Is the Vettel era “boring”? Not even close

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Monza, 2011

The championship is virtually over after Vettel's eighth win

If Sebastian Vettel clinches the world championship at the next race, he’ll have done so with five races to spare.

No-one has won a championship that early since Michael Schumacher’s dominant streak in the early 2000s.

Some people have told me this has made the 2011 season “boring” and that Vettel’s domination of the championship has made F1 as tedious as it was during the peak of Schumacher’s reign. But I don’t agree.

More real racing

The differences between Vettel’s situation today and Schumacher’s a decade ago are far more striking than the similarities.

For one thing, it’s far easier to appreciate just how good a job Vettel is doing. No tailor-made tyres, no team mate pulling over to let him win – Vettel’s victories haven’t been as easy as some of Schumacher’s.

In the days when refuelling was allowed, it was easier for the driver of the fastest car to rise to the front without needing to overtake.

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, Hungaroring, 2004

Hungary 2004: We could have been spared 70 laps of tedium by giving Schumacher his trophy at this point

Simply put a bit more fuel in the car at the start, make the first pit stop a few laps later than everyone else and come out in the lead.

This isn’t a criticism of Schumacher, it’s just how the rules at the time shaped the racing. Thankfully, this predictable strategic formula is a thing of the past. The refuelling ban last year played a major role in promoting better racing.

So, while Red Bull have held the upper hand all year in qualifying, that hasn’t meant Vettel has been strolling to easy wins on race day.

Even when he has been on pole position, he’s often had to make moves on track to claim victory. That was the case in the last two races where he made brave moves on Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso.

On other occasions Vettel’s had to withstand terrific pressure. He crossed the line in Spain and Monaco with his closest pursuers just tenths of a second behind.

F1 wasn’t anything like as competitive as this seven years ago when Schumacher won 12 of the opening 13 races. At his first win in Bahrain the nearest non-Ferrari was over a half a minute behind, and it didn’t get much closer in the following rounds.

Poor championship, great races

Bruno Senna, Renault. Monza, 2011

Pirelli tyres have improved the racing in 2011

The softer tyres supplied by Pirelli this year have allowed drivers to race each other more closely. Even when Vettel is up front, the action behind him is often terrific.

The championship may be one-sided but the races have been highly entertaining. The verdict from F1 Fanatic readers supports this view: the average Rate the Race score so far this year is 7.6 out of ten, compared to 6.7 last year.

The Chinese and Canadian rounds attracted particularly high scores thanks to something we’ve seen little of in F1 in recent years – late-race changes of lead.

The lead changed hands on the final lap in Montreal. In Shanghai Lewis Hamilton rose from fourth to first over the final 15 laps. He did it not through refuelling strategy nor even because the cars in front of him retired – he did it by overtaking them on the track.

Remember, too, the thrilling three-way scrap for victory at the Nurburgring between Hamilton, Alonso and Mark Webber.

The days of the races effectively ending after the last refuelling stops are behind us – and that’s obviously a good thing.

This year we’ve had battles for victory going down to the final lap, varied strategies, surprise wins and stacks of overtaking from the front to the back of the field. Through it all one man and one car has stood head and shoulders above the rest – because that’s the way sport is sometimes.

Fortunately in 2011 domination in F1 by one driver makes for far more entertaining viewing than it did in 2004.

That year stands out in my memory as the worst season of racing I’ve ever seen. What we have today may not be perfect, but it is incomparably better.

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182 comments on Is the Vettel era “boring”? Not even close

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  1. Bit dangerous calling this the Vettel “era” :P I really don’t want more than a couple of years of domination by Seb.

    • Agreed. Let us not call it an “era” already.

      And also agree with Keith that this year has been good. The reason it has been good is because Mclaren has been super-competitive on race day. Add an aggressive Hamilton to this mix and we have a box-office blockbuster. Love him or hate him, there is no denying that Hamilton is a crowd-pleaser.

      The only way this season could have been any better was if Webber was also in the mix.

