The Truth About Cars » vettel The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 13 Jul 2014 22:36:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » vettel F1 Report: A Trio of Champions, A Threesome For The Champion Mon, 15 Apr 2013 17:36:37 +0000

My rant about colorless F1 drivers of the 21st century may have been honored more in the breach than the observance this past weekend; while Lewis Hamilton was doing the interview with David Coulthard at the end of the race, champagne drinker Raikkonen was having a convo with race winner Alonso. When Coulthard asked the two men to share their conversation with the crowd, both of them declined, Kimi snarking a bit a bout “tires”, but the local camera director for the race coverage made sure you could see that Alonso’s stunning girlfriend had a friend with her. Or a sister. Or who the hell knows.

Anybody who watched it happen and still thinks the winner of China had a lot of extra room in his king-size bed last night is being willfully naive. To the winners go the spoils, and our trio of podium finishers each demonstrated why their teammates weren’t standing next to them when it was time to hand out the trophies.

Much hay was made on Saturday of the fact that Massa was poised to outqualify his teammate for the fifth time in a row. Even with qualifying wizard Jarno Trulli next to him in the Flavio-era Renaults, that hadn’t ever happened. Nor did it happen on Saturday, with Alonso sneaking a third place out near the end. Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel elected not to bother to qualify at all in the name of tire strategy. Now would be a good time to insert a rant about how the staggeringly low quality of this year’s Pirelli rubber appears to be injecting all sorts of unnecessary stupidity into the season, but truth be told it’s all rather fascinating to watch and it beats the Ferrari-Bridgestone flag-to-flag snoozes that were an accepted and seemingly unchangeable part of the sport just a decade ago.

Mark Wobbler, meanwhile, was starting from the pitlane after running low on “fuel pressure” (meaning: fuel) in Q2. If the rumors are true — and it appears they are — @AussieGrit is moving back to sports cars next year. His unique combination of indifferent qualifying, hopeless starting, and mid-race position loss will be missed by precisely no one. It’s hard not to think that either of Toro Rosso’s young bulls could replace him with no difficulty; in fact, there was one incident during the race where Webber banged into an unsuspecting Jean-Eric Vergne who was in the process of kicking his ass in the junior car. The FIA waited until after the race to hand out the penalty, no doubt because Webber wasn’t even on the track for more than a few laps after that. Red Bull probably wishes they had Coulthard back at this point.

Although the race started with Hamilton leading, Alonso disposed of him with respectful but rapid authority and it would have been a bad idea to bet against the double world champion from that point forward. Ferrari’s tire strategy was sound, but that was also true for Massa. The difference between first and sixth was, as it usually is at Ferrari, the tremendous lap-by-lap discipline that Alonso brings to his craft. I don’t think he’s a brilliant, fearsome qualifier in the mode of Hamilton, but he surpasses everyone else in the twenty-lap sprints between changes. It’s been a long time since he could be said to have the best car but year after year he finds himself in the hunt for the championship. Had McLaren been able to keep their politics under control he would no doubt be a quadruple world champion by now. As it is, he may wind up matching Senna’s record in 2013.

Kimi Raikkonen, of course, is the Official Favorite Driver Of Car Guys Who Kinda Watch F1 Sometimes Because He Rallies And Chases Strippers And Took A Shit During The Pele-Michael Schumacher Presentation but he, too, is a quiet master of the twenty-lap sprint. Nowhere was this more apparent that at the end of the race, when he effortlessly held off Hamilton and duped said highly-paid Pussycat Doll into burning up his tires, leaving him vulnerable for Vettel at the end.

Oh yes, this battle for third place was reason in and of itself to watch the race. While Messrs. Hamilton and Alonso profess to mutually admire each other and conspire to give the impression that Vettel is merely an adequate driver in the very best car, week after week Sebastian puts the lie to that and rarely as impressively as yesterday, when he took the maximum possible advantage of the iffy tire strategy to pull sixteen seconds out of Hamilton in just four and a half laps. In the final corner of the race, Hamilton locked up and it seemed that the race was Vettel’s to take, but he washed out the front end and had to watch it walk away by 0.2 seconds. Every racer knows the sickening feeling of having pushed the front end too far in the only corner that really matters in a race. The tenths of a second you spent grinding the outside tire in that situation seem long enough for a vacation, a critical reading of Ulysses, or a Mercedes-Benz auto-show presentation. In this case, it was two tenths too long.

And what of Hamilton himself? He started from the front and finished third. Doesn’t seem very champion-ish. And yet he did what he needed to do with the chassis he had at his disposal. He was mostly mistake-free and as usual he took every passing opportunity available, including one on a rather despondent-sounding Jenson Button. Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg did his usual job of bumbling around the circuit making Hamilton look good until a suspension problem canceled his day. Even Gerhard Berger, who has made ridiculously unsupported comments like “Rosberg is as good as Vettel” in the past, now has to concede that his favorite German doesn’t have “the killer instinct”. Mr. Rosberg, who in exchange for lacking the killer instinct has tens of millions of dollars and a remarkably DiCaprio-esque look, couldn’t be reached for comment because he was out enjoying his life. Mr. Hamilton’s decision to leave McLaren, which seemed short-sighted as well as churlish and ungrateful, looks increasingly intelligent as the schedule grinds on. Still, the Silver Arrows need something. Neither Hamilton nor Rosberg appear to have any rapport with the team or any ability to develop the car. One suggestion: Michael Schumacher announced this weekend that he would be staying on with the team in the capacity of “ambassador”. Perhaps he would be more useful behind the wheel, sorting out the W04, eh?

