for him, he again goes and do something stupid. He is just the clas clown!!


You'll understand if I don't believe it unless you provide the race where it happened, or a video or article that highlights it. I've watched every race for as long as I can remember, and I can't recall anything like that. I recall the thrown steering wheel in Singapore 2010, but nothing like what you've said.

Throwing his helmet and yelling doesn't seem like Lewis at all. Always prepared to be proven wrong though!


It is a few years ago. I saw it on a tv show and also seen the clip on youtube.


Huh? When was this that he threw his helmet on the ground?


Apparently most of the respondents to this post don't recognize sarcasm when they see it!


There's no sarcasm involved here! This guy actually believed what he wrote!!!!!!!!!!! Thats the scary part!!!!!!


Indeed, very sad. Simon even went more over the top than necessary, I'm guessing to try to minimize the number of posts from those who had it fly right over their head!

Saint Lewis of Antioch, nice ring to it.


I think that was one of the best posts yet to JA on F1, so good that most of the responders above missed the point. Please look up sarcasm/irony in the dictionary and re-read it. Suddenly it would not seem so weird ....


Uhmm.. I think someone forgot to take his meds?


Didn't anyone see the irony here?


Lewis is so jealous of Vettel his ear rings tuned green.


All the drivers are heavily involved in charity work but they don't say that in public. What Hamilton doing is what his PR team is saying just like they make Beckham look great. It is all PR.

Vettel never claimed he is a great. All this 'great' hype is created by the media. But in all sport there will be a few great people. Boris Becker who is one of the bad guys in sports too is a great. So is Mohamed Ali. They are not known for helping poor children from the Indian slums.


Isn't the whole point of his charity work to use his profile to highlight pertinent issues? How would that happen if he didn't say anything about it?


Wow Saint Lewis, WHAHAHA! Shame the past 4 seasons must have been torture for you and the Saint.


"Saint Lewis" is something Hamilton could paint on his 25 million US-Dollar privat jet in very big letters. So the kids can already see him from the ground, when he is flying in.

PS: how do you know other drivers like Vettel are not beneficent?


Certainly not questioning that there is definately something to be viewed in the performance area. And, not an SV fan by any stretch. Also, would certainly agree that it's not what you say, but how you say it (or act) over time is most important to one's image. So, let's not loose sight of the "saintly" one's own behavior over the years, nor forget his move to hire a PR firm to manage his public "brand" and no doubt write articles for the media.

Oh, and why the heck would wearing diamond ear rings to visit the less fortunate for a photo op be a reason to inspire those children? Building a school and endowing the maintenance of that facility would be something to both inspire and walk the talk.


Lewis seems to like things that cant be quantified or proven so he reduces greatness to just an opinion and with no facts to back it up who is to say one mans opinion is better than another.Jesus and allah are great examples while some say they are great as there is no proof either exist its just an opinion

SV spent time doing charity work in India also, he just didnt write an article on the BBC making sure everyone knew about it.

As for Lewis as a trailblazer maybe he will inspire indians but i think it more likely that SV celebrating a world championship in front of the stand would be more likly to be an inspiration


That's why the combination of the words "Lewis" and "Hamilton" are the most constant here on this site over the years... 😉


Oh there is so much misinformation and lies in this post and the original, weird, rant.

Im all for freedom of speech but people need to get the facts right.

How Hamiltons name even comes up in this discussion is ridiculous.


Is this in jest or do you actually have a man crush on Hamilton?


That's why I asked if it was in jest, just wanted to make sure, can't be too careful with some of the folk posting on here


He's quite obviously being sarcastic.

TBH Hamilton's "I may not win any more WDCs and that doesn't bother me any more" does seem a little unconvincing and sour grapey.

Though it does look like he's perhaps beginning to see himself as one of the sport's also rans rather than one of the greats. His confidence has been clearly knocked sideways by Seb's run of success.


Nurse! The straitjacket ... Quickly!

Scuderia McLaren

Wow. That was... interesting. Even for my saucy standards that was weird.


No thats equinox, hes seen the light..


[mod] you people cant take the fact that redbull is undefeatable at the moment.. Its about racing not about charity!! And vettel never said that he is great.. you are just making assumptions.. and by the tell hamilton to practice more rather than show off his diamond earing..


That's either the most brilliant send-up of the mind of Lewis Hamilton (and his fans) I've ever seen, or the scariest thing I've ever seen. (Depending on whether you were being serious or not)


What facts? There are only two drivers in a redbull, so its laughable to use the rest of the field as so me benchmark. Webber spent most of the first stint in traffic which wore out his tyres why does nobody mention this?


Ok so how will you explain his second stint when he was not in traffic? Why weren't his lap times comparable to Sebastian then?


@Prateek Kanade

WEB was only marginally slower in 2nd and last stint, he lost big chunk on Soft in first when behind ROS, he was faster than ROS but could not overtake or do much about it, try and you only ruining it (Punishing for bad start)secondly, VET ran few laps longer than WEB first stint, when he pitted for 2nd time, fresher tyres with no traffic, he then was faster again and keep building up the lead until it was 30sec at the end. Had WEB not behind ROS at the start, WEB may not have challenged VET but the margin will CERTAINLY not be 30sec. Analyse that!.


That proves NOTHING. He wont pair up with a Top Driver, his car has special KERS that when fail he can't make pole 😉

Can't compare to mark, a beaten down driver, taken all of his pride, The Team actions and Vettel actions had made a slave of Mark. He is done hardly anything to compare against.

Thing is reporters see themselves forced to write good stuff, because the farce of RedBull having the best car borderline illegal and giving all to 1 driver that has won 4 WC in a row, can only be BAD PUBLICITY for the sport they live from if they say Vettel is a farse. He is fast oh yes I give you that much, but there's nothing to compare him against any of the top drivers, since the car is on another world.


Two articles come to mind:

Red Bull May Have Invented A Secret New Hybrid Technology


This suggests Kers is the difference. Good on Newey's engineers that came up with this.


The race was finished by then. Stay behind another car and your finished. End of story


Can Gillan also explain what Red Bull have recently done to cut drag and make their cars among the fastest in a straight line? The team's engineering feats are an equal match for Vettel's driving, it seems ...


Good call, that has been one of Newey's most impressive feats this year for me. He always had the sweeping cornering aero, then he kept improving reliability and now in 2013 he is king on the fast tracks too.

It's not just running less wing giving greater straight line speed, it's how he has managed to dominate the fast tracks such as Spa and especially Monza. In previous years they were where teams like Ferrari and McLaren could claw some points back from the other twisty flowing tracks where Newey's downforce levels destroyed them. The tyre change mid season sorted Red Bull out completely, no doubt but they were also fast in places like Bahrain on the initial 2013 tyres.

Are they also stalling the wings better or have Renault improved more than the other engines? It can't just be running lower as no other teams have come close to copying it. The stand out thing is still their greater underside slope from down at the front to up at the rear.

As of now their only weakness appears to be Webber's starts.


True- the improvement hasn't just been in one area - they are all around. with a better top speed, they do not have the issues in overtaking which they had in previous years..

What amazes me is their success percentage with the innovation / changes coming in - They must be having one amazing wind tunnel for sure which is pretty accurate.


It seems like the magic combo is wind tunnel plus Newey's intuitive aero understanding which others simply cannot come close to replicating.

