Voice of the #F1 Fans – Was the secret ingredient Newey or Vettel

Editor’s note: TJ13 began with a desire to offer a ‘fans’ perspective’ of this glorious sport of ours; warts and all. There are no agenda’s behind the articles and certainly no censorship from corporate interests. As a growing community, many articles are written by passionate fans and we’d like to encourage more debate and more doodles and muses from you all.

A new feature has recently been introduced called simply – “Voice of the Fans”. It will feature anyone who chooses to share their views. If you have something to say, please send your words through the usual ‘Contact Us’ and we will put them into our new feature.

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor MikeCloud54

Many F1 followers, may have thought that Webber was a good driver and he was certainly capable of winning races. Yet he was eclipsed by Sebastian Vettel during their co tenure at Red Bull, but barring mechanical failure, accident or bad luck, the Red Bulls in the Vettel/Webber era should have delivered 1-2 results, race after race…. as do the Mercedes drivers now.

Yes, Webber appeared to attract the negative Karma, but even when lady luck’s vengeful attention ignored him for a race, he was still not there to regularly challenging Vettel.

So was it the case that the driving skills of Vettel was the key element to the German’s four F1 driver championships?

Well, Seb is still driving the latest Newey creation, it has wheels, a steering column, brakes and an engine… Definitely a car. But he is struggling.

However, the world has changed. Gone is the blown diffuser and with it the counter intuitive driving style Vettel once mastered. The Red Bull cars of old required the driver to brake to go faster into corners, and accelerate to slow the rate of pace on turn exit.

This was just weird to a driver like Mark.

Now we have F1 cars which go faster when the pedal on the right is pressed, sometimes with the uncontrollable and unpredictable force of 850 randomly rampaging stallions.

Having come from a team where their pre 2014 offering had plenty horses but drove with the handling characteristics of a Trebant, Danny Ric is euphoric. To him the RB10 is a doddle.

Controls designed to turn, do just that. Those intended to make the car go faster, do as they should. And the anchors work just fine.

Yes, the RB10 is twitchy, but Ricciardo is used to instability, and driving the new torquey RB10, Danny boy is euphoric.

The son of Webber appears to have quickly mastered the incremental finesse required to handle the new V6 powered beasts, and this maybe because pressing the right pedal to go faster is a concept he is familiar with

Meanwhile Sebastian is struggling. All those hours and weeks in the simulator learning how to drive a car, which was not in fact a car as ordinary folk know it, has now to be forgotten.

Seb has been spied back in Milton Keynes taking lessons at the British School of Motoring. He has private, nifty Red Bull branded ‘L’ plates attached to the front and rear of his vehicle.

Adrian Newey last year, having spent 4 decades in F1, described Sebastian as the driver with the highest aptitude levels he had ever seen. This being the case, why is Vettel struggling to adapt this year.

The reason is simple. The BMS instructor retraining Vettel, was heard to comment, “In all my years, I’ve never met anyone with so many bad driving habits”.

Even more remarkable was the fact at this time, Seb hadn’t even tried the necessary drill of putting the old lady he was passing into the wall.

Surely the man Newey described as the fastest f1 learner driver he’d ever worked with, will sort himself out.

Then again, Adrian does rather get lost in Newey land.. where… birds swim and fish fly high… and Hippo’s are never temperamental, but eternally, affably benign.

54 responses to “Voice of the #F1 Fans – Was the secret ingredient Newey or Vettel

  1. Webber was a limited but competent driver with sporadic terrific races. That was always clear, as desmonstrated by Vettel’s dominance over him even though he could win races here and there.

    But Vettel was never the earth shattering 4xWDC talent people would like to have believed. He was simply the best pilot of only two Newey rockets available.

    So it’s a combination of all. Webber was mediocre but good for the team. Vettel was faster and a much better learner. Newey made rockets which perfectly suited the regulations and (relative) powertrain irrelevance between 2009 and 2013.

    Ricciardo is an improved Webber who aparently is better than Vettel with more loose cars.

    • But what do Vettel’s achievements say about those, who couldn’t win in ‘Newey Rockets’ – Montoya, Coulthard, Räikkönen, Webber, Dornbos, Klien…

          • It’s a ridiculous question based on the several assumptions it makes. It’s obviously rethorical, so just answer it yourself.

