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How do you beat Vettel?

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Andrew Benson | 21:57 UK time, Thursday, 7 July 2011

At Silverstone

Sebastian Vettel surveys Formula 1 serenely from a dominant position at the top of the world championship as he heads into this weekend's British Grand Prix, where the Red Bull driver is the hot favourite to win for what would be the seventh time in nine races.

The German's record has been rooted in the dominance of the Red Bull car and it is expected to be as tough to beat as ever at Silverstone, where the track layout could have been designed to suit its superb aerodynamics.

But Vettel is not unbeatable - as McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have already proved this year. If the German is going to be stopped this weekend, or at any other race this year, this is how it is likely to happen.

CHANGE THE RULES

Undoubtedly the biggest talking point ahead of the British Grand Prix is the decision to ban the use of off-throttle blowing of diffusers. This is a technology with which teams blow exhaust gases over the rear floor of their cars even when the driver is not pressing the accelerator, smoothing the airflow and increasing downforce and stability in corners.

This ruling will affect all the leading teams, and it remains to be seen whether it will change the pecking order. Intriguingly, though, it may also affect Vettel in comparison to to team-mate Mark Webber.

Red Bull and engine partner Renault were the pioneers of the technology last year, when they introduced it mid-season. But the run of form that put Webber top of the championship, including dominant back-to-back wins in Spain and Monaco, was achieved before it was introduced.

At that time, Red Bull were blowing their exhausts over the diffuser, but not when the driver was off the throttle, a practice that can lead to instability as the downforce comes off the car just when the driver needs it most - when he lifts off to enter the corner.

Webber found a driving style that minimised the effects of this more effectively than Vettel managed.


Sebastian Vettel

The Australian admitted to me that this "might have been a small part" of the reason why he was stronger than Vettel early last summer.

I asked him if he felt, therefore, that the new ruling could work in his favour in his attempt to beat Vettel for the first time this year.

"I don't think it can hurt," he said. "We're going to have a big change in how the cars are probably going to behave - I don't see that as a bad thing, mate."

Vettel adapted incredibly well to the new Pirelli tyres this season, while Webber has struggled to get on top of them - it is one of the reasons the German has dominated so far.

But as Webber says: "It's another start for both of us. You hope it's the other way around for me so I go, 'Bosh'. I might drop on to this a bit nicer than he might."

GET AHEAD OF HIM AT THE START

Vettel has based most of his wins this season on a simple strategy -put the car on pole, lead from the start and control the race.

The only way to stop him doing this is to either out-qualify him - as only Webber has managed to do this year, and then only once - or beat him off the start.

This was achieved by the McLarens in China - a race Hamilton went on to win - and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in Spain.

Do that, and Vettel is suddenly out of his comfort zone.

The limiting factor in races this season has been the sensitivity of the new Pirelli tyres - they lose grip quickly and if you abuse them, you are in trouble.

So leading at the start allows Vettel to treat the tyres gently while building up a small cushion.

He seeks to build a lead of about five seconds to enable him to respond to any attempts by rivals to use what is called "the undercut" - pass him by making an earlier pit stop and using the pace advantage of new tyres to get ahead.

This was demonstrated in Spain - where Vettel twice tried to undercut Alonso when running second to him in the early stages of the race. It failed at the first pit stops, but succeeded at the second, demonstrating the difficulty any driver in front of Vettel will have keeping him behind when he has a faster car.

But it doesn't always work like that.

In China, Vettel was beaten away by both McLaren drivers. He easily had the pace to stick with them during the first stint, but a decision to do a two-stop strategy rather than the three of McLaren backfired - the extra grip in Hamilton's tyres in the closing stages of the race made Vettel a sitting duck.

HOPE RED BULL MAKE A MISTAKE

As well as China, this also happened in Monaco, where a mix-up at his first pit-stop put Vettel on the wrong tyres and forced him into a strategy that would have lost him the race had it not been for a later safety car.

Without that, the advantageMcLaren's Jenson Button built from what would have been a better strategy would have seen him win the race.

Even in the situation that did unfold, Red Bull's strategy might not have paid off - Vettel headed into the closing stages of the race with Alonso and Button right behind him and pressuring him hard on much fresher tyres.

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McLaren believed Vettel's tyres would wear out to the point of him becoming defenceless before the end of the race, but then Vettel had what they call "the luck of champions". A late safety car led to a red flag and he was able to change to fresh tyres for the final eight laps.

DON'T MAKE MISTAKES YOURSELF

Leaving the Spanish Grand Prix in May, the chances of Vettel facing a challenge this year still looked pretty good.

Vettel had won in Barcelona, but only after fending off a clearly faster Hamilton in the closing laps - only the difficulty of overtaking at the Circuit de Catalunya had prevented the McLaren winning.

Coming up were two races on tracks where Hamilton fancied his chances - Monaco and Canada. But instead of beating Vettel, these events turned into a disaster for the Englishman.

A decision to do only one run in qualifying in Monaco led to him qualifying ninth when he had hopes of being on pole, and in the race he collided with two people on the way to sixth place.

In Canada, Hamilton's judgement seemed to have been clouded by qualifying only fifth. After making an impromptu visit to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to discuss his future that evening, he collided with two cars in the space of three racing laps on Sunday and retired. As Button later proved, it was a race Hamilton could have won.

So Hamilton could have been looking at a total of three - maybe four - wins instead of just the one, in which case Vettel would not be anything like as far ahead in the championship.

PRESSURE VETTEL - HE'S VULNERABLE

The vast majority of Vettel's F1 victories have come when he has dominated from the front, a situation in which he is supremely comfortable.

He is much less at ease having to make up positions or fending off pressure - as was proved in the thrilling climax to the Canadian Grand Prix this year.

After dominating in Montreal throughout, Vettel lost the win on the last lap, half-spinning while being pursued by the flying Button, who stormed through to a brilliant win.

