Sebastian Vettel – Youngest Triple World Champion, then why is he still questioned?

The Formula 1 World Championships have seen nine triple world champions including Prost (who won four), Fangio (five) & Schumacher (seven)) and it is not common to be questioning someone’s capability when they have won the highest accolade there is to win in the highest level of motorsport there is, three times in a row. Yet there is a section of the people associated with Formula One, and mind you we are not talking about fans, which include ex-formula one champions and ex-formula one winners who disagree with the claims of greatness towards the current three time world champion.

There are always critics who have an opinion, but two very experienced drivers who have won multiple times with top teams have questioned and have been quite critical of the German while comparing him to his main rivals. David Coulthard and Jacques Villeneuve have both driven Adrian Newey designed cars, and both of them question whether he can be measured in the same balance as a Senna, Stewart, Piquet or a Brabham.

Amid reports that Vettel had signed a contract extention with Red Bull upto 2016, David Coulthard wrote in the Guardian, “Do I think he has to move (teams) to cement his legacy? Yes, I do. Seb is a good driver, a world-class driver. But he hasn’t overcome adversity yet in terms of being with another team or being up against a teammate who was already world champion. If it appears as a magic carpet ride, none of us like to see that. We like to see people overcome a bit of adversity,”

Jacques Villeneuve the 1997 world champion has always been critical of Michael Schumacher and he is now an expert commentator on Italian television. While speaking about Vettel to Germany’s Auto Bild this is what he had to say, “Super fast but makes mistakes under pressure. If he’s in front, all is well, but otherwise he does not control his nerves well. The difference with Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton is that they are always fighting, regardless of their place and whether their car is good. They always give everything. On this level, Vettel does not impress me.”

Below is a list of the records currently held by Sebastian Vettel :

  • Youngest World Drivers World Champion
  • Youngest Double World Champion
  • Youngest Triple World Champion
  • World Champion having being points leader for most races in a season
  • World Champion having not been championship leader all season
  • Youngest Polesitter at a Grand Prix
  • Youngest winner of a Grand Prix
  • Youngest Pole and win
  • Youngest Pole, win and fastest lap
  • Youngest Pole, win, fastest lap and led every lap
  • Youngest driver to drive at a Grand Prix meeting
  • Youngest driver to score a podium finish
  • Youngest driver to set the fastest lap time in a Grand Prix session
  • Youngest driver to score points
  • Youngest leader, for atleast one lap
  • Youngest Grand Prix winner for two different teams
  • Youngest Grand Prix winner at the same Grand Prix on 2 occasions
  • Most Pole positions in a season
  • Most laps led in a season
  • Most starts from front row in a season
  • Most consecutive top two finishes from the start of the season
  • Most consecutive top two results, in both qualifying and race 
  • Most consecutive top two results, in both qualifying and race from the start of the season 
  • Highest average points per race entered* (points system changes skew this record)
  • Most championship points per season* (points system changes skew this record)
  • Most points between first and second in the World Championship* (points system changes skew this record)
  • Shortest time elapsed before earning a penalty

Ferrari fears work on their 2014 car could be disrupted

Ferrari’s 2012 challenge was dented by correlation problems with the old and out dated wind tunnel back in Maranello. It is now being upgraded to the same standard as the wind tunnel’s run by their challengers and it should be up and running by October this year. Aero work on their current 2013 challenger and the car for next year is currently running at Toyota’s Cologne facility, but it will be moved back home once the new wind tunnel back at the factory is completed. Chief designer at Ferrari, Nikolas Tombazis has admitted that the changeover from using Toyota’s Cologne wind tunnel to its upgraded one in Italy will have an impact on next year’s car.

When asked by AUTOSPORT if the switch will affect work on the 2014 car, Tombazis said: “Any change of wind tunnel has got some associated risks, so yes you are right. Ideally, we would already have that completed and we would be working at home with an upgraded wind tunnel in which we have complete confidence. It is not an ideal solution but, on balance, the decision we took to carry out that process was something that, if we had delayed, would just postpone the problem until later. So we thought it was paramount to do it as soon as possible.”

