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2013 Belgian Grand Prix report

After taking pole position – his fourth on the trot – for the Belgian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton admitted he was surprised to find he had done it. On a track drying out quickly after a quick shower, he nicked it from Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, but if that were gratifying, he was under few illusions about race day. “I hope we can fight for it tomorrow,” he said, “but I still feel the Red Bulls are ahead…”

Hamilton was on the mark – about one of the Red Bulls, anyway. Lewis’s Mercedes led away, but, as he said, through Eau Rouge Vettel caught him ‘massively’, and up the hill to Les Combes he was helpless to keep the Red Bull back. “Once I was past,” Sebastian said, “we had fantastic pace – incredible pace – and were able to control the race, and we didn’t expect that…”

reports  2013 Belgian Grand Prix report

So it was that Vettel, newly dyed hair and all, won the Belgian Grand Prix, the 31st victory of his F1 career. In so doing he extended his World Championship lead to 46 points, no less, moving ever closer to that fourth title.

Sebastian was keen to stress that, no, it wasn’t all over, that this time last year he had been a similar number of points behind Alonso, yet was able to overhaul him before season’s end, and Fernando said that that gave him hope, as well. The difference is that in 2012 he led the championship in far from the fastest car, and was always going to be vulnerable to the Asian streak that Vettel always seems to get going in the autumn. Sebastian was indeed playing catch-up – but doing it in a quantifiably quicker car; this time around he comfortably leads the point standings – and still has the quickest car. The championship may, who knows, still be up for grabs at Interlagos in November, but at the moment that is not the way to bet.

reports  2013 Belgian Grand Prix report

Roundly beaten, like everyone else, Alonso nevertheless finished second at Spa, and afterwards said he felt happy with the way the weekend had gone. While there was nothing he could do about Vettel’s Red Bull, he had the measure of everyone else, finishing second after qualifying only ninth.

This was not, in point of fact, a true reflection of his Ferrari’s competitiveness. Q3 was run in mixed conditions, and while Hamilton and the Red Bulls were out at the right time (the very end of the session, when the track swiftly began to dry), the Ferraris were not.

For all that, Alonso said before the race that he was very confident of a good race. “I can see signs of progress here. Some of the new components are maybe not too obvious, but we have taken some steps in developing the car, and we feel very positive. Forgetting Q3, Ferrari have been fighting for the top positions in each session, and I’m sure that in the race – whatever conditions we have – we will have a good pace.”

So he did – as long as you left Vettel’s Red Bull out of the equation. This was one of those rare years when everyone made it through La Source unscathed, and Fernando was at his opportunistic best on the opening lap, coming over the line in fifth place, having overtaken Räikkönen, Grosjean, di Resta and Webber. Thereafter he picked off Button on lap three, Rosberg on lap six and Hamilton – after the first stops – on lap 14.

reports  2013 Belgian Grand Prix report

“Today,” said Fernando, “we got back some of the optimism we’d recently lost. We had to recover some places after starting so far back and actually it was a bit boring after we got into second place because by then Sebastian was so far ahead, and there was no one close behind me…”

Alonso was right. In absolute terms, this was one of the least eventful races at Spa on record. “When the car works so well at such a fantastic track,” said Vettel, “you don’t want the race to finish…” He wasn’t necessarily speaking for everyone.

Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finished third and fourth for Mercedes, less than three seconds apart, but although Lewis never looked like repeating his Hungaroring victory, he wasn’t too downhearted afterwards. “It was a tough race,” he conceded. “I must say I’d thought that if race day was dry we were in for a difficult time from Red Bull, of course, but also –after seeing their long run pace in practice – from Ferrari. Our car seems to be less good on low-downforce circuits like Spa, and we may struggle a bit at Monza, too – I reckon we’ll be more back on the pace at Singapore. We’ve made progress, I think, but the other guys have made more than we have. That’s the way it goes sometimes.”

reports  2013 Belgian Grand Prix report

Although Hamilton has invariably excelled at Spa, last year he was comprehensively blown away by McLaren team-mate Button, who had one of his unstoppable weekends. No one needs to be reminded of the dreadful season the team has had, but at this circuit he adores Jenson was in superb form, and pleased to report that McLaren had indeed made some progress with its difficult car. Sixth in qualifying, sixth in the race, may not have been earth-shattering, but at least Button was vaguely in the mix this time, and it had been a while.

In a way the most startling fact of the Belgian Grand Prix was that Räikkönen’s Lotus failed to finish, thus breaking a sequence which began with his return to F1 at the beginning of the 2012 season. From very early in the race Kimi was troubled by brakes, which were running too hot, and not offering much in the way of retardation. Eventually, trying to pass Felipe Massa’s Ferrari at the Bus Stop, he found himself completely brakeless, went over the chicane, and retired soon afterwards. A big blow to Raikkonen’s title aspirations, this, for both Vettel and Alonso scored well.

For much of Q3 it had looked likely that Paul di Resta’s Force India would be starting from pole position. As the last part of qualifying began there was rain in the air, and whereas the rest went out initially on slicks, Paul and his team opted to use intermediates from the outset. It looked an inspired decision, too, for swiftly the weather worsened, and while his rivals slithered around, then dashed in for intermediates after a single (unfinished) lap, di Resta was able to set a time. As the rain continued to get worse, it was clear that no one could equal it, but unfortunately for Force India conditions then suddenly, significantly, improved again in the last couple of minutes, and Paul slipped from first to fifth. Still, it was a great starting position, but in the race he fell foul of Pastor Maldonado’s Williams in a mix-up at the Bus Stop, and that was that. Team-mate Adrian Sutil salvaged something for the team with ninth place.

Before the race started proceedings were enlivened by members of Greenpeace, who parachuted down onto the roof of the grandstand on the start/finish straight, and proceeded to hang down banners protesting against oil excavation in the arctic. The title sponsor of the Belgian Grand Prix is, of course, Shell.

reports  2013 Belgian Grand Prix report

Clearly these people were very well organised, and had put much thought and preparation into their protests. The FOM-controlled TV cameras stayed well away from the pre-start goings-on, but nothing could be done to sidestep those after the finish, for these were displayed on the victory podium, suddenly looming into sight in front of the drivers. Clearly these elaborate posters must have been in situ for some little time, which was amazing, given that the security at Spa is ordinarily off the clock, in terms of the police closing roads, and so on. “Heads will roll for this,” someone in the press room muttered, and no one was inclined to disagree.

In between these protests we had the Belgian Grand Prix, which was thankfully free of serious accident – but also, unfortunately, largely free of incident and excitement, too. As soon as Vettel was past Hamilton, the game looked to be over. Sebastian led Lewis by 1.4 seconds at the end of the opening lap, and next time round that had doubled. Lewis, pole position man or not, had nothing for the Red Bull, and although Ferrari came back strongly at Spa, with Alonso best of the rest, no one is betting a dime against Vettel’s fourth championship.

“We… had a bit of pace in hand,” said Sebastian, “so we could control the race.” Indeed he did. With a dozen laps to go, his race engineer got on the radio to him: “Open the gap to Alonso – there could be rain coming…” In fact, the rain never materialised, but Vettel duly obliged with a new fastest lap next time round, and on lap 40 – four from the flag – he did it again. Just for the hell of it, just because he could.

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Click here to read more from Nigel Roebuck.

reports  2013 Belgian Grand Prix report

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97 comments on 2013 Belgian Grand Prix report

  1. Bill, 25 August 2013 17:30

    Nice race report, but why not a word on how Adrian Newey’s other car fared, other than a short mention that Alonso overtook Webber?

    On saturday he got beaten by Sebastian Vettel in qualifying for the 11th time out of 11 2013 races, and if that statistic wasnt shocking enough, his race was baffling, to say the least. He lost a few places at the start, but he never recovered, never battled and only reeled in Rosberg at the end, to then stop trying any overtake and just followed him to the finish. The exact same car as Vettel, Nigel Roebuck.

    Afterwards, Webber didnt bother to be in the post race team photo moment and I thought that was a very childish thing to do. If Webber cant be bothered to race his heart out in that car or be thankful to his team, maybe he should do the honourable thing and quit before Monza.

    Stray observations:

    - The Ferrari was good at this medium downforce track, but ive a feeling itll be back to being mediocre at high downforce tracks like Singapore again.
    - Massa ended 37 seconds behind his teammate, who qualified ahead to P9 even with a spin yesterday. Someone should put Felipe out of his misery.
    - Vettel and Hamilton spraying DC with champagne during his podium interview was priceless.
    - Spa winners should be allowed a victory lap after the race.

  2. john miller, 25 August 2013 19:09

    Well, that’s the last F1 race I’ll feel compelled to watch. The first one was Brands in 1967 and then pretty much continuously (Durex excepted) since then.

    The Chinese aver that the longest journey begins with but a single step. Thus has F1 (formerly known as Grand Prix) racing wandered into the wilderness.

    The exact moment of my terminal disaffection came when Perez received his drive through penalty. In a fit of anger I changed channels to the Test match.

    For the second race running, someone has been penalised for a gutsy, bold overtaking move. And, for God’s sake, with Del Boy as the advisor to the stewards. May I point you to the last podcast featuring that shy retiring flower that I always admired for his hard-nut racing attitude.

    It was bad enough that elfansafety decreed that Grand Prix, like hopscotch, was run over a course deliniated with white lines, with the run off areas requiring the spectators to come armed with opera glasses.

    But for overtaking moves to be judged 3 laps after the event, with chair bound warriors deeming that it was against the rules…

    The FIA apparently have decided that the only overtaking sanctioned by them is with the use of DRS on the straight.

    It’s foolhardy enough tampering with the “motor” bit in 2014, when we’re all trying to save money, but getting rid of the “racing” bit a year earlier really is the straw that broke this camel’s back.

  3. Pat Kenny, 25 August 2013 19:12

    It was not a classic by any means but what worries me is the continued low attendance (compared to the past) and the inevitable fall out from security breaches. I wonder if we are not in for another winter where the status of the race at Francorchamps is uncertain. It sometimes appears to be teetering on the edge and could at any time fall off. It was probably a good thing that the cameras did not linger at the start on the protesters – many photographers can testify to the tender mercies of the local police.

  4. Michael Spitale, 25 August 2013 22:19

    Seb was the class of the field. It is not easy to pass anyone minus DRS these days on a long straight, no less a Merc with the best lump in F1. The Ferrari no doubt looked like a car reborn over the break. I was stunned how much top line speed they could carry all the while running the most wing of the field.
    There is little doubt Alonso is the only competition to Vettel. He has the car in race trim to fight RB, but he does not seem to be able to qualify the way he races and that will need to change if he has any chance this year.

  5. Jackal, 25 August 2013 22:57

    Another absolutely brilliant drive from Vettel marginalized by Mr. Roebuck. Likely he will never be able to bring himself to give Seb the genuine credit that his talent truly deserves. I wonder if the race report would have read differently had Hamilton put in the drive/win Vettel did today? Never mind, I have a feeling that I already know the answer.

  6. John Read, 26 August 2013 01:02

    Webber may have the exact same car as Vettel, but I wonder whether they have the exact same clutch specification.

    One could speculate that Webber mis-uses his clutch, or do they use the clutch from Helmut’s Combi van in Webbers car?