This was not the first time he has made a mistake in a pressure situation, although in Vettel's defence, he was flawless under attack from Hamilton in the closing stages in Spain in May this year.

Nevertheless, Vettel - like anyone - can crack if pushed hard enough; it's getting into that situation that has been the difficulty for his rivals so often this season.

As Hamilton says: "You can push people into mistakes, and as long as you continue to apply pressure that's what you hope they're going to do. But for us to win this championship we have to be finishing ahead of them."

MAKE YOUR CAR FASTER

All of the above is all very well, but the reality is that Vettel's pursuers are fighting a losing battle as long as he has a fundamentally faster car.

"It is difficult to think about how to beat Vettel without a big improvement in our car or in McLaren's car for Jenson and Lewis," says Alonso, the man who was narrowly beaten to the title by Vettel last year.

"Their car so far is too dominant. It is a dominant position that maybe we don't remember since 2004 and Michael (Schumacher)'s time.

"Hopefully here in Silverstone we can see a turnaround of this situation in terms of performance. There is always the motivation to win a race but we need a step forward."

Alonso was not the only man at Silverstone on Thursday to liken Vettel's domination this year to Schumacher's seven years ago, when he won 13 races on the way to the most dominant of his seven championship victories.

So what does the great man himself think? Can Vettel be beaten this year?

"Difficult," Schumacher said.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Any or all or a combination of the above, hopefully someone will beat him at Silverstone to keep the championship going. All credit to Vettel though for some excellent driving. Make that lots of excellent driving. No matter the car, you still need a star to keep putting it on pole so consistently. If the changes to the off-throttle blowing make a difference and Webber is more competitive, that'll also be a bonus. Looking forward to finding out.

  • Comment number 2.

    To be honest, not many people ive spoken actually care anfd watch F1 now. Its become boring, predicable and scripted.

    Red Bull support Vettel over Webber and it shows, and the fact is he hasnt done anything exciting to really earn his number 1 spot. He starts from the front and usually finishes at the front.

    Havent really seen him use his skill and talents to move and pace through the front pack to earn the pole position. Maybe this isnt his fault, becuase hes quick in qualy anyway. But Jensen in Canada is the (for me and my personal opinion) perfect execution of skill driving.

    I have switched to watching Touring cars, its exetremly exciting, very un-predicable and has on the edge stuff. Suggest F1 start to do the same.

  • Comment number 3.

    How do you beat Vettel?


    1. Finish in front of him.
    2. With a large stick.
    3. Lightly until fluffy.

  • Comment number 4.

    I said after the second race the season was over and alas its true. how about giving everyone the same technology and having the best driver win?

  • Comment number 5.

    How do you beat Seb Vettel?

    Have a certain Mr Newey designing your racing cars.

  • Comment number 6.

    I think Vettel can be beaten, but teams like McLaren needs to improve their car because I believe they have the right drivers to win.

    Also this is my first full season of watching F1 and I think it is brilliant, and exciting (except maybe Valencia and the last 8 laps at Monaco, we were robbed!) helped by the BBC's coverage with the Three Musketeers JH, DC and EJ.

    Well done guys! And I am rooting for a Jenson win this weekend.

  • Comment number 7.

    F1 is more exciing this season and has been getting more exciting since the bore festt of schumacher and Ferrari.

    Not sure about scripted, there is a car much faster than the rest which in ideal weather conditions is usually going to win but this season and last season have been very enjoyable.

    Vetted is a very unlikeable champion. Arrogance and smugness is mentioned by many, but I think it's a case if driver benefiting from majority of the teams efforts. He is fast but I've haven't seen much of a racer in him, just hope it rains

  • Comment number 8.

    I think F1 should consider an old BTCC rule (not sure if it still exists..?) whereby any driver who wins a race has 10kg added to their vehicle for the next race.

    If I recall, i certainly balanced out the field quite well, when a driver kept winning races, 10kg kept getting added. However, I see this being difficult to adopt in F1 given the pressures to see as it being an area that developes technology for future road cars.

  • Comment number 9.

    You just need to get a faster car. He's not unbeatable

  • Comment number 10.

    I think we have a chap here who is showing dominance completely due to the car.
    Schumacher in the 2000's comes to mind but even then he didn't necessarily have the fastest car, they had the most reliable which helped him massively.
    Webber hasn't got on top of his tyre's and coupled with the fact that Horner himself said last season that the Red Bull's would now be designed around Vettel, then of course the car will suit him better than Webber.
    Once teams get on a level pegging with Red Bull I think Vettel will be shown up to be dominated by the likes of Alonso and Hamilton.

  • Comment number 11.

    The way to beat Vettle? Do not invite him to race

    He is unbeatable. The bookies have paid out on the 2011 championship weeks ago

  • Comment number 12.

    4.
    At 08:27 8th Jul 2011, boils wrote:

    I said after the second race the season was over and alas its true. how about giving everyone the same technology and having the best driver win?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------

    this is the classic statement made by people who don’t understand that F1 is a team sport. the drivers are the figure heads of the teams and obviously the one's the casual F1 fans associate each manufacture, but it’s the engineers and mechanics who have the most influence on race days. Vettels a good driver but most F1 fans know that Adrian Neweys the superstar on the red bull team. I find the skills of these men more impressive than any of the drivers, double diffusers, off throttle blown diffusers, KERS energy systems, the engines in F1 are getting smaller and yet the cars still get quicker, these guys are the genius's not the drivers.

  • Comment number 13.

    The way to beat Vettel is easy, for Lewis Hamilton at least. Have a car that's as good as his. Vettel is a top driver but I don't believe he is better than Hamilton or maybe even Mark Webber but his car is clearly the best out there. Since the early 80's there is only Schumacher who has been far & away the top driver, winning no matter he drove, but now it's a case of the best car wins no matter who is driving. No disrespect to Jenson Button but he is not, never has been & never will be, the best driver in F1. He won the title because he had the best car. Vettel is different. He is one of the best there is but he can be beaten on a fair playing surface & if that happens then he can be beat. The best man for the job is Hamilton but even he needs the right ride to prove it.