    • David BR said on 16th September 2011, 18:47

      +1, exactly, two years of domination only, please, last year and this!

      • Yorricksfriend said on 17th September 2011, 2:02

        Last year was not a dominant year for Vettel

        • David BR said on 17th September 2011, 20:21

          Only because of Red Bull unreliability at the start and his own personal demon (Webber) until late mid-season, since when he has been. Anyhow, just wishful thinking, fairly certain Red Bull and Vettel will dominate next season too.

  2. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th September 2011, 12:48

    I think most people who refer to the Vettel-dominated races as being boring do so because they dislike Vettel, mostly because of his finger-thrusting antics.

    • to me kind of boring.. its like something missing.. like nothing happening with vettel compare to schumacher era.. schumacher era even though he dominated whole season.. everybody still like him n the team.. happening.. vettel totally boring.. if he wins a race or qualified 1st pole.. he like nothing else to say.. “thats what im talking about baby” x10…. i dont know what is he talking about LOL. Totally boring. One more thing, about overtaking.. kind of boring the one who overtake can simply use DRS to overtake, but the one who got overtake cant do anything or use DRS to defence his place. Kind of not far. Real race should be tought.. good driver usually hard to being overtake.. and a good driver always try to find good way and chances to overtake. By DRS like not far.. its like “Get off my way im coming through!!!!”

      • Yorricksfriend said on 17th September 2011, 2:07

        I have to disagree, Schumacher’s wins were the epitome of boring. We didn’t get team radio in those days and I’m glad we didn’t. His celebrations culminated in an awkward half foot jump in the air which looked as forced as Massa giving up the lead to Alonso in Hockenheim. At least Vettel has a sense of humour, which we didn’t see much if any of during his dominance.

        • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 17th September 2011, 4:12

          Even if I wasn’t a Schumi fan, I’d think the victory leap would be just as genuine (and MUCH less annoying) than the finger.

          Seb is a much better English speaker than Schumi, though.

    • John H said on 17th September 2011, 0:58

      I didn’t like him remonstrating to Pirelli at Spa. I didn’t like him insinuating Webber was crazy after their crash (note difference when McLarens collided). True, I don’t like the finger either.

      But he’s very approachable when he’s not in race mode and now he can overtake he definitely deserves to be a double champion.

      I just think 2010 was the greatest season and anything would be a come down even if we have had some amazing races this year.

      • We don’t know if Vettel was remonstrating the Pirelli guy or not, he certainly was intense and focused and passionate and clearly articulating his views. It showed he’s a leader within the team and how deep his involvement is in every aspect of racing. It also gave us a glimpse at his inner strength.

        As for the crazy thing. Button pretty much verbally did the same thing after the collision in Canada this year when he came on the radio asking “what was he thinking?” which sounded a lot like “is he crazy?”

        • I understand your point about the Pirelli thing, but Button’s reaction was nothing like that of Vettel’s to Webber!

          Can’t imagine Webber sitting in the team garage applauding Vettel winning the race either.

          I think he’s a fantastic guy off the track, really funny and a great driver. I think the problem is with Red Bull, not Vettel – after all, they are a drinks company ;)

    • Yep. I think Vettel is a terrific driver (not an era yet) I just hate how his “#1″ gesture looks like he is giving it.

    • I’m among them too.:)I’ve tried to become a Vettel fan, but I’m just not able to. Neither am I a fan of Red Bull Racing. I think the name “Red Bull” sounds better as a sponsor and not as a constructor. I wish this squad was still known as Jaguar Racing (with Red Bull sponsorship)- I’d have become an instant fan of Vettel then.

  3. TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 16th September 2011, 12:52

    Couldn’t agree more. The races have been nothing short of amazing with only Valencia a let down.

    From the results you’d think Vettel is winning every race by a massive margin but think how much close racing for the lead we’ve had this year.

    Vettel/Hamilton in Barcelona, Vettel/Alonso/Button in Monaco, Vettel/Button Canada, Hamilton/Button in Hungary, Vettel/Alonso in Italy.

