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Webber form puts Vettel under pressure

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Jonathan Legard | 14:58 UK time, Friday, 28 May 2010

Red Bull have never had it so good in Formula 1. They are leading both the drivers' and the constructors' championships for the first time.

Certainly Mark Webber, the championship leader, has never enjoyed such success in motorsport's pinnacle category.

And if you've read my colleague Andrew Benson's blog this week, you'll appreciate the reasons why the 33-year-old is in the form of his F1 life, winning from pole in both Spain and Monaco, two markedly different circuits with hugely contrasting demands.

But the manner of those victories - particularly in Monaco, where Webber never looked like being threatened by his pursuers - has set plenty of curious minds racing about the most recent performances of his Red Bull team-mate, Sebastian Vettel.

In their 18 months together at the team, Vettel had never previously suffered consecutive defeats at the hands of the experienced Australian.

On the two occasions last season when the 22-year-old German found himself dominated by his team-mate, he immediately struck back at the next event, either outqualifying him or winning the race, or in the case of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, doing both.

abvettel595.jpgRed Bull's Sebastian Vettel takes a break in practice for the Turkish GP. Photograph: Reuters

Over the first six races of 2010, Webber has performed better in qualifying against his team-mate than the whole of last year, when he was quicker on Saturdays just twice.

None of this is to call into question Vettel's sublime talent.

How could you after his lightning start to the season, which would have earned him the outright championship lead by some margin if only he had been blessed by better reliability in the first two races in Bahrain and Australia?

Publicly, team officials express delight at the championship standings and the see-saw battle between their drivers.

Privately, however, they readily admit that this is the first major test of character for their young charger, tipped by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, no less, to succeed Jenson Button as world champion.

As one source put it: "It's going to be interesting to see how Seb responds. It's an important weekend for him."

Another just said simply: "It's going to be lively between our two drivers!"

In other words, is Webber merely enjoying a purple patch or has he made a significant leap in performance which will provide a sustained challenge to Vettel's aura of youthful impregnability?

Coming off second best to Webber in Spain was palatable because of the brake problem which almost wrecked the younger man's race completely.

Bringing the car to the finish so coolly when the team advised him to stop demonstrated impressive expertise.

But eyebrows were definitely raised when he found himself struggling to keep clear of Robert Kubica's Renault in Monaco while the other Red Bull was able to disappear into the distance at will, despite the intervention of the safety car no less than four times.

Vettel was not the only team member who could not believe he was suddenly 0.4secs slower than his team-mate where previously the gap had been hundredths of a second, usually in his favour.

Vettel claimed the RB6 had felt wrong all weekend, and a subsequent investigation found a crack on the monocoque and other assorted damage.

He has a different chassis this weekend - racily named "Randy Mandy" - yet in practice, albeit never a definitive guide to potential, he was again behind Webber - this time by 0.212secs.

Interestingly, I'm told that Webber's chassis has also suffered damage but there have been no calls from his side of the garage for a replacement. And why would there be when he's turned in such command performances?

As ever, it's a matter of confidence. Currently, Webber probably feels he could win on the moon.

Vettel, though, may feel the need to try a previous testing chassis as a personal vote of confidence that he is just the same, that it is the machinery that has not been up to scratch.

If he strikes gold in Turkey this weekend, that switch may prove crucial to his season, and his title ambitions.

If, however, Webber beats him again, making it three wins in a row, despite the chassis change, how much damage will that inflict on Vettel's mindset?

Remember, he is in good company over chassis issues.

Michael Schumacher has reverted to a previous Mercedes chassis after he believed he was losing crucial time with a damaged car in China. He was rewarded with a season's best showing at Barcelona first time out.

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There's another striking similarity with Vettel's F1 inspiration which might also offer another insight into Webber's improved form.

Both drivers have told a German colleague of mine that they lack grip, and by extension confidence, with the tyres, particularly at the front. Webber, meanwhile, has found the 2010 Red Bull far more to his liking, able to turn in to corners with maximum attack and traction.

It means that the in-house rivalry at Red Bull has become far more intense than many of us bargained for at the start of the season. And that can only make for a more exciting, more watchable championship shoot-out.

Rightly or wrongly, Vettel has been perceived as the unofficial number one driver at Red Bull: ruthless and clinical, belying the choirboy looks, where Webber is matey and approachable but, some believe, lacking a champion's killer instinct.

Very much a protégé of Helmut Marko who oversees Red Bull young drivers, Vettel has appeared to have the ability and the results to go with the team owner Dietrich Mateschitz's backing.

His strong finish as runner-up in the 2009 championship served to confirm the view that he would be the team's leading contender in 2010.

But just as Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg have confounded pre-season predictions that they would be forced to play second fiddle to their respective team-mates, Lewis Hamilton and Schumacher, so Webber looks to have found another gear to take the fight more closely to his team-mate.

Nobody is tougher on his own performances than Vettel himself. His self-analytical approach is recognised by the team as one of his great strengths.

The new points system means any one of the top eight could leave Istanbul Park on Sunday as championship leader.

And after throwing away his pole position advantage here last year, and losing out so comprehensively over the last two races, few on the grid have more reason to get it right than Sebastian Vettel.


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  • 1. At 5:08pm on 28 May 2010, redsloz wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 2. At 5:25pm on 28 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    Do you think there will be any falling out in the Red Bull garage if Mark continues to beat Seb on a regular basis? Or are there enough cool heads in the team (including Seb and Mark) to keep the rivalry between them professional and hopefully 'friendly'.