  7. Dave Cubbedge, 26 August 2013 01:37


    Now that Seb has all but secured the title again, why don’t we invert the entire grid for the last eight races so we, the fans, can have something spectacular to watch? Seb is the greatest driver in 100 years, but……

    I went to a USAC Sprint car race Friday in Kokomo where in the semi-feature a guy started 18th, last, and was in the lead by lap eight of a twelve lap feature on a 1/4 mile dirt bullring. Oh and it cost me $35 to get into the race with a pit pass where I shook the hand of Aldo Andretti amongst others…

  8. Carlos Sanchez, 26 August 2013 04:28

    Sorry lads, I’m just not having any more of this!.
    What in the world is going on in the heads of the so called FIA stewards penalizing Perez, Maldonado and Gutierrez for absolutely having done NOTHING wrong except carry on fairly and competitively with RACING, ‘MOTOR RACING’, do you understand (Warwick et all)? Or is this some kind of racism against latin american RACING drivers?!… Shame!, but I am just not willing to pay a single pence further for Sky TV or any printed magazine, especially when prior to this F1 ‘event’, we can witness TRUE and GENUINE competition in Moto GP from Brno!…) If all you do is convert F1 Grand prix racing into a mockery of this nature by your unfair and plain stupid judgment within the SPORT!. Three blatantly faulty punishment decisions in a single race, that’s just too much, you’ve entirely blown it this time that is!!! Shame on you Warwick et all…

  9. Andrew Scoley, 26 August 2013 06:32

    Vettel, greatest driver in 100 years? Doesn’t say much for all those who’ve gone before.

    I, too, hate the number of penalties handed out. But, it’s very simple. Drivers must hold their line and stop all this weaving about. Grosjean was wrong when he pushed Jenson off in a previous race, Perez was wrong when he pushed Grosjean off yesterday. Don’t these guys have any idea where the other car is? The Renault was alongside the McLaren for heaven’s sake, he can’t just disappear.

    I am reminded of Alain Prost’s comments recently that vision out of these cars is nothing like good enough. In the interest of driver protection it seems we have gone so far that actually being able to see where you are going, and indeed where you have been, has very much taken a back seat.

    Well hey, there’s an idea. Let’s go back to the days when there were riding mechanics. They could have two jobs. One to chivvy their driver along, the other to tell him when he’s actually passed someone and it’s safe to pull back to the side of the track. You can just imagine Rob Smedley banging Filipe on the helmet and telling him to get a move on.

  10. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 26 August 2013 12:38

    Mr Roebuck, Sir:

    You can marginalize Vettel’s post-break 2012 and his quite awesome driving this year – while, simultaneously, ‘Bigging Up’ Alonso over the same period – but trying to re-write history won’t change the fact that the 26 year old German is slaughtering your favourite.

    You wrote “…Sebastian was indeed playing catch-up – but doing it in a quantifiably quicker car; this time around he comfortably leads the point standings – and still has the quickest car.”

    Well, if the RB8 was a “quantifiably quciker car” after the summer break, how come Massa – the much maligned Ferrari Number 2 – was able to out-score Title contender Webber 97 to 55?

    Massa – 97

    Webber – 55

    Those were the scores after the Summer break. So, how can you say that the RBR was a “quantifiably faster” car during the ‘catch’ up phase starting this time last year?

    Massa, in fact, scored 97 inspite of being ordered to support Alonso inspite of being the faster Ferrari driver in 3 of the final 5 races of 2012. Had he not been grid-dropped at Austin and been allowed to race in Brazil, his tally would have been greater.

    No, Sir, your favourite driver bottled it after the Ferrari got more competitive in 2012.

    This year, Alonso has made too many mistakes and his speed in qualifying isn’t at the level of Hamilton-Vettel.

    Ferraris were very competitive on Saturday. Shame that Fernando spun and missed out on getting that final flyer that would have put the car well up on the grid for the Grand Prix.

  11. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 26 August 2013 12:54


    Mr Roebuck, Sir:

    This year, Vettel hasn’t necessarily had the “quickest car”. Indeed, far from it.

    Over the first 5 Grands Prix, the Ferrari F138 was, arguably, the ‘best’ package over-all. Alonso OUGHT to have been leading the Championship after Spain. But mistakes by him and the team meant Vettel led.

    Further, the Mercedes W04 has been THE fastest car in qualifying this year…and, after Spain, it has been THE fastest race car at Monaco, Silverstone and Hungary.

    Lotus? Well, one of the Lotuses/Loti OUGHT to have won in Germany…but…but Vettel proved brilliant and STOLE the win.

    In addition, you, Sir, keep going on about how Webber is no slouch and very fast indeed. (And, to be fair, he IS very fast and has been very in form the last handful of races. A superior animal to Massa or Grosjean, and perhaps on par with Button and Rosberg).

    Yet, for whatever reason, Vettel has edged him out 11-0 in qualifying. and the gap in the Standings is quite noticable.

    When will you give Vettel due credit?

  12. JSaviano, 26 August 2013 13:28

    Enough cynicism, etc. Enough debate on who’s the greatest driver and other silly musings. Two things, at minimum, need to be done: 1) Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, et al, need to build proper F1 cars that can directly fight the Red Bulls, in all conditions. Regardless of how good SV ultimately is, the RB is a much better racing car. 2) Get some sort of regular FIA presence in the stewards’ room, in that some level of consistency must exist. At the present, the penalties seem totally random.

  13. Bill T, 26 August 2013 15:28

    Is it just me or was there something “funny” about the way Vettel just drove past Hamilton on Lap 1? The Mercedes always shows better top speed and more grunt than any other engine, DRS was not yet in play and surely (?) both would have been deploying KERS, yet he just went right past.

  14. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 26 August 2013 15:45


    The Mercedes were relatively ‘slow’ out of Eau Rouge/Raidillon and onto Kemmel.

    Vettel had opted for a shorter 7th gear (Webber opted for a taller (longer) 7th) whereas the W04s were running relative taller 7ths.

    Alonso said that Rosberg was “slow” when he passed him. So, Rosberg was in the same boat as Hamilton. And, you saw, that Hamilton couldn’t get passed Alonso even using DRS.

    So, every Grand Prix is different and every year is different.

    The way the Mercedes cars were ratioed in terms of gears made them more vulnerable to Vettel and to Alonso out of Eau Rouge.

    Just to make it more plain, a shorter 7th gear will give you more torque.

    Hope this helps, Bill.

  15. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 26 August 2013 16:32


    This weekend the speed trap showed that the Mercedes were actually SLOWER than the RBRs and Ferraris. Here:

    Also, you’ll see that the Mercedes were slower than the RBRs and Ferraris in Sector 1. Here:

    Further, there has been talk about Vettel and his engineers not optimizing gear ratios at places like Spa and Monza in the past. This year they “got it right”, it would seem.

    Lastly you get a HUGE tow on the Kemmel Straight up to Les Combes.

    So, given the superior torque provided by a shorter 7th out of Eau Rouge/Raidillon, the faster speed the RB9 and, lastly, the tow he got from Hamilton, Vettel was easily able to slipstream past up Kemmel.

    Same with Alonso on Rosberg and Alonso keeping Hamilton at bay.

    Webber and his engineers – according to what is known – went a slightly different route on the gear ratio side.


  16. John, 26 August 2013 17:11

    Andrew Scoley, with the way the engineers micro manage everything in the races, that is not a bad suggestion.

  17. Mikey, 26 August 2013 17:26

    So SV/RB had performance in hand. Can’t argue with that. As Bill T said, the first lap pass was oh so easy. Was Seb trying out 2014 spec’ ERS? A fourth title is looking like a formality (drat), especially if he can reproduce his 2012 Asia form in the coming races. A red challenge? Unlikely if the first half of the season is any indicator.
    SV the best in 100 years? Not yet. That modern test of “Doing it with another team” has yet to be satisfied. It wasn’t required of the old school but seems a good tweek to the boxes that must be ticked.

  18. Michael Spitale, 26 August 2013 17:37

    It does not matter what Seb does, a lot of you as well as the media would complain. As for this “win on two teams” garbage I am not buying it. If Seb went to Macca or Ferrari and won you would say, “he is so lucky he went to team X at the right moment, blah blah blah” Shumacher won multiple titles at 2 teams and people still tear him down all the time.

    We are seeing something great with Seb so enjoy it… Last time I checked Mercedes has 90% of the poles this year so no more complaining that Seb takes pole and drives away with a win.

  19. Bill, 26 August 2013 17:49

    @jsaviano wrote”Regardless of how good SV ultimately is, the RB is a much better racing car. ”

    -It wasnt on Saturday.
    -It wasnt in Hungary.
    -It was marginal in Germany.
    -It wasnt at Silverstone, etc.
    In fact I can only see a clear advantage of the RB9 at 4 races; Mal, Bah, Can and yesterday at Spa.

    The podiums show who makes the difference, though.
    Mark Webber: 3 podiums out of 11 races.
    Sebastian Vettel: 8 podiums out of 11 races.

    If the car is all that, youd expect a lot of of 1-2s, and lots of easy wins.

  20. Mikey, 26 August 2013 18:19

    True, Bill. RB isn’t always the best. It is the rest of the field that lacks consistency. The RB is always in the mix.
    Michael Spitale’s comment (possibly) re my comment on multiple team World Champions. I agree it is all tosh at the end of the day. We make our own subjective judgements on greatness. Would Schuey have been a lesser Champion without the Benetton wins? Arguably not. Would Stewart’s reputation have been enhanced if he had won a fourth with Ferrari? Doubt it. It is just nice to see a small facet of versatility, especially as they rarely drive anything other than F1.

  21. Nigel Roebuck, 26 August 2013 18:38

    You’re quite right, Ray, Vettel is indeed slaughtering everyone this season, Alonso included – at this rate, who can guess how many consecutive World Championships he will win?

    That said, I doubt that many in the paddock – drivers and team principals included – would disagree with me that a Red Bull has been consummately the thing to have for the past several seasons. Unquestionably the team has done a far better job than any other, and its success is well deserved.

    I don’t suggest for a second that Vettel is other than a great driver, but I’ll admit that I hope one day to see him up against it, in an inferior car, because it’s then that – as with Gilles Villeneuve – one learns most about a Grand Prix driver. Senna, for example, was never better than in 1993.

    As for Alonso, yes, I agree with Lewis Hamilton’s assessment that he is the best, the most complete, driver on the grid, and I’m entitled to my opinion, just as you are.

    It was indeed a shame, as you say, that he spun at the end of Spa qualifying, and missed out on that final flyer in rapidly drying conditions – like all of them, he makes mistakes. Mind you, I thought ninth to fifth on the opening lap was a pretty reasonable effort, didn’t you?

  22. Dave Cubbedge, 26 August 2013 20:38

    sorry Andrew, it was a feeble attempt at being sarcastic.

  23. Dave Cubbedge, 26 August 2013 20:40

    In my racing world, the greatest ever is Nuvolari.

  24. Alex Milligan, 26 August 2013 23:23

    Goodness Bill, you really have a strong dislike for Webber don’t you – it’s borderline irrational. Some say the stats don’t lie – clearly you follow this line.
    I am looking forward to next season when you berate Ricciardo in the same manner when he is totally outclassed by SV in the “same” car.