  • Comment number 14.

    @3
    How do you beat Vettel?
    On reflection, it can only be option number 3: Lightly until fluffy.

  • Comment number 15.

    I said after the second race the season was over and alas its true. how about giving everyone the same technology and having the best driver win?

    ==============

    They did that with A1 GP..................exactly

  • Comment number 16.

    I have been watching the GP for too many years to think about!!Starting off in Austria the Osterreich Ring if I remember rightly, Neuberg Ring in Germany? Monza in Italy, all when I lived in that part of the World! Though I'm British Never been to Silverstone!! This is all since the Mid 70's! Crazy where has that time gone? So to get to the point I've seen Many Fantastic Drivers,Nikki Lauda one of The Best also Schumacher, James Hunt & the Brazillian Ayrton Senna! A Great number of World Champions of which I believe Vettel is along those same lines, he's Brilliant, so is Webber!! To me they have the Speed, the Tenacity,the Calmness in the Heat of The Race! In other words they have Sensible Heads on their shoulders, even though they are both Fighting for that Pole Position.I think that Button is also along those lines,He's Good! Hamilton too, though a Brilliant Driver, as Stirling Moss, Nikki Lauda are saying, he's taking Far Too Many Risks & he Should Calm down as Massa mentions too, otherwise something Drastic IS going to happen! Yes, he has to Fight for his place but not at the cost of Seriously damaging other Drivers! He Really does Have to Think a bit more! But Getting back to Vettel, he's a hard young man to Beat, he just 'Has it!' & though I am British, I can't help but follow Vettel !
    Good Luck to All the Drivers for this Week-end! & BE SAFE....Ms Eddie Yes, I'm a Woman!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    Good blog and an enjoyable read Andrew.

    I do have a couple of criticisms, mind! The first is incredibly minor - you've gone a bit 'Phil McNulty' on this one, and opened the blog with your location (which, to me, always feels a bit like bragging and lets be honest, it isn't at all relevant to what you're writing about) and a cheesy first line - "Sebastian Vettel surveys Formula 1 serenely". Maybe it's just me, but this kind of writing feels more suitable to a red top.

    My other comment would be your statement about Hamilton's meeting with Horner.

    "After making an impromptu visit to Red Bull team principal Christian Horner to discuss his future that evening"

    I'm fairly sure Lewis has already denied he was talking to Horner about his future, and I don't think Horner has publicly come out and revealed the agenda of the meeting, so it's basically speculation. They may have been talking about tyres or diffusers or cups of tea for all you know.

  • Comment number 18.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 19.

    Hamilton, Button, Webber and Alonso get together before the race and draw straws. Whoever loses has to punt Vettel off at some point. If he's too far ahead the losing straw driver must slow down to be lapped and take him out then. Other three drivers then give the other driver a pre-arranged gift as a sign of gratitude.

  • Comment number 20.

    Message 5 has summed this up perfectly. It's got nothing to do with Vettel, he's simply sat in the best car and he's the team favourite.

    Another option would be to abandon the sterile race tracks designed by Mr Tilke and get back to some of the classic circuits.

  • Comment number 21.

    McLaren have had the best car for the last three races and won one through Button.
    The excuses are piling up but Hamilton is still so immature. Vettel is a faster driver but Hamilton used to excel in overtaking. This season he's not on the job. All talk, excuses. It's probably in his head because he sees a superior talent in front.

  • Comment number 22.

    the only way to beat vettle is to put ms back at ferrari with ross brawn then ull beat him

  • Comment number 23.

    How does one beat Vettel, Stirling Moss used to say the same thing about Juan Fangio many years ago.
    V is good but if he makes a mistake then its all over. One can say make sure every driver has a Red Bull car because really that is the only difference between any of the drivers. They are all the same standard of driver, just look at the lower teams, poor performing cars but still good drivers. if one watched Top Gear last night, it actually says it all....

  • Comment number 24.

    @19
    Brilliant haha, best option by far. Though I wonder how much the stewards would like it.....

    I don't think Vettel gets enough credit from some F1 fans. Many seem to say that he would be beaten if Hamilton drove the same car. I think Vettel has shown that he is a supremely fast racer, and is tough to beat. His strategy is fairly dull, granted. He only wins if he can stay ahead at the start and relies on the pack behind him taking time out of each other by fighting for position. Then he cruises to the win. Yes he can be beaten if put under pressure, but he has his strategy working perfectly, and good on him for that.

    On wether Hamilton can beat him in the same car, I still think Vettel would out-qualify Hamilton. Then Vettel would try and stay ahead of Hamilton through the race. However, I think if Hamilton overtook him, Hamilton would win. So it would be interesting to see the two fight it out.

  • Comment number 25.

    We could get the News of The World to do an exposé on him which embarrasses him to the point that he must quit the sport...oh, hang on....

  • Comment number 26.

    #13 Liam - a driver who can go from last place during a race to win at the flag is a world class driver. That race was probably the best F1 race I have ever watched and I have been watching for more years than I care to remember. You talk about the best driver in F1 and then say that he cannot be because he won with the best car. So did Vettel, Schumie and others. Comparisons such as you are making are invidious. Winning is a combination of car and driver.

  • Comment number 27.

    Vettel can be beaten by qualifying in front of him. He's proven time and again he's average at best when overtaking, or driving behind other cars.

    I still maintain that if you remove the radio & telemetry link between cockpit and pitwall during the race you'd see much better racing... Drivers would have to judge for themselves when tyres are going off, or where he needs to make up time, or when fuel might run out, or when settings on the car are not right. All this Autopilot driving makes for dominance and boring races, as most of what might go wrong for a driver is removed by the team telling him what's about to go bang!

  • Comment number 28.

    How do you beat VETT ???