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  • 3. At 5:53pm on 28 May 2010, elemenopea wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 4. At 6:05pm on 28 May 2010, JP wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 5. At 6:32pm on 28 May 2010, Shivraj Gohil wrote:

    its all speculation, Vettel had a damaged chassis, so Turkey will be a true test in form within the red bull team. If Mark beats Vettel in a straight fight, then more questions will arise, if Vettel beats Mark, then everyone will just say it's the chassis which let him down.

    We'll just have to wait!

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  • 6. At 6:45pm on 28 May 2010, steveblack1000 wrote:

    A fair assessment Jonathan.

    Mark Webber has upped his game this season and is giving Vettel something to think about.

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  • 7. At 6:50pm on 28 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    Sorry but Mark is comprehensibly beating Seb at the moment, in the last 2 races Seb hasn't been able to come close to what Mark has been achieving with the same car.

    No that doesn't mean that Mark is the better driver and it doesn't mean that Seb's reputation is in tatters, it just means that as we have seen season after season the mindset of the driver can make a huge difference. Both drivers got off to a poor start to the season, some of the problems where technical/reliability and some where driver/team mistakes.

    Mark was in a position 2 races ago where he saw that his chance to challenge for the championship was diminishing and the problems where with him and he obviously talked himself round and has reached a sweet spot mentally that allows his talent to shine.

    Its easy to speculate that because Vettel's problems where mechanical/ill luck that this chipped away at his mojo and has further weakened his confidence, mix this in with Mark finding his form and the results where clear to me in his post race comments and his body language after the race, he looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights not knowing which way to jump.

    F1 is as a confidence game, and Mark has more experience of the highs and lows and that may well stand him in good stead. This is the 1st time that Seb has been under the kosh from his team mate in his career and it will be interesting to see how he deals with it. I have been critical of Seb in the past, well not really critical more cautionary when it comes to the hype he has attracted over the last season and half because I think he still has a lot to prove as a driver, and thats to be expected the guy is 22 and in his 3rd full season... its not saying he is rubbish but just that he still has things to prove and one of those things is dealing with a team mate who can take the fight to him and beat him.

    As for the attacks on JL, I am no fan but I do feel this article is interesting and worth reading/discussing.

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  • 8. At 7:13pm on 28 May 2010, GFasulo wrote:

    Fascinating blog Jonathan, and I think you're doing an excellent job as commentator. Keep it up!

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  • 9. At 8:49pm on 28 May 2010, Jawsey wrote:

    As usual Jonathan, a top-class, thought-provoking article, which neatly follows up on what Andrew Benson has to say. With Vettel being such a clear number one last season, it's a pleasant surprise to see Webber dominating in such style in two consectutive, yet wildly different races. If he beats Vettel in Turkey (where Vettel should be stronger) then who knows what he could achieve.

    Now if only your commentating was of the same standard as your blogging...

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  • 10. At 9:51pm on 28 May 2010, Amy wrote:

    In my opinion this is an awful article.
    Yes, Mark Webber is on form! We all know that..
    BUT GIVE SEBASTIAN A BREAK! - His 22years old, this is only his 50th Grand Prix and he's won 6 races, 8 pole positions (two wins lost to reliability), 12 podiums and 4 fastest laps. Mark has had; 146 Grand Prix, 4wins, 13 podiums and 5 fastest laps. Look at the statistics. How long has Vettel been there? How long has Mark? In my eyes Vettel is the more conistantly talented one. Everyone saying he's sliding at the moment, he's been 2nd and 3rd (I know due to Hamiltons bad luck in Spain) But still?

    Seb thrashed Mark last year, no arguing that.
    At the moment Mark is 'unbeatable' - well has been! I think we should wait till the end of this Grand Prix. Before making assumptions!

    Vettel has had such bad luck in the races and would be leading the championship right now if the RBR had good reliability Vettel would be leading the championship right now, but thats in the past and he is focusing on the future.
    Yes, he is frustrated at the moment, but takes it in good heart. He's not happy when he gets out of the car when Mark has beaten him and doesn't smile as much but who would be jumping with joy when their team mate had just beaten them? Don't call it plum face. Leave him alone.

    Yes, Mark deserves to win a championship as does Vettel. Let's wait to the end of the championship before deciding the outcome. It could be Kubica, or Rosburg yet!

    In my eyes, Mark is beating everyone at the moment, and Vettel was only number 1 last year when Webber fell out of title contention which was like 1 weekend? The same will happen this year.
    Vettel gets more press than Mark because he's young, talented and fast. But when Mark wins a Grand Prix all media attention is focused on him which it rightly should be! The man winning should be the man in the spotlight!

    Fingers crossed Seb will get back in Randy Mandy in a good frame of mind and have a unbroken car for a change! Don't forget that he's had a broken car for the last two weekends.

    Lets hope Vettel has a good a weekend as he deserves.

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  • 11. At 9:58pm on 28 May 2010, JP wrote:

    I really think this article is very short sighted. Hopefully that opinion is not labelled "likely to offend" by the moderators this time and others have the opportunity to read what I have taken pains to rewrite.

    Anyway surely the most blindingly obvious, reasonable, and logical that would explain why Webber is providing more competition for Vettel this season is because he didn't spend the large part of pre-season, or the first half of the season, recovering from leg and shoulder injuries, such as he was last year. Therefore I would have thought this would have at least been mentioned in this blog.