  25. Bill, 27 August 2013 05:02

    @ Alex Milligan: I do not think its very fair to dismiss or relevant how I think about Webber. It was only a few races ago a praised his racing skills to bits here in the comments, and think its a travesty he is leaving us.

    But lately hes showing more and more a different side. Sunday was watching a different, subdued Webber. He keeps getting outqualified on saturday. Then he talks to the press who the new RB driver will be, wich is none of his business, and then I dont see him in the team photo moment post race and I think: this isnt very classy.

    However, the stat above shows the RB9 isnt the best by a mile, it isnt dominant like the RB7, and that Vettel is grinding out the results just like hes done from day one of his career. Thats his trademark.

  26. Bill, 27 August 2013 06:09

    Nigel Roebuck “I don’t suggest for a second that Vettel is other than a great driver, but I’ll admit that I hope one day to see him up against it, in an inferior car, because it’s then that – as with Gilles Villeneuve – one learns most about a Grand Prix driver. Senna, for example, was never better than in 1993.”

    Dear Nigel Roebuck,

    May I suggest that you rewatch the 2009 F1 season? Vettel clearly was in an inferior car then to the all conquering Brawn, and did a season not dismilar to Senna’s 1993. Senna, driving a McLaren in 1993, not exactly a souped up Jaguar team Red Bull was in 2009, with smaller budget and staff than the big teams.

    Senna: 8 poles, 5 wins, ends 2nd in the standings.
    Vettel: 4 poles, 4 wins ends 2nd in the standings.

    I dont think Vettel was as good back then as he is now. Withmarsh even suggested post 2009 Spa, Vettel didnt belong in F1…

    Vettels 2008 season, in what was at best the 5th best car in the field, wasnt too shabby neither.

    Vettel: 12 race finishes, 10 top results, 1 pole, 1 win, ends season 8th, 35 points
    Bourdais: 14 race finishes, 2 top 10 results, 0 poles, 0 wins, ends season 17th with the grand total of 4 points.

    Its also a bit peculiar that you imply the Red Bull was the thing to have the last few years, the better car, but dont consider they drove with an inferior engine since the 2008 reliability enhancements. One could suggest last years US GP was lost because Hamiltons engine had just that more oomph than Vettels car.

  27. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 27 August 2013 12:57

    Dear Mr. Roebuck,

    Thank you for taking the time to repsond to my posts.

    Yes, you’re right, Alonso moving from 9th to 5th on the first lap was top drawer.

    The Ferraris do seem to have superior launch capabilities and, sadly, they WERE ‘out of position’ – whilst the likes of di Resta were ‘out of position’ the other way.

    Nevertheless, Alonso made up for his Q3 error with a top Grand Prix. He used a very good F138 to it’s maximum whilst Massa was beaten by the inferior (at Spa) Mercedes cars and a McLaren.

    As per you supporting Lewis’s assessment that Fernando is “the best, the most complete, driver on the grid”…Well, Sir, these two have a history of ‘Bigging’ each other ‘Up’. Each has a vested interest in telling everyone the other is the best because it serves their mutual best interest to do so. They aren’t exactly unbiased!

    I mean, how do we know Vettel isn’t at least a match for either?

    We have our opinions and your’s (and Lewis’) carry way more weight than mine but until Vettel and Alonso go toe-to-toe under co-equal Number 1 circumstances, we’ll never know.

    What we do know is that Alonso 1) contiunes to make more mistakes than Vettel and 2) he was out-qualified by rookie Hamilton who, effectively, ‘showed him the way out’ of McLaren.

    The question is: Has Hamilton improved since the end of 2007?

    In my opinion, Hamilton regressed in 2011 … but his 2012 and ’13 have been emphatically superior to ’07.

    Once again, thank you for your response.

    Kind regards,


  28. Dean Stewart, 27 August 2013 13:09

    …..although you could also argue in 2009 Red Bull were chasing Brawn who probably had a smaller budget than them ( hence why their results started to flatline as the season progressed ). McLaren and Ferrari had shot themselves in the foot by chasing the 2008 championship to its conclusion, to the detriment of their 2009 cars and not even their big budgets would change that. I agree with Nigel, Vettel is a great driver and at some point it will be good to see him dragging an average car around – but would you walk away from an Adrian Newey car just to make a point !?!

  29. John Winder, 27 August 2013 13:29

    Can’t bring myself to care much either way, any more. I wasn’t going to bother watching it at all, and then I saw that it was Spa, and that the Beeb were broadcasting the whole race, so I found it on the iplayer and settled down with a beer. After ten laps, I went and got myself a guitar to noodle around on with the race in the background, after maybe 30 laps I was looking at the screen only occasionally and after 40 laps I realised that I should have just gone with my first instincts and watched the MotoGP instead, which I immediately did. The only thing I regret is missing the Greenpeace banners at the podium ceremony.
    No matter how good Vettel is, F1 racing has disappeared up its own arse now. Penalties for actual racing and the continuing use of DRS have seen to that for me.

  30. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 27 August 2013 14:41

    John Winder,

    Yes, that was a relatively unexciting race following the first few laps (other than the Latin American drivers’ ‘spicing up of the show’, here and there).

    The tense one hour qualifying session, however, was off the scale by comparison.

    Nevertheless, I am still compelled to provide my Scores Of The Meeting (qualifying and the race) with the caveat that qually was a lottery this time.

    9.25 … Vettel

    = 8.75 … Alonso
    = 8.75 … Hamilton

    8.5 … Button

    8.0 … Rosberg

    = 7.75 … Webber
    = 7.75 … Van De Garde

    = 7.5 … Sutil
    = 7.5 … di Resta

    = 7.25 … Ricciardo
    = 7.25 … Guttierez
    = 7.25 … Grosjean
    = 7.25 … Raikkonen

    = 7.0 … Vergne
    = 7.0 … Hulkenberg

    6.25 … Massa

    5.5 … Perez

    3.0 … Maldonado

    VDG > Pic

    Bianchi > Chilton

    Bottas > Maldonado

    If anyone disagrees or wants me to provide an explaination, kindly feel free to discuss/ask.

  31. Bill, 27 August 2013 15:30

    @ Dean Stewart: the 2008 Torro Rosso not average enough for you? Torro Rosso finished 6th in the standings. Vettel ended the standings in front of both Toyota drivers, both Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and David Couldhart, in front of Renault driver Nelson Piquet and one place and 15 points behind Heiki Kovalainen, driving for the championship winning McLaren team.

    The 2009 Brawn was a 400 million pound result of throwing the entire of 2008 under the bus, and Honda spending up to 20 million on development of the front wing alone. They tested over 100 configurations in the windtunnel. Add to that the difference between the Renault engine and the Mercedes engine was even bigger back then, Renault being allowed some modifications at the end of 2009 after protests. In 2009 the Brawn bgp 001 was the thing to have. Im sure Roebucks buddys in the paddock will agree.

    Yet, in only the 3rd race of 2009, the Chinese GP, young and unpolished Vettel, tooka pole position from just one lap in qualifying, and in a hugely wet wet race where many drivers made lots of mistakes, he won leading Mark Webber with 10 seconds, and the next best – Brawn driver Barrichello – 44 seconds down the road. The rest all finished more than a minute behind Vettel. It was as Sennasesque as it gets.

    But Roebuck these days doesnt care about that, and only believes in his own truths, apparently ignoring that great 2009 season of Vettel (or his 2008 in an even more average car), when he did exactly that: up against it in an inferior car. If thats how Roebucks wnats people to remember him, fine.

  32. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 27 August 2013 16:34

    There is something not right in the House Of Ferrari.

    Looks like Alonso lied and Ferrari ‘outed’ it:

    On Saturday, Alonso tweeted that his spin in Q3 – which cost him about 8 seconds on the road and, thus, prevented him from starting that final flying lap which Webber/Vettel/Hamilton got when the track was at it’s driest/fastest – was irrelevant because he didn’t have enough fuel.

    Well, Ferrari – via La Stampa (a FIAT-linked paper) – came out and said that Alonso DID have enough fuel to do a final flyer.

    So, it would seem, that Alonso lied on Twitter.

    Ferrari weren’t happy with this and let it be known. They felt the car was very competitive, confirmed by Practice and Q1 and Q2 (as I wrote on Saturday in Simon Arron’s Day 2 report).

    So, something isn’t right. Doesn’t seem like Ferrari is happy with Alonso’s qualifying or his behaviour…and Alonso isn’t happy that Ferrari can’t give him a car to beat Vettel.

    And, Horner is fanning the flames by not naming Webber’s replacemet. Good strategy by the English head of RBR.

    Had Alonso not spun in Q3 and had he started on the front row (as forshadowed in Q1 and Q2), I think Vettel might have been seriously challenged for the lead on Lap 1. It would have been an entirely different race.

  33. Pat Kenny, 27 August 2013 18:44

    There are too many variables in the air to make proper comparisons between drivers other than those drivers in the same team over a few seasons. Even then we have to control for the rules in force at the time. I have argued before that Schumacher’s abilities were given the maximum opportunity to deliver in the refuelling era with tyres that could be leaned on for the whole stint etc.

    That said, I like to do interesting thought experiments along the lines if you were told that you had to pick the driver to drive the best car for the weekend and if they lost you would lose your home who would you pick?

    If, like me, you would pick a driver you never root for it says something about them. Step forward Mr Alonso.

  34. Dean Stewart, 27 August 2013 20:02

    Well Bill, the 2008 Toro Rosso was an Adrian Newey car but, yes, it was certainly average for most of the season. On its day of days at Monza, don’t forget Bourdais qualified 4th but didn’t get a chance to start from there. Vettel, though, put in the sort of drive we have become more than familiar with since. In 2009 I certainly agree Honda bankrolled the development of the Brawn with a huge budget. But Red Bull were starting to invest large amounts of heir own and their budget was over £160m for the season. This was reflected as the season finished with them in ascendancy. Vettel did indeed drive a great race in China 2010 beating his more experienced team mate. The finishing order of 2 Red Bulls, 2 Brawns ( it was Button 3rd ) and 2 McLarens showed the relative performance of the cars that day, but as the least experienced of the top 6 it was still mighty impressive. In the 4 seasons since then, he has been the man to beat. Even if you have the best car you still have to make the best use of it and Seb does that over and over again. I think there is an inference on these pages that any comment of the Red Bull being the most consistent car somehow detracts from Vettel’s abilities. They shouldn’t – the majority of this sport’s great champions had the benefit of the best car at times in their careers. But what has fired my enthusiasm for this sport since I first starting watching in 1980 are the days when great drivers clearly don’t have it – Villeneuve at Monaco and Spain in 1981, Rosberg in Dallas in 1984, Senna at Donnington in 1993, Schumacher in Spain in 1996 etc.

  35. Rob Burns, 27 August 2013 20:17

    Is it just me or is there a truth in that if there is a problem with the Red Bull car it is always on Webber’s? I think Mark is resigned to the fact that the stall next to his is where the focus is and always will be so long as Sebastian sits there. The present points gap between them is not entirely a reflection of the quality of their drives. Can one blame Webber for probably day dreaming a wee bit on race day of driving a Porsche prototype at Le Mans next year?