    One thing I also love this year is how the races aren’t finished until the very last lap. It was very rare if a race result was still undecided in the final 10 laps but this year we’ve been spoilt with races that go on right to the chequered flag.

    In China we had Hamilton/Vettel and Webber/everyone, Spain Vettel/Hamilton, Monaco Vettel/Alonso/Button, Montreal Button/Vettel, Silverstone Massa/Hamilton and Webber/Vettel. Monza Alonso/Hamilton.

    What a season. Best year of F1 ever.

    • daykind said on 16th September 2011, 13:35

      Agreed.

      This year has been brilliant. True racing, brilliant overtakes, and a great season overall.

      • Completely agree. I watch F1 for the racing and so long as that is exciting I have nothing to grumble about even if Ferrari are doing rubbish :P

    • Maybe not THE best season, but one of the greats undoubtedly. And yep, Valencia was a low but, “Hey, what did you expect?”

      • In any other year Valencia would have been one of the best races of the season which pretty much sums it up for me this year. I love it.

        • Yorricksfriend said on 17th September 2011, 2:11

          In any other year Valencia would have been one of the best races of the season which pretty much sums it up for me this year. I love it.

          Why? It never is

          • Because this year has had a lot of exciting races. I feel that if you plonked the 2011 Valencia race alongside races in 07, 09 and even 2010 it would seem very exciting. The quality of racing overall has massively improved.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 16th September 2011, 17:47

      I agree too. There have been plenty of great on track battles, including for Vettel’s wins. While there can’t be any doubt of how great Schumacher was, for non-Ferrari fans, it wouldn’t have been very exciting in terms of on track action compared to now.

      • While there can’t be any doubt of how great Schumacher was, for non-Ferrari fans, it wouldn’t have been very exciting in terms of on track action compared to now

        Even I can admit 04 and 02 were pretty rubbish! Actually, so was 07 and that was a close title fight but the races weren’t great. I much prefer 2011.

    • David BR said on 16th September 2011, 18:52

      It’s been a great year of racing so far, definitely.

      The real down-side? Webber. It would have made the championship a fight in two ways: a direct challenge to Vettel, and the chance for others to narrow the gap.

      So what happened? It’s even worse knowing Red Bull must like it this way – hence the new contract.

      • Look, it doesn’t matter if the championship is over. This is by far the best season of racing I’ve ever seen (i’ve not been watching for long) even if it’s difficult if you don’t support Vettel.

  4. Wallbreaker said on 16th September 2011, 12:56

    If you compare this season to the last one, we had a championship that was exciting until the last lap, but the races weren´t too exciting. This year it´s completely different. The races are exciting until the final laps – but championship has been boring from race one on. Now it´s up to you, what you like more…

    • I personally like not knowing until the last lap who’s going to be champion… there is something to fight for. Everyone that drives in F1 wants to win a title.
      Yet, we’re annoyed at Vettel because he will win but he still hasn’t. If he wins in Singapore, the last races will be interesting to watch anyhow because people won’t say someone can still beat Vettel, the objective becomes 2nd place and the fight for it is still open.

    • joey-poey said on 16th September 2011, 16:15

      I disagree that last year’s races weren’t that exciting. Australia, Turkey and Canada were all pretty fantastic if you ask me.

      • Wallbreaker said on 17th September 2011, 0:19

        3 out of 19 races. This year, one or two out of 13 races were quite boring and even they were more exciting than many of the races in 2010. Would you still disagree?

        • The races were more interesting because the championship was such a tight battle.

          The two are not mutually exclusive.

          It doesn’t matter how many overtakes are thrown at the argument.

  5. Nick.UK (@) said on 16th September 2011, 13:00

    The very point you’re trying to sing home you contradict. Citing Montreal, China and Germany as more entertaining races simply ruins your argument that Vettel is not making this season boring. The most obvious things those races have in common… Vettel didn’t win! I dont care how much action there is in the places 2-24. A single race can be amazing regardless of the same winner, but the excitment ends as soon as the race finishes. Last year I was excited all season, excited for the next race, always thinking about what could happen. Now, I more-o-less forget about F1 until Friday Practice begins on a race weekend. The entertainment provided this year is not the same as last year due to a lack of championship competition.