    I am quite surprised nobody else has noticed this yet as I would have thought such a horrific injury that Webber suffered last year would be more than enough to explain why he has performed so much better in comparison to Vettel this year. After all Jake only today reminded us all in his blog of how physically demanding formula 1 is. Thus as many of you above seem to agree, Vettel is not most likely not lacking performance, just he is at the same level (albeit with some bad luck) while Webber has shown his true performance this year now that he is 100% fit.

    Expect a close race for the title this season.

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  • 12. At 10:14pm on 28 May 2010, Amy wrote:

    I agree with the comment above (11)

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  • 13. At 01:06am on 29 May 2010, alfonsoalonso wrote:

    Webber is just "in the zone" right now and he needs to make hay while it lasts. Can be break Vettel psychologically? This is his chance. If he can, then he clears a way to a shot at the title.
    In the background, Hamilton and Button are pootling around under the radar but still well in contention, especially if McLaren can close the gap on Red Bull in performance terms.
    Massa looks a beaten man and Alonso is now fully in charge over at Ferrari. Can he make the difference to have a shot at the title?

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  • 14. At 08:21am on 29 May 2010, salti wrote:

    I would say that at the moment they are fairly evenly matched. True Webber has had back to back victories and both drivers are currently tied on points but if you take a closer look at their average qualifying and race positions, Sebastian is still leading the way.

    Part of the reason Mark is technically ahead in the WDC standings is the weird new points system where dropping even one place from 1st to second makes such a big difference. I think it's far too early yet to say that Mark is winning the mind game over Sebastian, lets see how the younger man gets on with Mandy this weekend.

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  • 15. At 09:12am on 29 May 2010, james1965 wrote:

    What was most striking for me was Vettels reaction to Webbers win when interviewed. He just couldnt bring himself to say anything positive or congratulatory about his team mate.

    Its how how we cope with adversity that defines us and shapes whether we have the capacity to turn things around and succeed.

    If Vettel gets beaten again by Webber this weekend I dont think Vettel will go downhill this weekend.

    A good comparison is Hamilton he at least keeps an optimistic air of confidence about him for the cameras which shows his control.

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  • 16. At 09:13am on 29 May 2010, big dunc leaps like a salmon wrote:

    hi guy's...with the front right tyre under so much load at this track,is it likely to wear out before the other 3 tyres and if so would it work if bridgestone had a different tyre for the right front alone?

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  • 17. At 09:35am on 29 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    @10&11 - Chill, its just a discussion... No one has said that Vettel has lost it, no one has called him rubbish.

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  • 18. At 11:11am on 29 May 2010, Speng wrote:

    A lot of people are forgetting that Mark Webber started last season recovering from a broken leg which for an F-1 driver is big deal yet he still managed to be ahead of Vettel at some points during the season. This season he looks to be extremely fit and definitely focused. I think like J. Button at McLaren he's the calm one who'll maximise his points from the races he can't just run away with while Seb (like Lewis Hamilton) tends to get a bit more flustered and overdrive his car sometimes.

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  • 19. At 11:54am on 29 May 2010, chris may wrote:

    virgin will suprise you all. they have done it in every other formula they have been in and they will do it again. long live manor..........

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  • 20. At 1:52pm on 29 May 2010, Kev Todd wrote:

    I hope this gets through to the right people.

    I'd like to congratulate the BBC F1 Team, and thank them for the Fitting Tribute to the passing of Gary Coleman at the end of the Qualifying Programme Today.

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  • 21. At 2:18pm on 29 May 2010, steveblack1000 wrote:

    Move evidence today that Vettel is starting to lose it and is succumbing to the pressure from Webber.

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  • 22. At 2:45pm on 29 May 2010, percyveer wrote:

    appalling display of bad taste to finish the program with the theme tune from diffrent strokes! hang your heads in shame bbc

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  • 23. At 2:56pm on 29 May 2010, richard wrote:

    Seb is an undoubted talent,but his nationality is a very proud race, and I DONT THINK EXPERIANCE OR ABILITY is his answer to his present predicament,MICHEAL suffers from the same attitude to success,re. his various antics dureing his prime time in the sport,Seb has to overcome within, and have self belief in his ability that he has earnt rather than poss his right,otherwise I think Mark will thrive on there competition even more.

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  • 24. At 3:05pm on 29 May 2010, journay wrote:

    I think too much is being read into the current state of affairs in the Red Bull camp. As far as I see it, its part of the ebb and flow of a season. Both Mark and Seb are superb drivers. The former never really had the tools in the past to fully demonstrate his capabilities and the latter is just being plagued by some bad breaks. Arguably, Seb may be the quicker of the two but Mark has clearly shown that he can more than match his team-mate.

    However, I will not be surprised if Vettel edges ahead and ultimately grabs the championship by the end of the season. Having said this, I won't be betting my hard earned pennies against Webber at the moment :).

    At 1:52pm on 29 May 2010, Kev Todd wrote:

    I hope this gets through to the right people.

    I'd like to congratulate the BBC F1 Team, and thank them for the Fitting Tribute to the passing of Gary Coleman at the end of the Qualifying Programme Today.

    "What you talking 'bout, Kev?". Yes indeed m8 that was a fine touch on the part of the BBC this afternoon :). Diff'rent Strokes was one of my favourite shows growing up. RIP "Arnold".