    Its not him, its the car he's driving the engineers have got to beat. Any driver in F1 can perform better than they do now given the chance in RBR cars. At present, Seb Vettel is like pilotting a Concord to the others' light aircrafts, there just isn't competition apart from his team mate, Webber.

  • Comment number 29.

    The biggest single factor is to have a car that is at least as quick as a Red bull. - That is the main reason why Vettel is where he is in the championship. Given a fast car then it is to out qualify him, or if not that get past him at the start. The one thing that Vettel is not being is consistently pressured because his car is so good or the other cars are not fast enough and so it allows him to control the race. The other thing about Vettel is that he has become very consistent, and that wins championships. The others have to mix it with him to put him under pressure, and if any other team is going to stand a chance then he needs to be displaced big time from the podium by a collective push from the top teams, and his team mate.

  • Comment number 30.

    You just need to have someone close enough to fluster him (Webber has to be ideal candidate). He's as capable as Hamilton of making race destroying mistakes if the pressure is applied.

    See Silverstone,Turkey or Spa last year. Under pressure and with a desire to get to the front he made costly mistakes. Those mistakes cost him 69 Points That kind of loss would open up the championship again.

  • Comment number 31.

    Just read the story about RB complaingin about the advantage/disadvantage differrence now off throttle blowing has been banned! What a load of c**p!
    There should be no negotiation. They were to first to find an advantgae with this so have the best system, now they stand to lose the most - so what!
    Its the exact same situation as the f-duct - Mclaren lost the most by that being banned, but they didnt complain at all.
    I really cant stand RB! Grrrr.
    It'll be interesting to see how good Vettel actually is now he hasnt got a car significantly better than everyone else. It is interesting to note that Webber was beating Vettel before RB brought in this new system to give the driver more downforce, and Webber was fastest this morning. Hmmmm, what does that tell you?

  • Comment number 32.

    @31

    I think you've got wrong end of the stick. Its not really blowing the diffuser they're bothered about. Its allowing the exhaust ports to be open off throttle. Apparently on Renault engines this aids cooling and makes the engines more reliable. The FIA have told them exhaust valves can only be opened by same amount as pre EBD, which may mean renault engines are more likely to go pop. Can't see FIA backing down though.

    I also think its too early to bank on Red Bulls losing performance compared to everyone else, but for the sake of an interesting championship I hope so lol.

  • Comment number 33.

    Apologies it not exhaust ports its the butterfly throttles, but the reasoning is the same.

  • Comment number 34.

    A former FIA president might have some suggestions

  • Comment number 35.

    #32
    I see your point, and yuor right, but what RB want would mean that some exhauast gases are blown over their diffuser still. It's just annoying, they have had the far superior car, but now a rule change means that they are brought down to the level of everyone else - they shouldnt get special treatment because their whole car is focused around this one element/their engine isnt as reliable - its the nature of F1.

  • Comment number 36.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 37.

    #31 - the obvious difference being that the F-duct was banned at the season end, which is not happening here (I wonder why). See also Brawn and the double diffuser the season before. Red Bull have every right to complain for goodness sake, why shouldn't they? The FIA make up the rules as they go along but RB should just shut up and accept it mid-season? I need to ask why on earth you would do that. McLaren and Ferrari are using exactly the same principle on their cars, so there's no special treatment at all.

    The responses here are laughable, as soon as the Brits have no chance of winning it's the end of the world again - something must be done etc. Grow up. Vettel's dominance has nothing to do with Vettel apparently, well just keep on telling yourselves that. You'll be doing it for many years to come. Funnily enough he is miles ahead of his more experienced team-mate. Oh but he's made a few mistakes, they claim. I guess he is the only one then?

  • Comment number 38.

    Steal his steering wheel!!

  • Comment number 39.

    #37 - wow! touched a nerve did we?! lol.

    1. Yes Mclaren and ferrari are using the same principle, but they havent kicked up a fuss! All the teams have been disadvantaged.
    2. They are hypocrites - remember their criticising of all the other teams complaints about the flexi front wing?
    3. They brought it in mid season, why shouldnt it be allowed to be banned mid season?!
    4. Nobody said Vettel leading has nothing to do with vettel himself, however it is a fact that before the exhaust blown diffuser, Webber was leading Vettel last year - when the car was harder to drive. Only since Vettel has been able to put the car where he wants due to the brilliance of the car has he been dominating (However if Webber stepped up it would be different). AND, we still wait to see him battle through traffic to get a great position (Webber in China, Button in Canada), or not get the luckiest breaks with safety cars (Monaco, Canada - which he still didnt win because conditions werent perfect!).

  • Comment number 40.

    "Red Bull and engine partner Renault were the pioneers of the technology last year, when they introduced it mid-season. But the run of form that put Webber top of the championship, including dominant back-to-back wins in Spain and Monaco, was achieved before it was introduced"

    I'm not convinced it was all the diffuser. Vettel was well in front at Bahrain until he had to run to the end on seven cylinders and was well in front again at Australia until a brake failure. He won Malaysia and finished 6th to Webber's 8th in China. Spain and Monaco Webber dominated no question but Turkey was then incredibly even until they clashed and Vettel finished ahead again in Canada.

    Alonso did get in front at Spain but Vettel beat him on the pit stops. As you mentioned in the blog, he fended off Hamilton in Spain so making a mistake isn't a foregone conclusion because of Canada. Monaco's admittedly different but again very few errors despite 2 much faster cars behind him up to the red flag.

    The simple answer is rather than hope something goes wrong, develop your own car and don't fall off the island.

  • Comment number 41.

    #39 No you haven't touched a nerve, in fact I find the responses genuinely amusing, as I said. Long may they continue!

    I am not sure what merits your points actually give rise to, because they certainly don't prove that RB are somehow out of order for complaining about being asked to change their car mid-season.

    "Nobody said Vettel leading has nothing to do with vettel himself". Read these pages much? Whatever the criticism, you can be sure Vettel's quality is at the very least, called into question on a weekly basis.

