Body language show time running out for Vettel to close F1 points gap
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: Editor   |  17 Sep 2018   |  5:09 pm GMT  |  235 comments

“Lewis said he didn’t expect to come here gaining ten points, we probably didn’t come here expecting to lose ten points – but, having had the race that we had, I think there’s a full justification for losing those ten points and we take it.”

Sebastian Vettel summarised the mood in the Ferrari camp after they failed to close the championship gaps to Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes at the Singapore Grand Prix, a circuit where Ferrari were expected to flourish.

Going into the weekend, all signs pointed to Vettel being able to reduce Hamilton’s 30-point lead in the drivers’ standings; he’d claimed four wins and four pole positions at the Marina Bay Circuit, Ferrari had been front-runners in two of the last three seasons at the venue and it was widely recognised as something of a bogey track for Mercedes.

However, a stellar qualifying lap from Hamilton put the Mercedes on pole position and in the ideal location to dictate the pace of the event.

Vettel moved up from third to second on the opening lap, but an aggressive tyre strategy backfired and he fell back behind Verstappen into third place.

Afterwards, Vettel defended the attempts at trying an alternative tyre strategy, but believed the Singapore Grand Prix damage was done during the qualifying hour.

“I will always defend the team,” said Vettel.

“I think the decision we took in the race, the decisions to try to be aggressive, if it works it’s great, today it didn’t work. Obviously it didn’t work by quite a bit and we need to look into that. But I believe we saw something and that’s why we go for it.

“Mercedes obviously got everything together yesterday [qualifying] – credit to them, but on a track like this we didn’t have a clean qualifying, so it’s difficult to say where we could have been.

“I don’t think yesterday [qualifying] we were chanceless. I think we could have gone a lot quicker and a lot faster than we did. We didn’t do it so we had to try something from third and unfortunately we couldn’t make up any ground.

“Overall, we had a very strong package, both Kimi and myself, I think we looked very competitive throughout practice but in the end if you look at the race result we finished third and fifth. Like yesterday [qualifying], probably not where the speed of our car belongs so that’s what I mean by saying we didn’t get everything out of ourselves.”

Is the challenge too big for Vettel?

The 40-point difference means that Hamilton can now afford to concede a win and a third place (or two second places) – without response – and still maintain the lead in the drivers’ standings.

Since the introduction of the latest points system (from 2010 onward), no driver has ever been 40 points or more adrift with six races to go and gone on to take the title.

That’s not to say that impressive comebacks haven’t happened, and Vettel has certainly had to mount serious fightbacks in order to claim championships.

Back in 2010, Vettel – fresh from his race-hampering collision with McLaren’s Jenson Button – had to claw back a 31-point deficit to in order to take his first world title. However, his quest for the title would’ve been aided by there being more than two championship challengers who would spend the next few races taking points from one another.

He had a similar amount of points to make up in his title-winning 2012 campaign. This time, the ultra-competitive season turned into a fight between himself and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, although few doubted that Vettel’s Red Bull car was the fastest on the grid.

After retiring at the Italian Grand Prix, he fell to 39 points away from the championship lead with seven rounds to go, and reduced the gap to 29 points with six to go after a race-winning Singapore Grand Prix.

Going further back, Vettel will need to take inspiration from his own Ferrari team-mate for an example of a greater comeback with six races to go.

In the combative 2007 season, Kimi Raikkonen fell to a full two wins (20 points, back under the old points system where a win was worth ten points) behind in the championship race with six rounds to go. However, a strong end to the season – combined with the internal squabbles at McLaren – allowed the Finn to take the title by one point at the final round.

Prior to that, in 1981 Brabham’s Nelson Piquet had to overcome a seventeen-point advantage to Williams’ Carlos Reutemann with six rounds to go (back when a win was worth only nine points). In a season which had seven different winners, three drivers were in championship contention at the final round at Caesars Palace (the third contender being Jacques Laffite), with Piquet taking the title by one point despite only finishing in fifth place.

As things stand, the fate of Vettel’s championship challenge is still in his own hands. In other words, if he completes the unlikely task of winning the remaining six races, then he will be world champion regardless of Hamilton’s results.

However, if the next race in Russia also goes Hamilton’s way, then the Briton will be able to finish second to Vettel in the final five races and still take the title.

In a championship which is becoming increasingly defined by Hamilton’s ability to make the most of the opportunities that have fallen his way, Vettel needs an immediate response in order to complete what would be – statistically – one of the greatest championship fightbacks in Formula One history.

By: Luke Murphy

All images: Motorsport Images

Do you think Vettel can close up the gap to Hamilton in the remaining six races, or do you think the championship is Hamilton’s to lose? Leave your thoughts in the section below.

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1

So, Vettel needs Hamilton to have a DNF to keep his championship alive, does he?

Can he make it six more races without trying to spin Hamilton out, or to use the generosity that a four time WDC has earned, understeering or losing downforce into side or rear tyre of his only championship rival?

2

Seb is facing a tough job, simply because Lewis is in a classic streak of form, approaching perfection. Mercedes have rebounded from having their power plant suddenly eclipsed by Ferrari’s by adding very effective chassis tweaks and getting everything right over the weekend.

Its a classic moment in a classic season, enjoy.

3

Perhaps after his superlative performance last weekend, some of the detractors will cut Lewis some slack.

I’ve been following F1 for more than 50 years and I would put Lewis on par with Ayrton Senna and in raw speed. We will never really know but he might well be faster than Michael Schumacher at his very best.

Few could surely continue to deny that he is the best driver on the grid at the moment ?