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  • 25. At 3:46pm on 29 May 2010, f12009 wrote:

    10. At 9:51pm on 28 May 2010, Amy wrote:

    In my opinion this is an awful article.
    Yes, Mark Webber is on form! We all know that..
    BUT GIVE SEBASTIAN A BREAK! - His 22years old, this is only his 50th Grand Prix and he's won 6 races, 8 pole positions (two wins lost to reliability), 12 podiums and 4 fastest laps. Mark has had; 146 Grand Prix, 4wins, 13 podiums and 5 fastest laps. Look at the statistics. How long has Vettel been there? How long has Mark?


    Yes, but out of Webbers 146 races, how many has he been sitting in the fastest car on the track? It is all well and good saying that Webber has been in F1 longer and done less, but what are the stats head-to-head at Red Bull? If webber had been given the car he has now in each of his previous seasons do you think his stats will still be the same?!!

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  • 26. At 4:15pm on 29 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    We will find out this season and the next who is the better, Seb or Mark. Mark has the skill and the experience, Seb has a lot of potential to be really fast but he still needs to prove he is an overtaker and can handle being hustled by a faster car behind him, we also need to see how he handles being beaten by his team mate, will he rise to the challenge?

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  • 27. At 4:21pm on 29 May 2010, Jonathan Legard - BBC Sport wrote:

    Thank you for your comments so far - very interesting reading.

    As far as post 11 is concerned, on the subject of Webber's leg injury, you make a good point, but we have not missed it - it is covered comprehensively in Andrew Benson's blog, which appeared on Thursday.

    I did mention this and link to it in my piece. Sorry if you missed it, but in case you want to read it again here it is:

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  • 28. At 4:23pm on 29 May 2010, F1Aussie wrote:

    most people seem to selectively forget that mark spent all of last year recovering from injuries that could have cost him his career! it was his first year in f1 where he was comprehensively beaten by his teammate, but there were obviously circumstances that caused this, so why is it so difficult for people to understand that he can do good when fit??

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  • 29. At 4:41pm on 29 May 2010, richard wrote:

    At the end of the day is anyone prepared to put thier money on Mark or Seb, for the championship,.........REMEMBER last season,Jenson was a dead cert bet by this time, many of us had a sweat on at the end ? The big boys are not going to take the present hamering much more,FI is a bit like Russion roulett.....

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  • 30. At 6:04pm on 29 May 2010, Reid wrote:

    It is, really the only surprise as far as the red Bull camp is concerned.
    Few people who looked at this season objectively, would have denied, they came into 2010 as tha favourites. It's just the driver who is confounding everyone.
    To touch on the other two drivers who have been ridiculously critcicised, so far. Michael was always going to have to use up the first 4-6 races getting 'really race sharp', because it is the only way it can be done. It's hard to decide who, out of he and Button, has come in for the most childish type of slating.

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  • 31. At 7:12pm on 29 May 2010, Amy wrote:

    21. At 2:18pm on 29 May 2010, steveblack1000 wrote:
    Move evidence today that Vettel is starting to lose it and is succumbing to the pressure from Webber.

    He was first in P3, Q1 & 2

    How does that show Vets is starting to lose it?
    He would have been on pole minus the rollbar issue, get you facts straight.

    He was brilliant today!

    Seirously, did you even watch it?

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  • 32. At 7:14pm on 29 May 2010, Amy wrote:

    25. At 3:46pm on 29 May 2010, f12009 wrote:

    Yes, but out of Webbers 146 races, how many has he been sitting in the fastest car on the track? It is all well and good saying that Webber has been in F1 longer and done less, but what are the stats head-to-head at Red Bull? If webber had been given the car he has now in each of his previous seasons do you think his stats will still be the same?!!


    You make a good point, but really? No I don't!
    Vettel and Webber equal age same car.. I still this Sebastian would have the edge!
    Mark is brilliant though

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  • 33. At 9:22pm on 29 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    @31 Yes Seb had problems and the fact he managed to get 3rd is a tribute to his determination. However Mark was also near perfect and had problems on friday with a blown engine and today with hydraulics, and still went out and nailed it. Yes Seb was on a faster lap but Mark still had another shot...

    This is a fight that is going to go on for the rest of the season, and I wouldn't be surprised to see other people competing for the WDC, McLaren are making great strides and both Lewis and Jenson are more than capable of challenging/defending the WDC. Mercedes seem to be improving, Schumi is getting his edge back and Rosberg is up for that fight and for all that Alonso is making mistakes that make his races difficult he is 3rd in the championship because he is a brilliant racer. Then there is the dark horse in Kubica and the rapidly improving Renault who if he keeps on improving and picks up places from fights in front could be in for a chance of a Kimi style challenge.

    All I can say is that this is shaping up to be a fantastic season (yet again, for a deathly dull sport we do seem to have had a large number of exciting seasons in recent years).

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  • 34. At 10:17pm on 29 May 2010, Sortit wrote:

    A good indication of the current state of the drivers relationship was Seb's expression and head shake during the post quali drivers interview when Mark mentioned that it was unusual for him to be released before Seb for his final flying lap. The obvious implication being that he could still out-qualify Seb whatever.
    An odd time to make such a comment, and no doubt intended to further unsettle his team-mate.

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  • 35. At 10:59pm on 29 May 2010, richard wrote:

    At last characters are developing,there will always be fantastic machinery,but drivers not of expertise, but of character and iterest as people have been some what missing, apart from Micheal obviously ,now the catalists have burst on quite a number and various differant personalities have imerged to complete the the chance of another great season.