            My opinion remains quite clear in my first post.

        • As do you.
          The only direct comparisons we have are with Webber and now Ricciardo.

          Simply not enough data to deliver a verdict on just how good Vettel. Is compared to the greats.
          All we can say for now is that he is pretty damn good. He has plenty of time left to make his case.

          • I would say that the data also says Vettel’s peak was 2011-13 so far.. I imagine Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel are all ‘the fastest’ on average in that period.

            Webber’s peak was just off the top, so far like Rosberg, Massa 2008, Button etc. while Raikkonen’s peak was in the mid-2000s, when he was the fastest with Alonso, post-Schumi domination.

            We could say that Ricciardo and Bottas are now pretty near the top as well, along with Grosjean and Hulkenberg most likely.. these will probably take over from the retiring Alonso generation, while Vettel perhaps is two tenths off the pace on average this year.

    • But, was Webber a mediocre driver in a good car, and Vettel an average driver in a good car? As Vettel is now being trounced by newcomer Ricciardo would it seem it was the car rather than the driver that won Vettel his chanpionships?

      • Or Danny Ric is simply way better than we all thought. He utterly surprised and impressed me, even though I never thought he’s a slouch.

        Cheers, C.

        • I have always rated Ric since watching him win the 2009 F3 championship where he seemed to win or finish on the podium. Though I never thought he would come to the fore so quickly in RBR – nice surprise then.

          • It seems like Ricciardo has come on stronger as time has gone on.. by contrast, Ericsson has gone backwards.. in his first car season, he looked like a total natural!

          • …..When you’re pushing the boundaries i any sport, the mental aspect has a big impact…..

            eg Vettel (or Jenson every other race)…. “I don’t like these cars anymore, they don’t feel right” – we’re talking a few tenths of a second….

          • True.. along with perfect preparation. I reckon it cost Vettel a good few tenths, but now he is reigning it in gradually. Button’s age I fear is finally catching up with him.

          • …Maybe the best example of the result of incessant practice and the honing of technique…

            Tiger Woods was also mentally dominant, and in his mind master of all he surveyed.. animal, mineral or vegetable… and this was not an appropriate perception of mere self aggrandisement.

            However, the cataclysmic humiliation, of standing before the world to ‘confess’, destroyed that belief in his own invincibility forever.

            Still a great golfer, but will never be as good….

          • Indeed.. since his last win in 2008, there were a few he really could have won, BUT for his mental aspect… losing to a Korean, his first loss from the lead going into the final day.. penalty shots and losing by that amount etc. and general final day malaise.. very un-like Tiger at his peak.

            I feel that’s a more likely explanation than his losing anything directly from the knee surgery, apart from the chances at majors (1 or 2 years total) in his career. With the competition now, he could easily never win a major again.. pre-confession, that didn’t look likely.

          • I think you will definitely cash in on that bet.. the whole knee trouble and family blow-up has really sapped his momentum. Without those.. he could have easily been right on that record now IMO.

            Being right behind his final tee shot in 2006 @ Hoylake was astonishing.. the ball went as high and as far as you could see, down the Par 5 18th, almost out of sight when landing.. it was right up there with seeing Kimi chase down Schumi in 2004 @ Silverstone!

            On the mental side… Garcia has the talent but has come 2nd now about 5 times.. although this last time he finally played well on the final day, unlike Westwood the year before.

            But it could be too late for him, just like it was for Montgomerie when he anticipated adrenaline at St. Andrews that one last time and cost himself that last shot at the major title.

            Recently.. Scott and McIlroy came back from losing an easy win.. and both now have majors to go with their top talents.. while someone like Jason Day has been there-or-thereabouts in the last few years consistently.

          • Dustin Johnson has also taken a time-out.. he’s so close, and missed a good chance with a penalty.. he has the game but needs the mental strength to get across the line, while Oosthuizen developed his mental strength to become a major winner at the Open.

        • Yes @conzo77, RIC looked fast in quali for TR but I was utterly stonkered by his driving this year. Biggest surprise of the season, IMO, until we get the final story from Munich.

          • …@Mattpt55 “Biggest surprise of the season, IMO, until we get the final story from Munich”.