  • Comment number 42.

    Nevs-A-Red @ 35. . .

    You're quite right. RB appears to be saying that they should be left alone to keep winning race after race after race. Where is the 'level playing field?'

    If they are that good, why not welcome challenge from allcomers to take them on??

  • Comment number 43.

    A swift kick to the scrotum before each race!

  • Comment number 44.

    A start would be to get Lewis near him on the track. Vettle is the only one Lewis has not run into this season because he cannot catch him!

  • Comment number 45.

    Seriously, though - Last season Vettle's problem was passing. He was also fine once out in front. He has had to do nothing this year to prove he has got over this problem. McLaren have to do something about their Saturdays and force Vettle to come through the field on Sunday

  • Comment number 46.

    I can't get my head around these people that are still insisting that Vettel is a one trick pony, and that the only reason he's winning races is because he starts on Pole due to a faster car.
    For me, (even as a Mclaren fan), Seb's driving this year has been nothing short of stunning. Race after race he's just showing a maturity and skill thats just breathtaking. I was NOT a Vettel fan last year, thought him dangerous at times, nothing really special, but he's arrived in the 2011 season just a level above everybody else in terms of consistency and performance.
    Ok, so he's driving a very fast car, but then so is Webber, and he certainly aint no slouch.
    In terms of being criticised for being arrogant etc, I wonder what people are watching..he comes across as an extremely focussed and determined guy, but with a great sense of humour and humilty and absolutley no sense of arrogance whatsoever. I know people don't like his one finger salute, but imgine the adrenaline and sense of achievement he must feel to finsh ahead of the game...I WOULD have a problem if he repeated a version of that salute on finishing second in a race, but I can't see that happening enough this season to be an issue.
    I'd love to see Webber, Massa and Button on the podium this weekend, but I certainly won't be disappointed if Vettel puts in another World Champion performance and takes the top step..
    A great season, fantastic midfield battles and it's still not a foregone conclusion for the championship..Red Bull's dominance must be inspiring the other teams to push extra hard and that's when the excitement can really take off.

  • Comment number 47.

    While arguing about why it came in mid season, remember the original complaint came from those teams at the back of the grid who complained that off throttle blowing falls foul of existing rules, just like the wing ferrari used in practice early in the season (which was banned immediately). The FIA have been pretty fair, they could have banned the tech straight away after ruling it not to be legal or even dq'd cars post race.

    Newey has always loved to push the very limits of the rules so he can't really be that annoyed when he's told off.

    This isn't a slight at Newey, but its well known that he does operate differently to other designers, most teams go to the FIA and say "is this legal", Newey prefers not to tell FIA what he's done and its up to them to deem something illegal if they spot it.

  • Comment number 48.

    >"The vast majority of Vettel's F1 victories have come when he has dominated from the front, a situation in which he is supremely comfortable."

    "He is much less at ease having to make up positions or fending off pressure - as was proved in the thrilling climax to the Canadian Grand Prix this year."


    I'm hard pressed to think of any driver of whom this could not be said. It's a rare F1 driver who makes mistakes alone out in front. Typically drivers (LH comes to mind) make mistakes while trying to overtake.

  • Comment number 49.

    >"It'll be interesting to see how good Vettel actually is now he hasnt got a car significantly better than everyone else."

    There are some very ignorant people commenting here.

  • Comment number 50.

    >"how about giving everyone the same technology and having the best driver win?"

    You're following the wrong sport, mate. There are numerous classes of motor-racing where all the drivers drive identical cars. Why don't you watch them instead of trying to make F1 be something it's not?

  • Comment number 51.

    #46 - He hasnt been a level above everyone else - his car has, enabling him to save tyres and drive within the limits of the car - you are going to be more consistent if thats the case. And Webber has just been poor - I like him, but he is most definitely a no. 2 driver - its like when Kovalainen was at Mclaren.
    I do agree with you that vettel isnt arrogant though. :) You just have to remember his radio call when he won the title last season.

    #49 - why was that comment ignorant by whoever said it? it's true! Do you think Vettel would have won a race this season if Hamilton/Alonso were in the RB and he was in the Mclaren/Ferrari?

  • Comment number 52.

    >"While arguing about why it came in mid season, remember the original complaint came from those teams at the back of the grid who complained that off throttle blowing falls foul of existing rules"

    It does not fall afoul of existing rules, this is a mid-season rule change. F1 knew all about the hot blown diffuser at the end of last year, it's a very widely used technology. A good analogy is the double-deck or multi-deck diffuser. This was banned prior to the start of this season. If F1 wanted to they could have banned HBD's at the same time. To do so eight races into the calendar is quite bizarre.

  • Comment number 53.

    Personally I don't mind this rule change mid-season, not because I think it hurts RBR more than others as I still expect them to be leading the field tomorrow. But I do think the FIA need to be adaptable and quick enough to enforce regulations when something out of the box starts going too far.

    Now I don't care about it getting complex, or giving certain teams the edge because the majority of teams had it under control.

    Nor do I personally care about F1s fuel usage.

    However I do feel it is going against the FIA's primary aims at the moment. So in that way it is breaking the spirit of the rules and what they were aiming for.

    Why I say this. The FIA have been pushing for KERs and even claiming DRS etc. is all about reducing fuel consumption for these types of cars, and the sport getting greener seems to be the agenda. Less tyres = greener, less engines per season, less fuel per race, and so on. Has all been about their we are getting greener image, even though that is farcical. But that is what they are after. Then the teams go ahead and find a way to use 30% more fuel per quali lap than previous years, according to a Renault guy quoted once on 5 live. But the off throttle engine running is either burning or throwing fuel away for the most part, which is the opposite of what F1 is trying to sell itself as.