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  • 36. At 00:58am on 30 May 2010, schusize8 wrote:

    I really thought Sebastian would outqualify the whole field on a regular basis once I heard the rules for refueling had changed(as he did last year fuel adjusted)Then when the teams decided not to use KERS,I felt he might well be the main contender for the title.And so the season starts,he dominates the first 2 races, but for "reliability"issues with his vehicle he scores 12 points instead of the 50 he deserved .In Malaysia he is outqualified by Mark and Nico due to their choice of tyres,but sets that straight by jumping them before the first corner.His car doesn't seem to have any problems this time and he wins the race.In china again he takes pole.He has a very eager Mark Webber next to him on the grid who really wants to set the record straight for being overtaken in Malaysia,and he actually does.Why?because Fernando jumpstarted from third on the grid and flew past him on his left as if propulsed by a battery of jet engines,so Mark took advantage of the confusion and rightly so.My only question is:what's up with these f1 rules?Why on earth don't they restart the race, still giving a stop and go penalty to the offender and disqualification if he does it again?Or are the organisers of this high tech sport where time differences are measured up to almost the nanosecond unable to determine a false start from the getgo?Oops,that's more than 1 question,but still,the start of the race has been disrupted and falsified by the "intruder".For the rest,China was a very difficult race in terms of tyre strategy and Jenson and Nico gambled best of the frontrunners.
    Then comes the Spanish GP and all of a sudden Mark outqualifies Seb on pure speed,credit where credit is due,he apparently upped his game by quite a lot since then up to this very day.But once again in the race there's something wrong with Seb's car;this time one of his front brakes are split in 2(I think left)and out of precaution they clear his spot in the garage and call him in to park his car.He asks over the radio if he can't try to finish ,seeing he still has a lead of over 20 seconds over Michael and fortunately they let him.With the courage born out of desperation,braking for the most part on his engine rather than on his wheels,he succesfully manages to finish 3 and score 12 points which might come in handy at the end of the season.Some impressive damage control by the youngster,and the firm promise by Christian Horner this will never happen again!
    Then we moved to Monte Carlo,where Mark drove the most impressive race of his entire career,from qualifying to finish.He never set a foot wrong,even after 4 restarts of the race.Oh,and Sebastian, who never felt one with his vehicle in the race,had his chassis replaced after the race due to some flaws which could have hampered the pace of the car...
    So,here we are then in Turkey,Mark takes pole for the third time in a row,Lewis impressively managed to place himself in front of the other "unbeatable" Red Bull car,which, for the fifth time this season had some sort of a problem.This time it's the breaking system again(fourth time),with the peculiar exception that this time around it already occurred in qualifying before the race has even started!
    I have the utmost respect for all the drivers on the grid,with a few favorites whom I estimate just a bit better than the rest.
    But I will not stand all the hatred towards this young talent!
    His personality is as nice as they come in this F1 circus.
    Admittedly,he's getting a bit more grim these days because he feels disadvantaged by too often too many flaws on his machine.
    Can you blame him for that?

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  • 37. At 01:14am on 30 May 2010, BlueNWhiteArmy wrote:

    in F1's first season with the rule changes it's already becoming boring, i used to be excited about qualifying not knowing which team or driver would be taking pole for the start of the GP but now it seems like a book..... it's all written down you know whats going to happen.

    I'm nothing compared to the dedicated F1 fan's but i've begun to loose interest.....

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  • 38. At 02:16am on 30 May 2010, Mark Adler wrote:

    I do not understand why there is a article like this under a article titled for Lewis Hamilton?

    On the other note Vettel is not doing badly, Mark and vettel are semi-equal at the moment.

    I can see the next debate being Hamilton being better than Button, or Button than Hamilton Or Alonso being better than Massa or Massa being better than Alonso or Senna than.... or Kobayashi better or worse than....

    Why not debate something else than these negative conotation topics that throw a bad light on one driver and a good light on a other?

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  • 39. At 04:11am on 30 May 2010, smilingSpongeMuffin wrote:

    Hi Jonathan

    Nice article, with interesting points of view.

    I understand your point of view, but in all fairness, it does have the touch of drama about it. The fact is, someone has to win. There are so many amazing drivers in the line up, and they can't all be first, and just because someone has a few good results in a row reflects nothing on the skills of those behind them. Indeed, they are the world's best we have to offer. So when someone comes second in a few races, it does not mean they are soured goods, or under pressure to prove their metal. F1 teams know that it is a long term game, and they are the ones who count.

    When we have such huge talents, separated by differences in machinery, mechanics, and fine fine margins of driving expertise, then a little bit of confidence goes a long way to making the difference. Webber has that wave right now, and good luck to him. I hope he nails it again. None of it, however, reflects on Vettel whatsoever. Indeed, if anything, we should examine our previous assessment of Webber, not our new assessment of Vettel. As I said, the margins to greatness are absolutely fractional to the millimeter over circuits which are 4km plus, and yet we always seem to exaggerate that in our assessments from race to race. Vettel's performance of being currently second to Webber says nothing of his skill, or the talent he possesses. This is just the ebb and flow of racing, and if you can hit the high note at the right time, then if you're lucky, you can win a championship. It has always been like that when the competition is quite open.

    As I read today, one morning does not make a race, one race does not make season, and one season does not make a career.

    It is what it is, but neither driver are under pressure for their job, and both will succeed in the long run.