  36. Bill, 27 August 2013 20:41

    Hey Dean: thanks for your balanced view. It is a treat to discuss motorsport with people prepared to view things from different angles.

    I think at the end of 2009 Red Bull overtook Brawn in terms of development and it showed in results, but If were gonnna look race for race well find the RB closer or better than the Brawn in some, but over the season it was not a match. And nothing to distract Button and Rubens, but youd wonder sometimes had Brawn put a big name in that car. That is about the only mitigating argument I can think of putting that season against Senna’s 1993, when he was up against Schumacher and Prost.

    I think my main point stands. Roebuck dreams about how Vettel would fare in an inferior car, well in reality he has done that bigtime in 2008 (and 2007), and again in 2009, with the latter result remarkably similar to Senna’s 1993 result.

    Nigel Roebuck asserts how good Vettels car is, but does not report how his teammate fares in the same car, nor does he mention that their engine – a significant factor in motorsport – is inferior to most of his rivals throughout all of his championship years.

    That, my friend, is something I cannot understand, or appreciate.

    @ Rob, someone crunched the numbers of Vettels dnf’s vs Webbers dnfs in all their time together:

    4.5 year score card
    Sebastian Vettel: 33 issues (27 mechanical issues, 3 team order, 2 team-mate clashes, 1 significant pit stop issue), 7 leading to a DNF
    Mark Webber: 33 issues (24 mechanical issues, 3 team orders, 2 team-mate clashes, 4 significant pit stop issues), 3 leading to a DNF

  37. Dean Stewart, 27 August 2013 21:18

    Thanks Bill, the passion for our sport runs deep and this is a great place to share opinions.

    If I am totally honest, I wasn’t entirely convinced that Vettel was the driver of his generation after 2010 and even 2011, but it’s hard to argue now against it with a 4th consecutive championship beckoning. It could be different next season with the change in regs but who would bet against Newey producing a front running car again ? I would find it difficult to separate Hamilton, Alonso or Vettel and until one of the former ever finds themselves in the same team as the latter ( we know how closely the former were matched from 2007 ) we will never know. In the meantime if only Kimi could get a seat at Red Bull at least it would answer a few questions and might provide more entertainment from race to race than Belgium did !! I suspect, though, they will go with Ricciardo, which will probably do Vettel no favours either – everyone will expect Vettel to beat him but if he loses the odd one they will say it proves he isn’t as great as his record suggests !

  38. Lucas, 28 August 2013 00:16

    Dear Bill,
    To suggest Vettel in 2009 is comparable to Senna in 1993 is one of the most absurd F1 history re-writings I have ever heard – and I’ve heard many. The 2009 Brawn did have an immense advantage by the start of the season because of the double diffuser. The FIA decided to let them use that design, and so the other teams had to play catch-up. But that gizmo was pretty much all they had – by mid-season Brawn was nowhere close to being an “all-conquering” team as they were in the first half of that season. Actually, there were places where they weren’t even good enough to fight for podiums. Red Bull, however, had a great car since the beginning of that season, which clearly turned into the best after it was clear Brawn couldn’t keep up with the development race. Red Bull scored four 1-2s that season, and even when it was Brawn who was leading, they usually were the ones right behind. And not only Vettel was getting great results – Webber was on the podium no less than nine times – two of them in the first step, and four of them ahead of Vettel.

  39. Lucas, 28 August 2013 00:18

    Now compare that to Williams vs McLaren in 1993. As opposed to Brawn in 2009 (which was “all conquering” only in the first half of the season), Williams was amazing everywhere. There was never a single race they were out of the podium. They got 15 out of 16 poles while McLaren got only one (in 17 races in 2009 both Brawn and Red Bull got five poles each, and both second drivers got a pole). In 93, the only win Williams lost to anyone other than Senna was Portugal – where Hill started from the back and Prost settled for a 2nd place that would guarantee him the WDC at that moment. In 2009, Vettel was far from being the only one challenging the Brawns for victories – actually, Hamilton won twice, Räikkönen won once, and Vettel’s own team mate also got two victories. In 93 McLaren finished the season with half the points of Williams while Benetton was just 12 points behind them – in 2009, it was actually Red Bull’s difference to Brawn (18.5 points) that was much smaller than their advantage to the third placed team (McLaren was more than eighty points behind). Most importantly – while Vettel was responsible for bagging 54% of Red Bulls points in 2009, in 93 Senna got 86% of McLaren’s points.

    I could go on all day, but I guess this is enough to show just how non-sensical it is to even suggest that Vettel’s conditions in 2009 were comparable to Senna’s in 93, let alone saying the two situations are “remarkably similar”.

  40. Alex Milligan, 28 August 2013 00:29

    Appreciate your response and I was almost with you until the line…”and that Vettel is grinding out the results just like hes done from day one of his career”.
    I think that Alonso, Hamilton or Raikkonnen would be happy to “grind out results” in that car!!!!
    Give Webber a bit of a break though, the team haven’t shown him the love, Marko clearly has never hidden his disrespect for him, he has decided to go and whilst it may seem unprofessional from some angles. it is in a way understandable that his thoughts now lie ahead to his joining the Porsche works WSC team.
    I still believe that Webber has a couple of competitive F1 seasons in him and that it is a great loss to F1, however, it does open up a seat somewhere on the grid for a fresh face.
    I would still far prefer to see Kimi or Alonso in the second RB for 2 years – Ricciardo has plenty of time on his side to earn the right to the RB in the future.

  41. Bill, 28 August 2013 07:30

    @ Alex: On Webber, ya I agree that Marko’s comments werent very respectful either, especially earlier in the season. However, if Webber doest like it, then why did he extend his contract year in and year out? Besides, he wasnt too kind on the team on earlier occasions too, wasnt he? He did the same ignoring of team orders at Silverstone 2011 and subsequently said hed never adhere to them, as Vettel earlier in malaysia. Then, Webber got a win on a plate from his team and if Vettel wouldv listened to the multi 21 call, he wouldv been top of the podium. Not exactly a sign of a team treating him badly.

    If his heart isnt in it, then he should do the honourable, for Mateschitz, for the 500+ workers at the team, and give his seat to someone else.

    Regarding grinding out results; are you sure about Raikonen? Id swear his manager told the press last week Kimi broke off negotiations with Red Bull. Alonso was offered a red Bull contract in 2008 but declined and Hamilton called the Red Bull racing team ‘just a drinks company’. Im not so sure if I was Mateschitz, good as Hamilton may be, if I let that one slide.

    For what its worth, im praying every day, lighting up candles, go out the bed on the left side and hope either Kimi or Fernando signs for Red Bull. Mouth watering prospect.

  42. Bill, 28 August 2013 07:44

    @ Dean: I agree on many points again. Even with a more powertrain focussed rule change, who would bet against Newey? For one he was in the commission that made those new rules. For another, after every big rule change (1994/1995, 1998, 2009) he came to produce rather handy cars.

    I just think for some people, Vettel can never win. They will always find something to say he isnt all that, and first needs to prove himself against this or that, he cant overtake, he doesnt allow a great driver as teammate, he cant win without Newey etc. Now he needs to be up with it in an inferior car to prove his mettle to sir Nigel Roebuck, while thats exactly what he has done.

    You know, earlier in the year at Malaysia, Vettel ignored a team order to let Webber win. Afterwards he said Webber didnt earn it, and let it shine through that title decider at Brasil in 2012, where Webber squeezed Vettel back into the midfield where he had his get together with Bruno Senna and nearly lost it, was part of that stance. The press and the forums screamed that Vettel was insubordinate and Horner had no control over him and yadada yada yada.

    Last year, a few races earlier, Kimi Raikonen was given some info by his race engineer. Kimi screamed back over the radio to leave him alone and was very rude and kind of let it known who exactly was the boss around Lotus – Renault. The press and the internet forums loved it. T-shirts were printed with Kimis words, they even painted it on his car and people said: that Kimi always stays himself!

    In such double standards, Vettel can never win.

  43. Bill, 28 August 2013 10:40

    @ Lucas: finally some feedback I can work with! Thank you for correcting me on the number of poles Senna had in 1993. How on earth did I get to 8 poles? I stand corrected on those numbers, and I will agree the Williams was a far more superior car to the rest than the Brawn was.

    However, I still think the seasons can be compared, if we are talking about Vettel being in an inferior car vs Senna being in an inferior car. The Brawn was not just a hoovercraft with a great double diffuser. It had a far superior engine, and the rest of the car was a 400 million investment of Honda. It still held a considerable advantage over the Red bull untill the mid season, when McLaren took over the advantage, seeing their 4 poles and 2 wins. Another Merc powered car. The RB5 was not good on the brakes, had bad traction, a 50 bhp deficit to the Mercedes engined cars and their only advantage was high speed cornering.

    Lastly, the difference between Webber and Vettel was always gonna be smaller, as Webber was no Andretti. Webber is not a bad driver, yet somehow always misses being mentioned in reports where Vettel runs away in ‘the best racing car’. You know, he should first prove imself ‘in an inferior car’ before being lauded as a rightful winner on a track where horsepower is dominant. He beat ‘the fastest and most exciting driver’, who was on pole, with a car that has inferior power output than The Chosen one, and yet still doesnt get the credit. Maybe Motorsport Magazine should alter their name into ‘aerodynamics racing’. The motors themselves, dont get a lot of attention these days.

  44. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 28 August 2013 12:41


    Vettel’s 2009 season was nothing like Senna’s 1993.

    Firstly, Senna’s ‘customer’ Ford engine was two iterations behind Benetton’s “works” Ford engine – as per strict contract.

    Ayrton, as a result, drove on a race-by-race basis in the early part of 1993 before agreeing a contract and visited Detroit to try to and have the same engine as Schumacher to little avail.

    Senna, inspite of the inferior customer Ford (contractually two specs behind) wiped the floor with Schumacher. The wins tally was 5 – 1 between Senna and Schumacher.


    Vettel, meanwhile. was no where near the level he is at in 2013 (his “best, most complete” season ever/to date, in my view).

    Also – and this comes from a Vettel ‘fan’ – he made mistakes which may have cost Red Bull their first World Championship.

    Yes, Vettel was faster than Webber (and, obviously, did a better job than the Aussie that year) but let’s not forget that:

    1) Webber had a big pin in his leg due to his cyling accident; and

    2) The minimum weight of cars that year coupled with the balast placement that came with KERS/no KERS in 2009 disadvataged taller heavier teammates like Mark (as well as Raikkonen v Massa and Rosberg v Nakajima). The FIA then changed the minimum weights for 2010.

    Regardless, Senna’s 1993 was quite something else whereas Vettel – for his lesser experience – made errors than may have cost the team their first title.

    Still, Vettel was quite good that year but no where near 2013 or Senna 20 years ago, in my opinion.

  45. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 28 August 2013 15:00

    PS to Bill:

    Re Vettel’s mistakes in 2009…

    One very notable error right off the top of my head was when he threw away 2nd place points late in the opener at Australia.

    If you recall, he was ahead of Kubica with a couple laps to go, made a slight mistake at turn 1which allowed Kubica to attack him under breaking for turn 3 and, then, another error which ended Kubica’s race while the Pole was ahead for the corner.