    I personally think the double diffuser, F-duct and so on, should have been stopped at the start of seasons also, and was disappointed that it was allowed to continue to end of season each time. e.g. the diffuser had precise limits, and my personal view was just because the main diffuser piece stops within those limits, if the body shell then continues the diffuser beyond it....I personally would say it doesn't matter if your diffuser is half this panel then half chassis, the extent of the diffusing element exceeds the measurements allowed.

    They are trying to use movable aero to block the off throttle blown diffuser, think that is a bit poor in terms of reason or excuses to stop it. But I definitely think it goes against the direction the sport has been trying to pull in. i.e. getting greener.

    As for this blog, again another poor blog, the other cars just need to be faster or the red bull just needs to be slower and hey presto it will be like most other years. What a space filler blog this is, well at least it isn't another team transfer one, although that is in there. God just realised he uses Hamilton's name 10 times in a Vettel Blog...Button's 5 times, Alonso 5 times.

    So Benson any response to lying about the questioning in the classic GP thread and sudden technical issues in presenting the question after your lie....:)

  • Comment number 54.

    Forgetting the EBD for a second - does anyone understand why an overtaking aid - the DRS - is allowed during qualifying?

  • Comment number 55.

    Of course, I meant off throttle exhaust blowing, not EBD. :-s

  • Comment number 56.

    >"it's true! Do you think Vettel would have won a race this season if Hamilton/Alonso were in the RB and he was in the Mclaren/Ferrari?"

    Everything you know about F1 could be written on the back of a matchbook. Your question reveals your ignorance. F1 is a sport where the drivers drive different cars.

    Let me repeat this for emphasis for the slow-witted.

    F1 IS A SPORT WHERE THE DRIVERS DRIVE DIFFERENT CARS!

    For some reason this fact seems to strike some of you faux "F1 fans" as a great injustice. Bu that does not mean that it IS a great injustice, it just means that you're following a sport which you do not understand.

    It's a very unusual season in F1 where the man crowned world champion was NOT driving the fastest car.

    The difference between cars in the modern era is a lot less than it was in the past, when the builders were not as constrained by regulation as they are now and the tyre options were wider. Modern F1 is closer to what some of you seem to think of as the ideal, where the drivers are in fairly similar equipment and drive on identical rubber. But they can never all drive exactly identical cars without it ceasing to be F1.

    Do you think that Jackie Stewart would have won a race if he and Senna had raced in the same era in identical cars? The question is ultimately pointless, just as pointless as your wondering about Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel all driving the same car. You might as well say "I bet Man United would have beaten Barca in the Champions League, if only they had Messi". Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn't. But that was not the Man United team.

    No driver ever wins a race or a championship in F1. These things are always won by a specific combination of car, engineers, pit crew, tacticians, and driver. It's a team sport. The best team at present is Red Bull. They have the best combination of car, driver, etc. Speculation about how drivers would fare in identical cars is pointless.

    Let me also point out that not all "identical cars" are the same. Two drivers may post identical lap times in very different cars, because each car is set up for the strengths and weaknesses of the individual drivers. It's possible in theory that Alonso would be faster than Vettel if both drove the same Ferrari, and that Vettel would be faster than Alonso if both drove the same RB. In which case, which is the "faster" driver?

  • Comment number 57.

    Can only pray the BBC don't renew their contract for F1. Ludicrous waste of money!! The only time F1 has been vaugely interesting is during intense rain when there is the possibility of a crash. Also as we always go on about grass roots, how can anyone watching F1 genuinely think about getting into the sport??!!

    Bring back cricket or boxing PLEASE!!!

  • Comment number 58.

    Agree with twirlip completely, as for wirral18. Cricket aint that the sport where a lot of people stand around and it gets called off if it rains? And boxing that will only happen when theres a true british champion.

    Also I am fed up with the BBC coverage just showing drivers at the front all the time there has been fantastic midfield battles at every race yet in valencia every turns the engines down and manages the gaps and what do we see? A procession meanwhile in the midfield there are battles we don't see.

  • Comment number 59.

    Sorry Andrew, not one of your best efforts. Too much "ifs and coulda woulda shoulda" and lamenting the bad luck of JB and especially LH. The RB is a great car, no doubt, but it seems as though MW performance ( or in some instances lack thereof)is being completely ignored.
    Also there seems to be some hypocrisy and selective memory among some of the commentators:Turkey and Spa for SV initiated crashes vs Singapore (MWvsLH) and LH incidents this year. LH has taken out more drivers in one race and caused more incidents than SV did all last season. Get some perspective people!
    @#53 FIA and green: The FIA is being very selective in how it wants to go green. The elephant in the room is tires- they are expensive to manufacture and use fossil fuels and petrochemicals. If the FIA would put their money where their mouth is , a driver would only be allowed one set of dry tires per weekend
    While this may detract from the spectacle somewhat, this situation would represent th e real world more closely... my 2 cents..

  • Comment number 60.

    Twirlip

    "It does not fall afoul of existing rules, this is a mid-season rule change."

    It does fall foul of existing rules, there has been no change in the FIA's rulebook. It was investigated after a complaint and found to be illegal under the already existing rules relating to driver influenced aerodynamics. All they have done now is clarify what they deem as breaking that rule when it comes to cold blowing diffusers.

  • Comment number 61.

    I have just returned from my very first Formula GP in Valencia.
    To tell you the truth it is easy for people to say F1 has turned boring (especially if it is not a British driver dominating it).
    I have seen it with my own eyes how hard Seb works to be the one who is always "leading from the start"... he stays in the garage after Practice and qualifying until late at night, leaves the track as the very last person... People like Hamilton will have left hours earlier. He fully deserves it because he works harder than everyone else.
    So give him some credit

  • Comment number 62.