4

I don’t doubt he’s great, but he’s been only fighting one driver every year for the last 5 seasons. Not his fault, but to me it’s rather an inspiring spectacle.

5

Few could surely continue to deny

Don’t you believe it – they will continue to deny irrespective of the evidence.

6

I keep hearing about maybe more cars can make f1 more competitive. Why don’t they have more drivers? Have 3 per team and all 3 have to race at least 5 races? I think that would be great for the sport!

7

Just a thought, Grosjean picked up another three points on his licence in Singapore, putting him on nine. If he gets another three points before October he will get a one race ban, who is the Haas test and reserve? I believe the wretched Ferrucci was before he got sacked, but did they replace him?

8

@TimW

Slightly off topic, and I expect you’ve read it already, but I just found this great article by Andrew Frankel over on Motorsport. Well worth a read imo.

https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/opinion/f1/andrew-frankel-trouble-lewis-hamiltons-public-persona

9

C63, it is very interesting, especially the bit about desperately trying to find excuses for his successes!

10

I really appreciate that article, C63. Not familiar with the author, but he was uncommonly honest, and mindful not to colour fact with his person persuasions about LH.

Amidst his soul-searching, I guess a pertinent question he should ask himself is why Lewis needs to be that guy that should stay modest and unassuming, because he’s so ‘lucky’ to be ‘gifted’ a driving skill ‘so sublime’? Why is this not expected of Vettel, or Verstappen for example; why wasn’t it expected of Senna or Schumacher?

I find it worryingly peculiar the unnatural standards LH is raised to in comparison with others. I’m only glad Frankel actually admits that these unrealistic expectations stems from his consummate driving abilities that arguably put him in a class of one, a status other detractors begrudge to concede.

11

@C63, Excellent find, that was a really unique article about Hamilton that I enjoyed reading.

12

@Fico

You’re welcome 🙂

13

As far as we know, Ferrucci is still on the Haas development programme.
But an opportunity for Ferrari junior Antonio Giovinazzi perhaps?

14

Thanks Ed, I guess that would make sense.

15

Why are no one exited about the WCC? Maybe they should do something about that? For many reasons

16

@Chris D

The teams get excited about the WCC, but the WDC has always been the one the fans focus on – I guess because they are getting behind an individual (even if to some extent that is an illusion as the team is very much behind the driver).

17

To get a glimpse of Seb’s mindset (he’s young and could get some slack) but it’s hilarious this clip. Watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u8Y6kG66BWs

1. It shows that Seb dont like surprises
2. He like to work by script
3. Obviously no improvisation
4. And a Kimi showing up unexpectedly was not ideal
5. And he, Kimi, didn’t even show up. It was the ghost hunting him until today;))

18

@ Chris D

Apparently, Wolff too used to be against the idea of wingmen

f1i.com/news/290469-fierce-rivalry-perhaps-not-benefit-mercedes-wolff.html

19

I know he says a lot. Call me naive but I also Believe Toto’s against it. But when he came up with the idea of wing man, the name, I just have this idea he wanted it to be more glorious than a No2. I dont know, I mean upgrade the No2

20

Is Seb a little unsettled at this crucial time in the title race? Yes.

Why then, you might like to ask, would Arrivo put unnecessary additional pressure on Vettel by deciding NOW to oust Kimi?? The journalists of F1 will tell us nothing.

Three theories:

1. It wasn’t Arrivo’s decision at all. He wanted to keep Kimi. That guy Elkan is up to financial shenanigans behind the scenes and bringing Leclerc in is part of some big deal with some bank or other [just like in 2009]. Some deal the guy that died had started.

Will journos tell us anything about this? er, NO.

2. Yes it was Arrivo and Seb who decided to drop Kimi. Why? Well, Kimi has been getting more and more comfortable with the car developments and, at this rate, was going to cause a few headaches next season. Better ditch him now and bring in the green kid.

3. Kimi was caught in the pasta cupboard wolfing down their precious race day allocation of ravioli. Arrivo had to put his foot down.

21

4 They all lost their minds.

That kid is probably pretty fast. Together the WCC is maybe easier and the WDC with more front row lock outs. Who knows?

22

Vettel has been making mistakes for the last two years, it’s nothing to do with recent timing. Whoever took the decision to replace Raikkonen did it as they saw more potential in Leclerc vs an under performing Raikkonen, and also saw that Vettel can’t handle the pressure and that Ferrari needed a Plan B. I suspect it was Marchionne as he put results first, but it makes no odds, Vettel is not delivering due to many mistakes, and they needed a stronger option if possible. They should have put Ricciardo in though and promoted Leclerc to Haas for a year.

23

Could you be coherent for once? If he Seb could not handle the pressure then why would they want to replace a underperformimg Raikkonen? Think it through before you write at least if you cant put 2 and 2 together

24

I agree with most of your post – except that Kimi would cause headaches to Vettel next year. He just isn’t consistent enough.

25

You are on to something on point 1. You can read the writing on the wall. Elkan a dear friend of Kimi as he put’s it is also related to the Todt family, and Nicolas Todt is the manager of LeClerc.

And as you may have missed the fervor for young kids on the block, even old Todt may have had his Little fingers in this pot. Liberty is clearly targeting a younger audience, but without the legends they’re just teenagers with pimples and a lot of hormones exuding all over the paddock, and that is not sexy at all. Now they tried some kind of middle ground as F1 are so well acquainted with.