    If anything, Webber's experience is showing. Like Hamilton vs Button, Vettel is tough on his car compared to Webber. He may be the fastest in theory, but the race is a full distance, and you must bring your car home in a good condition, using race craft and sound judgement. Both Webber and Button now have experience in grabbing hold of their testosterone, and unleashing it on the circuit in a controlled manner, something that 20 something drivers have never been good at. Experience does count in F1, it really does. Especially if you learn your trade in the middle order dog fights.

    But like Hamilton, Vettel will learn to control his race better as a result of being up against an old dog like Webber, and learn that drama is not the way to get to the top. Speed is what exists in the driver, but race craft has always been something that is picked up over time.

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  • 40. At 04:44am on 30 May 2010, Luke wrote:

    Great article Jonathan

    I think your timing is perfect in my opinion. BOTH drivers, not just Seb are at critical points in their career. For Mark is either perform now, or face a dwindling career, possibly at a lesser team, and for Seb it's the first time his 1 on 1 ability has been called into question. In my opinion Mark has always had ability to be great, but has never really acheived when it counted, until now. He may realise it's last chance saloon time for him, and there is most likely no better motivation than thinking I either need to perform or wave goodbye to my chances of ever winning a title.

    Seb looked rattled in the post quali interviews, but he'l get it together sooner or later, and string a series of great performances together. The question is can either of them get it together/ keep it together enough to fend off a luming Mclaren challenge...

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  • 41. At 07:00am on 30 May 2010, jadzf1 wrote:

    Wonder what might of happened if Webber didn't break his leg just before the start of last season.

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  • 42. At 10:23am on 30 May 2010, Fair Dinkum wrote:

    If anyone hasn't noticed, Webber has always demolished his team mates. Infact he has destroyed all of his ex-team mates F1 careers. Take a look at Alex Yoong, Antonio Pizzonia, Justin Wilson, Christian Klien, David Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher. Now it's Vettel's turn to face the didgeridoo.

    He has always been at the top of his game but never had the right machinery to challenge for victories. It takes a pretty special bloke to put a Jaguar on P2 (Malaysia).

    Aussie Aussie Aussie!! Oi Oi Oi!!

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  • 43. At 10:54am on 30 May 2010, Malco wrote:

    It's just an opinion, but I thought Mark's comment about what Christian Horner said to him prior to the qualifying session for Spain may have stuck a nerve. Quote ‘you probably won’t get to drive a car around here like this too often, so go and enjoy it’. Did something click for Mark and made him realise that he will never have a better car, nor better opportunity? That must have been a great confidence booster. Everything I've heard from CH indicates he's a terrific motivator and he's pushed Mark into a zone.

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  • 44. At 11:36am on 30 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    @36 - A very nice, very one sided post. It would be easy for myself or many others to post a rebutal about how Seb puts to much pressure on his car and breaks it. About how Mark has had misfortune not of his own making and it would be equally blinkered and just as far away from reality.

    What is required to win the WDC is the complete package - driver and car are just 2 parts of that equation there is also how the driver looks after the car (Newey is known for making brilliant but delicate cars), there are the team strategies (which Red Bull have fouled up a few times this season), there are other drivers for rival teams to consider and most importantly there is LUCK, sometimes drivers have bad luck and other times good luck, they are all part of the season!

    @37 - Such a boring season, Red Bull have claimed every pole and gone on to win every race from pole.... errr nope. Yes Saturdays have been 'a bit predictable' because Red Bull has the best qualifying car on the grid, but there has been plenty of action in qualifying even if its just trying to figure out if its Mark or Seb (forgetting about the fights for the other 22 places on the grid), and with the exception of Bahrain each race has at least been good and we have been treated to some amazing races. Seriously if you find this season dull/boring then I can only suggest that maybe F1 isn't the sport for you... go try touring cars or motogp for your petrol fix.

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  • 45. At 2:42pm on 30 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    Was that a mistake by Mark or Seb?

    My feeling is Mark gave him enough space and Seb moved into him, but not sure if it was Sebs mistake or if it was bumps, Seb did look like he was bouncing around going up the inside.

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  • 46. At 3:11pm on 30 May 2010, Russ wrote:

    Never have I seen such a line up of angry winnders on the podium. Excellent restraint from Mark Webber during the winners interview and a great race.

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  • 47. At 3:20pm on 30 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    I think Lewis and Jenson just looked knackered rather than angry, Mark however....

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  • 48. At 3:37pm on 30 May 2010, wildsagebrush wrote:

    CAR/DRIVER id. Sometimes even the commentators don't know which car is which. I have huge problems knowing who is who after position three. Mansell used to have a big red 5 on his car, can we please have something on the nose cone and the sides of the car to id who it is please?
    A number, a letter or letters, a unique personalised driver's logo...something. If it is numbers/letters and there are two the same then give them different colours.

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  • 49. At 5:10pm on 30 May 2010, steveblack1000 wrote:

    It's clear for all to see that it was Vettel who turned in on Webber.

    DC called it, Martin Brundle called it, but now Christian Horner is trying to rewrite history by saying Mark was trying to save fuel and he pushed Vettel on to the dirty side. Blah, Blah, Blah Mark Webber is being treated as the sacrificial lamb.

    What were the first words from DC according to Jake when he saw that incident? PRESSURE

    Jonathan was spot on when called it on Friday, pressure. Amy, cue the excuses.