It's amazing just how many other big teams are convinced their data alone is perfect and the wind tunnel says their car or new parts will be perfect, yet there are big issues when it hits the track in real life.

See Ferrari's aero and upgrades in recent years, or McLaren this year.

Newey seems to bring an understanding to the aero that cannot be simulated when you throw in pitch, yaw, wind direction, buffeting, air pressures, diffuser flow, wing stalling etc.

It's as if Newey's aero solution has greater working tolerances and works in all situations, the other aero solutions hit trouble in areas outwith the perfect wind tunnel simulation conditions.


Gary Anderson wrote an article on this stating that when the tires were changed it allows Red Bull to run the car lower due to a stronger sidewall and then be able to take downforce off.


How is that an advantage to redbull? It applies to all teams.


Lack of speed in a straight line has been a recurring problem for Red Bull for the past four years. Going back to an earlier specification of the tyres giving them an edge in top speed doesn't make sense.


Nothing to do with the tyres par se, but about improving aero efficiency to point where they can produce more downforce than is require, and as ever it's about optimisation as too much drag slows the car down.


Put another way with a lower car more downforce is created, and therefore drag can be reduced by reducing the downforce producing elements of the car.


Exactly, They can now get sufficient down force from the underside allowing less wing


They are definitely making all others teams look pretty poor thats for sure, someone next year needs to come up with a trick, like the brawn deffuser, or hope the renault power plant keeps going bang..


Its all down to Newey, unfortunately.


Jeez, Webber must be rubbish then, he's managed to reverse his way out of a guaranteed first or second in the wdc seven years in a row now. I can't imagine why Newey would let RBR squander his car like that.


The car's straight line speed is mostly determined by the gear ratios used. The engines can only go to 18,000 rpm. Once they reach that in top gear the car can't go any faster. I would suggest the team have lengthened their top gear and traded some acceleration for a faster top speed.


It is not only the gear ratios, That would give you the theoretical max speed. However the wheels, whishbones, bodywork and wings, especially the rear one, produces drag and becomes more important that gear ratios when it comes to straight line speed. RBR car is incredible, period. Ad certainly, Seb is the type of racer that can be very, very consistent over a race distance. The kid is talented and in a car like that, invincible


I doubt it, Ross Brawn's been talking recently about how much more efficient the RB's seem and how that will help them maintain their advantage next season.


He was talking about how they've managed to run less rear wing, yet still produce great downforce. That has to come from the undertray, which has the added benefit of being zero drag, even negative drag.

Hopefully the EBD is part of it, and can't be replicated next year. 'Cos otherwise it will be a big advantage for them, both in terms of top speed, but also fuel economy.


Hi James,

Could we have the corresponding names and line colours on the graph please. This is very interesting! Thank you.


Based on what James Allison said about Kimi`s driving in Australia I would have loved to see Kimi in the Red Bull against Vettel. I think these two mastered the tire saving driving style the most for this year and indicates that they are the most adaptable drivers from this point of view, which will also be crucial in 14.


You'll have to settle for Alonso/Kimi. Which let's be honest, is not such a hard compromise. I can't wait to see Kimi and Alonso keeping each other honest.

As for, take my bag of treasure coins. Bet it all on ICE. 🙂


Be carefull...

The IceCream man may melt under fire.





I can see this Fire and Ice thing starting to bug, even before the first race of 2014.

Can't wait though, as I fear Newey will do another 1998 massive rule change destruction and continue his domination. So Fire melting Ice, Ice extinguishing Fire, Fire and Ice battling will be the entertainment of 2014 even if their car is watered down compared to class of the field 😉


Under fire from who? The Matador?

Don't know if you noticed. There is a new Bull in town. 🙂

If Massa has beaten Alonso 50% of the time this year in Quali, imagine what the Matador will experience in 2014. And there isn't going to be bad starts from Kimi like bogged down #2 "make #1 look good" Massa.

I can't wait. Between Alonso and Kimi, like I said, by bag of treasure is squarely on Kimi in 2014.


This graph says more about Vettel's talent to me than this years world championship he won.


Again, people see what they need to see.

What I see is HOW GOOD Newey is. He is killing F1.

Do you really think that these TWO extra seconds are due to VET driving skills???

And if he is SO good, why his team refused two hire a top driver (ALO, KIM or HAM) to go against him???

I think you need a "pair" to do that, right???

Schummy was soooo good with a super car and a super team. No rivals at all. And then came ALO. The mighty Schummy retired. And then came ROS. He retired again.... 😎


Why does the team need to pay extra millions to another top driver when they got one who does the job? That money could be well invested making them more faster

What happened when Hamilton and Alonso were at Mclaren? Kimi stole the WDC from under their feet. So why would Redbull want to do that? Ferrari only dumped Massa because Alonso was acting too smart. Or they too dont believe in having two no 1 drivers


Yes but Mclaren is contemplating replacing Perez just with one year of having him prove his worth. If Ferrari who are very uptight about who drive for them put up with Massa for 4 years its only because Alonso wanted it that way. Remember he is still saying stuff like Massa is faster than Kimi, just like he bad mouthed Hamilton when they were teammates


Ferrari dumped Massa because he wasn't getting them enough points.

He'd had his chance, was nowhere near Alonso even by a third of the way into a season and often scored less than half the points of Alonso:

2013 Alonso 217 - Massa 106

2012 Alonso 278 - Massa 122

2011 Alonso 257 - Massa 118

2010 Alonso 252 - Massa 144


I agree, and it's also impressive to watch Vettel's onboard footage.

I am no fan of Vettel (and of his finger) but I consider him one of the best drivers of all time.


I always enjoyed onboard footage of drivers. Kimi has a very smooth perfect line style. Lewis has a very aggressive but front stable style. Alonso is just full of mess style. Vettel has a rapid and edgy style, he uses a lot of feedback on steering to feel the road. Also he very comfortable full throttling earlier than most drivers out of the corner, yet he was able to maintain tyre life.

Certainly worked well for Vettel in the fragile Pirelli tyre era.


wanna see a real mess of a driving "style", watch Fernando when he won his 2 WDC titles with Renault. literally painful and ugly, but he won... there has ALWAYS been the struggle of the engineers trying to improve the car efficiency, and the driver adapting to give the car what will work best thru out the evolution of the year's races. this is and always will be a moving target from lap to lap, day to day, etc..


I personally do not think teams design a car for one driver leads of disadvantage of the #2 driver. Look at Massa's revival after he was fired. He is fast because he has the motivation to do so whether it is a "made for Alonso" car or not.

Look at Raikkonen and Grosjean now. Raikkonen is not motivated for obvious reasons. While Grosjean is totally motivated because he will be #1 from now on. Nothing to do with fan's speculation of a "Made for Kimi's" car..

When Vettel came to RB in 2009, he was already faster than Webber. Surely a team that had Coulthard and Webber as drivers in 2008 and prior didn't make a car just for Vettel.

Raikkonen joined Ferrari in 2007. He was fast straight out of the block. Massa just couldn't match him.

The driver's motivation and determination is enough to break physical barriers. We always see that in other sports but F1 is shrouded in high-tech and engineering that it is easily overlooked.