    @59 yes, the FIA don't REALLY want to go green, they just want the marketing advantages of being perceived to be a greener Motorsport. I guess to try and attract manufacturers who are currently perhaps avoiding F1 as it turns off the hippies. I would think the cars wasting fuel for aero performance wouldn't help F1 sell itself to technically minded hippies in the car industries. But as many have said they were getting forced to do it due to Virgin or similar appealing the now deemed illegal moveable aero device. So could be any of those reasons. I personally just feel it goes against the grain of the current direction the sport is trying to pursue and sell itself as. Also don't like the sound, and I don't feel it is an aero tech that has any future to be pursued, or at least not at present. After all we have important aero issues with Satellites to fix, all those dishes and solar panels sticking out of their square boxes must REALLY create a LOT of DRAG in space, amazing how they keep themselves going for decades....lololol.

  • Comment number 63.

    if a guy has four tenth or 5 tenth of a gap, in f1 this gap is major it is basically like a second. im being 100% honest here, i would pick rosberg kubica, hamilton, alonso, button, and myabe massa if he can show his worth, if a guy has car who finsihes at the front have not seen much overtakes than yeah its easy, but hopefully next year ferrari and maclaren can step up for alonso and hamiltons sake two of the best drivers not wining races its wrong, vettel also crakced under pressure,

  • Comment number 64.

    people who say Seb is only leading because he has got the fastest car need to be honest with themselves... as already pointed out, Vettel takes out 0.5 secs off his nearest competitor in Qualifying. So Webber presumably has the same car as Seb??? It is always easy to say if if if... because you can never prove what you are alleging. Seb is a stunning driver and will be successful for a very long time in this sport.
    And how is he arrogant???? he is one of the few drivers taking time to be on the F1 forum answering questions after a race. Maybe people dont like him because he is yet another German dominating...

  • Comment number 65.

    Appreciate the work of the technicians and designers of F1. Have been watching F1 since Alessandro Nanini, Alain Frost, Ayrton Senna. F1 is now more fascinating. Besides the technology of the car, the skill of the driver is also very important to achive the target. Sebastian is a good driver with excellent car. Finally after Ferrari and McLaren, in the past 2 years Red Bull can compete with them. It is colouring F1 racing.

  • Comment number 66.

    #51 - You responded to a point I made (#46), and yes I do agree that the car has a lot to so with the outright pace, but I was referring to the fact that Vettel has hardly made a single mistake all season. Obviously there was his moment in Canada that allowed Button to pass, but look at his consistency in single lap qualifying, the way he's held those tyres together on all sorts of tracks and conditions. For me he's a very different driver to the young lad who won last years title. He's matured out of his skin and I think the rest of the drivers on the grid should be very unsettled by his.
    I would love to see a few other cars in the mix for race wins, but in the meantime I'm honestly being left stunned by Sebs performance this year. Lets all hope it's a close race this weekend, cheers.

  • Comment number 67.

    Vettel was never pressured in Spain like he was in Canada. Yes it was a close race between himself and Hamilton, but he made such an advantage in sector 2 he pulled a big enough gap so that for the rest of the lap he didn't have to defend against Hamilton, he could just keep it on the racing line.

    The Red Bull is too quick for everyone else on the technical circuits. I hate to say it but it's gonna take an unlikely mistake this weekend by Red Bull for them to not win the race. Vettel's a lucky guy to have a car like that.

  • Comment number 68.

    @46

    I think the general consensus is that vettel is driving well, but to ensure he wins he must start from pole or get ahead at the start. He isn't as good under pressure or fighting through the field.

    Look at races comparing drivers coming back through the field to high positions.

    Mark Webber in China this year, came back from the end of the field to take third.

    Jenson Button in Canada this year, back of the field with something like 30 laps left, and went on to win it.

    However, the only time I can remember (I may be wrong) where vettel had to come back through the field was last year at Silverstone. He went to the back of the field right at the start, had a safety car to bunch up the field, but could only get back up to seventh place. That was at the start of the race, as opposed to Button and Webber who were at the back in the middle of the race.

    So Vettel is a good driver, and once at the front is supreme and probably the best race leader on the grid. Once he is in the lead, it's hard to see him losing. But put him at the back of the grid, and you can rule him out, which you can't do with the Mclaren drivers or Webber. That's the difference.

  • Comment number 69.

    Put Lewis Hamilton into the same car as Vettel, then we will see sparks fly.

    I cannot believe the British Grand Prix would not let Vettel take the trophy off the podium or give him a replica, it is a public disgrace and the British Grand Prix should be ashamed of them self's. S Vettel as 15 trophy's on display at his home in Switzerland, other Grand Prix do not seem to be as tight-fisted as the British Gran Prix.

  • Comment number 70.

    Okay I do have a few gripes with the report:
    1) Vettel had won in Barcelona, but only after fending off a clearly faster Hamilton in the closing laps - only the difficulty of overtaking at the Circuit de Catalunya had prevented the McLaren winning.
    - Aren’t we forgetting that Hamilton had DRS and KERS, did Vettel have these? No, point made.

    2) The vast majority of Vettel's F1 victories have come when he has dominated from the front, a situation in which he is supremely comfortable.
    - Is it his fault that he has 7 out of 8 on Pole Positions this season?

    3) After dominating in Montreal throughout, Vettel lost the win on the last lap, half-spinning while being pursued by the flying Button, who stormed through to a brilliant win.
    - Vettel’s mistake in Canada was not half-spinning and losing the lead to Button, it was not building up a big enough gap to the Schumacher / Webber / Button squabble when he had the chance. A bit of a strategy error.

    As for the overtaking, aren’t we forgetting that Vettel has overtaken cars this season on coming out of the pits into traffic. I seem to remember one race where he overtook something like 4 cars in 5 corners…

    Oh, and to all of those who say that Vettel is only the fastest driver as he has the fastest car and the best team (@13), why is Mark Webber 77 points behind him and has not won this season? He has exactly the same car and team.

    So I say, COME ON SEB!! The others are only jealous!

  • Comment number 71.

    Sebastian Vettel is an exceptional driver. Is he the current best? Impossible to say, and ultimately not important. As Twirlip@56 correctly said, Formula 1 is a TEAM sport. However, a driver must earn the right to sit in the best car and Vettel has certainly done that.