    It was a Safety Car finish.

    I’m sure I can go back and see what other mistakes were made by Vettel as I distinctly recall notes i’d made at the end of the year which read something to the effect of “Vettel – made some mistakes out of inexperience which likely cost Red Bull their first Championship.”

  46. Bill, 28 August 2013 16:25

    Hey Ray! I think im in agreement Vettel was far from the finished product in 2009, yet still managed to beat:

    A. superior Brawn in the first half of the season
    B: superior Brawn/McLarens in the second half of the season

    The 2009 RB5 was good but it had flaws and was in no way a dominant car. It was an inferior car, wich was what Roebuck wanted tos ee under his rear end to gauge whether he was as good as Gilles.

    I think we are all in agreement the 2008 Torro Rosso was an inferior car too?

    I think we can all also agree Vettel did not have all the electronic gizmos Senna had at his disposal in 1993? Something wich made him say his Donington victory wasnt as impressive as some of his 80s victories?

    Its irrelevent to the discussion whether Vettel drove an inferior car before, but 3 or the 5 Senna victories in 93 where due to problems with Prost or Williams. I think only his last 2 victories where outstanding and on merrit, without any problems to Prost. A hugely updated McLaren though. Nevertheless it was a great season for him.

    Throughout 1993 Senna offered Frank Williams his services for free, if only he could pretty please drive a Newey Williams. So its not that Senna decided: lets drive an inferior car and show Nigel Roebuck how great I am.

  47. Lucas, 28 August 2013 16:35

    Dear Bill, I still get surprised when I see people, in the light of the 21st century, still using engine power to rank formula 1 cars. While I can understand ol’ Enzo stubbornly believing that looking for those additional hp was what really mattered (while being beaten year after year by the less powerful Ford-Cosworths), I simply cannot understand why people still hold to that argument today. Yes, if there are two engines with very similar weight, volume and response but different hp, it is obvious that getting the most powerful will be better – but the truth is that all can vary so much between diferent manufacturers that top hp alone will hardly be the most important thing. Look at the championship tables since designers have been attaching things to the cars in order to get them sucked to the ground and you’ll be surprised to see just how often the winners were not those with the most powerful engines.

    Back to 2009, one just need to take a closer look at that season to see it definitely wasn’t a case when a driver was facing a clearly better car – at least not from Silverstone onwards (when there was no less than ten races to go!). Many lost points were Vettel’s fault, not a car disadvantage – he had podium material in Australia for example, but an error not only ruined that race for him, but also the next one – being considered at fault for the accident (and failing to go back to the pits with a heavily damaged car), he got a 10-place grid penalty for Malaysia.

  48. Lucas, 28 August 2013 16:45

    They had a 1-2 in only the third race of that season and in Bahrein Vettel was second while Webber had to go all the way back from 18 because Sutil blocked him in quali. Next race, however, Webber was 3rd and Vettel 4th. In Monaco Webber got a P5 while Vettel, who was running fourth, made an error which sent him to the back while running 4th, only to have another accident and leave the race. In Turkey, we had Webber in P2 with Vettel in P3, and that was the last race where Brawn was clearly the best car, with the exception of Monza, probably the only venue where engine power still is the thing to have. With the profusion of chicanes, hairpins and such, what really matters in an F1 car these days is, guess what – high speed cornering. So, there really is no way to compare 2009 to 1993, or even to say Vettel had “an inferior car”. What really happened in 2009 is that Button capitalized from the races Brawn had the best car and got the job done in the rest of them, while at Red Bull just too many points were lost due to errors from the drivers and the team – if they lost that WDC and WCC, it was definitely not because they were against unsurmountable opposition. If you still think so, it wouldn’t be difficult to compile quite a big list of all they did wrong that year.

  49. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 28 August 2013 17:05



    As I said, Vettel – in 2009 – made errors which likely cost RBR their first title.

    I mentioned Austalia 2nd place points as as a starter. But then, as you mention, Vettel was grid dropped for the next race in Malaysia…and spun out of a points finish in the rain.

    That was the Kimi ‘Ice Cream’ race from which Jenson got half points.

    You mentioned the other errors by a still 22 year old Vettel…so, I need not go any further than that.

    I will say that Button – although he looked like bottlling it when Rubens started winning and the title got ‘tight’ – made no race-ending errors that year.

    And, whilst RBRs were top 2 in the first half, Brawn were leap-frogged by not only RBRs but also the likes of McLaren, BMW, Toyota and by a Raikkonen-focused Ferrari at many of the races after mid season.

    The 1993 Senna would have schooled the 2009 Vettel.


    Better luck next time, old friend! ;)

  50. Ray FK, 28 August 2013 17:25

    This discussion on who’s the best or who had the best car sums up modern F1.SPA the best circuit in the world has just hosted a Grand Prix and it barely gets a mention.I will repeat again that this F1 we are now watching is such a pale shadow of its former self so desperately disappointing on so many levels that no driver of today regardless of what they achieve should be rated in any top 100 polls.

  51. Lucas, 28 August 2013 17:27

    Anyway, I’m scared to see, from your last comment to Ray, that you actually believes Red Bull was still inferior to Brawn in the second half of the season also. As they say, extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence – and I really see none to claim Brawn was still better than Red Bull from Silverstone onwards. More often than not, Brawn wasn’t even fighting for podiums in those last races – it was clearly one of those cases when a team with an initial advantage gets engulfed in the development war, and it is curious that you don’t see that. Meanwhile, look at what Red Bull was achieving throughout that season – they got the same number of 1-2s as Brawn, they were the team that got most podiums (16 against Brawn’s 15 and only 5 from McLaren) and would definitely get much more if not for many errors from the drivers and the team, so it just makes no sense to say they had “an inferior car”. Also, what do you mean by Vettel “beating a superior Brawn in the first half of the season”? Yes, he won in China, but it’s hard to believe that “he beat a superior car on talent alone” when Webber also outqualified and finished ahead of both Brawns in that weekend.

  52. Lucas, 28 August 2013 17:29

    As for 2008, anyone who follows F1 long enough knows that once in a while we see a team that was never a big deal suddenly being incredibly well suited for a given track/condition. Force India surprising everyone in 2009, Stewart getting two drivers on the podium (one in the first step) in Nurburgring 1999, Schumacher qualifying 7th and de Cesaris fighting for the win until the last laps at Belgium 91 with a Jordan, two Leyton Houses looking like they would get an 1-2 in the 1990 French GP (and they still got a P2 there, even though in previous races they were struggling to even qualify!), you name it. Given the fact that both Toro Rossos were doing excellent laps in all timed sessions for the 2008 Monza GP, and that we failed to see what Bourdais would get from it after his car stalled in the start (but he still managed to get the second fastest lap of the race), I find it difficult to believe that victory was a driver working miracles in an inferior car and not simply one of these cases when a car just fits a circuit/condition better than everybody else.

  53. Bill, 28 August 2013 21:03

    Dear Lucas: I respect the effort, I really do, but I miss a few crucial facts in your argumentation.

    - If horsepower aint all that, why do teams bother with KERS?
    - 2008 was more than just one race.
    - I ment Monza when I said Brawn was also sometimes the best in the 2nd half.
    - The 2nd half was a lot to do with Jenson having his usual problems getting a good setup.
    - There arent high speed corners at every track.
    - McLaren was catching up on Red Bull with better traction, braking stability, and horsepower advantage.

    I think the Red Bull overall wasnt bad – it hauled the 2nd place in the wcc, but overal it was behind Brawn. Ask Roebucks paddock buddys. If youre still not satisfied, rewatch the whole of 2008 and some races in 2007. Vettel showed he was the real deal in inferior material. Thats a fact.

  54. Lucas, 28 August 2013 21:58

    Dear Bill,

    -Teams bother with KERS because it enables them to get a boost in a straight, which is a very good thing. But it is telling that when KERS was allowed, some teams didn’t even adopt them right away. And the biggest irony about it is that Red Bull was one of the teams who didn’t use it in 2009 – only Ferrari, Renault, BMW and McLaren did it, and both Renault and BMW even gave up using it during that season. It speaks volumes that the two teams fighting for the championships didn’t even bother to had theirs that season.

    -Yes, I’m aware that there was more in 2008 than that race win, but even though I’d never say Vettel didn’t get very good results that year, it’s not as if they are among the most impressive examples of getting great results with an inferior car – especially when the comparison (Senna) raises the bar quite high.

    -Well, if you meant Monza, it would be better to use the word “once” instead of “sometimes”. We can’t really say they were “sometimes the best in the 2nd half”. From Silverstone onwards, they were the best in Monza and that was it – one race in ten is hardly impressive.

    -I’ve never seen any evidence about that, and that’s quite a bizarre explanation. How could a driver win six out of seven races in a season and in the next ten races be out of the podium in all but two occasions due to “having his usual problems getting a good setup”? How can someone completely forget how to set up a car in order to explain such an enormous difference in performance?

  55. Lucas, 28 August 2013 22:01

    -Yes, but who said it was only in high speed corners that Red Bull was great? Take a look at the Chinese GP track map. Still, they completely blew away the competition there, even though that was still in the beginning of the season.

    -”Catching up” doesn’t mean posing a risk to them. Especially because, since by that time Red Bull was already better than Brawn, that meant it could happen that a McLaren was between Vettel and Button, as in Japan and Brazil, while there was never an occasion when Button was ahead of Vettel with Hamilton between them robbing points from the german, which means the rise of McLaren actually helped Vettel, as it got Button buried more often in the low point positions.

    Well, I’m glad you at least admit that Red Bull “wasn’t bad”, but as discussed before that is quite an understatement. I’d love to be acquainted to Roebuck’s paddock buddies, which sadly isn’t the case, but the fact that people have been running polls between drivers and team owners about who’s the best driver on the grid and Vettel isn’t coming as the one on top makes me doubt that the buddies in question really consider Vettel to be the real deal in inferior equipment. We had two of those (one among drivers, other among team principals) right after that season and in both cases they chose Alonso. And the results are being the same ever since – there must be a reason to that, I think.

  56. Jackal, 29 August 2013 00:25

    Sorry Lucas, your argument simply does not hold water. After the 2009 season the team bosses voted Vettel the best driver that season (Button was second). The same poll in 2010 Vettel was voted second (behind Alonso). In 2011 he was voted far and away the best that season (Button second) and last season he was voted second (to Alonso) … so in fact among team principals Seb is the only driver to have been voted as either the very best or the second best for the past 4 seasons. No other driver has consistently figured into the top two during that time.

  57. Bill, 29 August 2013 02:55

    Lucas, thanks for your comments. Its clear you know a lot about F1 history, and im really enjoying this discussion.

    I do believe we will have to agree to disagree over 2009 and 2008. Imagine Prost driving that Brawn BGP01…

    About 2009: I will never forget the glowing faces of Newey, Horner, how they managed to beat teams ‘with far bigger budgets and personel”

    About 1993: How many electronic aids did Senna c.s. have?

    And really, KERS ads about .3 to .6 to a laptime. You can figure out the advantage Merc engines have at Spa and Monza, and why these tracks are called ‘mercedes tracks’.