    • Grant Gordon said on 16th September 2011, 13:18

      I suppose it depends on your perspective, there are still some great battles left in the championships. There are still 4 drivers in contention for 2nd place, so 2nd to 5th place is still a very exciting battle. Rosberg and Schumacher are only separated by 4 points at the moment. In the constructors, the battle between Force India, Sauber and Torro Rosso is going to be an interesting one. If of course you’re only interested in one position, who wins, then yeah, you’re likely to be disappointed.

      It’s the same as the races, I often get asks who won, but I think that misses the point. Yes, ultimately, everyone wants to win, but I think that misses out on a huge part of motor racing, the midfield battles, drivers struggling to control a less than optimal car, even those trying to nurse a damaged car home. All of these are big aspects of Formula 1, and if all that matters is ultimately who is first, why bother having anyone who’s not able to compete for the first step racing at all?

      • It really doesn’t matter if Vettel is leading the championship by 112 points. I enjoy watching the “battles” for p20-24 because is pure racing. And the it’s pretty close!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th September 2011, 10:46

      Citing Montreal, China and Germany as more entertaining races simply ruins your argument that Vettel is not making this season boring.

      No it doesn’t because I’m not saying “the season has been good because we’ve had plenty of races Vettel hasn’t won”. Vettel himself has been part of the action in several races and that’s part of why it’s been such a good season.

      • It hasn’t been a great season because the championship has been boring. You can’t have a good season just because the races have had a lot of battles in it… it’s what those battle mean that is important.

        It depends how you view single race wins in terms of importance. And in relation to what a championship means in terms of making F1 history, to be honest they pale in comparison.

        But that’s just what I think, I don’t speak for anyone else.

        • The races have been fantastically good this year, I’m amazed that we even need this debate.

          I also strongly disagree that the championship has been boring, there are so many close battles.

          This season has been brilliant.

        • Totally agree. Sums it up quite succinctly.

          • I’m agreeing with John H and his “it’s what those battles mean that is important” statement, by the way.

    • While it is true, that the races Vettel won pole to flag were not that special (with Valencia up front, but also Australia coming to mind) compared to the best races of this year, that does not make the season boring.

      First of all, there have been quite a few races that were either tight or won by other people then Vettel. That is something Schumacher never had.

      But just compare say, Barcelona this year, with the races in the last couple of years. Or even if you compare Valencia to earlier races there, it was the best Valencia race we have had and might have got a very decent score, had it not been in the middle of a season full of great races.

      • bosyber said on 19th September 2011, 9:35

        Well said, I wouldn’t have minded most of the races to have been a fight for the lead from the first to the last, but that’s pretty unrealistic to expect. As Keith writes, we have had quite a races approaching that, some won by Vettel, some not.

        And even in other races there usually has been a lot of action, some of it DRS inspired (tainted?), true, but also a lot of closer racing by the drivers, who know they have to, are expected to, and can, overtake on track.

        Valencia was one of the most boring races this year, but it always is. Comparing the race year on year though, it was a lot better than most (although last years race was sort of entertaining, due to drama rather than racing …).

        I really enjoyed Barcelona this year, last year it had already some battles – HAM did well to keep Vettel alert until his wheel came of; ALO was there to take it up bc. he fought for it earlier on – but before that it was one of the races that I could miss the most.

  6. I can’t really agree with this. By the end of the day we still have one guy leading the championship by a massive gap, and you’re just exaggerating the moments where he struggled a bit, but in danger he wasn’t at any point. If it was all that tight and entertaining as you say we might have a 20 pts gap, but not one like now.
    I’m obviously no vettel fan but I still acknowledge what he manages on track. Let’s see in the future when he’s racing with a teammate we know how good or bad he is, webber is still a mistery for me therefor I don’t wanna comment on how good vettel really is.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th September 2011, 13:06

      By the end of the day we still have one guy leading the championship by a massive gap

      True, but championship-wise, season 2011 was always going be disappointing in comparison to 2010, what with the World Champion only leading the championship for the first time when he won it.