Then when it comes to racing matters I believe Arrivo, the guys in the garage and the rest of the non politicians wanted Kimi. What happened to the beef ravioli i cannot say

26

Mr. Vettel appears not to have any wind in his sails, at present but things can alter quickly. Lift yourself up young man and climb that mountain. It can be done! You have a first rate team behind you, so forget Kimi, as good as he is because it’s time to go it alone…

Ferrari know exactly what they’re doing but they’ve missed a point, which in itself is making a significant difference. The Ferrari version of Party Mode can be used to propel the car rearward, so why retain the existent reverse gear and all of it’s pertinent gubbings? It constitutes weight that could be far better used as ballast. That is the only, singular advancement the Brackely gang car has over yours. I am not too hot on regulation ruling but if these cas are fully stripped down between races why put ‘everything’ back if you don’t need to?

Hamilton..? He can be beaten, simply by getting in your car and racing him fairly and squarely. By doing that on a level playing field, it’s doable! Luck is a myth! Guile, tenacity and determination is all that is needed.

Fair weather and a following wind…

27

Ferrari needs to get behind Seb 100%.

In his 11 year career, numerous wins and 4 championships, Seb’s win have all come from the front row except for two races and those were from third.

This means that:

A) Ferrari needs to give him a car that will start on the front row;

B) They need to make sure that Seb qualifies ahead of Kimi at all times;

3) They need to get Kimi out of the way, at all times;

and

4) They need to use Kimi to disrupt Lewis during races.

And oh yeah, Seb just needs to stop making silly mistakes and he might have a chance.

28

“Hamilton..? He can be beaten, simply by getting in your car and racing him fairly and squarely.”

Not sure what you’re implying here – that Hamilton is winning because he hasn’t been driving “fairly and squarely?”

The playing field isn’t level, it’s sloping in Ferrari’s favour… yet still they’re losing the WDC and WCC. The problem is that they keep making operational mistakes… and their no.1 driver just isn’t quick enough when the pressure’s on.

29

Sound advice indeed.

But that is how an ice cool northener like Kimi operates. Seb, by contrast, although he is German is a real latino in temperament. Your words are wasted I fear. 🙂

30

Phil Glass ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I need to differ with you there Phil. He’s an intelligent and very capable individual. Only when he knows he’s been wronged does he behave rashly! That can also be said of Latinos but a little less staunchly.

Your mention of Kimi also attracted my attention. I firmly believe that his impending departure to Sauber will have no affect on Vettel’s racing ability or any other aspect of his character. Vettel’s age is unknown to me but I don’t think he needs his hand held by anyone.

You say my words are, or may be wasted! Personally I don’t think so.., as these people are exactly that, people! They read JAonF1 exactly as we both do and if they absorb my second paragraph, who knows or cares whether Arrivo falls off his settee In a fit of laughter or not?

The stars represent the Quality of your comments.

31

Funny Vettel believe he’s latino and Ferrari thinks he’s german. But what is he then?

32

It’s 150 Points still to play for. I Believe everyone can take the WDC down to Kimi at least))

33

And honestly didn’t Ham have a so so start to the season, or was it Bottas who was strong, or a combination?. Until all bad things seemed to happen to Bottas

34

ChrisD, Lewis won two of the first five races, and was leading in Australia before the csc dropped him down to second. Bahrain and China are the only two you could say he was below par, and he had a grid penalty in Bahrain….

35

Aside from Australia, his start wasn’t the greatest it’s true. He was still figuring out the car, and still bagging points. Since Spain though, his only poor race has been Canada, where he was strangely off the pace all weekend.

36

Lewis won two of the first five races

@Tim

Perception is a funny old thing……

37

@Chris D

Not taking away from Hamilton’s brillance but Lady Luck has been on Hamilton’s side in more than a few races this year. Baku broke Bottas’s spirits, me thinks, and his season has never been the same.

Lady Luck might not exist for some but almost all drivers have thanked her at least once in their careers.

38

If a puncture from the lead is all it takes to break his spirit, young Valtteri shouldn’t be in formula one.

39

Seb had it served in Melbourne already, for whatever reason you think he won that, it was a bit of a gift. And as we know Merc and Ham usually gets stronger towards the second half of the seasons, Ferrari has to take all opportunities in the start of the season, and to Seb’s defence he won the next one too.

But everytime he has the chance to give a blow to Ham,s campaign that could be decisive, he’s faltered. Everytime the pressure is there he’s faltered. And to often of his own making. Sometimes that even meant taking out his team mate for no reason since he has this agreement. Acctually if you take away Kimis DNF’s and all other things mentioned, they would at least be at the same points level.

The thing with this agreement what I believe to be a middleground. Kimi is a WDC and Ferrari’s latest for good measure. You can’t tell your latest champion to just step aside and be a wing man. Not straight to his face anyway. That has never materialized as some people want to put it.

So that puts everyone in awkward position not to mention difficult. Since Ferrari has to makes this happen by other means, we’ve seen countless mishaps for Kimi in almost all his races including horrible strategies. so he get’s in a place where he happens to be able to play the wingman or just plainly help Seb.That would be the thinking from Ferrari though, but does it work?

This is not an ideal way of course. First of all it will just screw up Kimis races, to a point where he can’t even help Seb and his own race is ruined. If you look at how Merc has done it when they do it, Monza being a good example.

It was very well planned and executed and Bottas was well aware what his task was even before the race I would suggest. But Bottas was out of contention of any WDC at that time so it was perfectly allright.

Kimi on the othher hand usually starts his race with no plan other than trying o get the best result as possible. However he knows it helps if he’s on pole, because of the now famous clause in his contract. But since that would not benefit Seb, there has been to many (obvious) occasions where he’s been put out in traffic when his about to do his fast lap or the worst case where he run out of fuel, and that was where he put the most pressure on Seb more so than Monza even.