So true - every driver have their own style - But, its difficult to say which one is better & which one is not. The team always develops the car around the lead driver - thats probably why Massa is suffering the last few years. The same may be true for Webber - its just that he may be better than Massa in adapting to Vettel's style. At the end of the day we are speculating & the Truth is given the conditions, Seb has done fantastic - no doubt & he seems to be working hard to reach where he has reached.

Also - i'm sure all of them are very quick learners - else they wouldn't be where they are. Looking forward to more challenges in 2014 - bring it on!!


Usually a car can be tuned to suit different style of driving.

Alonso's driving is always very messy. Even in the Renault days. He cuts the apex more than other drivers trying to shorten the corner.

Kimi and Vettel drives around the corner minimizing the bounce caused by hitting the curb.

Cars are then set up to deal with the different style. Softer front for Alonso and stiffer for Kimi. In the end, all of them can be fast as long as they execute the weekend diligently.

What made Schumacher and Vettel so consistent is their willingness to improve and learn on top of their talents. These guys work hard and separate their emotions from duty. Lewis and Massa can arguably be more talented but they lack the consistency to be able to compete.


Is that car or driver though...


Do you think Alonso's "style" might be down to the fact that his car understeers on entry and oversteers on exit so he is continually correcting the car? A lot of how a driver drives is dependant on the car he is driving.


Great technical piece once again James. Good to see that it's just not Adrian Newey that's behind the teams success. I wonder how Ricciardo will fare against their star athlete next year...

If I don't get the chance to ever race Sebastian for real at least I could say that I bested his fastest time on a simulator by over 2 seconds a couple of years ago!


Looked like a scrappy lap to me, was Vettel running round?


Vettel's best single lap was 1'04.8 -

The best lap on the video from my original comment was 1'03.2

Scruffy lap or not the deed was done. Please tell me more about how you can do better 😉


Great analysis as usual to verify the talent of the champ.

Have just read some alarming comments of the rival team's boss (Ross Brawn) that since summer break RBR ve been testing some 2014 bits that may probably keep the new car as fast as the current one.


Four graphs – Vettel’s lowest, dark blue – who do the others belong to?


Can't you people read?


Yes, I can read – that information was added later after a few readers, including myself, requested it.

I suggest you try and be civil rather than ‘smart’ in future.


Insightful article. It would be interesting to see such comparision across different races, and how dominating the car is at circuits with different mix of high speed / low speed corners and straights.

Also it would be nice to mention who the four drivers are in the graph, so that everyone doesn't have to check when Webber/Grosjean and Rosberg pitted to see who is who?


We have been doing it at other races

The drivers' featured are all named with colour coding in the text


Thanks for the legends.

Yes i love to diligently go through all your strategy reports, but for this specific article i was looking for insights from you and Mark Gillian on Vettel and Red Bull's speed in Monza and Spa which are the traditional non-Red Bull tracks and a graph from one of those races with such insights would have been great.

Great reading... 🙂


Tyre management appears to be critical nowadays especially with needing to use different types of tyres during a race.

Why not have the tyre manufacturer simply supply a single tyre (dry) that will not last a full race distance. This will ensure tyre stops are required, but the number will depend on the teams and the cars.

The cost of manufacturing s single tyre will make massive reductions in team budgets.

It could also mean more than one tyre manufacturer could come back to F1.

ps: Just get rid off all front and rear wings and rely on mechanical grip!!!!!!


Oh wow.

Re last point, that IS the answer, but good luck getting anyone to see/agree to what is to me so glaringly obvious.

Well done, fellow "visionary"


The out lap after the pit stop is amazing, everyone else's quick lap is the second lap after the stop. Not Vettel.


I take it the dark blue is Vettel, red for Grosjean, green for Webber and light blue for Rosberg.

I see the point you are making but it would be nice to see the whole graph.

Correct me if I am wrong but did Mark find some clear air laps 23 to 28?


No hope....


You mention that the lower, faster line on the graph is Vettel.

Are the other traces the Caterham & Marussia drivers?

The Spanish Inquisitor

Statistics about drivers performance are good, but, what about statistics of cars reliability? Ask Webber about this. We have passed of "everything was the Newey’s car design" to "Vettel is god". Vettel has matured as pilot and now he is the best driver of the moment. The advantage to be at the front of the race is that he can challenge himself instead his opponents. He can find his limits, not the car’s limits. I think that Alonso, Kimi and perhaps Hamilton had obtained more points than Vettel whit 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 RBR car. But I will not bet about that this season. The progress of Vettel is evident.

Sorry for my bad English. (I’m Spanish…. LOL)


Hope your english is good enough to read this:

4.5 year score card

Sebastian Vettel: 39 issues (32 mechanical issues, 3 team order, 2 team-mate clashes, 2 significant pit stop issue), 8 leading to a DNF

Mark Webber: 45 issues (33 mechanical issues, 3 team orders, 2 team-mate clashes, 7 significant pit stop issues), 3 leading to a DNF


I don't think the 3 leading to a DNF for MW is correct, as he's had 2 this season alone (and I even count being hit by another driver and your car erupting in flames an 'issue'). Fernando ride'em gate, India. I'm sure he's been asked to 'stop the car' before also. Plus I'm sure there have been other expiries...


That was the score before Belgium ;-). Plus, getting hit by a driver is hardly 'car reliability'.


Thanks for this James, I have been after analysis on Vettel's first few lap performance for a while. Excellent stuff and mind blowing performance.


What Raikkonen did in Australia with unknown tyres and an un raced chasis was even more impressive- and it's not a RBR.Maybe Seb has been learning from his good friend !


Looking at Vettel's previous six wins, I was under the impression that he simply wasn't feeling the pressure of going for his fourth title. Looking now at this win, when the pressure's really off and he's got every excuse to back off for the rest of the season, it seems to me that up until now he actually was feeling the pressure a bit and he wasn't performing at his best on those previous six.

If those previous six performances were Vettel when he's not at his best, and this is the sort of performance he can put on at his best, then there's no doubt in my mind that he really is one of the all time greats.


Wow!! you are good at it!!


Impressive. Why is there no legend on that graph. It's obvious which is Vettel's curve, but who are the other drivers shown?


It's spelled out in the text!!


Doesn't that drive you crazy that people simply don't read?


Woah, Woah! A little bit surprised by your answer James. Hope its just your humour. It was not there for a while, until you edited the text.



Why are lap times so much faster (fuel corrected) at the start? Why do we not see all drivers going slower as the laps go on?

Or asked another way, is the fuel correction to simplistic? So even though you loose the weight, the driver is not able to make use of this potentially "faster" car?


Look at the graph again. Line descending = faster. Line ascending = slower.


Well the times going upwards means slower do that is the degradation in evidence


Red Bull should have some marketing fun, and take out a 10 Billion Dollar (cue Dr. Evil pinky) insurance policy on Vettel's right foot. 🙂

What's interesting to me is the whole clean air argument some have. Vettel builds the margin so quickly that P2 isn't exactly running in dirty air.


Nice points sebee,

I''ll bet Seb's management have his feet we'll insured - we could speculate about which other parts of his anatomy contribute to his massive performance advantage over the rest of the grid.

As you say the second place driver should be running at optimum speed too, I guess that they are often distracted by having places 3 to 6 driving up their diffusers.