  58. Nigel Roebuck, 29 August 2013 11:48


    Your endlessly patronising tone towards me rather suggests you believe that everything I write has no purpose save to annoy you. This is not so: I have my opinions and beliefs, just as you have yours, and if they appear rarely to coincide, so be it.

    What I really don’t understand, however, is how anything I write – whatever the subject – is somehow construed by you as an attack on either Michael Schumacher or Sebastian Vettel. I have many times written that I think both great racing drivers – how could I not? – but any suggestion that either in some way falls short of perfection appears to incense you..

    I don’t know your sources of information on the goings-on inside Formula 1, Bill, but clearly you believe them unimpeachable. As I’ve done for 40 years, I just speak as I find.

  59. Tony, 29 August 2013 13:48

    The fact is that SB is in the right place at the right time and like him or not he is pretty good at what he does.

    At least MW will not have to worry about his starts next year!

  60. Bill, 29 August 2013 16:10

    Nigel Roebuck,

    Its rather the other way around: you write an article with some flaws, I, the reader point them out. If you then write the same flaws again in other articles, i merely point out its now beginning to become predictable.

    Saying Vettel should impress in inferior cars is as blatant a twist of reality as it gets. Im a Vettel fan and I defend him with arguments against your rather puzzling stance.

    Going on how Vettel has the best car wihout mentioning how his teammate fares in a race report, is a bias wich, as a fan, and a reader, dont understand nor appreciate.

    Since this here is a comment section I figured there can be both praise and criticism on that. Freedom of speech and all.
    Your name gets mentioned in a cordial discussion amongst commenters, of who I try to reason with why your view on Vettel is flawed, and that 2008 and 2009 are seasons he perhaps wasnt up to a Williams fw15 and Prost, he certainly met your criteria of driving an inferior car, making your point mooit and insulting to him, and his fans. Again, my opinion.

    I strongly disagree with your accusation that ‘anything I write – whatever the subject – is somehow construed by you as an attack on either Michael Schumacher or Sebastian Vettel” This is what I wrote after ‘Schumacher, a fresh perspective’

    “Bill, 5 June 2013 15:50
    Great read, many thanks for that Nigel Roebuck. A very balanced view.”

    And more words of praise, on many of your articles.

    I must say im a bit shocked of this ad hominem on my person by you, and not going into my arguments.

  61. Nigel Roebuck, 29 August 2013 16:15

    Speaking of ‘predictable’, Bill…

  62. Bill, 29 August 2013 16:27

    Nigel Roebuck,

    A year ago I had this discussion with Paul Fearnley about Vettel, and he admitted the numbers and examples I gave him kind of proved the gist of his article – not convinced by Vettel yet – wasnt entirely right. Yet he simply felt Vettel hasnt proved himself yet, without exactly knowing why.

    Thats a stance I can respect. No bullshit, no double standards. His gut, his prerogative.

    But you drag comparisments with Sennas 1993 season – electronic aids and all, only 2 wins without any significant error of dnf by Prost. Then its my right to point out to the past seasons of Vettel, is it not? That you never ever mention he drives an inferior engine to the ‘reliability enhanced’ Mercedes engines?

    If you write on a specific trait of Schumacher, his ruthless on track actions wich push you away, for example him shoving Alonso off the hangar straight in 2006 – and youve used it many times – then its my right to show how very different you wrote about Alonso shoving Vettel off the track, right? I even included a mention that Vettel himself did such despicable behavior last year too, payback or not.

    I truly think such double standards, such easy to counter arguments, is making you predictable. And If theres one thing a journalist must hate, its being predicatble. I know I would.

    Other than that, those specific points of criticism, Ive praised your talent, wit and great way of writing many, many times. Ive given countless examples in that article where you first made a comment on me. You oughta look it up.

  63. Lucas, 29 August 2013 16:33

    Dear Bill,

    Well, to claim Red Bull is a poor team beating people with far more money is a little bit of a romanticized view, in my opinion. As far as I’m aware, they have been pumping an enormous amount of money in Formula 1, and one reason why it really makes no sense to think otherwise is the fact that they own not only one, but *two* teams. That is not the thing one would do if money was lacking, right?

    As for 1993, McLaren (as well as other teams) had traction control, semi-automatic transmission and active suspension. As you are probably aware, it was Williams who mastered the driver aids technology by that time (they were so great at it that the 92 car is basically the same thing they ran in 91, but with the active suspension added – you probably know what was the result that came from that), and all other teams had to catch up. By 93 the major teams all had these gizmos, so it’s not as if Senna had an advantage over anybody – especially because Williams mastered those technologies better than anyone else.

  64. Lucas, 29 August 2013 16:36

    As for KERS, you are right when you said that they make a considerable difference in lap time, but you are wrong in concluding (or at least suggesting) that Mercedes would be the only one to profit from that (and, remember, Brawn didn’t have KERS in 2009). Those figures go for everybody, not just the ones with a Mercedes engine.

    And yes, you are completely right about Spa and Monza being tracks where engine power is the greatest thing to have. What you ignore, however, is that two out of nearly twenty tracks is hardly something that can be seen as an advantage for a full season, and, again, if you need more evidence about how engine power is far from being the most important thing in modern F1, check the past results from Spa and Monza. Perez in 2012, Massa in 2010, Raikkonen in 2009, Kovalainen and Kubica in 2008, Räikkonen and Kubica in 2006, Irvine in 2002… Those guys weren’t even in the title fight and, still they got podiums at Monza. Same thing in Spa for Kubica in 2010, Räikkonen and Fisichella in the top two steps in 2009, Heidfeld in 2008, Button in 2005, Räikkönen in 2004, Fisichella in 2001… Spa and Monza are great venues to see what F1 would be like if, as in the distant past, cars had very little downforce and engine power was the most important thing to have. However, the vast majority of the tracks are just the opposite – and that is why, I insist, claiming it is a big deal that a driver is against someone with a more powerful engine doesn’t really make sense in the 21st century.

  65. Bill, 29 August 2013 16:43

    Dear Lucas,

    - Over the years Red Bulls budget has grown significantly, however, in 2009 they were understaffed (to Ferrari, McLaren) and underfunded.
    This is something wich made Newey glow in pride, and he has said it in many interviews in that year that he would not go the route of the big teams, but slowly create a design team that gelled, without the culture of having a committee for everything like at McLaren.

    - Youve said the comparisment with Senna raises the bar highly, and youre right. Yet Vettel didnt have Traction Control, semi auto gearboxes or Active Suspension, wich, according to Senna himself, made Donigton ‘a piece of cake’.

    Yet, I believe Senna was exceptional in 1993, just as Vettel was in 2009. So good he was voted the best driver of 2009 over the world champion. (thank you jackal.)

  66. Lucas, 29 August 2013 18:00

    Dear Bill,

    I really need to ask one question: how much are you informed about the 1993 season? I am not one of those claiming one had to be there to know better, actually I’ve seen people who weren’t even born in the sixties still being able to discuss about it at the same level as people who actually watched all those races by that time – by getting informed about that period just as much as they could. But I fear, from your comments, that perhaps you don’t really get the picture of what was going on in 1993.

    First, you said that Senna, “electronic aids and all”, got “only 2 wins without any significant error or DNF by Prost”. If anything, the terms “electronic aids and all” actually increase the value of what Senna did that season. For the simple reason that Williams had far more technologically advanced electronic aids than any other team that season (even more in the preceding one, when Senna won four races and would probably win from pole in Canada if not for an engine failure), even though McLaren, just as most big teams, were doing what they could to have them.

    It gets even more absurd when the sole argument you keep repeating (even though I gave plenty of arguments showing it is not that important these days) is to claim Vettel has an “inferior car” because of the engine – which is funny because in 1993 Senna not only had a clearly worse engine when compared to Williams but also to Benetton, who got an exclusive deal for a higher spec (and higher HP) Ford engine through many races. And you accuse Mr. Roebuck of using double standards…

  67. Nigel Roebuck, 29 August 2013 18:25


    This is getting tedious, but before I completely lose the will to live, let me say only that at no stage have I sought to make any comparison between anything to do with Sebastian Vettel and Ayrton Senna’s 1993 season. I merely said that I looked forward one day to evaluating Vettel when he was up against it, as was Senna – when he won five Grands Prix with a ‘customer’ Ford V8 against a host of V10s – in 1993. That’s all.

    If Renault’s engine really were as inferior as you suggest, I rather think Red Bull would have done something about it by now. As it is, Toro Rosso is switching from Ferrari to Renault at the end of this season.

    I think we’ve all got the picture now that the two drivers you venerate are Schumacher and Vettel, and no criticism of either, however slight, is apparently to be tolerated. Just try and accept, Bill, that not everyone shares your opinions, any more than they do mine. That’s the way life is.

  68. Bill, 29 August 2013 19:00

    Nigel Roebuck,

    Im sure its getting tedious when you run out of tangible arguments and stubbornly continue to claim ive said or done things, that simply arent true.

    - Ive mentioned Vettel being just as despicable as Schumacher and Alonso, because forcing drivers off the track at 190 mph is really dangerous.
    - Ive also said Schumacher could be a real asshole, idiot, dangerous chopper and did some really questionable sporting decisions, mainly Jerez 97, the chopping of his brother and Monaco 2006.
    - Ive also said im not exclusively a Vettel, Schumacher fan, but I rate Alonso, amongst a host of other drivers, very high. I will even say I agree with you he is the most complete driver, and between him and Vettel is the crown of the current very best.
    - I gave you plenty of examples where I praised you to bits, also in Schumacher articles.

    - You did say youd love to see Vettel up against it in an inferior car, as Senna did in 93. The fact remains Vettel did drive an inferior car with a hugely inferior enine, even without KERS, in 2009. You also dismiss my argument 3 of Senna 5 93 victories where won when Prost had problems in one way or another.
    - Renault, and Red Bull did complain about the difference, were allowed changes at the end of 2009 and again in 2010, yet still Spa and Monza are called ‘Mercedes tracks’, for a reason.

    This has nothing to do with having a different opinion, you just wont listen to reason and insult me along the way of me being the stubborn one.

  69. Bill, 29 August 2013 19:07

    Dear Lucas,

    Forgive me for not explaining myself better.

    I did not say that Senna driving electronic aids made it easier for him to challenge Prost.

    What I ment was that the 1993 season as a whole, the car was easier to drive, easier to avoid mistakes, than Vettel without electronic aids in 2009. Senna himself said Donnington 93 was much down to having Traction Control, he just floored the pedal and ‘the software did the rest’. His words, not mine.

  70. Bill, 29 August 2013 19:18

    Nigel Roebuck,

    Maybe you just dont like critical comments on specific points of your F1 coverage. I cant figure out what your problem exactly is that you exaggerate, ignore facts and behave rather irritated.

    Usually your work is impeccable and I enjoy reading most. But these little inconsistencies dont do your wealth of knowledge and insight, right. I even think that the next time you attend 250 pound-a-plate F1 dinners, people expect you to rant about Schumacher. Has that thought ever crossed your mind?

    My old professor always said criticism is good, for it makes you a better, richer person. People that always nod in agreement you dont ever learn anything from.

  71. Mikey, 29 August 2013 20:19

    Come on Chaps, stop beating around the bush!