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  • 50. At 5:18pm on 30 May 2010, JP wrote:

    Thankyou for your response Johnathon I see there is a link to a reference to his injuries, my mistake. I do think however this is probably the main reason for any difference in performance, tied with the appaulingly bad luck Vettel has had all season. Spark plug failure costs him one win, brake failure a second, then his car broke yesterday when he was looking like out qualifying Mark. I can't think of any other top team this season where the mechanical failures have been so one sided, for example both Lewis and Jenson have had mechanically caused DNFs and similar share of other problems. If I was Vettel right now I can't imagine how I'd feel! Today though was the first race where he made a true mistake, perhaps he was frustrated at being stuck behind Webber due to no fault of his own (mechanical failures on Saturday) when he was clearly the faster driver over the weekend? In any case Vettel responded well this weekend I thought, and still he was behind his team mate after his car failed him again on Saturday, he must be livid!

    I think Jenson and Lewis have the psychological advantage of having won the WDC already and so are both a bit less desperate and perhaps more calculating. Definitely agree with 18, Jenson and Mark are less agressive and least likely to throw points away. I wouldn't say that Lewis is as likely to as Vettel though, having won the WDC I think he's more collected. I think today (like Australia last year) demonstrates that Seb needs to realse you get a few extra points for finishing a place higher but no points for finishing last!

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  • 51. At 5:23pm on 30 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    I ain't so sure its as clear cut, Mark could have/should have left a bit more room. However I do think the ultimate responsibility for the accident was Sebs, and I do think PRESSURE had a huge amount to do with it. Seb has a point to prove, he wants to slap Mark down and re-assert himself as the no1 driver and Mark isn't going to go down without a fight.

    If there were team orders in engine mapping that advantaged Seb then I am sure it will come out, a long with a well crafted reason as to why Mark needed to save engine/fuel/tyres/brakes/whatever and Seb didn't.

    As for the Forum and the question of Horner backing Seb, lets wait and actually hear what he said/says before we let pit lane gossip be taken as fact, its not the first time the press have gotten things wrong/ made things up and run with them.

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  • 52. At 5:30pm on 30 May 2010, JP wrote:

    Oh and Jonathan, think I spelt it right this time! Would just like to say I think your commentating has imporoved tremendously recently. You clearly are enthusiastic about the sport and you and Martin appear to be on a much more similar wavelength these days! Really thought you did a great job today so congratulations.

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  • 53. At 5:32pm on 30 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    Oh and on an unrelated note - good call about the rain cloud Legard, I had just spotted it before the camera flicked off, the way the whole team reacted to the threat was great, lots of information and some great pit radio messages... and bravo to Brundle for his comments regarding rain, the bit about lying to the fans for 14 years about the chance of rain had me in stitches!!!

    My reading, the threat was real, the excitement was real and was handled well, but Martin cooled down the speculation when it started to get silly before it could spoil my enjoyment of the coverage. The race was exciting enough without over egging the real threat.

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  • 54. At 9:21pm on 30 May 2010, Wally wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 55. At 10:19pm on 30 May 2010, schusize8 wrote:

    @44,actually I totally agree with you if you state it is a one sided story since I wanted to highlight the misfortune of one driver.
    It was never my intention to dismiss the bad luck and technical failures the other racers have been experiencing,but I thought by stating the obvious, race by race,was going to give an appropriate answer to those who claimed this particular driver was getting cocky,jealous of Mark or whatever else.
    And as for being too demanding on the material he's handling,then I should deduct that this is already showing in the grid shoot-out,since he forced his roll-bar so hard in Turkey he ended only third on the grid,instead of on pole?
    Now for my view on the spectacular,yet devastating race(for Red Bull) we've seen today:

    Every single F1 racer wants to win every race he can if he's in contention,and probably reduce the risks once he's build in a comfortable lead to have a shot at the title,the ultimate crown.

    The two Red Bulls were leading with equal points at the start of this race.Mark got away splendidly and Seb coming from the clean side managed to jump Lewis for second position.
    Lewis brilliantly takes back his position on Vettel just a few corners later.
    RB calls Sebastian in before the other frontrunners and it seems to be the right strategy,ridding him of the threat of Jenson breathing in his neck and even jumping back over Lewis who experienced a slow pit stop a couple of laps later.
    Gradually Seb is closing in on Mark,under the threat of being overtaken by Lewis who's sniffing at his exhaust and an equally fast Jenson a couple of seconds further up the track.These McLarens apparently have closed the speed gap with the Red Bulls!
    Then, all of a sudden,after gradually reeling in Mark for the last 3 to 4 laps,Seb makes his move knowing (or thinking?)he's the faster "combination".
    Perhaps I'm just ignorant,but I really believe a move like that is done with the consensus of the pit wall people,who are in constant contact with both drivers,certainly when the team is defending spot 1 and 2 in the race and championship!
    Seb took 3/4 of a car advance over Mark,who was gradually squeezing him to the left(defending his line according to David Coulthard)
    And then all hell broke loose when Seb moved (swiftly)right.
    I really didn't know what to think about this situation.
    Most of the comments I read condemn Seb for this last move to his own detriment(unknowingly).
    But after hearing Christian Horner and helmut Marko after the race I think we can easely deduct what has been said to both drivers and mainly to Mark!
    Now, we all know that team orders are as much avoided as Dolly Parton trying not to sleep on her back.Just ask Jenson and Lewis what they've been told by the pits,once they started dancing with each other,knowing they were 1 and 2 in the race!Yes,yes, fuel control!
    Now i'm afraid we haven't heard the last of this incident in the Red Bull camp;let's cross our fingers they don't start sharpening their knives to fight one another,forgetting the real competition.
    Anyway,for those claiming I wrote a one sided story about Seb being unlucky for most of his races,just look at the outcome of this incident...