All this proves is that Vettel is much better than a 37 year old team mate two races from retirement. Whats the big deal? This is only impressive to the biggest fans


Webber was considered to be one of the fastest drivers during his Williams days, when he was beating his teammate Rosberg that Hamilton now is matching but not beating. Rosberg has grown as a driver since 2006? So has Hamilton and Webber.

Webber was at his prime at 31-32yrs old when he teamed up with Vettel 5 years ago and Webber was beaten even when Vettel had lost 65-70 points because of mechanical failures against 15-20 points lost for Webber with mechanical failures. And Vettel was not at his best even then.

But dont let the facts get in the way of you trying to diminish Webber and Vettel.


In 2006 it was 12-6 for WEB in the quali head-to-head. Rosberg was a rookie, Webber was used to the team (his 2nd year at Williams).

Rosberg's no doubt better now than he was then. Webber is not as good as he was. He's practically admitted as much. Yet Lewis in his first year with a new team is 10-7 up on Rosberg, who's in his 4th season with the team.

Compare it to the last two times a WDC joined a new team, with an established teammate. In 2010 it was 14-5 for ROS over MSC, and the same for HAM over BUT.

RAI was able to beat GRO 11-9 last year, but it was the first year at Lotus for both of them, at least in terms of race seats.

I never really rated Webber. I could see he was good, and solid. But I never said "there's a future champion" about him. Even in 2010, it was very late in the season before I truly thought he might pull it off. Trulli was another driver, who could put in great qualifying performances here and there, but again, never thought he was something special. Just to stress, I consider Webber a better driver than Trulli ever was, just never in that 'elite' category of drivers.

I know Webber said recently he considered himself as good as some of the single champions. I'm not sure he was referring to just the current grid, or any single champions from the past. Of the current grid, I would only consider him as good as Button among the DWC's, and even then I think Button edges him.


That 37-year-old soon-to-be-retiree was on pole the day before. The old age and reduced motivation might explain some of the gap, but not 30+ seconds with more not deployed.

If the "biggest fans" tend to see Vettel in rosy glasses, your opinion suggests blindness motivated by bias against him, at least for this race. Experiment by replacing Vettel's name by that of Kimi's, and see how you might feel differently.


Good point Ronnie, you have to read a lot of posts to find any balanced viewpoints .


Just saying (do not mean it) perhaps Vettel made a mistake in quali that made Webber appear better.


The car is the best but Vettel is even better by pulling stunning performances and we are stunned by his fantastic achievement. Seems like its swinging much more to driver than the car. Vettel is too good! Mark's major problem with tires are the option softs, he just couldn't get it right hence the 30 plus seconds. I was thinking he could have lapped everyone in the field when he was like 23 seconds ahead after 20 laps. Now I'm interested to watch how many seconds he will blitz the field in Austin.


Look like Ross Brawn agress with me about next year. I knew he would, he's that kind of a good guy! 😉


It was very evident from Spa. 2 areas where Red Bull are absolutely killing it are traction and aero efficiency whilst maintaining downforce. Both these are absolutely critical for 2014 with more bottom end torque displacement.

The other very impressive team has been Sauber who have done an excellent job in both traction and aero. Something I was expecting given that smart looking skinny C32 at launch. Got a feeling we will have some nice surprises in the top 5 next year.


I hope so!! in that case, will we be better off with Hulk staying back? He moved from Force India to Sauber & Force india had a better car than Sauber this year - i hope this doesn't happen again for him!!


Elie, Ganeshram,

Why are you getting all excited about Sauber? Poor team will have to "sell" it's ideas to Ferrari if they prove beneficial and innovative. Just like they gave up their rear end a few years back. Here is a team that can hardly keep a good idea to itself away from Ferrari.


James, thank you for explaining the graph to us lay people so clearly. Greatly appreciate it. Analysis like this really sets your reporting apart from the others', similar to the dark blue line on the graph 🙂


I know that this is about Vettel, but i also noticed the way Fernando goes into and comes out of a corner that is very different from others. It is more evident when watching him, since there are cars directly in front of him and sometimes behind, so observing different lines is more obvious. I noticed that he approaches the apex differently, so that the car comes out of the corner in such a way that he can get on the throttle sooner. I image that this is so that the rears have less lateral stress as they try to grip. I'm sure that this style helped him make up 5 positions throughout the race. How i would love to see Alonso in a RB next to Seb.


Alonso analysis follows tomorrow.


I was at Suzuka and watched the cars and drivers very carefully, especially through the Esses, and the Ferraris looked like absolute pigs to drive, with ALO and MAS constantly sawing away at the wheel.

The Red Bulls were sticking to the track like the Bullet Train! GRO's Lotus was very similar, however, RAI was all over the shop like the Ferraris that weekend.

If ALO really does have an escape clause, like some have suggested, I'm amazed he hasn't ditched Ferrari yet. I can only imagine he's staying because James Allison is coming. Let's hope he can design a good car for them to take the fight to Red Bull.


Alonso ditch Ferrari? For starters thats a bad move and 2nd point: where would he go? Lotus? Mclaren? what makes you think any other team'll be better next year, wasn't so long ago (2010, 2012) Alonso had a chance at the championship, lets face it Alonso isn't even that fast especially looking at recent quali performances compared to Massa and that racecraft everyone raves about seems to have faded recently too, if anything Ferrari rehired Raikkonen to show Alonso they're losing their patient.


Exactly my opinion, James. The time difference lays mainly in the tires.

This is what I wrote in the Autosport forum after the Singapore GP. And I found it confirmed at Abu Dhabi where Vettel's first stint was much longer than Webber's despite lapping a lot faster:

A lot of people are pointing to the Singapore race and are saying: "No wonder Vettel is leading the Championship. Look at his car advantage. Two seconds per lap quicker than anyone else!"

In my opinion they are seriously misjudging the matter. And I think the advantage that Sebastian has is not so much the car but the tires. Sebastian Vettel is the master of tire control and he does it better than all the other drivers. This conclusion is based on the following observations:

-> The time difference in qualifying is a lot less

In Singapore we had one tenth between Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel, three tenths between Seb and Mark and four tenths between Seb and Lewis. Ok, Vettel could have gone quicker one or two tenths if he did another run. But the time difference is nowhere near the two seconds from those laps in the race. So this is a good indication that the biggest advantage is not down to the car.

-> The race is more about tire conservation than about driving at the limit

Michael Schumacher said it once in 2011 or 2012: "Racing has changed compared to earlier times. Now we are pootling around the circuit at about 70% of the real pace only in order to save tires." This might be not exactly valid for 2013 but the current situation is not much different either. The difference in lap times between the qualifying and the race is enormous and it is not all down to the weight difference due to the filled up tanks. The fastest qualifying lap in Singapore was 1:42.8, the fastest race lap 1:48.5 which was posted near the end of the race when the car had not much fuel left. Six seconds! In 2006 we had one or two seconds difference between pole lap and fastest race lap.

-> Car advantages are very hard to find

I once read an interview with a car designer (I even think it was Newey himself). He said that improving the car is hard work and that you as a designer are very happy when you make a design change and it brings you more than one tenth. Most design changes are only subtle improvements and almost never you are going to make a major improvement within the season. How can one think that Newey all of a sudden would find the golden key to something that makes the car two seconds faster inmidst the season? This is rubbish.