            ….well that won’t be a surprise whichever way it goes..

            Ecclestone will either wriggle his way out of another tight corner – or he’ll be found guilty for something many would believe him to be more than capable of….

  2. Firstly I don’t think a Newey car = default winning car. History shows many Newey led years with hopeless cars, undrivable cars, years barren of wins. But also he clearly has an exceptional grasp of aero and in an era (1990-present) of highly aero dominated performance as a proportion of the overall car performance equation, he’s struck gold more often than not, and more often than any other designer, over more cars, in more teams, with more drivers.

    That being said, Sebastian Vettel v Mark Webber WDC analysis does show that if Webber was leading the RBR team, with a team mate at or below Webbers capability, then the title outcomes for the RBR dominant years would be…

    2010- Alonso Ferrari
    2011- Button McLaren
    2012- Alonso Ferrari
    2013- Alonso Ferrari

    I know that this might be a simple way to look at it, as Webber would have been supported more and this scored a bit better, but I still realistically think that without Vettel leading RBR, during RBR strong years, that Alonso would be a 5-time WDC and Button a 2-time WDC!! (Against Hamilton no less!!!) Scary right?!

    So for my money, I think Newey is fortunate to have had Vettel on board, just as he was lucky to have Hakkinen. But in equal measure, Hakkinen was fortunate to have the Newey designed 98-99-00 McLaren’s. Just like Vettel made the 10-11-12-13 RBR shine that bit more… As a former driver of sorts, it’s my opinion that drivers can use their cars as a scape goat and are a bigger part of the overall performance equation. I think the top teams and designers know that too, they want nothing if their hard work left on the table laptime wise.

    As to the question of whether anyone else, Alonso or Hamilton for example, would have done a better job in the RBR’s of 2010-13, well it’s impossible to say. I don’t think nessecarily ‘yes’ immediately. Don’t forget, in the year of most hot blown diffuser effect, 2011, Hamilton didn’t beat Jensen at McLaren. So there is only Alonso, IMO, that might be able to say otherwise.

    I also don’t think Dan (who I support) having smashed Vettel in the opening rounds of a brand new era, suggests Vettel was a fraud WDC, or that Webber was really, really bad either. We need more data for that analysis.

    • I’d suggest your alternative title winners wouldn’t have happened.

      Red Bull persued a particular line of development because Vettel was able to adapt his driving style to make the most of it. Had that not been the case they’d have pushed development in a different direction to make the car more suited to the lead driver.

      I’d also query 2010 anyway as Seb will have taken points of Mark which ended up pushing him below Fred. Without Seb there Mark would almost certainly be WDC in 2010.

      I think all we can take is that Red Bull were able to pioneer a technology that no-one really caught on to for a long time and Seb was able to adapt his style to suit. It may even be that doing so harmed him long-term. After all, he’d not been in F1 all that long when he moved to RB so was still able to adapt. I’d suspect unlearning something after 4 years will be harder than learning would have been in the first place.

      As an aside, while it’s generated a bit of discussion, what was the point of this article? It said nothing in a not very clear way…

      • Hi Stephen,

        Thanks for the response. I have acknowledged that yes, Mark would have had a few extra points courtesy of Sebastian now beating him. I did say it was a simpler way of looking at it. So to ascertain that effect, each race in 2010 could be analysed and indeed Mark may (or may not) come out ahead of Fernando. In 2011, 2012 and 2013 that is too big a gap. It’s much more likely those titles would indeed have gone to those runner-ups mentioned above.

        As for the point of the article, I think it’s just a nice thing that the site allows fan contribution. If we followed the lead of another poster below, who claims to only take ACTUAL driver opinions and not fan opinion, yet still reads here strangely, would essentially undermine the sites modus operandi. But frankly, like any of us, I bet he is indeed interested in contributing in some way, even by commenting, to this cool community. Fan contributions are unlikely to be as robust and clear as professionally researched, written peices.