He added saying that, “The sooner [it was done] the better and we decided to do it not withstanding the fact that there is the 2013 and 2014 pressure. We have made no secret of the fact that we are doing a fairly important upgrade. That’s obviously putting a lot of stuff on our plate but we feel that it is something that we cannot delay. Therefore, we have this added pressure that we have to keep on top of that and we have to use an external wind tunnel while we carry out this major upgrade.”

Ferrari were one of the first in Formula One to use Wind Tunnel technology and many other teams were only much later able to afford such an important tool. This has meant that the facility at Maranello is quite out dated when compared to the competition. Tombazis referred to the same point saying that, “It’s important because our windtunnel technology has been below the high standard of some of our competitors and this work is going to bring us to that level.”

McLaren apologise to Red Bull and Webber

McLaren has finally come forward and apologised to Red Bull and Mark Webber after the standard ECU supplied by McLaren Electronic Systems (MES) failed on the warm up lap of the Australian Grand Prix and resulted in a poor start for the Australian. The standard ECU is supplied by MES to all the teams on the Formula 1 grid as well as to the FIA. Click here to read more about the MES ECU and Christian Horner’s reaction after the Grand Prix.

McLaren released a statement last evening regarding the incident, “There was a software-related issue that meant that Mark Webber’s car’s garage data system had to be re-started during the formation lap. That disrupted his preparations for the start of the race, for which Mark and the team has our apology. We are working together with them to prevent any recurrence.”

Team Principal at McLaren, Martin Whitmarsh did not agree at first, and he initially responded after the race by saying, “We’ll put our hands up if it’s a fault that’s derived from the hardware or the Bios. You can also inflict ECU problems on yourself by how you set it up, but I will look into it. I’ll be disappointed if it is our fault because in Formula 1, Nascar and Indycar, we’ve not yet stopped a car, and we’re very proud of that record.”

Vettel’s advice on Malaysia – Dont stress, you can’t run away from the heat

Sebastian Vettel:

What is your favourite part of the circuit?

It’s an interesting track. After the first section, Turns 5, 6, 7 and 8 are very quick and fun. Turns 11 and 14 are similar, it’s difficult to find the apex of those on every lap, especially as the tyres become worn.

What is your favourite memory of the Malaysian GP?

It’s a very rewarding circuit for a driver to win, as it’s such a tough challenge with the heat and high-speed corners. It’s rewarding, as it shows you have prepared well over the winter, so I guess my favourite memories are winning in 2010 and 2011.

What are your tips for keeping cool in Malaysia?

Don’t stress, because you can’t run away from the heat…

Mark Webber

What is your favourite part of the Sepang Circuit?
It’s the second to last corner because it’s very tricky to get right, but I’ve always enjoyed driving it. I’m looking forward to getting back on track again so soon after the first race and really getting the season underway…

What are your tips for keeping cool in Malaysia?
Drink a lot of water, wear light clothes and of course stay in the aircon as much as you can – although that’s not something that helps much when we’re driving! It’s important to acclimatise as much as possible.

Malaysia GP Preview – Force India

Paul di Resta, Force India

2012 Qualifying – 14th, 2012 Race – 7th

“You never know what to expect in Malaysia! It could rain, or it could be dry. Temperatures are going to be high, degradation is going to be high, but I think our car is going to suit the warm weather. We’ve had a reasonably strong performance for the last couple of years in Malaysia, so I think we should go there feeling quite optimistic. We have a few days to conquer the jet lag and hopefully be fighting fit. I think it is probably one of the most complete tracks of the season. It was the very first of the new generation tracks and it has nice flowing sections, some slow bits, as well as high-speed chicanes. I think it’s one of the better tracks on the calendar. Along with the next one in Shanghai, it’s one of the tracks I enjoy.”

Adrian Sutil, Force India

2012 Qualifying – n/a, 2012 Race – n/a“I finished fifth in Malaysia in 2010, so I have some good memories. It’s not my favourite track, but it depends on the car. If the car is quick and stable, you enjoy it more, but sometimes you really struggle with the balance, and then it’s a real challenge – the corners are so long, you need a lot of aerodynamic grip. It’s a track I like to drive, but it’s not like a Monaco or a Spa. I don’t really know what effect the high temperatures will have because we haven’t had them during testing. I think the weather in Australia suited us quite well, so let’s see how Malaysia is.”