      One can only imagine if what would have happened with Pirelli tyres and KERS last year …

      • Well, 2007 & 2008 were more exciting seasons than this one in my opinion, even if the races were not so dramatic.

        By the wayt, I like the way you didn’t include DRS there PM ;)

    • If it was all that tight and entertaining as you say we might have a 20 pts gap, but not one like now.

      That’s if the only interest you have in F1 is the championship as a whole and don’t care one bit about individual races except the effect it has on the championship. I watch races and enjoy them because of the racing, not necessarily because the outcome is ‘good’ for the championship being close. It is true that it’s been as tight and entertaining as Keith says, unless you don’t watch races and only look at the points tally. A close championship is nice, but it isn’t everything. I think I’d almost rather a domination by one driver but with exciting races than a close championship with tedious races.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 17th September 2011, 10:49

      but in danger he wasn’t at any point.

      If you’re saying that what did happen to Vettel at Montreal couldn’t have happened at Monaco and Spain then of course I disagree with you.

      If it was all that tight and entertaining as you say we might have a 20 pts gap, but not one like now.

      It clearly has been entertaining because look at how people are responding to the races.

      You’re just fixating on the points total and instead of taking it as a sign Vettel has done a superb job this year – which he has – trying to use it to say it hasn’t been an exciting season, which obviously isn’t true.

      • @Chris Setzer, the funny thing is, we have possibly become so used to focussing on having a good championship battle for lack of action in the races that some people feel that is where the real exitement lies.

        But take it a different way. If you wanted to show to anyone not being a fan how exiting F1 can be, how many races this year would have made a perfect tool to show that? I think its far more than half the races so far, something you would have a tougher job picking one last year, and even more the years before that.

      • The races have been entertaining.

        The season has not.

        The two are not mutually exclusive.

      • trying to use it to say it hasn’t been an exciting season, which obviously isn’t true.

        Surely, people are allowed to have their own opinions on this.

        You find this a great season Keith, I fully appreciate that. But I don’t find it so great myself.

        It’s a subjective thing I guess. Good article to raise!

  7. Well, since everyone is entitled to opinion, according to the rules, here’s mine:
    I politely disagree.
    From a championship point everything was over even prior to summer break.
    For a supporter of Mclaren and Ferrari – the season is boring, as there’s no real fight. Who cares who’s going third?
    Most of the Vettel’s victories were easy. He made brave moves, because he knows he has a monster car.
    For N-th time: put him in a middle runner and just watch him struggle, finishing well behind Massa, for example.

    There’s no one to blame, it’s just RRB are too good, and the rest are struggling.

    • Why would you want to put him in a middle runner? He’s the best driver in the field at the moment, bar Alonso, and therefore he deserves the best car. Not that it’s always been the best car. He just makes it look all too easy, because driving on the limit has become rather natural for him.

      • “He’s the best driver in the field at the moment, bar Alonoso…”

        Impossible statement. Is he a good driver, yes. Is he one of the top drivers, seems almost certain. But until you put all the drivers in the same car, let them test for a few days and then let them run a race distance, it’s impossible to say.

        He’s a very good driver in the best car available. The result is where we are currently.

        • craig-o (@craig-o) said on 16th September 2011, 17:26

          The most complete drivers will drive in the top cars.

          Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, Button and Webber are all Grand Prix winners and 4 of them are World Champions.

          They all know how to get the most out of the car in their own individual ways.

          It requires three components to win a World Championship: a world class driver/drivers/team leader, a world class car and a world class team. Without any of these components any driver/car/team is nothing.