  3. You do have to bring in the times that his car didn’t work in to the equation. No doubt he’s been struggling. But if your track time is limited because the car gives up, how is he to learn how to drive it. But i believe that none learns anything from thing one does good. You can only learn when things go bad. A struggle is something that makes you stronger. This year showed a vettel who’s frustrated and working even harder to get where he wants to be. And that is a good thing. No doubt in my mind that the red bulls have been te best cars out there, last couple of years. But as in the case of webber, it still is the combo of man and machine. If the man isn’t up to the task you still don’t get a result. Look at Fernando. Clearly the best driver out there. But he has to drive around in something I could beat with my ford focus. And that’s why he won’t be champion. Nobody does it in a bad car. And now where on the ferrari bandwagon. This article should be written about kimi. As he “mastered” the art of rally. He should like a ferrari this twitchy… and Fernando is destroying him in greater numbers than danny on seb. Just saying…

    • I concur, I almost added a bit about Kimi vs Fernando in my post below. That’s where the real hammering is going on this season, taking out car issues and some bad luck, Fernando is destroying the Finn. Kimi is generally fairly well supported though, Vettel far less so, perhaps hence the fairly lopsided initial article.

      • Yes exactly. This can count as (polite) vettel bashing (see fortis, it doesn’t only happen to lewis) 😂
        The only thing that could be a counterpoint to the why not the kimi Fernando equation, is that most (all most everybody) expected Fernando to do this. So the chock is far less greater than the one felt in the red bull garage.

        • agreed… It’s not as though it hasn’t been noted here on TJ13 that the Iceman currently resembles more a pool of evaporating water

          plus this was from a reader with a singular message he wanted to share…

          We can flesh out the rest here

  4. I never bought into the idea that Webber was supposedly anywhere near as good as Vettel. Webber’s skills and motivation eclipsed after 2010, while Vettel was just getting started. In 2011 and 2013, Webber couldn’t even treat us to a nice two horse race to the champion title even though he was clearly driving the dominant car for much of those seasons. It’s only now that we’re beginning to realize with Ricciardo driving for Red Bull, how much we missed with that seat occupied by Webber previously. Granted, it’s not clear who could have replaced Mark Webber before 2014 at Red Bull. I heard a rumor about Hamilton wanting that seat at some point.

  5. Vettel’s car is not nearly as bad as people say – ask Daniel Ricciardo. The Ferrari is neither as bad as Kimi makes it nor is it as good as Fernando makes it look.

    However, from a previous comment, I will repeat Eddie Irvine’s statement: Everyone knew that if you had a Newey car, you’d win.” Also, as I quoted him before here, I will take Fernando Alonso’s word about Lewis Hamilton being a better driver than Sebastian Vettel.

    I’ll take the words of actual F1 drivers who speak in terms of experience and fact rather than my own or anyone else’s opinion.

    But let’s check Adrian Newey’s REAL record when designing for competitive teams:

    “In 1984, Newey (then aged 25) moved to the March IndyCar project, working as designer and race engineer for Bobby Rahal. Newey formed a close friendship with Rahal, which would impact their careers some 15 years later. Newey’s March 85C design took the 1985 CART title in the hands of Al Unser, and the 1985 Indy 500 with Danny Sullivan. In 1986 Newey moved to Kraco to engineer Michael Andretti’s car, while his March 86C design won the CART title and Indy 500 with Bobby Rahal.”

    Then Newey went back to F1: “Newey’s first F1 design, the 1988 March 881, was far more competitive than many expected, with Ivan Capelli finishing second in Portugal, and even passing Alain Prost’s McLaren-Honda turbo for the lead of the Japanese Grand Prix briefly on lap 16.

    “Through the 1980s and into the 1990s, Williams F1 was a top running team, and technical director Patrick Head wasted no time in getting a contract signed. With a vastly superior budget, drivers and resources at his disposal, Newey and Head rapidly became the dominant design partnership of the early 1990s. By mid-season 1991, Newey’s FW14 chassis was every bit a match for the previously dominant McLaren, but early season reliability issues and the efforts of Ayrton Senna prevented Williams team leader, Nigel Mansell, from taking the title.
    In 1992, there would be no problems, and with dominance of the sport not repeated until the Ferrari / Schumacher age, Mansell took the drivers’ crown and Newey secured his first constructors’ title. 1993 delivered a second, this time with Alain Prost at the wheel of the all-conquering FW15C.