Vijay Mallya, Force India team principal
“The first back-to-back races of the season mean we are already heading to Malaysia for the second round of the Championship. We have scored points in Sepang the last three times we raced there, including a double-points finish last year, and I believe we can build on the early-season momentum to bring home a valuable result. Last weekend’s race in Melbourne was a great demonstration of how far the team has come lately: to race against the established front-runners on merit shows the quality of our car, of our driver line-up and of the work everyone in the team is producing every day, whether at the factory or at the circuit. We have led the last two races and hopefully soon we will have a special result to repay all that effort. With improved results come increased responsibilities: the whole world of Formula One – our rivals, the media and the fans – now look at Sahara Force India as a competitor for points at every race. It is our duty to 

sustain this scrutiny by going out every day and performing to our best to keep challenging the top teams in the world. The 2013 championship is just at the beginning, and it is important not to get carried away with enthusiasm: we will need to channel this positive energy into consistently good performances and continue to improve. We are on a good road, and we must all keep progressing.”

Malaysian GP Preview – Williams Renault

When: Friday 22nd – Sunday 24th March, 2013
Where: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Round: 2 of 19

Mike Coughlan, Technical Director:                                                  

Following a difficult opening to the season in Australia, the team has regrouped and been working hard to solve the problems we encountered last weekend. We have a good idea where to focus our efforts and learnt a lot in Melbourne which we will implement in Malaysia to continue working to improve the performance of the FW35 throughout Friday testing and into the weekend. The Sepang circuit is a technical challenge which is always quite hard on tyres. The high ambient temperatures and humidity also make it a tough race for the drivers, with the weather also playing its part with late afternoon showers common and forecast over the weekend. Our aim is to move forward from where we were last weekend, with a view to end the race with both cars in points-scoring positions.

Pastor Maldonado: Malaysia is one of my favourite circuits and it’s also one of the most challenging, testing your skill and concentration towards the end of the race as the heat takes its toll on you physically. The weather conditions can change in an instant and in the last couple of years the weather has gone from 40 degree heat to thunderstorms and heavy rain, with extreme changes in track temperature as well. I had a disappointing Australian Grand Prix and the car isn’t quite where we hoped it would be, but we will be working hard to unlock the potential that we saw in testing.

Valtteri Bottas: Malaysia is a big test for the drivers and the weather conditions are always tricky to deal with. Last year was very difficult because we had hot humid track temperatures combined with a series of rain showers. The fast corners in the second sector of the track are the most challenging because it’s really hot for the tyres and in these high temperatures you need to be careful not to degrade them too quickly. I learnt a lot from my first Grand Prix in Australia and whilst we weren’t as competitive as we had hoped, the fact that I brought the car home safely in my first race is a positive I can take away and we will now be looking to improve on our performance for this race.

Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 Head of Track Operations: Sepang is a challenge for the engine as there are two long straights of just under a kilometre each. Top end power and good acceleration are thus important, but there are also tight mid to low speed corners so the engine also needs to be responsive on the apex and exit of turns. The high ambient humidity reduces engine power output as the high water content displaces the oxygen available to burn. If it stays dry, Sepang is actually one of the harder circuits for engine engineers as the engine gets a full workout.

Alonso, The Samurai, takes a swing at Red Bull

Image courtesy Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso has just had another go at Red Bull , and this time he has pointed out to the fact that Sebastian Vettel has had to fight till the very last race, for two of his three championships, with a much superior car. It is widely agreed that Alonso has performed way above the competitiveness of his machinery in all of his three years at the Maranello squad, while Red Bull have made their lives quite difficult even though they had a car that was one second faster than the competition.

While being interviewed by El Pais newspaper, Alonso says, “I’m not asking for a car one second faster than them, but one with which we can fight. Red Bull has won two of their titles in the last race, and that was with a car that was a second faster than the rest. Making the most of what they have is not one of their virtues.”

In an interview after the race at Melbourne he was heard saying, “It is usually the same: first and second in qualifying and then something always happening. Sometimes the start, sometimes reliability, sometimes the tyres. Red Bull is the quickest car at the moment, first and second in qualifying, first and second in practice, nearly, and then in the race they saw a little bit of degradation. But that doesn’t mean that they are not the fastest.”