So where are the biggest gains to find? They are to find in putting more load on the tires (going faster) without ruining them. Plain and simple.

-> Sebastian is strongest in the second half of the season

Is that because he is the fittest and has the best stamina? Is it because he is able to motivate himself better than anybody else? I don't think so.

It is because he is relentlessly working to understand the car better. Or to put it more precisely: To understand the tires better. And the other drivers don't do that. After the Singapore race he said in an interview that he and the team (Rocky, Newey and Horner) are sitting together deep into the night while others are hanging their balls into the swimming pool. Some people found this offensive. But I found it a bit stupid because he gave away the reason for his advantage. In my opinion he - with the help of the brightest car designer in the paddock - tries to understand the tires, how to treat them without ruining them. And it obviously pays.

-> The difference between Webber and Vettel

Could Webber suddenly have forgotten to drive fast? No. Is he treated seriously differently to Vettel by the team? No, either. The main reason for him being so much slower: He doesn't understand the tires as well as Vettel, just like the other drivers.


Your first point is not valid. If a car is set up to run more effectively with more fuel then the margins in quali might not be quite as strong. Besides you do not know how the opposition ( including Webber) set their car up. Further if Seb made minor mistakes in quali it would be disguised in those slight margins or perhaps he cleverly did just enough to save his tyre in quali for the race


Maybe you did misunderstand my point. It is not important if Vettel had a different setup from his teammate and lost (or gained) one or two tenths somewhere.

My main point was that the laptime difference between Vettel and the other drivers is much less in qualifying than in the race. During qualifying the drivers try to squeeze out every single tenth from the car so this is roughly the true measure of how fast a car/driver combination is (provided they are all on the same tyres, of course). They do a single lap in which they don't care much how long the tyre is going to last. Only the laptime is important.

During the race it is a very different matter. There you have a certain target how long the tyre has to last and this defines how much load you can put on it. If your car or your driving style is eating tyres you have to drive slower thus the big time differences between qualifying laps and race laps. And thus the big laptime differences between different drivers. Those who know how to treat the tyres - especially Vettel - can drive a lot faster than others.


I think Mark's answers at post-race conference confirmed at least some of your analysis:

"...we know starts is not exactly my strong point, especially on these little babies. On the little Pirellis. So, anyway, we got away and then got into the race from there. The softs, I had a reasonably feeling for them when they were fresh but I had no real feeling for those tyres when they’re scrubbed. So, I was very slow in the first stint. Very, very poor feeling with the rear, and then that makes it even worse. You have more and more slip and temperature control problems and all of those type of things..."

"When we go to this type of range of tyre it is probably a little bit more high maintenance for me to feel whether the tyre is in the race. It’s a little bit frustrating but that’s the way it is. If you want to go quick, you’ve got to go... obviously it’s such a fine, delicate balance, obviously and then you can feed the tyre a lot if you treat it in a different way but to get into that window is sometimes not obvious. I think that we’ve seen - like Korea, China, a few other races where we are probably a bit more on the front tyre. Of course I’m very fast, I’m quick but when we’re on the rears it’s a bit harder for me to be as competitive at certain times. That’s the way it is. The primes weren’t too bad, I didn’t think we were going too badly on those in terms of feeling, anyway, but that’s the way it’s been the last... since 2011. I’m not going to learn now, mate. Old dog, new tricks, it’s over."


Yep, and Horner himself is confirming it:

"I think Sebastian has stepped it up another gear. His feel for these tyres, which are more sensitive, he just seems to be able to get more out of them than any other driver in the pit lane"


Little bit of drama at McLaren with this Magnussen talk. Seems like McLaren is trying to get Perez's backers to commit or else. But no Mexican GP, no Slim/Telmex commitment it seams.

I wonder what the Plan B is at McLaren to replace Vodafone and if this potential Slim investment for 2014 if Mexico GP doesn't happen.


Tut Tut! Where is the graph legend? Which line represents who? Communicative Maths 101!


James' line immediately above the graph reads 'Vettel is the dark blue line; Webber green; Rosberg light blue; Grosjean red'.

Tut! Tut! Why don't you read the article before jumping it to criticise!

First class James, but one question that is bothering me. If Seb is soooooo good on the current tyres (after the mid-season change in construction/compound from the initial 2013 tyre to the now used 2012 matching tyre) why was he not soooooo handy on the initial 2013 tyre when these were said to be more fragile & Christian Horner berated Pirelli's longevity so unfairly (even though the tyre company had done exactly what the FIA had asked them to in relation to tyre degradation to spice-up the racing)?


When the tyres were changed post Silverstone, Vettel led Webber 132-87.


With the exception of post Australia GP, Vettel was leading the Championship on the earlier 2013 tires. So was RBR.

Any suggestion that Vettel and/or RBR needed the tyre change to finish on top, is not supported by data.


It would have been a different story had Mercedes been able to capitalise on their pole positions, and had decent race pace and tyre longevity, but Red Bull didn't really have any competition.


I think that is a little simplistic. Clearly his initial main contender had some issues that exaggerated his lead. i.e. Alonso losing his front wing in Malaysia, and his DRS issues in Bahrain? plus the Mercs were still eating tyres. Yet after the Hungary GP, there was talk of Merc mounting a challenge for the title. i.e. they were closing in. Also note how in a number of races pre break, Vettel had to spend a lot more time/laps behind other cars, whereas post summer break he just drives around them. In my view that comes from down force and traction. And, so, what changed after the summer break that may have improved that? Tyres.


Ronnie, don't disagree with you at all. All I am suggesting is that if Seb is so good at managing fragile tyres (as Christian Horner is now saying)then the differential in performance between him & the other drivers would have been more emphatically illustrated when the tyres were more fragile (during the first half of the season)then now (when the tyres are less fragile). No criticism intended of any team or driver or the implication that RBR needed the tyre change to succeed, just simplistic physics and logic.


Before 1:52 pm GMT it was not there. James obviously edited it, thanks to one of our comments asking him to put it up. Jumping to conclusions here, are we?

As such, I don't wan't to criticize the article. I am an avid follower of these reports! I love all of his technical analysis, with graphs and time charts. I am an engineer, and I can't stand a graph without legends.


Hi Rajesh, if the graph's legend was added some-time between your and my posts then I apologise for my rebuttal. However, I still think you could have asked for the legend to have been added in a rather politer matter - particular give the huge, generous time James and his team put into this fantastic web-site & the fact that we can all access it and comment totally free-of-charge (my favourite price!). Garry.


Mid season tyre changes handed Vettel the title? Remind me who was leading the chamoionship before the tyres were changed? Even with the retirements whilst leading at Silverstone? And if anything the tyres helped Mercedes with their race tyre preservation just look at Hungary.


I disagree, it cannot be adaptability. if Vettel was so adaptable, he would have won 7 in a row with the First-Half season Tyres. The mid season Tyre changes, simply handed both titles to the Red Bulls. It gave an already fast car the opportunity to go even faster and it did.


But James, if Seb was adaptable surely he could have made better use of the more 'on-the-edge tyres' used early season than his fellow drivers did & this would have illustrated his differential 'feel' for tyres more-so than the current tyre do. Just a thought!