This leads to confusion on all part. Ferrari guys don’t know what to do, chaos all over. Seb gets his tantrums, Kimi just drives to the best of his abilities in these impossible circumstances.

That’s why I say they should start off the season just like Merc with equal possibilities and status, on paper if possible.

And this leads to LeClerc. That’s one of the reasons Charlie is ther next year. His first year will probably be to serve Seb to a WDC. And Ferrari will have a clear one and two without confusion, maybe on paper as well. At least for a year, it all depends od Seb, and Charlie as well of course. Depending on how much he will have a saying in this.

The other reason is that Ferrari is already looking post Seb at the same time. They don’t got much patience to wait, no matter who you are. The same goes to Leclerc. First year maybe, to help seb and to learn the ropes as they might call it. But I’m fully convinced they are already looking for another star to aproach, and I have my ideas about that.

40

The “only” way Ferrari and Vettel can win the 2018 WDC is for Louis Camilleri to replace Maurizio Arrivabene with Flavio Briatore and Mattia Binotto with Pat Symonds.

41

Good one:))

42

And hire Jr as well, first pitstop and then at the wall the crowd is cheering….

43

Yes, after I posted I realized I’d missed that Kimi would never play ball with those two, and there’s no Edit function on JAF1

44

Vettel is gawn!

45

Mick, I can’t see who they would replace him with to be honest.

46

Cheers Tim, I meant it’s all over for him in terms of winning the 2018 WDC.

47

Mick, oh I see, sorry I thought you meant Ferrari might drop him.

It’s not looking good for Seb now is it? Unless Lewis has a couple of dnfs, it’s hard to see how Seb can stop him.

48

40pts is a big gap in this context but I’ve been watching F1 for long enough to know that anything can still happen. It only takes one incident for points and momentum to swing the other way. Hamilton himself has lost a title from a better position than this so I’m sure that he’s just taking it one race at a time, trying to do the best job each weekend and maximising his points each race.

49

Anything can still happen. In 2007 Lewis was up on Kimi by 17 pts (equivalent to 41-42 pts today) with only 2 races to go, and still lost.

However, if both Lewis and Seb finish all their remaining races, I believe it would be quite hard for Seb to overturn the current points gap.

To date this season, Hamilton has suffered one mechanical DNF, one quali-compromising issue, and one non-driver-fault grid penalty. Vettel by contrast has suffered none of those.

50

Tin hat time. 🤔😂

I think McLaren were told not to win the WDC in 2007 due to Spygate. If I was McLaren I’d have shut Alonso’s engine down in Brazil and given Hamilton the WDC.

51

But guess what? you aren’t Mclaren. But you got your wish in 2008 when Hamilton was gifted the title.

52

Honestly? That’s Sebee’s theory too. I can’t see it myself. So if Lewis makes pit-in in China, McLaren would have made sure his engine blew up or something?

53

Unfortunately, this is the case, KRB, McLaren left Hamilton out on destroyed tyres in China, he then made a “mistake” without sliding at all and “stuck” in a small gravel trap and in Brazil he had a software issue or something, lost many places but then car was normal again… Of course without Spygate, Ferrari would have won both 2007 championships anyway.

54

Agreed. A single collision, mistake or failure that causes Lewis to no score (or even lower top 10) in one race throws it wide open. It will be tough for Seb to win 6 remaining races on the spin, but it’s not hard to imagine that any race Lewis doesn’t win (for whatever reason other than him and Seb taking each other out) that it will be Seb that does win.

55

That’s exactly how I see it Vano…and Vettel is a comeback maestro. Until the points difference is unassailable making Ham the champion then anything can happen between now and then. I am beyond cautiously optimistic at this point and nail biting. Have a feeling it’s going to go down to the last race.

56

I think Hamilton & Mercedes’ realistic aim will be to see that it *doesn’t* go down to the last race, and if maintain their current form it will be done and dusted by Brazil, never mind AD. Hamilton isn’t the type of guy who will happily settle for 2nd if a win is possible, but of course he won’t be taking any unnecessary risks either. Confidence is high at Merc; they should be aiming to put the matter to bed in the next 2 races and then move everything onto next years’ car.

57

I agree it will go down to last race. People writing off Vettel so quickly. I’m supportig Hamilton but Vettel is quality. People forget the huge pressure he is under for Ferrari and also the team itself. Anyway in Singapore, Ferrari tried something (I think it was worth a shot but they should have made sure they would have been clear of Perez and gone on to softs), it didn’t work. During the race there was no error on Vettel’s part.

58

Lewis has done to Seb what Nico did to Lewis, got into his head. I honestly think that we’re at a point now where Seb thinks no matter what he or his team does Lewis and Mercedes will do slightly better.

If I was a betting man I’d have a long term punt that Ferrari will make a huge effort to sign Lewis for 2021.

59

Got into who’s head? When is this whitewashing of history going to stop. Nico did no such thing. What got into lewis’ head was the constant and persistent car failures. While it’s popular to think nico overcame his childhood rival through tenacity, studiousness and a steely resolve – fact is lewis’ misfortune made it far too easy.

60

That’s right! Lewis’ early season was quite poor (by his high standards). In fact, V Bottas looked the better bet. That seemed to change with the Baku loss / win.

Seb and Ferrari came on strong with the Canada and Silverstone wins. But, Mercedes and Lewis have kept their head down, worked on the weaknesses of the car, and now they are in ‘the Zone!’

That can change, of course. But, right now, I think Ferrari and Seb are a little ‘unsettled.’ It does not help that they have the top package, and should be winning. Maybe it now looks unlikely, they will relax a bit and turn it around?