    In 2007 he finished 14th in the championship (above Jensen Button) after only driving in eight races! In 2008 he finished 8th in a Toro Rosso (his team mate Bourdais could only manage 17th). In 2009 before the RBR dominance, he finished second, his team mate Mark Webber was 4th (this was before he started moaning about "preferential treatment").

    Those who suggest Vettel is just a passenger in a very fast car should go back to watching the Hollyoaks omnibus on a Sunday afternoon.

    I've put my money on him since day one. My next tip for the top - Paul DiResta.

  • Comment number 72.

    After watching NASCAR at Daytona, with teams paired-up (literally linking bumpers) to simultaneously draft and push their way around the oval, I have a new appreciation for F1... and any new technology has got to be better than the push-me/pull-you abomination seen in these (so called) "stock" cars...

  • Comment number 73.


    Just to clarify to the folks that believe Vettel isn't a talented driver (and praising car more than the man behind the wheels)....let me take you back to 2008...Italian Grand Prix > Torro Rosso rookie driver (Vettel) driving and winning in wet conditions handing Torro Rosso's first win in F1 history, and new record as youngest F1 race winner in history.

    Oh...and he crossed the finish line with a 12.5 second gap. Talented? You bet he is.

    Another quick fact: He's the current reigning world champion at the moment, and from the looks of it, it's a title well kept to the man.

    The only driver in my view who could show the same (if not better) attributes in winning all this is Hamilton. Sadly, with the superb driving he exhibits, he still needs to have a car and team on pace with the Red Bulls.

    DiResta is a man who's been quietly making huge leaps on the circuit...he's a great display and a talented future champion. His humbling of F1 legend Schumacher deserves much praise, and given the right car, he can definately get podiums / wins. But as it stands, if the conditions are right, he can show a surprise or two in today's race.

    One dream...wishful thinking, maybe, is to see Lewis with Red Bull one day. Think of the drama, synergies and the images of yesterday...it would be PROST - SENNA all over again. (Hamilton being Senna of course). :-)

  • Comment number 74.

    A fundamental change in how F1 races I think would stop any driver running away with it - half the calender year is made up of short circuits where you race the usual 60-odd laps but this is a pre-qualifier tournament for 6 races on timed circuits, a bit like NASCAR, where you're in effect just sprinting to do as many laps as possible - therefore it requires two entirely seperate skills.

  • Comment number 75.

    I have been an ardent F1 fn for many a year. I watched all through the scumker era and found it totally boring. Now we have this young pup Vettel and he is boring the pants off me. Make all the cars the same so that it's the driver that makes a good race. Vettel clearly has an advantage so take that off him and lets see how good he is then.

  • Comment number 76.

    #75
    watch GP2 if that is what you want to see!

    Let's see what he does on Top Gear tonight?

  • Comment number 77.

    please will someone explain to David Coulthard how to pronounce Vettel's name?

    I think he might be a bit annoyed if an announcer kept pronouncing his name wrongly when he was a driver.

  • Comment number 78.

    I don't think you could say that was boring!

    Wonder if ferrari can do it next race when all is fair again?

  • Comment number 79.

    "How do you beat Vettel"? Well how about not instructing Webber to stay behind him?
    I have just watched todays race and i am appalled at Mr E. Jordans comments that it was correct for Webber to be told not to pass Vettel, I thought F1 was about drivers racing each other. Jordan needs to understand that we licence fee payers pay his wages and as such i expect him to go out there and fight for and defend us, the people who pay hundreds of pounds to watch these races. If he wants to defend corperate decisions then maybe he should get a job with Red Bull, for me i want to see every driver racing to the flag. Answer this Mr Jordan, based on what you said today i suppose you also agree that it was right for Barrachello to be told to let Schuemacher pass on the last lap a few years ago? Start standing up for the people who keep the sport going because if we did not exist then neither would Red Bull / Mr Horner, F1, or you! You really should be ashamed of yourself

  • Comment number 80.

    I completely agree Fred, I was outraged today at the fact the sponsers and teams are put in front of the supporters. Without the supporters who come to watch racing there would be no formula 1 in the form it is today. I don't think the behaviour of Redbull demonstrates sportsmanship or racing and as I have suggested on the Red Bull website, I think they should drop racing from their name. Until today I had respect for Christain Horner and the Red Bull team, I feel that after today I wont be the only one questioning their support for them. As for you Mark, dont stop being honest and true, its rare these days in the F1 world and it is valued by the people who watch and support formula 1.

  • Comment number 81.

    Vettel has nearly everything a champion needs: He's fast, he has (finally) the control and he defend his position. His only soft spot is his reluctance when he has to fight to win a position - although he has already overtaken every top driver during the season, even Hamilton. Only Alonso did not appear right in front of him this season. But I still don't rate him a champion when it comes to overtaking.

    Hamilton however can overtake and can fight for better positions, but he makes to many mistakes. He just don't know, when he has to stop, when he has to realize "Ok, a second place is fine too!", and that makes him loosing points and maybe even championsips (remember 2007?).

    Alonso has everything. He fast, he can overtake and he knows how to get and secure the results, that can make him world champion. Only question is, who comes right after him and who might succeed over him? Will it be Vettel, who might loose his reluctance when it comes to overtaking, or will it be Hamilton, who might learn someday, that he might has to loose a fight to win the championship in the end.

  • Comment number 82.

    GOOD-BYE F1, it was great while it lasted.

    It was bad enough when it was on ITV with all the interruptions caused by the commercial breaks. Imagine what its going to be like on Rupert Murdoch's TV channel (SKY, yes it will happen) with the even longer commercial breaks. I will not be subscribing.

    Come on, sponsors let us hear what you think about the loss of brand visibility.

    What a sad day for F1 fans.

  • Comment number 83.

    Ooh look another blog I can hijack with "off-topic" talk about the BBC selling out and Satan Murdoch getting his grubby little fingers into yet another pie

 

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