Well he was leading the championship earlier this season before the change

The team has worked hard on thermal management of the tyres as the year has gone on

For sure the return to 2012 tyres suited the RB package


It's in the text:

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


Vettel-Red Bull have moved beyond the previously forecast of "OMINOUS" to the actual of:


The numbers don't lie: 8/10ths ahead, equal to approximately 20 weeks of development!!! Over his feral Auzzie git racer team mate!?!


BTW: great analysis - it illustrates very clearly the advantage Vetel-Red Bull has ove the rest of the field.

The trend of the operational/developmental approach of the Newey-Red Bull design would be that they are well along the learning curve for next year, using this year's RB as a very stable test bed for the 2014 version development.

We all need a shake up, but unless another team comes up with something bordering of revolutionary, and can be argued successfully within the rules, it is most likely that Newey-RB will design a machine that Vettel-RB can adapt to, creating a speed cushion to the next fastest driver-machine combination.

We can only hope that it is a significant decrease from 8/10ths of a second per lap!

Thanks for another great post-race analysis.


It seems to me that the graph is a bit over corrected - I would expect the lap times to be a bit more level, despite tires degrading.


The range of laptime is just 5 seconds, if it started from 0 and went to 107 it would look more leveled as you say.


It would be interesting to hear how these fuel corrections are calculated. Is the same deduction applied to every car/driver, as presumably some require more fuel than others to complete a GP distance? Are there differences in how a reducing mass of fuel affects the balance and handling of the different cars? And how is this factored into the design of the cars?


James - and how many seconds impact per Kilo?

the slower cars will tend to look better that what they are and vice versa as well - right?


About 0.3s per 10kg is typical for F1. Some tracks a little more, some a little less


Hi Kimi!! Nice to see you on these forums. You know what you are doing, so I will leave you alone


This is surely worrying for 2014? Rather than a rules reset being beneficial to others it's an 'adaptation' race and Vettel has shown himself now to be supremely chameleon like in learning to drive a quirky unusual style that suits Neweys one off philosophy. Drivers like Lewis who like to keep it simple might not really be built for this type of challenge.

Interesting to think though, given Webbers better form on bridgestones that if Pirelli hadn't come into the sport we'd be much more likely to have seen a WDC for Webber, Hamilton or Alonso by now as Vettels advantage would have been less pronounced. That's not taking anything away from Seb - he's the right man for this particular era, just as Schumacher was for his. Yes, like Schumacher he has a lot of advantages but he is just utterly methodical and able to drive in a way that others struggle with.

It was nice to actually see Mark smiling on the podium. He knew he got the best place he could achieve. There was no hint of being robbed by tactics or the gremlin ridden car - he was just demolished. So he was oddly able to accept that better I think. Webber is probably getting better right about now - it's just masked because his team mate is exploding into new levels.


As Webber said even before the Abu Dhabi GP, "Seb is exceptional and I have no problem admitting it. In some ways I feel like Gerhard Berger with Ayrton Senna – Gerhard was also a great racer, but not enough for the title."


That sounds like a very accurate self assessment. Bet Webber wishes Vettel had been born 5 years later.


Absolutely fantastic analysis, thanks James.

I really, really hope that this puts to bed the argument as to whether Vettel is any good or not. He is the real deal, and I am totally convinced that he is not only the best driver in F1 right now, bar none, but that he deserves his place amongst the all time greats. Why? Well...

1. The guy is sublimely quick. He just has this ability to produce outstanding pace in qualifying, always a true test of outright pace. In fact, he is getting to Senna levels of dominance in Q3: you just know he is going to produce something magical, therefore the odd time he doesn't (such as at Abu Dhabi just gone) becomes more of a story than when he does.

2. His tech savvy is better than anyone. Every driver has had to adapt to the requirements of blown diffusers and throttle management to make them work, and also to the changing nature of Pirelli tyres. The simple fact is that Vettel has adapted better than anyone. His work ethic is peerless, and there are again echoes of the greats in that: Prost, Senna, Schumacher...

3. He learns and always looks to improve. He has made many mistakes over the last few years (Turkey, Spa 2010 etc), but the mark of great champions is learning from the mistakes and improving. His racecraft is now second to none.

4. Team management. I'm sick of the conspiracy theorists - the simple fact is Vettel has made the most of being a Red Bull development driver and has got his team on his side.

Until this year, I didn't rate Vettel higher than Hamilton and Alonso, who I considered the true stars of this generation of drivers. However, while Hamilton believes his own publicity a little too much, and gets down on himself too much in public, and Alonso is showing a worrying trend towards losing qualy speed and can't stop his political nature getting the better of him - Vettel goes from strength to strength.

And he's only 26!!

I believe he starts favourite for 2014, and I think he will go own to beat Schumacher's records. People, we need to take a breath and realise we are witnessing one of the greatest drivers of all time at the peak of his powers. All true F1 fans should applaud this, and revel in it.


Good post Tim, well argued. I was a doubter, but seeing how well Vettel has adapted to the recent technical changes ( tyre compounds, exhaust blown diffusers, flexing front wings, DRS etc) that have thrown other teams and drivers, I now think we're seeing one of the greats.

Now if he could drop the "Yes" and the finger, he'd stop being on of the grates!


The most relevant thing is that he is improving.

2 years ago he might not have been the best

Last year he might have been equal to best

Right now he is probably a bit better than all.

The constant is that the team and car has been better for years.


Do you really think Vettel was anywhere near Alonso's level last year?

Actually last season even Lewis did better than Seb.


Alonso clearly had a stellar year last year, better than any driver has had in a long, long while. While the rain in Malaysia helped the Ferrari, and he inherited the win in Valencia, his win in Germany was all down to him. The number of podiums he had, considering the car he had underneath him, was quite simply astounding. 13 podiums, 3 more than anyone else, and 11 more than his teammate in the same car, tell the tale.


If you actually believe that delusion is the only word I can think of.

A lot was made about Alonso last season but sit back and watch a review of the season and you would see that his performance this year is same as last year only difference is Redbull reliability is good this year.


you don't have to try to convince anybody, anymore; if it's not seen, then it has little to do with facts, if anything.

enough of the utter supplication; the people who are paying attention are well aware.


I think the speed difference between Vettel and Webber was not grater than that between Rosberg and Hamilton. I do not think he is at a level of his own, as an example I think Rosberg did a comparable work. As always the eye is caught by the performance in the fastest car. Webber's and Hamilton's lack of pace in the race really does not say good things about their actual driving form.

However I agree Vettel is doing a fantastic job, he is getting high notes on every aspect of racing this year. Just I'm not carried away by the time gaps he is achieving like others are, because I know what being in a super car can do to a driver's image. Last example is Button in the Brawn GP in 2009, he looked like he was another driver, much stronger than what he really is. What I do notice is Vettel's consistency, doing almost everything to a high level: one lap pace, nursing the tyres, high and low fuel driving, controlling the races, dry and wet driving, different tracks and track conditions... However not overtaking because the car is too good for it to be a challenge. But all this is achieved with a car with huge amounts of downforce, with a very specific driving style, with no challenge from the opposition, and with a team completely at his peak, operationally and performance wise.

So people should not get too carried away. No body can know how good is Vettel compared to the other top drivers, this is Hamilton (although he is not achieving the consistency he should, but I'm sure he will soon) and Alonso yet. If anything, when Alonso and Vettel have raced one against each other (2010 and 2012) it has been clear to the expert eye that Alonso was on another level. So this is what I recommend: do not judge yet, wait until he has a car comparable to that of Alonso and let's see what happens then!