          If you are a driver in Formula 1, you have to be as good a businessman as you are a driver. You need to persuade the top teams that you are right for the job in a top car, and it always annoys me (I could have used other words here) when people say ‘oh put all the drivers in the same cars and see who’s the best’ because that’s impossible also. Drivers excel in different conditions. It’s clear that Vettel is a very good qualifier, nobody can question that, and can attack when he needs to. It’s also very clear Alonso is a great team leader and someone who can control a race from the front as well as attack. Hamilton is able to qualify the car up high, and pull out amazing moves to get ahead of his rivals, and can push the car beyond its limits some times. Button is an absolute master in changeable conditions, a strategic master also. Webber has the ability to charge through the field regardless of his position.

          It’s impossible to say “Oh shove them all in the same car and let them race” because whatever the conditions the race is set in one time will vary to the next time. To be the absolute best, and only a handful of drivers in the history of Formula 1 has shown this, is to be able to win through all sorts of conditions. Why Vettel has now been compared with the very best in history is because, as we have seen, he is able to win in most conditions.

          I’m not a Vettel fan. In fact, I am a McLaren fan. Vettel, Rosberg and Alonso are the top 3 drivers in the field in 2011.

          • Macca77 said on 17th September 2011, 1:36

            “It requires three components to win a World Championship: a world class driver/drivers/team leader, a world class car and a world class team.”

            This is true but you can’t forget that the car is always the most important part of the equation, mainly because if the car is good is just a matter of time before ONE of the drivers of the team would get the upper hand and start winning race after race, and that winning is what makes him a “world class driver”, I think almost all the drivers in F1 have the skills to become “special”, they need the car, the weak teammate (that happens because of consistency more than skill) and in a lesser way a team, because RBR was not a top team before they had the car.

          • Macca77, there’s a reason that Vettel is in a top team and Kovalainen isn’t.

            Think about it.

    • Tiomkin said on 16th September 2011, 14:22

      F1 is a team sport. It is because of the TEAM that Vettel is dominant. Why would you say ‘put him in a middle runner and just watch him struggle.’ That would be true of anybody. Vettel has proved that he is a very good driver.

      • Exactly. And because it’s a team sport, it doesn’t always go down to Vettel. It could be anyone else in this car.
        That’s why I don’t blame anyone from RBR for giving him a proper car.

        It’s not the racer/driver, it’s the car. Button proves me correct with his 2009 title.

        Also, it’s early to talk about Vettel’s dominance, as next season Mclaren or Ferrari could potentially bounce back.
        Unfortunately, I don’t see real competition for the title besides those three teams. And this is what make any particular season boring, personally for me. That has been the case for many years, but when it’s only one man to rule them all, it’s even more boring.

        But that’s it, the title looks to be decided even prior to the season’s start.

        • joey-poey said on 16th September 2011, 16:27

          I’m noticing this comes up with pretty much every new champion we get. I don’t much like Vettel, but I will readily admit the driver completes the package. Yes, you need a winning car, but it takes an all around driver to make it happen. As Seb proved last year, you can’t simply put it on pole and be fast on one lap. Consider the times he got himself into trouble and how much sooner the championship would have been over last year. Likewise, I see plenty of slagging on Button, but in his nearly two years with McLaren, he’s not exactly been trounced by Hamilton. Outpaced? Yes, definitely. But his viability has shown itself again and again as he continues to win races and perform up with the front runners.

          The car is part of the deal, but it does not deliver championships on it’s own. As far as I’m concerned, there aren’t “least deserving champions” (such an annoying phrase that I see people repeat time and again) because they earned their way there.

          …well, except in the case of drivers who were handed wins or positions by teammates and would have otherwise lost the championship. But we won’t get into that debate here.

        • Button also showed this season (a bit more than last season) that he isn’t bad in a OK car either :D

        • RumFRESH (@rumfresh) said on 16th September 2011, 17:27

          Well, if that were the case you couldn’t really explain why both drivers of the car can’t finish 1-2 in the championship. Barrichello had a championship winning car in 2009, he placed 3rd in the overall championship while his teammate won, same goes for Webber last year. Clearly, the driver indeed has an impact, and this impact increases if we hold the finishing position but decrease the competitiveness of the car.

