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JA on F1 Podcast #9 – Button, Vettel: one team down, one up and the Perfect lap
Posted By: James Allen  |  12 Nov 2013   |  9:07 am GMT  |  20 comments

Hello, welcome to the November edition of the JA on F1 podcast, with UBS.

This month we’ll be speaking to the reigning world champions, as well as a former world champion and his team boss under pressure to rediscover the winning formula.

And we’ll be asking whether it’s possible for a driver to do a Perfect Lap in F1.

Four times world champion Sebastian Vettel looks back on the season, explains his run of form since the summer and pays an unlikely tribute to his team mate.

Red Bull design ace Adrian Newey explains how his group made the car unbeatable in the second half of the season

Holly Samos hears Jenson Button talking about how McLaren can be better competitors next season with the massive rule changes coming in.

And, staying at Woking, Holly gets down to brass tacks with McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh on why this has been McLaren’s most disappointing season since 1980

And JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan is on hand to give us his insights into Vettel’s success and whether he, as an experienced F1 engineer, has ever seen a Perfect Lap.

No player? Download the podcast directly.

Running Order
0.00 Introduction
1.27 Sebastian Vettel and Adrian Newey on their 2013 season
10.47 Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren Team Principal on his team’s performance this year
23.01 Jenson Button, McLaren driver on looking ahead to 2014
33.09 JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan on the Perfect Lap – Does it exist?
38.33 Wrap up

Duration 39.15

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I’d concur with Jenson on the difference between getting the most out of the car vs. a perfect lap.

But I would say one indication of a perfect lap is the reaction of competitors to a lap. As we are heading into Austin, last years pole lap by Vettel may be close to perfection.

While Vettel had dominated the weekend, the gap to Lewis and the McLaren was closing significantly each session. By the last lap of Q3, it was clear that the McLaren (under Lewis) was the fastest car on track. And when Lewis finished his final run, it seemed pole was his. Yet Vettel pipped him at the end.

More amazing though was the reaction of Hamilton, Webber and Whitmarsh. Lewis went up to Webber afterwards, completely gobsmacked, and said “you guys are fast.” And Webber’s response was to just shake his no then point to Vettel “it’s him.” Whitmarsh’s reaction was similar as well on the pit wall, and he said that watching the lap unfold it was looking really good for Lewis, but Vettel just came out of nowhere in the final sector. All three were clearly amazed.

So maybe not a perfect lap, but perhaps a perfect sector on a lap that no one thought was possible.


The interview with Martin Whitmarsh was dynamite. The way he insinuated the technical direction for this year’s McLaren car is gold!

Great interviews with Vettel, Newey and Button. Definitely one of, if not the best F1 podcasts out there.


Jenson’s answer to the perfect lap question was the definitive answer.

No ifs ands or buts.

Case closed.

Great podcast as usual.



Button seems to be opening up a lot more as he becomes one of the elder statesman of F1 (must be weird to be one of the eldest at 33!) I’m not sure if this is the drivers starting to listen to the fans fed up of the sponsor soundbites, or if some of the drivers have just decided that being a bit more Webber like in interviews gets you more appreciation, but it’s great to hear the occasional bit of humanity shine through the corporate speak.

I think it’s now up to the media to start asking better questions. If I hear a journalist say ‘what are your emotions at this time?’ ever again I’d be forced to punch them. The drivers aren’t great literary writers, you are going to get either ‘well I’m very happy/excited’ or ‘I’m very frustrated/disappointed’.

The other one is ‘What do you think you can do in this race?’ – I’m waiting for one driver to say ‘drive an F1 car, what will you be doing?’ in response. It’s such a dull question. Ask them something that catches them off guard.


Lol, very true, but both of those questions still beat the old “how was the car?” 🙂

So, ask them something that catches them off guard? Any suggestions? 🙂


What does your teammate do that you can’t? Most drivers would refuse to answer or get a bit flustered but hearing Mark Webbers assessment of Seb has been some of the best interview questions of recent years.

Of course I can’t drive an F1 car, neither can I do a journalists job but if we’re all allowed to comment on drivers skills if think its fair to ask the media to up its game as well 😉


I think Nico Rosberg can say that! Maybe they should ask him if he bought a dog would it beat Lewis’ in a race…actually they probably ask that question in Heat magazine so I might have lost the good journalism argument already…


Of course and I agree completely.

It was always good to listen to Mark in interviews. He could be cagey when he wanted to be, but he was almost always (if not always always) honest.

It was also good to hear from Seb talking about Mark, being honest about them not getting along but still having a bit of mutual respect.

p.s. My first thought to “what does your teammate do that you can’t?” is “a handstand” 😉


Fantastic interviews, especially Button.


On the perfect lap subject. I’ve just heard Joe Ramirez interview on your September 2012 podcast where he tells about Prost on a qualy in France. Prost had done a lap, got off the car and took off his gear, had his jeans and t-shirt on and was leaving when someone asked: “Are you crazy? We still have two more sets of tires and half an hour to go…”, to which he replied, according to Ramirez: “I’ve done the perfect lap, if Ayrton can do better than that he deserves the pole,I can’t do any better”

This time he had the pole.


Good story.

Wonder if Prost considered if the track would improve with temp or rubbering in. Wonder if he told Ramirez to make sure Ayrton knew he stopped early!


Oh, I’m sure Ayrton knew he was leaving. Ramirez told, further in the interview, that the harder Ayrton tried to beat Prost’s time the slower he was. And then he completed saying that Ayrton did that to Prost later in Portugal.


I remember this too. Thanks for pointing this out – a great story.


James my best recollection of January 2013 MP4-28 launch – Mark Gillan used the words impressive and interesting quite a lot and even suggesting they were very advanced compared to the opposition- almost but not quite suggestin it was going to be unstoppable.Not once did I hear or read prior the first race in Melb that they doubted its success Im pretty sure I suggested that it was a dangerous move by Mclaren given the front pull rod suspension that Ferrari struggled with most of 2012, and also the aero direction of the car … Your response was — “we shall see” Well Im pretty sure I saw it the minute it was launched.

Jensons take on 2014 was very good and shows an openness you don’t see in most drivers. I think next year they will be much closer if not equal to Red Bull


You’re not the only one who’s made that observation.

Hindsight’s a wonderful thing 🙂

I think this year has probably made McLaren a bit humble. It would be nice to see them near the top again next year.


iTunes feed link anyone? Thanks.


I’ve not been able to download the file directly, have itunes or the podcast app automatically download this months podcast (the pocasts of the earlier months of the year were fine).

Its always great to get the insights of the guys ‘in the know’ every month, but its looks grim this month.


Well tens of thousands of others have managed to download or listen, so not sure what the problem is


It downloaded fine in iTunes for me James.


Here’s the link to the RSS feed for the podcast:

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