Someone can equally say if it were Vettel in Ferrari he would have easily won in 2010 and 2012. You cant same way you cant say Alonso would have done the same or way better than Vettel in the same car. Vettel can exploit the Redbull to his style of driving. Just like Kimi is struggling in the longer wheel base Lotus while Romain has come alive in the same car, similarly the Redbull might not suit the driving style of Alonso or even Hamilton for that matter. And anyone who thinks Alonso lost the WDC in Abu Dhabi doent know there are over 18, 19 .. races in a season and not just one. The last race may look dramatic or exciting but its not the only race in the calender. Some people say Hamilton won by luck in 2008 and Vettel lucked in in 2010. Both of them deserved the WDC and earned it by their points over the entire season and not just the final race.


"No body can know how good is Vettel compared to the other top drivers"

You can say that about every single driver on the grid. That being the case, how do you know that the "other top drivers" are in fact "top"?

"wait until he has a car comparable to that of Alonso"

How do you know he dd not have that in 2010? Or 2011? Or 2012? Or this year? What you're really saying is "We'll know that Vettel's car is equal to Alonso's when Alonso beats him, but as long as Vettel beats Alonso it always means Vettel's car is better".


I thought you would be able tu discuss in an unbiased and balanced manner. I see I was wrong. No point to continue with it.


SteveS - fully agree with your comment at the top and also with your "back in your box" put down of the one eyed Yago!



Yes that really sounds like the comment of an impartial and unconnected third party.

Or not.


Hahaha Actually I've got two eyes! I guess you guys have also two, but both put on Vettel so you are not able to see beyond the guy!


All that can be said is that Vettel is very good at driving that particular car in this type of formula with Pirelli tyres. If come 2015 Michelin took over with the introduction of durable tyres then Vettel would have to drive full on for a much bigger part of the race as the balancing issues would be dramatically reduced and drivers would drive flat out for much longer given the ability to do so.


Ferrari did mess up Abu Dhabi 2010 as generally perceived they covered Webber when they should have been covering Vettel. It was a big mistake on a track where it was almost impossible to overtake. Webber was still slightly ahead of Vettel on points I seem to recall, but on that circuit they should have gone for the driver in the best track position which was Vettel. The closeness of the finish perhaps was a testament to durable tyres with a number of drivers in contention. Abu Dhabi was also the last race that year. They have since modified the circuit.



"Ferrari did not mess up strategy with Alonso at Abu Dhabi."

LOL! Frightening as you are #2 and subsequent discussions...


"Vettel won in 2010 by default given that Ferrari messed up on strategy with Alonso at Abu Dhabi"

Ferrari did not mess up strategy with Alonso at Abu Dhabi.


By default? No mate Vetttel won the title even though he had more car failures that year than anyone else and in the end he held it together whilst the rest crumbled, no default involved, if you want to talk about default then look at the 2008 title. Vettel is the best just take it on the chin and admit it. If Webber was the lead RBR driver without Vettel in the team in the last 5 years we probably still won't be seeing a Redbull WDC...


Vettel won in 2010 by default given that Ferrari messed up on strategy with Alonso at Abu Dhabi a circuit whose initial configuration made it very difficult to overtake. 2010 should have been Webbers year, but he dropped the ball for some reason. Vettel is winning now because he has a superb car that he has been coached to drive in a particular way.


So why did Seb crush Webber in 2009 and win the title in 2010 even though he lost about 100 points due to mechanical failures, rookie mistakes and silly penalties??? If Michelin took over im 2014 Seb would still win.


"All that can be said is that Vettel is very good at driving that particular car in this type of formula with Pirelli tyres."

Setting aside the fact that Vettel first won the WDC on durable Bridgestones, that is "all" that can be said of any WDC winner. "All" that can be said of Alonso is that he was very good at driving the 2005 and 2006 Renault with its mass damper. "All" that can be said of Schumaher/Haikkenen/Prost/Senna/Mansell/etc is that they were very good in the particular cars they drove and under the particular technical regulations which existed at the time.


Question: How do you know 2009 Brawn GP was the fastest car?

Answer: Because those huge gaps are impossible to achieve with equal machinery in F1. And most importantly because we have seen button in slower cars and racing (and being beaten) with the same machinery against a variety of drivers (as Hamilton), who have raced too against other well known quality drivers (as Alonso), who have raced also against other well known quality drivers etc etc.

If you watch F1 only for the first half of the 2009 season, you will end up with the impression that Button is the best driver, which he is far away from being. Do you get the point?


Steve S,

"That’s not an answer, it’s a diversion, an obfuscation."

Oh the endless irony of you of all people writing that!

1) It was not a "draw" between Hamilton and Button. Unless you're now going to try to tell us that F1 isn't measured season by season?

2) Oh dear. Brawn was 2009, not 2008. The Brawn BGP 001 had an advantage because of its "double diffuser." It's difficult talking about things you didn't watch, eh?

"EBD" stands for "exhaust blown diffuser," something Newey is famous for in recent seasons, which has given a big advantage to Sebastian Vettel. You know, the driver you claim you're a long-term fan of? No?


Actually Steve in 2005 Raikkonen was clearly faster than Alonso and the Renault was a winning car even in Fisichella's hands, in 2006 the mass dampers won Alonso the title likewise the double diffuser won Button the championship in 2009, all 3 of them are excellent drivers and I don't think Alonso is that much better than Button in fact they're on a similar level likewise Hamilton but Seb Vettel is on a entirely different level, he can win with single diffusers, double diffuser, bridgestone, Pirelli, Blown diffuser, non blown diffuser, unreliable cars, slow cars in a straight line, under developed cars, win by nursing his tyres, win by going flat out, win im the wet, win from behind, control a race from the front, this man has everything in his arsenal, Button and the rest on the other hand struggles more often than not, go bet on it unless other cars are 6 tenths faster than the Redbull next year Seb will win the title.


"If you watch F1 only for the first half of the 2009 season, you will end up with the impression that Button is the best driver"

And if you watched F1 only from 2005 to 2006 you will end up with the impression that Alonso is the best driver. But if you watched F1 in 2007 you'd come to a rather different impression, that there are at least two other drivers better than him. Welcome to F1.


That's not an answer, it's a diversion, an obfuscation.

1) Button is a fine driver. He spent three years in the same car as Hamilton and fought him to a draw. Can we drop the whole "Button is a bad driver" nonsense already?

2) The Brawn at the start of 2008 had a technological edge which its competitors did not have - the EBD. None of the Red Bull's have ever had a similar edge.

3) The "impossible gaps" you speak of are ordinary in F1. Kimi Raikkonen won the 2005 Hungarian GP by more than 35 seconds. Hamilton won the 2008 British GP by more than a minute. These represent a closing up of the field over time because back in the days of Clark and Stewart it was not unknown for the winner to finish a lap or more ahead of the second place car.

4) Vettel has raced against "other well known quality drivers". Just as Alonso raced against Schumacher, Vettel races against Alonso. There is absolutely no difference between the two in that respect.