    1994 saw a rare dip in performance for Newey-designed cars and the team and drivers struggled to match the Rory Byrne-designed Benetton B194 for pace and reliability. Disaster struck at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix with the death of Ayrton Senna who had joined Williams that year. A late-season charge, helped by a two-race ban for Schumacher, enabled Williams to claim their third straight constructors’ championship. However, Williams were unable to take a third consecutive drivers’ title, and with possible manslaughter charges for Senna’s accident in prospect, cracks began to show in Newey’s relationship with Williams team management.
    By 1995, it was clear that Adrian Newey was once more ready to become technical director of a team, but with Head a share-holding founder of Williams he found his way blocked.”

    “Unable to influence the design of the 1997 McLaren, Newey was forced to attempt to improve on the Neil Oatley design while concentrating his efforts on the 1998 car. A win at the 1997 European Grand Prix saw McLaren enter the off-season on a high, and when the racing resumed four months later the McLaren MP4/13 was the car to beat. Titles followed in 1998 and 1999, and Mika Häkkinen narrowly missed out on a third drivers’ title in 2000.”

    -All text in quotes are from Newey’s Wiki page.

    He then wanted to join his old friend, Bobby Rahal, and Rahal’s Jaguar F1 team but Ron Dennis continued to block any move. Red Bull offered Newey $10M/year and Dennis let him go. Seems, Newey has done quite well for himself, better than any other modern (1982-present) designer.

    • “I’ll take the words of actual F1 drivers who speak in terms of experience and fact rather than my own or anyone else’s opinion.”

      Hah, yeah the current drivers have zero motivation in diminishing their main rivals success. lol. They sure don’t have an axe to grind. Erm anything about the other current and past drivers who think otherwise? Guess not…

      “But let’s check Adrian Newey’s REAL record when designing for competitive teams:”

      Guess if Wiki says it, then it must be true eh? Anyway, don’t have time to fact check all this. Is it like the whole, “Vettel the only WDC since 1982 to not win prepatory F1 category”? lol. 😉

      I’d like to say I’ll take your word for it… but I won’t.

        • True. 1st para was catching… 2nd para mentioned Eddie Irvine, as a some sort of credible view. Then yeah…. pity.

          • #1 Eddie Irvine wasn’t the only person I mentioned. #2 The FACT is, bombast aside, Irvine drove in F1, none of us did; #3 I notice that NONE OF YOU has EVER directly responded to Alonso’s quote in this or the comment in which it was first mentioned; #4 The rest is Adrian Newey’s ACTUAL team history and the results of his designs.

            You guys have HUGE problems since it appears you can never seem to deal with, 1) quotes from actual people within F1 or 2) the documented history about a person or team.

            I came here because the primary writer of this blog makes salient observations about F!, some I agree with, some not – but that’s life.
            However, the stream of you who constantly value your opinions over facts or cherry-pick using Fallacious Arguments, such as this weird consensus that NOTHING Eddie Irvine says has value, therefore EVERYTHING, including Fernando Alonso’s expertise of documented history means nothing… well, if it was done to you – as I’ve seen in comments – freak out and question the person’s ability to comprehend what it is they read or their ability to be honest about the FACTS or expert observations you conveyed in your comment.

            So, who are you people? The trolls who obfuscate truth to make your opinion appear to be of more value than truth. or are you unable to comprehend what it is you’re reading???

            So, per YOUT comments, the succinct reply should be: Pity, your replies are so ignorant that they reveal you to be mentally deficient.

          • I find the Cherry-Picking accusation especially poetic considering your recent data mining efforts. I also find your accusations of people choosing to respond to things and ignoring other things laughable. We still await any explaination, or apology, for the vitriol spewed forth a few days ago with Hippo that resulted in that wonderful and completely false Vettel argument. At least be man enough to put your hand up… going quite as you did just shows the paradigms you built in your head, supported by utter crap, can not be, in any way, challenged. You hold them oh so very dear.

            -the list grows:

            1:Data miner / liar
            2:Cowardly in accepting you a wrong
            5:Extremist comments under pressure of academic challenge

            I can’t wait for the next analysis…

          • As a list of terms those crossed out are merely abusive.

            The words themselves in a coherent form may be acceptable

            This is an example of what will see a comment struck off completely in future.