Kimi seemed to falter in qualifying early in the year, now Seb is doing it….

The turning point looks to me like Germany. A small error, which was very costly. Without that, the deficit would only be 8 points.

What could make a big difference is one retirement for either of them. Also, what about Kimi and V Bottas? It’s probably Kimi’s last chance to win a GP, but, VB is secure at Mercedes and will, most likely, play the team game.

On, Ferrari’s strategy: I think they did the right thing. They needed to take a risk. If it had paid off, they could have won and reduced the gap to 26!

Being 3rd on the grid was the problem, as Seb admitted. They had to try something, and they only lost 3 points when it went wrong.

61

No…the gap wouldn’t be 8 points. Lewis was on it, pushing like hell, fast lap after fast Lap and catching Seb at over a second a lap. IMO Seb was toast anyway.
Seb is an excellent driver. Make no mistake. It’s those damn italians in red! Too much pressure put on drivers. Seb being the way he is, struggles with that. He lives and breathes F1 and puts pressure on himself too much anyway. Combine that with the ridiculous ferrari attitude of “we are F1” and it’s no wonder he’s tripping over himself. Jesus…if Lewis ever opted to drive for those mugs I don’t know what I’d do.

62

@Richard Mortimer

Germany was huge! I think it is still in Seb’s head. I don’t think he has ever thrown away a race while comfortably in the lead before. Ferrari has not helped him either. They took too long to get Kimi out of the way in Germany, missed the tow switch in Monza and here is where I disagree with you, they screwed his strategy in Singapore after he worked hard brillantly snatching 2nd from Max. They better hope that 3 points it is not the difference in the championship.

63

Looking on the bright side, at least Vettel had a better Singapore Grand Prix this year compared to last 🙂

Seriously though, I agree with the posters saying that it’s far from over, a bit of good or bad luck either way and it can all turn around very quickly.

Elsewhere, I’ve even read a couple of articles which are suggesting that the championship is all but over – it’s WAY, WAY too early for that sort of talk.

PS

Is it just me or does the headline to this article not make sense?

64

@C63 – it may not be over, but the fact of the matter is that Ferrari and Vettel are both conspiring to lose a championship that was there for the taking. Can you see them reversing the trend? As the pressure piles on, I think it will be hard(er). And Mercedes winning Monza and Singapore – two races that surely Ferrari had calculated as “max points” will definitely intensify that pressure.

Coupled with an on-form Hamilton, and a Mercedes that has resolved its early season tyre gremlins, the probability of a Ferrari/Vettel come-back are looking very slim. Under normal racing (both contenders finishing the remaining races) I personally think the WDC is gone.

Of course, there are events that could bring about a rapid change in fortunes – an engine failure or other DNF – but having suffered the Hamilton fans whining about Malaysia 2016, I would frankly prefer to avoid a repeat. And truth be told – at least on the basis of avoiding errors – LH has so far been the better driver.

65

Hamilton fans “whine” as you put it, about the 5 to 7 power unit issues that the sole Mercedes-powered driver (out of eight) had that year.

It is you people outside the LH44 circle, that constantly minimise it to one fiery engine in Malaysia.

66

@Redline

I hear what you are saying and if I was neutral, I’d tend to agree. But, I still remember staying up in the middle of the night to watch Mansell win his WDC, only to have it snatched away by a tyre blow out, plus memories of 2007 are still fresh in my mind.

So, I won’t consider it done and dusted until there is mathematically no other possibility.

67

Yes the “Editor” just writes the articles here…

68

Yea they’ve been off for a while, you have to make an interpration

69

Not just you. It should read “Body Language Shows Time is Running Out For Vettel”.

It’s just one of the things that’s annoying me about this place since the Motorsport buy-out has happened. The other main one is the change to articles that use the annoying multiple small paragraphs that go into little detail compared to the old style of in-depth articles that expanded on it’s points and really added an extra layer to everything. I know why it’s done, it improves the website’s success on Google searches, but it makes things harder to read and more likely I’ll click away from it.

As for the title? Plenty of time and points left to turn things around. Haven’t even had an engine failure from the top teams yet, got to be at least one that goes ‘boom’ before the end of the season surely?

70

You might get a MGU-H failure if you are lucky but with the ICU only running to 12K rpm one would probably do a whole season if it had to – if built by ferrari or mercedes anyway.

71

True true… Fewer articles, better quality.

72

@Neil and Kurik

Thanks for your replies – nice to know it’s not just me.

On your second point Neil, sadly, I tend to agree – since the Motorsport buy out things have certainly not improved.

73

A better title would probably be “VETTEL’S BODY LANGUAGE SHOW TIME IS RUNNING OUT TO CLOSE F1 POINTS GAP”. I had to read it twice.

74

Vettels body language was worse in Monza, wasn’t it?

75

Psychologically, I don’t think Vettel needs to think about making up 40 points in 6 races, instead 15 points in 5 races. If he can force the championship into the last race, then anything can happen, that is how I would be looking at it.

76

That thinking is flawed. Its a question of probabilities. The fewer races you have left to overturn the deficit, the more reliant you are on extraneous events to win the championship.

Vettel and Ferrari need to focus on those factors they can control. Luck is not one of them.

77

@redline

You’re right, if Vettel and Ferraris battle plan involves hoping for a bit of good fortune then they really are in trouble. First and foremost Vettel needs to ensure he finishes ahead of Hamilton and he needs Raik to do so as well – he needs to stop the rot.