  72. Lucas, 29 August 2013 21:02

    Funny that you mention that, because Button also didn’t have electronic aids in 2009, and still he made less errors than Vettel. As for 1993, it is also funny that you suggest Senna’s victory in Donington was a result of those – as I said, his closest rivals had electronic aids just as well, and still they weren’t even close to beating him in that race. Couldn’t they just “floor the pedal and let the software do the rest” as well? Also there is just too abundant evidence that Senna never needed electronic driver aids to challenge clearly superior cars in wet conditions, as you are probably aware.

    I remember reading somewhere there was never a single wet race Senna participated where he failed to, at least, run among the top three cars in any point of the race, regardless of what he or the opposition was driving. I didn’t bother to check that information, but from what I remember, it’s quite probably right. You are aware of Monaco 84, Portugal 85, etc, right? There were no driver aids back then, and it really didn’t look as if he was lacking them.

  73. Lucas, 29 August 2013 21:04

    (sorry, that should read “at least one point of the race”)

  74. Bill, 29 August 2013 21:37

    Dear Lucas,

    Senna specifically said he regarded Portugal 1985 a more rewarding race than Donington 1993. His words, not mine. If you dont agree with that, find a ouija board and talk to the mans ghost.

    That Button also drove without electronic aids is irrelevant to the discussion whether Vettel had a tough season in an inferior car like Senna had in 1993.

    Why the other cars didnt perform as Senna’s McLaren at Donington I dont know. Benetton wasnt half the outfit McLaren was, so perhaps they didnt have the soffisticated electronics Senna had.

    The FW15C, great and superior as it was, had set up issues, also in the wet. Maybe thats why Prost couldnt touch him, notably at Suzuka.

    Alain Prost was quoted as saying:

    “I think that an active suspension car with traction control needs to be thrown around quite a lot, whereas I like to drive a little more quietly, perhaps using the throttle more sensitively, which perhaps is not needed quite so much in an active car”

    “In the wet the car also exhibited a tendency to momentarily lock the rear wheels during downchanges. This however was alleviated with the fitting of a power throttle system at Imola ensuring that the revs could be perfectly matched when the clutch was engaged.”

  75. Bill, 29 August 2013 21:44

    Patrick Head quoted as saying Senna’s McLaren had superior Active Suspension in the last 2 races of 1993. Exactly the only races he won without Prost having problems…

    The similarities with 2009 grow and grow, my friend. :)

  76. Bill, 29 August 2013 23:05

    1993 European Grand Prix

    ‘A great win, certainly, but as Nigel Roebuck once asked him, Senna’s best? “No way! I had traction control! OK, I didn’t make any real mistakes, but the car was so much easier to drive. It was a good win, but compared with Estoril ’85, it was nothing…”

    More on the mp4/8:

    “Ayrton elected to stay in F1 with McLaren, but only on a race-by-race basis. He turned up for the first race of 1993 – the South African Grand Prix – ostensibly to evaluate the new car. When he came home second to Prost, and the only other car on the lead lap, he was suitably impressed by the McLaren car, and agreed to compete the whole season.

    On paper, it looked as though it was going to be a walkover for the Williams cars again. They had the best engines, they had Prost, and they had a very technologically sophisticated car. McLaren had a customer Ford V8 engine that was seriously down on power compared to the big-boys, even compared to the works engines that Benetton were using. However, McLaren had designed a superb car. They had gone back to the drawing board and rather than re-use what had essentially been an evolution of their 1989 car, they started with a clean sheet of paper. What they came up with was a small, light, and agile car with active suspension, traction control, and a semi-automatic gearbox (in fact it would turn out that their system was slightly better than the Williams system).”

    That mp4/8 wasnt bad at all.

  77. Lucas, 30 August 2013 00:09

    Dear Bill,

    No need to find an ouija board, he had all reasons to love that one. It was his first victory, the conditions were difficult, it was before he had the chance to drive a top car, etc.

    And yes, it is completely relevant to this discussion the fact that Button also drove without aids in 2009 – because even though he had races with the clearly best car of the season and just as many races without it, he was consistent in both situations, while Vettel was doing a lot of errors. You don’t get respected as “the real deal in inferior cars” when you threw away points with such a good car – you know, it’s not as if Webber couldn’t do anything with it.

    That Benetton “wasn’t half the outfit McLaren was” is just your opinion, without any real evidence to support it. An opinion which, by the way, makes you enter a serious contradiction – for someone who claims Red Bull was clearly inferior to Brawn in 2009 due to an engine defficiency (up to now that has been your sole argument), how could the 93 McLaren be at least twice as good as the Benetton given that it was actually McLaren who had the less powerful engine? Not only you use strange ways of ranking cars, but you aren’t even consistent in the methods.

    And you go on with another contradiction – not long ago you were telling us just how unfair it was to consider Vettel didn’t have something comparable to what Senna did in 93 because Senna had electronic driver aids by that time, and now you are trying to make us believe the FW15C was not that superior because of… the driver aids? That’s weird, to say the least.

  78. Lucas, 30 August 2013 00:13

    As for the last post, let’s recollect: in 2009, Brawn had the dominant car in six of the first seven races (and one in the remaining ten), but they were quite bad in many others, sometimes even struggling to get anywhere close to a podium finish. In 1993, Williams was the dominant force throughout the season, they never finished a single race outside of the podium, they got 15 out of 16 pole positions, etc., but because their own technical director claimed that McLaren had a better active suspension in the very last two races, you claim “the similarities with 2009 grow and grow”. Yeah, you’re right – if the “similarities” keep growing at that rate, I fear that at some point I won’t even be able to know which is which.

  79. Bill, 30 August 2013 00:47

    Dear Lucas,

    Please reread Senna’s words I quoted above. He thought the car was easy to drive.

    - Vettel made some mistakes, yet was voted the best driver of 2009, over your example Jenson Button. That says something about Vettels 2009 season, right?
    Besides, didnt Senna had a little get together with Brundle at Monza 1993? Again, the comparisment fits. Both had agreat season, but both made some errors.
    - McLaren was championship winning outfit, with a budget matching Williams with only Ferrari top dog. Benetton was and still is a relatively small team, with likewise sources. Its why Schumacher left them in 95, and why Alonso left them in 2006. Evenso, even if the margins are smaller than I think they were, Schumachers car was not on par with the McLaren MP4/8, wich, apparently, had better semi auto gearbox than even Williams, and according to Patrick Head, also had a better suspension in the last races of 93.
    That is parallel to the RB5, wich was better developed at the end of 2009 than the Brawn, at wich point the power deficit at high downforce tracks, was overcome.
    - I think the fw15c was superior, but it had setup issues.
    - The Brawn was a great car, with perhaps one flaw: it could not generate enough heat in their tyres. Hence problems in wet races, and cold races Sil, Ger and Hun. After that, McLaren catched up at med downforce tracks.
    - I never said inferior engine was the only flaw of the rb5. I also mentioned lack of traction, unstable braking, bad in slow corners. Things they specificaly adressed for the rb6.

  80. Lucas, 30 August 2013 06:42

    Well, I think everybody is entitled to his beliefs, really. One could for example claim the F2002 was not really good, or that the FW14B was one of the worst cars Williams ever built and they just won because Mansell and Patrese were on top of their game that year. One could even claim Marussia is one of the best cars in F1 nowadays. But all that is meaningless without facts to support those claims. Which is precisely the problem here – the known facts are completely against what you claim, but you don’t seem to care about it. You say McLaren was an easy car to drive and the electronic aids were enough to let anyone drive without making errors – well, check what the reigning IndyCar champ managed to do in that car. You say that the 2009 Red Bull had a “seriously worse engine”, “lacked traction”, “had unstable braking” and was “bad in slow corners”, which is kind of hilarious because that would mean they would completely suck in long straights due to the supposed power and traction disadvantage, they would be completely crappy in wet conditions where precise braking is of utmost importance, and they would be hopeless in tracks with lots of slow corners. Still, the Chinese GP had *all that* (one of the longest straights in the F1 calendar, wet conditions and a bunch of slow corners) and instead of seeing both cars struggling to get into the points, which is what one would expect if what you claim was true, they actually wiped the floor with the competition in that race. *BOTH* of them.

  81. Lucas, 30 August 2013 06:58

    And once again you try to fit the data to your hypothesis by saying that the reason why Brawn wasn’t great in Silverstone, Germany and Hungary was “because they had problems in wet races”. Nice try, except for the fact that it was pouring in Malaysia and Button won.

    Given all that (and preceding arguments), I hope you understand that for me it is really really difficult to take you seriously when you say “this team was better in this” and “that team was better at that” – the more you use those claims and the more they are tested against the facts, the more it seems they are simply carefully chosen to make your favorite drivers look better. As I said earlier, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Not only you are repeatedly failing to show them, but those which are actually available (the results themselves) say exactly the opposite.

  82. Bill, 30 August 2013 10:08

    Funny, I got the exact same feeling with you. You exaggerate events or statements, invent things ive said, and when the fact is completely undeniable, you simply ignore them. I got the feeling you just dont like Vettel or something?

    - You seem to have blanked out the controversy around the ‘reliability enhanced’ engines? The FIA granted several adjustments to the Renaults, and even approved an ‘engine power parity’ change.
    - You refused to believe the 93 McLaren was easy to drive in those donington conditions, and drag the discussion to irrelevant questions why the other cars werent so easy to drive. It really doesnt matter when Senna himself said the race was no problem because his car was so easy to drive with Traction Control. Why dont you just admit that?
    - I even stopped talking about 2008, wich you dismissed as inferior because of one race.
    - We can debate about 2009 but, again, you dismiss simple facts seemingly to fit your own agenda Vettel wasnt all that. ‘We can all have an opinion” you say. Well, I think if the teambosses voted Vettel the best driver over 2009, you have apretty good reference, dismiss that at your own peril.

    Further widely known facts:
    - Brawn tyre heating problems, source: Ross Brawn.
    - Rb5 handling problems, source: Horner.
    - Red Bull budget deficit, source: Newey, Horner.

    You dont agree with me 09 was similar to 93, fine, but you ignoring facts, statements, opinions from these people, its smells like you dont like Vettel.

  83. Bill, 30 August 2013 10:32

    And another source, Jenson Button, on their tyre heating problems:

    “Button thinks tyre problems are fixed
    Button’s title lead has been slashed by Red Bull Racing duo Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in the last three races, with Brawn GP’s cars struggling for grip after being unable to get its tyres up to operating temperature.”

    I suspect they hadnt problems at Malaysia because the ambient was much higher.

    Regarding the RB5 deficits at China: that was a wet race, when all those handling deficits can be negated because cars travel amuch slower pace.

    Regarding the Rb5 supposedly being a better car at the 2nd half of the season:

    1. At Valencia the Brawn was better, and won.
    2. At Spa, the Brawn qualified ahead.
    3. At Monza, the Brawns qualified ahead and won.
    4. At Singapore a McLaren qualified ahead and won.
    5. At Japan the RB5 got pole and the win.
    6 At Brasil the Brawn got pole again, but an RB5 win
    7. Abu Dahbi a McLaren pole and Vettel win.