          • It’s not my fault your honor… I’m “mentally deficient”. That’s already been established above. I plead insanity…


      • Vettel was ‘fast-tracked’… hence his debut and points at 19, and ‘youngest of’ records matching Hamilton and Alonso since. He dominated Formula BMW, but once leading F3, was already prepping for F1, skipping the second half of a title-winning FR3.5 year to move up to Toro Rosso. When Di Resta pipped Vettel to the F3 title, Vettel was already testing an F1 car… his focus was there.

        Hamilton’s approach was more measured, hence his two learning years in his junior ladder (same as Vettel, who started earlier, like everyone since), and at 22, Lewis was more than ready to start F1; he probably could have driven in mid-2006 like Vettel one year later, but the team wanted him to clinch GP2 and do a full pre-season first.

  6. I apply the same logic to Vettel vs Ricciardo as I do to Hamilton vs Rosberg, or any other inter team battle.

    That is, one has had far more unreliability than the other in 2014 and also one has benefited from some good strategy calls vs the other.

    On that basis I’d suggest that Vettel isn’t getting hammered by Ricciardo at all – it’s actually pretty close. In both of Ricciardo’s wins Vettel was the faster driver over the course of the weekend. A botched RBR strategy in Canada for him and a safety car in Hungary make a massive difference to the overall perception of things.

    I fully expect that Vettel is aware of the above, hence his general lack of concern about it all. Given that Ricciardo has had considerably more time in the current Red Bull (taking into account ROC had more testing mileage too) it’s not too surprising he’s doing well though.

    Car issues for VET:
    Aus: PU malfunctioned in FP3, issue in Q & Race.
    Bah: Brake by wire and a DRS issue
    Esp: Loom issue in FP, car cuts out in Q3, with gbox pen starts P15.
    Mon: Turbo failure in the race
    Aut: Car fails on lap 1

    Car issues for RIC:
    Aus: Fuel regulator
    Mal: Unsafe release/wing breaks = Retires due to 0pts.

    It really does read like Lewis’s & Nico’s car issue table, and whilst I think everyone accepts that to be a massive factor in the title fight, ignoring it elsewhere is perhaps a bit naive.

    • Actually, I might suggest having a look at f1esty’s engine adjusted articles to get a good idea of where the pace lies. It’s an excellent contribution and worth the time.

      IMO, the last 2 races Vettel has looked faster than RIC but has gotten cooked in the actual race. It’s only a matter of time before RB start having Merc style driver issues if Seb keeps it up.

      • Thanks Matt.. I try and get it down to driver + car combination. To be more accurate, I’d need some tweeted telemetry.. Separating car and driver would need further analysis like that of Patrick O’Brien’s.

        At a guess, 2014 so far:

        100.0: Alonso, Hamilton
        100.1: Rosberg, Ricciardo, Bottas
        100.2: Vettel?

        • And lets see how Ferrari’s turbo paint improves the engine.. it might have contributed to Bianchi besting Kobayashi by 3 tenths in Hungary.. that could really help Alonso take it to the Williams..

          • It did look dodgy to pass it off as ‘for reliability’, but if the turbo runs cooler (and thus gives more hp) then I guess they could claim that’s its major reason for implementation.. and if Renault could do it the last few years..

          • True, but like FRIC suddenly disappearing and Mercedes’ advantage seemingly diminished, I imagine it will be let through in order to ‘tighten up the grid’, or ‘improve the show’, in other words.

  7. Newey or Vettel? Shouldn’t you add Renault, with their engine mapping secrets? I don’t go for this deification tosh. Newey has, and certainly needs a team around him to convert his ideas into reality. In those lean years that are quoted, ask if he had shaped a design office team around him, or did he have people who weren’t on his wavelength. People make a great noise about him still using a drawing board. So somebody has to be able to interpret that into a CAD/Simulation package. With the frankly non intuitive driving style needed during the blown diffuser years, is it any wonder that Vettel is on a steep learning curve.

  8. The one that I’m surprised no one is talking about is Vettel versus Vergne. Given that Ricciardo and Vergne were closely matched over the course of a couple of seasons, is there any chance Red Bull may be considering letting Vettel go to McLaren as has been rumoured, saving a stash of cash that they can put towards R&D and then getting someone closer to the pace of Ricciardo in the sister car?

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