Honestly, can you even imagine a podium consisting of Massa, Grosjean, and Rosberg? Of course you can’t. It’s more improbable by a long shot than a Schumacher-Barrichello-Tiago Monteiro podium, which actually happened in the USGP once. An Alonso-Raikkonen-Hamilton podium, on the other hand, makes perfect sense. As often as we hear that Formula One is a sport of machines, engineers, and ruthless computational power, it’s nice to see it proved yet again that the driver matters — and these three matter more than most.

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F1 Report: Smells Like Team Spirit Mon, 25 Mar 2013 17:44:31 +0000

Rubens Barrichello’s daughter once asked him why he looked so sad on the podium; to make his children as well as the tifosi feel better about Ferrari’s relentless approach to team orders, he decided to make sure he always smiled from then on. The contrast between the crinkled mouth and unsmiling eyes he displayed in the podiums after that makes for an interesting study in human dynamics. How can a man feel so conflicted about standing on the most important podium in the racing world, week in and week out?

At the end of the Malaysian Grand Prix yesterday, however, there were no smiling faces at all.

It was a day of team decisions and team orders. Fernando Alonso bashed his front wing in at the start and should have headed directly in for another, but with a drying track and the unlovable prospect of two pitstops within a few laps, he decided to stay out. Or perhaps the team decided. Ferrari’s pit crew were reportedly out and ready with a new nose when Alonso went by. Was that simple insurance? Or did the man himself decide to chance another lap? Ferrari’s official statement assigns responsibility for the decision to the team, but they would say that, wouldn’t they? Surely Alonso will miss these points later on in the season.

With Fernando off-track and Massa looking unlikely to challenge for the podium, it became a tale of two teams. First, the Mercedes team of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. Few people have been paid as much to accomplish as little as Mr. Rosberg has in Formula One; during his years with Michael Schumacher he usually outqualified the old man but he could also be counted on to fall back during the start while the seven-time world champion pushed forward. He also frequently yielded to his brasher, braver former GP2 competitor Lewis Hamilton on-track in a fashion that can best be described as “wince-inducing”.

With Hamilton as his teammate, however, Rosberg appears to be slightly less meek about the whole thing. Near the end of the race, he and Hamilton raced for position and when Ross Brawn, the team principal, ordered them into line to finish the race, Rosberg complained over the radio in a manner that was clearly meant to be heard around the world — and was. “I could go so much faster,” he whined, “if he would get out of the way.”

“Lewis is also under control,” Brawn replied. In other words: Stop kidding yourself. Hamilton’s conserving fuel and in a straight fight he’d pull your panties off the same way he’s been doing it for over half a decade now. Mr. Hamilton, meanwhile, provided a moment of amusement when he inadvertently pitted at the McLaren garage for tires. The Woking crew, perhaps still feeling a little bitter about the way Hamilton has left the team for more money after being basically a charity project for Ron Dennis in his youth, waved him out and over to his new home. Still, Lewis looked sad on the podium, and in the after-race press statement indicated that Rosberg deserved the position. Gracious, but unnecessary. Only a blind man without access to Braille reports of the past five seasons could possibly think Rosberg will seriously contend against his teammate in 2013 for anything other than endorsement contracts. As much as I despise Lewis Hamilton as a human being, his talent exceeds Nico’s by an order of magnitude.

Two steps up the podium from Hamilton stood the triple world champion himself, young Sebastian Vettel. Your humble author had the pleasure of watching Vettel’s F1 debut at the USGP years ago and was impressed then and now. Yes, Sebastian has usually had the best car; no, it hasn’t been easy to put that best car on top three years running. At an age where most young men are incapable of completing college homework assignments on time or getting their Civics cleaned up in time for an import-drag-race event, Sebastian has driven at the highest level possible with astounding consistency. And if you think the car wins races by itself, an examination of Mark Webber’s record shows that it doesn’t.

That was surely on Vettel’s mind as the team orders came through to him at the final round of pitstops. Dial back the engines, conserve fuel, “multi21″ (which apparently means that the #2 driver may stay in front of the #1 driver). Your humble author does not pretend to have a sliver of Vettel’s talent, but as someone who possesses a hotter-than-average racing temperament I would be more than happy to suggest the German’s interior monologue:

Seven points. Seven points. They want me to hold station and give this idiot seven points. The championship is often won and lost on less, and they want me to circle around behind this half-ass, this indifferent starter, this whiner, this never-was. Oh, fuck that twice.

DRIVE’s Leo Parente, no stranger to competing at the sharp end of an open-wheel series himself, has said, “If you hate Seb for this, you hate a real racer.” I’m inclined to agree. Nominally speaking, it would have been the reasonable, team-oriented, responsible thing to do to follow Webber home. As a racer myself, I have to agree with Vettel. Mr. Webber will never win the world championship. He’s incapable of driving at the level required on a consistent basis. His starts are pathetic. He is difficult to pass, but he’s not a great passer. Most importantly, he fails again and again at the fundamental F1 skill of driving to plan with metronomic perfection for an entire stint. I’d love to ride some mountain bikes with Mark Webber, I admire him as an individual, I think that of the entire grid he’s probably one of the so-called best blokes out there, but he cannot and will not get the job done and in that situation TAKE THE SEVEN POINTS AWAY FROM HIM NOW.

The failing wasn’t Sebastian’s, it was Christian Horner’s for not moving the guy who cannot win the championship out of the way of the guy who can. That’s the bottom line. Teamwork wins championships, and there was a deficiency of teamwork at the Red Bull garage. Ross Brawn kept Rosberg behind Hamilton because Rosberg isn’t a winner and Hamilton is. Mr. Horner should learn from his elders in this case. Luckily for him and for the possibilities of a fourth world championship, Sebastian Vettel did what was necessary.

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