78

Psychologically you can only Think of the next race. Nothing else

79

What surprised me the most this year is that Vettel did not learn from last year’s self inflicted disasters. He might have even got worse this year.

Ferrari gave him a car to beat Mercedes this year and he is still making the same mistakes on his way to helping Hamilton win another title. He should be leading the championship right now without his blunders. Of course, Ferrari is not blameless in this but at least, they delivered on the car front.

It might be too late now to catch Lewis especially since Mercedes looks like they have finally caught up to Ferrari in overall performance. The last five races should have been 5 – 0 for Vettel. Instead it became 4 – 1 for Hamilton. What a time to implode.

2018 will be lost again for Ferrari and Vettel because of sheer incompetence. Period. THEY. HAD. THE. BEST. CAR. THIS. YEAR!

Meanwhile, has anyone noticed a more mature approach to driving by Max? He is still fast and aggressive but takes less risks and picks his battles. He also looks fitter and stronger. No more baby fat. If Honda gets it right next year, he will be a formidable foe for both Hamilton and Vettel. Let us all hope so.

80

This is the kind of one dimensional analysis perpetuated by those who cannot grasp the intricacy and complexity of current racing.

If you don’t believe me, please feel free to explain what exactly you mean by: “HAVING. THE. BEST. CAR”?

See? Told you…

81

@redline

Here’s one for you. Fresh off the presses.

“The danger for Maranello is the damage to morale of losing a championship every team member knows they should have won, having done such a wonderful job in the last year to turn the team around and build a DOMINANT car.” – James Allen from his latest article.

Let’s see if you are just as insulting to James as you were to me for having stated the same opinion void of analysis.

See? Told you…

82

@FanF1

Many thanks for taking the time to formulate a comprehensive and germane reply.

As you state, ours are only opinions, and there is rarely a right or wrong side in the debates on these fora, as we are not blessed with the facts, and neither for that matter are many of the professional pundits, who’s analysis we base our opinions on. So, what I objected to in your original post, was the unequivocal and categorical nature of your post, implying facts rather than objective opinions. Specifically:

– That Vettels “disasters” are self-inflicted. Whilst it is true that Vettel lost many points due to his own errors, but that doesn’t tell the whole story. If Vettel had been on pole, or if the team had managed the start to protect against LH and preserve position, the outcome would have almost certainly been different.

– That they had the best car. Again I find this an partial view, where you’ve picked a few occasions to suit your narrative, but ignored the bigger picture. Many authoritative voices, including team principals, have opined that the advantage is very much circuit/tyre/condition dependent, and that in any case neither Mercedes nor Ferrari have a dominating car. The performance advantage seems to ebb and flow between the two during the course of the season. And besides, what is the measure of best? There are so many variables and trade-offs, that in turn are circuit and condition dependent, that the teams are never assured of maximizing the performance potential of the car – Singapore being a good example – Ferrari were unable to optimize the set-up for some reason – was it the best car?

– That the championship will be lost because of sheer incompetence. Another broad brush statement, and probably the one that is widest of the mark. The championship may be lost, and if so, it will be due to a series of errors, made on the razors edge, with extremely fine margins, that could easily have gone the other way. If you have ever competed in a sport at a high level, you will know all too well that the difference between winning and losing is heartbreakingly minimal. That doesn’t make the second place – or last place finisher for that matter – incompetent, which implies a more general lack of adequate skills. Well, maybe in the case of McLaren, it would be apt…

In a nutshell, I found that your original post took a very narrow view point, ignoring the big picture and context, which undermines the objectivity of the argument.

That’s not to say that the underlying points are not valid, but cherry picking a series of soundbites as “proof” does not make them facts – the reality, IMO, is much more nuanced than you portray.

83

@redline

Hold up there and take it easy with the insults.

You need to discern between an opinion and an analysis.

I do not claim to be an F1 expert, journalist, engineer or an analyst. What I gave was an opinion based on analysis written by the pundits that is free for anyone’s perusal from all kinds of media outlets and I watch, read and visit several of them throughout the year.

Their analysis so far have included statements like,

1) Ferrari is the one car on the grid that seems to suit all tracks, from racing to street circuits;

2) Ferrari is the best in preserving its tires and turning them on;

3) Ferrari “is now the benchmark in power units”;

4) Ferrari’s ERS harvests and deploys energy better than any car on the grid;

5) Their straightline speed is tops in most races

6) They have the most reliability out of the top 3

Here are some more:

“Ferrari have made huge strides this year, and Vettel’s Prancing Horse is regarded as the best car on the grid” – F1.com

“The margins were small, but the Ferrari was faster at a Silverstone that should, in theory, have played to the Mercedes’ main remaining strength – it carries less drag for a given level of downforce, helped by its slightly longer wheelbase.”

“It turned out that the Ferrari was the form car around Hockenheim by a handy margin – and all of that advantage was coming down the straights… to the tune of 0.5sec.”

“But it was only the rain of qualifying that had even made this stretch necessary for Vettel. In the ordinary run of events, he’d have taken a comfortable pole and blitzed off into the Hungary sunshine. Instead, Hamilton – for the second time in seven days.”

“Despite the bigger wing, the W09’s traction was worse – and it was eating through its left-rear tyre quicker. The Ferrari was just all-round better at Spa.”

“With Hamilton’s point advantage out to 30, second places to a faster Ferrari in many of the remaining races wouldn’t be a particular drama.”

Even Vettel in Singapore believed he had the car to beat Hamilton. All the experts agreed. This was supposed to be a damage limitation race for Hamilton. Had it not been for the almost perfect lap and the small mistakes like tiny lock ups from Vettel and Max’s engine problems, it very well could have been.