    3 wins in the last 7 races of 2009, vs 2 wins in the last 2 races in 1993. I remain convinced: those season are comparable, and the RB5 competitiveness vs the rest of the field against the MP4/8 competitiveness vs the rest of the field is not that different. They were both the 2nd best car and they both had inferior engines. Both Senna and Vettel ended the season 2nd and if youre still not convinced, im very sorry, but Ill leave it at that.

  84. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 30 August 2013 13:36


    Vettel made more mistakes in 2009 than Senna did in 1993.

    Those mistakes by Vettel lost him enough points to cost Red Bull a World Championship.

    Australia, Malaysia and Monaco were three races at which Vettel threw away BIG points due to his own errors.

    THAT, to me, immediately puts him far from Senna 1993.

    Further, The Red Bull – on average – was just about on par with Brawn over a season. If not, it was a pretty close second.

    It was a shame, though, that Vettel’s errors ate into his/RBR’s points while Button, by comparison, made NO RACING ENDING ERRORS.

    The McLaren, meanwhile, was definitely not at the level of Williams-Renaults for the bulk of 1993.

    Not only that, but the McLaren – as I already pointed out – was forced into a switch in engines and ran Fords that were 2 specs BEHIND the works engines run by Benetton.

    Yet, Senna wiped the floor with Schumacher, winning 5 Grands Prix to Schumacher’s 1.

    Senna was directly up against Prost, Schumacher and Hill in – often – inferior equipment for the bulk of the season.

    Vettel, meanwhile, was directly competing against Button, Barrichello and an injured/heavier Webber for the bulk of that season in – on average – comparable equipment over the bulk of that season.

    In my world, Prost-Schumacher-Hill were WAY STIFFER competition than Button-Barrichello-Webber.

    That’s my world. What world are you in?

    Lastly, you say that Senna made one mistake in 1993. Which Grand Prix was it and how many points did it cost him?

  85. Bill, 30 August 2013 19:48

    Hi Ray,

    Well I agree Vettel wouldv probably won the title without those rookie erros. Thing is, Vettel was a 21 year old kid, driving a car without electronic aids with mights prevented the error in Australia, Malaysia, and Monaco.

    Senna was a 33 year old, 3 times world champion in 1993. I think there is a difference.
    Nevertheless perhaps you didnt read my comments well enough because I named wich race Senna crashed and gave up points.

    Senna made 3 crucial errors that season:
    1. Canada, where he pushed his engine too much so it stalled during a fight with….Schumacher.
    2. Great Britain, where he could not drive conservatively enough to save fuel.
    3. Monza, where he crashed into Brundle and retired.

    And a close second is still second, isnt it? Inferior. That was Roebucks point, wich we now have well and truly buried.

    Sebastian Vettel drove 1,5 fantastic season in a Torro Rosso, and in 2009 did a season that compares with Senna’s 1993, when both drivers had a good car, but, still inferior to the top, and with an inferior engine, and yet had some amazing results with it.

    Anyone who says otherwise will probably never rate Vettel at all, and start all race reports on how great his car is whenever he wins again.

  86. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 30 August 2013 22:45


    I actually do rate Vettel. Quite highly, in fact.

    But where you’ve completely lost me – and almost everyone else here – is when you keep going on and on about how the that RB5 in 2009 was “inferior”.

    Do you actually really believe that? If you do, you’re on a different planet.

    In 2009 the Brawn was ‘superior’ in about 8 races – at most. But at a number of other races it was either 2nd or 3rd or 4th or even 5th best.

    RB5, on the other hand, was in the mix for best or 2nd best at most GPs…but you’ve conveniently forgotten that the Brawn fell away at a bunch of races and was leap-frogged by:

    - RBR
    - McLaren
    - BMW
    - Toyota
    - at times Force India
    - a Raikkonen-focused Ferrari

    I’m on record as rating Vettel among the All Time Greats (ahead of Ascari, Schumacher, Lauda)…but even I won’t dare say that Vettel was in “inferior” machinery in 2009.

    Button made NO RACE-ENDING errors and that is what ultimately won him the 2009 title.

    In, also, not a fan of your – quite perverted – logic: If someone doesn’t agree with your thesis that RB5 was ‘inferior’, then they must not ‘rate’ Vettel.

    That is completely perverted – to the extreme.

    In addition, the tone of some of your posts with respect to Mr Roebuck is , *ahem*, grossly off-side, in my opinion. It lack respect and does you no credit.

    This is my final post on the subject.

    Kind regards,


  87. Lucas, 31 August 2013 00:31

    What do you mean by “exaggerate events”? Showing there’s absolutely no reason to believe Red Bull had an “inferior car” in 2009 needs absolutely no exaggerations, the facts speak for themselves. They got more podiums than anyone else, both drivers got wins, poles and fastest laps in that car, they had as many 1-2s as Brawn and just two less victories, and even though all those figures should actually be even higher if not for the fact that the two drivers and the team made many errors throughout that season (while Button was virtually flawless) you are still trying to convince us that Red Bull had an “inferior” car – the kind of disadvantage Senna had against the 93 Williams? Well, good luck with that. Especially when desperation makes you blame him even for engine failures.

    Yes, I refuse to believe the McLaren was “easy to drive in those Donington conditions”, at least using your definition of “easy” – it seems that you think electronic aids make drivers immune to errors and that even in terrible conditions such as those in Donington, all it took was to “let the electronics do everything”. Which not only is ridiculous but, as all your claims, it is not supported by what really happened – you know, there was a handful of other drivers with electronic aids in that race and it really didn’t look as if they were having an “easy” time – quite the opposite in fact. And you seem to forget that, as I said, it is not as if Senna needed electronic aids to beat clearly better cars in wet conditions.

  88. Lucas, 31 August 2013 00:33

    Also, Vettel had completed some races in 2007 and has made a full season in 2008, so this “rookie” thing is a very bad excuse. When the 2009 season started Vettel had already no less than 33 races under his belt – now take a look at what Senna did in his first 33 races driving for Toleman and Lotus and let’s resume this discussion about “being the real deal in inferior equipment”.

    Finally, it’s quite funny that you say some team staff complaints are “widely known facts”. You know, Mansell used to claim the FW14B was not that as superior as have been said, and Brawn once said, can’t remember if after 2002 or 2004, that “it was not easy as it seemed to be”. Are we supposed to believe those “widely known facts” too?

  89. Bill, 31 August 2013 12:05

    Dear Lucas,

    I posted some links to the sources, but the webmaster of Motorsport magazine has removed them, probably because it linked to a rival media outlet (do note, dear webmaster, they dont remove links in the comments to this site).

    Its quite comical to read you dismiss the mans own words that it was so easy to drive at Donington, with all them electronic aids. Perhaps you should get out the ouija board.

    That also makes it clear youre not here to debate, or consider reason and other facts. A bit like Nigel Roebuck. Like I said, Ill leave it at that. Believe what you want.

  90. Lucas, 1 September 2013 16:55

    Oh, come on, you have been presented real facts from Ray and me throughout this discussion, and you simply ignore them while claiming that what a driver or team principal says is the undeniable truth (even though what actually happens in the races show a different picture) and, still, you think it’s me who “can’t consider reason and facts?”. There is a difference between “facts” and “opinion”: fact is what happens, opinion is what someone says. Anyone can have any opinion they want about the 2009 season and the relative performance of the cars during that season, but the facts show that Brawn was dominant in less than half of that year’s races, that there were venues when they weren’t even podium material, while at the same time the Red Bull was, in most venues, either not to far to the Brawn or sometimes even superior. And we have data from *both* Red Bull drivers to support that.

    But if I may ask you something that made me curious: if you believe 2009 is a good example of a driver challenging better cars, what is your opinion about what Alonso did in 2012?

  91. Bill, 2 September 2013 19:46

    Dear Ray,

    I think ive said al I wanted about 2009. There’s nothing to add.

    I just got 2 questions:

    1. Are you aware that there was a huge row over engines being upgraded despite an engine freeze agreement?
    2. Do you regard Vettels 2008 car as inferior to the top runners?



  92. zantimisfit66, 2 September 2013 20:58

    I agree with Bill about this Sebastian Vettel. He is perhaps the greatest songwriter of the past 50 years. People go on about Jagger/Richards, Lennon/McCartney, Ray Davies etc but Vettel has it all, he can do country, rock, thrash metal as well as some great show tunes. Not only that but he is multi talented when it comes to brass instruments as well. He also plays the oboe from time to time as I understand. I am not really aware of this Button and Senna – is that a gentlemans outfitters?

  93. Ray In Toronto Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 3 September 2013 06:50

    O boy, this really is getting quite tedious.


    Are you trying to goad/bait me into two more answers – eventhough I said that I was not going submitt another post on this subjext?

    It’s the over-all package that matters, Bill, not just the engine. And, Vettel had a superior over-all package to most of his big rivals – like Hamilton, Raikkonen and Alonso – that year.

    Yes, I am aware that Horner lobbied for tweaks to the Renault engine. But, Ferrari also lobbied for tweaks to their engine in 2010 and got them.

    The engine was – still is – only part of the over-all package ,,, and the RB5-Renault was not an inferior package. An inferior package was that year’s works Renault… or the Ferrari F60 ,,, or the McLaren MP4-23 until mid summer.

    Lastly, I don’t know why we have to discuss 2008. Vettel’s car was a Newey-Ferrari. It was what it was.

    Anyway, can we please concentrate on other things now?

    Like the Italian Grand Prix meeting at Monza, for instance?

  94. Bill, 3 September 2013 09:37

    Hi Ray,

    You didnt answer my questions. They are relevant to the ‘discussion’ I had with Nigel Roebuck. It would be prudent for you to know what the exact debate was about before you accuse me of being disrespectful to him. Some people might call that not very fair.

    So, again:

    1. Are you aware of the row between F1 teams in the early half of 2008 about some teams not adhering to the engine development freeze? A simple yes or no please.

    2. Are you in agreement Vettels 2008 Torro Rosso was an inferior car to the 2008 McLaren and 2008 Ferrari? A simple yes or no will do.

    I dont want to goad you into anything, I’m just curious to know the answers to these questions.



  95. Ray In Toronto, Canada (Ray T (The other one)), 3 September 2013 15:00


    You already know the answers.

    We’ve beaten this thread into a pulp like the probverbial dead horse and nothing anyone says will change your entrenched opinion.

    We can chat in the Italian Grand Prix threads.

    Have a good week!

  96. Bill, 4 September 2013 06:24

    Hi Ray,

    The only thing entrenched in this here discussion seems to be that Vettel isnt all that, not level with Senna, etc, because .

    And when one tries to debate such, gets to deal with a lot of ad hominems, even by the author of this article! This on top of exagerrations, or plain ignoring of facts. At least I admitted being wrong about the stats of Sena’s poles, and tried to give the doubters some sace by not talking about a clear example of Vettel being up to it in an inferior car, 2008, but in no way did such courtesy get appreciated.

    Even a simple question whether one thinks if Vettel drove an inferior car in 2008 gets met with “a Newey-Ferrari”. Well, again, im sure it must get tedious when the generalisations are retorted with facts and actual arguments. Some people just dont want to be convinced by arguments, that much is clear. Thats fine. I’ll leave it at that.

  97. John Read, 5 September 2013 01:07

    Hello forum friends,

    I have a hominem;

    Bill is not always right, but he is never wrong.

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