Honestly, i dont think we need an article to know where he finds the speed. He has a clearly superior car and his mate cant adapt to the tyres, half the job is done before the start. The guy can win the races by just laping fast the 4 first laps and then just save tyres with fresh air and no worries about anyones pace. We have seen Alo, Rai, Ros, Ham and But do that before with the same results, but Vet has had the car to do that for most of the weekends for the past 4 years...


Clearly you went straight to the comments section and didnt bother reading the article.


True. My surprise is that after reading the article i realize that in the end my comment says almost the same, so, my point.


Mark Hughes has an article today on the same topic.

The gist of it all is that Vettel is extremely adaptable and adjusts his driving style to get the best out of his tyres and the demands of each different circuit.


An insightful article, as always.

While not wanting to play down Vettel's skill, I do assume though that he has not just developed this technique since the summer break and I assume that the tyre change has had a lot to do with it.

Clearly the car has had a lot more down force than the rest of the field, but the car could not exploit this on the tyres used in the first half of the season, despite Vettel's driving style.

So I can only assume that the mid season tyre change has allowed Vettel's driving style to come to the fore, together with allowing the teams development path to focus on reducing drag, remembering that Seb seemed far more mortal before the summer break and the Mercs even looked like they could mount a challenge.

No wonder Horner pressed so hard for the tyre change.

On a last note, this does make Mark look like a tired old campaigner.

It will be interesting with a new benchmark next year.


It's never just one thing

Also remember he has won the title the lady four years on four different types of tyre

It's quite possibly the more robust construction we now have is more to his taste, it is always a combination of factors though


Agreed, but my point was that on the old tyre construction he looked far more vulnerable, Red Bull could not exploit their down force.

His driving style did not make the difference.

So is his big asset (in conjunction with his driving style) the superior down force that the RB has enjoyed for the last four years?


hmm you do realize that even before the tyre change he was still leading the championship


First of all Mark is our only reference point, second of all we have the right to call on favouritism and giving somebody the upper hand.

I do understand it, if they would be really close in terms of performance, Mark would have given him the run and in lots of those we would see even more Turkey's.

Thus the implementation of smothering of performance is crucial for the championship of constructors.

I do get RB and their politics, its not nice on the casual fan but so vital on the monetary scheme.


Mark answered what happened since 2011 at this past Sunday's press conference:

"When we go to this type of range of tyre it is probably a little bit more high maintenance for me to feel whether the tyre is in the race. It’s a little bit frustrating but that’s the way it is. If you want to go quick, you’ve got to go... obviously it’s such a fine, delicate balance, obviously and then you can feed the tyre a lot if you treat it in a different way but to get into that window is sometimes not obvious. I think that we’ve seen - like Korea, China, a few other races where we are probably a bit more on the front tyre. Of course I’m very fast, I’m quick but when we’re on the rears it’s a bit harder for me to be as competitive at certain times. That’s the way it is. The primes weren’t too bad, I didn’t think we were going too badly on those in terms of feeling, anyway, but that’s the way it’s been the last... since 2011. I’m not going to learn now, mate. Old dog, new tricks, it’s over."

Valentino from montreal

Simple answer : it's because he's German !


Great analysis!

One quick question James, not exactly related to this;

Gary Anderson has cited from using the rear facing thermal camera on Vettel's car that the tea tray underfloor glows hot at low speeds, postulating that this could be another area where red bull are gaining an advantage in down force. However, the rear facing thermal camera on Webber's car in Abu Dhabi appears to show that the underfloor was not glowing, where as it is/has been on Vettel's car, any ideas why this would be the case?

Anderson explains that "If Red Bull were doing this, the overall performance gain would be quite large, perhaps 0.5-0.7secs and come from being able to exploit their initial car concept to the maximum"

If this is something to do with car setup to suit driving styles etc this could explain the disparity between vettel and webbers race pace?

Gary Anderson Article.


As Steve says in India the FIA heated the T-tray brackets before performing the floor detection test and the car passed thus debunking this theory.

Technical expert Craig Scarborough says that the T-tray’s leading edge is titanium, it also has metal skid blocks inserted, plus metal bolts to connect the plank (all of this helps to make sure that the plank doesn’t wear too much) and that it is all this metal getting hot from rubbing on the ground which you can see on the thermal images.

The “hot” T-tray was incidentally first seen on Mark Webber’s car in Japan I believe. We didn’t see many thermal images in Abu Dhabi (the temperature of the T-tray varied on different parts of the circuit in Japan and India) so it is hard to say if it never ran as hot due to car setup, or circuit characteristics, or if we never saw thermal images on the parts of the track after it had been rubbing on the ground the most.


The FIA already checked the Red Bull car's floor for this, heating it with a torch to see if it moved, and failed to find anything. Like the supposed "KERS traction control" it's a myth which has already been busted.


No idea, but Webber's quali performance shows that there's nothing wrong with the car or that it is intrinsically 7/10ths slower than Vettel's because it's got a feature missing!


Could Vettel have goofed up in this quali and he cannot claim it to be so as that would "leak" the difference between the cars?


But down force makes a much bigger difference on full tanks.


Hi James,

Does Vettel drive like Jim Clark? Vettel's style seems to be closely matched to Clark's from the videos I've seen and what I've read about him.

Also, could you flip the Y axis of the graph? It would be more intuitive and would better represent when the tire performance 'falls of the cliff'.


Jimmy Clark was noted for a generally flatter turn- in, use a bit of push to scrub off the last bit of speed, then get the back to rotate around the fronts with early and judicious application of throttle along with a quick unwinding of the steering to "set" the front. this was compared to his contempories. interestingly, Colin Chapman proclaimed Jimmy (and Mario) could drive further and faster on a given amount of fuel and tires than anybody else he had ever seen.

the above discussions and analysis is a very old one - and likely still relevant today. in the early hey day years of Paul Tracy in CART, his usual style was very reminiscent of Jimmy's - except when he crashed 🙂


That is very interesting! Thanks for sharing.


Well the best way to sum it up is that Adrian Newey's team have design a superb car which they have continued to develop to get the best out of it. Once the change in tyre construction was decided mid year, Red Bull could continue to press home their development direction, and at the same time keeping Vettel up to speed in the way he is coached to drive it. The change to the tyre really opened the flood gates for Red Bull and their car performance leaped forward. Webber unfortunately lost ground at the start, but did well to recover 2nd position which further demonstrates the quality of the car, it's just that Vettel has adapted to it better than him.



Interesting choice of words, anything to get a dig in.


Where do you think the modus operandi came from with this type of car? - Certainly not from Vettel! Newey is the brainchild behind this car. As a driver/designer/aerodynamicist he would know in principle how to extract the performance for the car on the track, and so would instruct his drivers accordingly.


Newey lead the team that designed the car. He knew perfectly well what area they had to improve and optimise, and as they work for the same team it's fairly obvious the raison d'etre of the design/improvements would be passed down to the drivers.


Not really it just becomes boring when one driver has a technical advantage. Vettel's run will come to an end sooner or later, probably when Newey throws in the towel. One things for sure though Vettel's a very lucky boy in choosing the right team to carry him forward.


LOL it must be a real bitter pill for you to swallow.

Never mind more hurtful years ahead!


You think Newey coached Vettel?


Wow! This is Great

Thanks for sharing


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 .


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?


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...


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.


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


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?


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


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.


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!!!

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.


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.