So…

From these statements and many more that you can find from broadcasts to print to online, I formed the opinion that Ferrari has the best car on the grid. Period.

If you disagree with my opinion, stop whining and feel free to present yours. There was no need for the insults.

And since you seem to be itching to present us with your “analysis”. Have at it.

84

@FanF1

Apologies if you interpreted my post as insulting. I have re-read it many times though, and do not in any way find it so, and it certainly wasn’t intended to be, unless you think that disagreeing with you is an insult?

85

@redline

“perpetuated by those who cannot grasp the intricacy and complexity of current racing”

That’s an insult, mate, especially since you don’t know what my knowledge about the sport is. I was certainly not perpetuating anything but I merely gave an opinion based on what has been said about Vettel and Ferrari, universally, as per my other replies to you.

Just today, another article on Vettel’s mistakes appeared on JAONF1. You should read what the Italian media has been saying recently about Ferrari’s and Vettel’s incompetence. You would be aghast. Still, it is inline with my opinion and many more around the world.

Lastly, the only opinion you offered on your first reply to me was an insult on my knowledge of “the intricacy and complexity of current racing”. Of course, I would disagree to that but the reason I called your post an insult was not because I disagreed with it, it was because it was insulting. Same with your non-apology apology above. Insulting.

86

He has a bit of old school in him despite the things he’s done and behaved. So that’s what we got for the moment in terms of short term challengers…

87

I think from Vettel’s body language he knows its unlikely he can come back from this. Do you blame Seb for these poor races? I don’t squarely, you can see Ferrari strategies are 95% blame they must be the worst strategies group in the paddock and for Seb to win the championship he is going need to get a new strategies group for the team and I think that won’t happen at Ferrari.eg Should have any doubt Ferrari in last race should when kim was on pole should straight away give Seb a free pass a leading into turn one and then kim block Hamilton so then Seb could have great chance of winning Italy but NO!!!!!!!!!!! Ferrari strategies group what were they thinking. Last race well I think Kindergarten Kid could make better calls than Ferrari. So unless Ferrari changes their whole thought process for the weekend of racing Vettel got no chance in the world unless Hamilton crash 2 times.It’s not really Seb fault these last 2 race its soly the Ferrari orgazination(wrong Strategies)

88

Well, it wasn’t Ferrari strategy which threw the car off the track at the restart in Baku, or off a damp track at Hockenheim. It wasn’t Ferrari strategy which caused him to collide with Bottas in France or Hamilton in Italy. Ferrari strategy didn’t break the car against the wall in FP2 in Singapore, meaning no running in quali/race conditions.

Baku and Singapore last year raised questions about Seb’s behaviour when things are going against him. In Italy a bit of calm, belief in his ability to pass Kimi later and not try to do everything in the first half lap should have meant he led a Ferrari 1-2. Instead.

Mercedes have made some strategic screw-ups; I’m not sure Ferrari’s are worse.

I think they made a mistake about Perez here.

At the start of lap 13 Perez was 15 seconds behind Vettel. A stop is about 25 seconds. So there looks like a window where Seb can run without Perez getting in the way.

Because he didn’t pit I used Kimi as a reference point and looked at people being ahead or behind him. On laps 13, 14, and 15 Perez lost THREE seconds per lap to Kimi, Seb was gaining 0.8 seconds.

Seb came in at the end of 14, and his out lap was 15. But instead of emerging 8-10 seconds behind Perez, and having Hamilton pop out between them vulnerable to an attack, especially with a difference in tyre compounds and a slower car on scene – Seb found himself right behind Perez who dropped another FOUR seconds on lap 16. Hamilton came out in front of Perez, and that was that for the already slim chance of grabbing the lead.

Meanwhile Max was doing a fast in lap and thanks to Perez, squeezed out in front.

Seb must have given up at that point because Verstappen pulled out 2.7 seconds between the pit exit and the end of the lap, and he dropped 1.8 seconds to my reference point of Raikkonen (Hamilton, Bottas and Verstappen all closed up on Kimi on that lap). If the positions had been reversed you’d have bet on max to keep scrapping.

89

@down under

Whilst I agree that the team needs to shoulder some of the blame, it wasn’t their fault that Seb made a mistake trying to overtake at Bacu or that he drove off the road in Germany – for me that was the really bad one. He threw away a huge bag of points with that one and really let Hamilton off the hook. I guess there are arguments to be made around Monza, ie he should have been given a pass by Kimi (contracts permitting), but that still doesn’t mean it was ok to drive into Hamilton and then spin to the back of the pack – that was poor judgement on his part.

On your (and others) point regarding the Ferrari strategy team, it wasn’t that long ago they were being called geniuses and the Merc team were accused of being ring rusty – nothing quite as fickle as F1 fans, eh 🙂

90

@c63 – They went to point of saying the team is falling apart without Niki Lauda’s presence.

91

I remember after Austria a certain user was even blaming Hamilton for putting too much pressure on the team and it was his fault they were making strategy errors.

92

Somehow I knew it would be Hamilton’s fault 🙃

93

Andrew, Ha ha! That does ring a bell!!

94

There is NOT everything to play for, there is six of… something like 20 still left to play for.

And there IS such a thing as momentum, a certain uber-confidence that shines down upon the one beating the rest, especially on a streak of doing, perhaps for some, better than expected… … through a bit of a challenge (even… apparently).

One can see in retrospect that there is a good chance, without an uber-politically … active… ‘team mate’, Lewis might have won 2007, as the best overall package.

Of course he didn’t, and that was the last time Ferrari won, AND IT WAS KIMI!