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  • 56. At 11:22pm on 30 May 2010, cordas wrote:

    Sorry but I just don't buy that, team radio is monitored to avoid illegal team orders like that. Both drivers are driving and competing for the Drivers Championship and Red Bull shouldn't be trying to engineer results, and if they are there should be an investigation launched into race fixing!

    With regard to Seb over driving his car, its merely an observation based on a track record of Adrian cars - fast but unreliable/delicate, and a correlation with the amount of mechanical failures he has suffered. When I posted the comment about his problems in qualifying I wasn't aware of what had broken in his car, only that something had.

    Regarding for the outcome of this race, Vettel only has one person to blame for his bad luck and that's himself... he put himself in that situation and he turned/moved right into Mark's car. Mark was never going to give the place to Vettel unless he had a serious problem with his car, no amount of team orders would ever make him do it, I doubt that even if they threatened to fire him on the podium would he give up the win when he was leading the championship!

    As for your one sided post, I must admit I just read it as another rant from a Vettel fanboy, as there have been more than a few of them flying about because their hero has been 'slated' just because anyone is daring to question him, sorry if it caused any offence :-)

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  • 57. At 00:36am on 31 May 2010, schusize8 wrote:

    @44 aka 56

    call the police and tell them team orders are back in F1 and that the commonly used code is "fuel saving mode"!

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  • 58. At 07:21am on 31 May 2010, fastlane66 wrote:

    Vettel is jealousy about Webber 2 consecutive win and he does not want to see Webber 3 consecutive win. Red Bull Horner and Marko was behind Vettel and blame on Webber for Sunday accident even though Vettel fault. Sorry Horner and Marko I'll stop drinking Red Bull and go back to original better quality energy drink Lipovitan or Libogen or Livita. The Japanese Lipovitan energy drink formula was copy by Red Bull in early 80s. Red Bull should admit Vettel is their No.1 driver. Honestly, I'm happy he crashed out. Vettel behavior is immature and arrogance. Mark Webber deserves to win 2010 Championship because he drive better than Vettel this year. I want to see those 2 idiots apologize to Webber for their comment. We Aussie boycott Red Bull Drink.

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  • 59. At 8:16pm on 31 May 2010, Sagacity wrote:

    A few people have mentioned Webbers leg which, while he would never admit it, certainly didn't help him last year. Although in formula one you're only as good as your last race, it's a bit early to write off Vettel, this might just turn out to be a good run for Webber followed by a another good run for Vettel. Vettel does need to learn from his mistakes though, if you just blame them on someone else then you never learn from them.

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  • 60. At 11:07pm on 31 May 2010, Wally wrote:

    I made a post yesterday which was removed so I'll try again...I said Vettel was a brat and that I was fed up with his pouting, just look at the first photo on your home page! Need I say more? Everyone except his team put him in the wrong. It's a shame to see such a fine driver behaving so badly and I don't see anything wrong in stating it. My other comment was on the quality of your commentaries. I'm not alone in this and judging by the number of moderated posts on this blog you are unable to face criticism. If it were not for the excellent Brundle I would choose the alternative commentary every time. Your blaring inaccuracies and pointless blathering are totally exasperating and unworthy of the otherwise excellent coverage provided by the BBC.

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  • 61. At 2:02pm on 01 Jun 2010, Malco wrote:

    Re my comments earlier (43), in view of recent events, CH's motivational skills have gone down the dunny, and unfortunately Mark has been shafted by his own team. Helmut Marko's comments were deplorable (especially for an 'advisor' to the team) and as other's have commented elsewhere, for a team formed around a marketable product, this has been a PR disaster. From what I've read in the last two days, Mark's following has gone through the roof because of RB's poorly disquised bias and flimsy excuses and RB has been rubbished. And there's likely more to be revealed.
    Mark is a true gentleman and he's always congratulated the winner and credited the team for any success he has made.
    PS CH's comment about both being big boys... I recon he's only half right. One of them is big, the other is a boy.

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  • 62. At 09:29am on 13 Jun 2010, richard wrote:

    It amases me how every one has been sucked in on all the pit lane scandle,surely this is due to the lack of excitement due to its now so boreing on track, who would ever have thought the day would come when the situation was..unless your on the 2 front rows you aint gonner win,who were the pillocks that thought up ,no ramdem pit stops ,no refueling,etc. The comentry team need a medal the way that they try and make it interesting,even the grid walk about has been restricted for some unearthly reason,I have for over 20 yrs never missed a race , but now if something crops up like more interesting,for example watching paint dry !!!! then I`m just as happy to switch the lap top on and read the inevitable result.

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  • 63. At 09:15am on 15 Jun 2010, wildsagebrush wrote:

    In the heat of the moment even the commentators don't know which car's which.
    I REALLY wish something could be done to distinguish the cars far more easily. I find it difficult to follow the race for at least half the time.
    Yes, I know Ferrari is red etc etc but there are (usually) two reds and in the heat of the moment when there's a spinoff or similar I don't know which Ferrari it is and neither do the commentators. How many times do we hear even them ask each other which driver it is ???
    A big number on the car, a unique driver logo,(bet drivers would love that)something that easily distinguishes each car, how hard can this be?
    Half the time I'm not sure who I'm watching after lap one.

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