The drought will go another year, and probably more, if the Honda PU delivers next year (which I think it will).

As per my prediction at the start of the season, ‘if they mess with Kimi, they will lose the championship’ (or something very much like that, prefaced, of course, by the ‘stretch’ assumption that Ferrari actually had got on terms with the MMC – very doubtful, in hindsight).

Regardless of whether or not one buys into the concept of the MMC (Mercedes Managed Championship – suggests that Mer have been so far ahead, and the structure of F1 further enables a team so far ahead, to get even further ahead, but they had to manage the perception of competition, because, without it, all there being so far ahead would turn into a lose, when all of the disenfranchised bread-and-butter F1 fans left in droves).

Regardless of that, Vettel/Ferrari have NOT made the most of their opportunities, in fact, have (apparently, assuming no MMC), have utterly failed in strategy and execution (beyond using Kimi as ‘wingman’ as early as Melbourne).

No, I’d bet that there are multiple clauses in Vettel’s contract with ironclad assurances as number one, and even support activities that will be expected by the number 2. I certainly would NOT be surprised.

Vettel is amongst the more intelligent, if not the most intelligent driver on the grid, including strategic thinking, and he knows.

Not ‘thinks’, not ‘suspects’, he know the contest is over!

As for, if you believe in the MMC, they are WAY PAST worrying about fan-base depletion, they made it! The entire closely managing an illusion of having an inferior car (to the best one), even though, I can’t remember how long ago that Lewis wasn’t leading the championship, after, never really ever getting out-of-reach of the lead, for the rest of the time.

No, Herr Tonto, I have to say, he did a good, vastly superior job of looking like there was a possibility that they wouldn’t win this year (which everyone of course, recklessly jumped aboard, all wanting, hoping… somehow… for … competition!

Now it’s time to pull the old, Bottas COMPETING WITH LEWIS?!

‘For real, man!’

uh… yeah, right, Joey, you shoulda.

as long as there is no Sergio-punting action, this is payback back time for Bottas’ loyal and effective work, and … second place in the constructors?!

The only remaining real drama left.

The way the Vettel/Ferrari package is epically choking, they’ll need O2 ventilation equipment on standby, just to get to the last race.

ps – it hurts me, just as much, writing it; we want it to be a nightmare to be able to wake up from, but we’re all deep in the Merc matrix…

Way to go Tonto, … and Lewis.

It’ll be more fun at Sauber next year than it’s going to be a Ferrari next year.

95

Dean, so this weeks amazing prediction is that Valterri will go well in Russia? Like he does every year you mean?

96

Well, just saying…

TimW…

… as the Russian GP actually turned out…

It looks like you were wrong, in your tone and your content.

No … nothing from you.

Please do not troll me again.

I was right, you were wrong, you were especially wrong to troll me so flippantly, and I nailed it spot on! (even more than I thought with the team orders!)

97

interesting, since it provides point of comparison.

In fact, of course what you say is true, about Valtari going well in Sochi (well let’s say I take your word for it, any how; for some reason, I thought it was Baku, but I think you’re right, even in the Williams).

I don’t think Hamilton’s consolidation is enough for the hyper-scphincter-flexing bean-counters, 40 points.

yes, it looks good.

yes it was executed flawlessly, but 40 points goes to -10 with 2 dnfs and two Vettel victories.

No, 40 is not enough with six to go.

So, my prediction, even though Valtari payback is a high agenda item, this coming race will more likely be a Hamilton pole to flag affair, with Valtari free to race (but not likely winning), most probable outcome for Valtari, 2nd.

That’s my prediction.

What’s yours?

Put up, or don’t troll me again!

98

MMC – an alternate reality that some Ferrari fans have conjured up to escape the pain that Ferrari’s incompetence has inflicted on them once again; a fantasy world that the anyone-but-Hamilton camp have imagined to take them away from the reality of another incredible and truly well-deserved Hamilton championship.

That’s how they ignore Seb’s driving mistakes and errors or Ferrari’s failed strategy or mismanagement. Yes, he is down by 40 points but it doesn’t matter because… well… MMC.

That’s how they disregard Hamilton’s unbelievable poles and wins this year. Yes, he has more poles, wins, podiums and points this year but they don’t matter because…well… MMC.

The pain must just be unbearable to cook up a conspiracy like the MMC.

“MMC and you’ll be,

in a world of pure imagination.

Take a look and you’ll see

Into your imagination.

We’ll begin with a spin…..”

99

uhh…

maybe.

maybe not.

100

Kimi to Sauber?

IMHO this is step 1 toward the next decade with no championships at Maranello

101

We might be very Close indeed

102

Scuderia Ferrari in its current configuration is not a winning combination. The car may be great but if strategy and/or driver fails, the mechanical gretness can’t be capitalized on. They decided to remove the only constant in the team – Kimi. By the time the red lights go out in Melbourne 2019, Arrivabene could be a figure of the past though one single person is rarely to blame for this team’s failures of late. Here’s to hoping Charles Leclerc will join a winning team next year instead of the mess we’re witnessing this season.

103

Ferrari won WDC in 1975, 1977 and 1979. Put to one side the period when Ross Brawn configured it like other winning teams he’s configured. You could argue that they were the same Brawn team won in 2007. So for the rest of that block of 40 seasons, you could argue they don’t natural configuring themselves in a winning way.

104

Ferrari can still win if Kimi does a Perez on Hamilton a couple of times. But l really don’t care for Ferrari. It’s the other no hoppers in the sport that my heart bleeds for.

105

Er…if you’re going to use the term “body language” in the article title, you probably ought to discuss it in the article itself.

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