    • Antranik (@antranik) said on 16th September 2011, 15:07

      I agree 110%

    • @Kiril Varbanov I beg to differ here.

      1) Suddenly every one seems to say the Buzz Word “Put him in the Middle then he should win”. If that is the case why is there qualifying. Maybe we should change the rule that if people starting from the middle win then he gets greater points.

      2) It seems like a disgrace today to win from Pole Position or Front Row.

      3) Also What is the comment about the guys who started from Pole position and did not Win. If the theory “Great Drivers do not win from pole” is true then its converse holds good that “Not winning from pole is the sign of a great driver” Which means if you have to prove that you are a great driver you should not get the pole position. Tomorrow if he wins from the middle people might just say put him in the last and lets see if he wins. Then if that is done let him start from pit lane then show he can win…..

      4) Racing is a great sport. The Definition of a great racer can be Going Top Speed, Clean laps, Great Overtaking, Great car Setup, Great car care and Great Strategy. It is just a matter of perception and opinion as to what one can be called a great racer.

      5) Vettel has the talent of clinical perfection. He does a clean kill when he wins maybe that is why it is boring. I mean the guy put a Torro Rosso ( ex-Minardi) on Pole in Monza and Won. By no means it a easy job. Most of Vettel’s victories were Easy was your comment. Can be please define what was easy. Can you me or even someone who was in that grid with the same equipement and position have done that the same way. I don’t know.

      I am a great fan of Fernando and Hamilton because i like their free style. But that does not mean that Vettel has no talent at all. Look at the records he has. And soon there is a high possibility of adding one more. “Youngest Double World Champ”. By no means this can be an accident or a coincidence.

      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
      Most consecutive top two finishes from the start of the season
      Youngest driver to set fastest time in an official Grand Prix session
      Youngest driver to score points in Formula One
      Youngest race leader in Formula One, for at least one lap
      Youngest Grand Prix pole position winner
      Youngest driver to score a podium position in Formula One
      Youngest Grand Prix winner
      Youngest Formula One World Drivers’ Champion
      Youngest World Drivers’ Championship runner-up

      • I’m not saying for a second that Vettel isn’t talented or anything. He’s very, very good, and there’s no denial about that.
        My point was cars per se – they are definitive for the win at about 80-90%, and this is very much being done prior to the season start – with a great chassis, gearbox, reliability, engine, and overall technical setup.

        Ferrari prove me correct, by doing fundamentally unable to win car this season. They are even abandoning it, just to make sure not to repeat the same mistake and to arrive in Bahrain (or whatever race that will be opener) ready to win.

        As for Vettel’s wins:
        AUS – pole + win = +22.2 secs gap to second.
        MALAYSIA – pole + win.
        Turkey – pole + win.
        Monaco – pole + win.
        Spa – pole + win.
        Monza – pole + win, easily in a different league than the others.

        Again, these are the stats. These were easy wins, for me. I’d love to see him starting from the pit lane and finish in the points, or start from 6th and win. This is what I like to see. Sorry, I’m not a big fan of repeatability.

        I hope you got my point – it’s about competitive rivals. Currently, no one can be close to Vettel. And if it wasn’t Vettel, someone as good as him (you know them), could have been “The 2011 Vettel”

        • Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 16th September 2011, 16:01

          I think I understand what you’re saying, but just because Vettels winning from the front and rarely being challenged significantly, I honestly don’t doubt his ability to win from the back or with lesser machinery because of it.

          • But its not even really true he is rarely challenged, is it? In about 2/3 of the races so far he has been challenged or even beaten.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 16th September 2011, 16:46

          Perhaps, but as Geoffrey said, it is not grounds to doubt his ability, and could be applied to any great champion (Senna Schumacher, Fangio, Clark).

          And Monaco was anything but easy if you saw the chase from Alonso and Button.

        • craig-o (@craig-o) said on 16th September 2011, 17:55

          Silverstone 2010. He was dead last after 1 lap, and finished 7th. So you have seen it before.

      • RumFRESH (@rumfresh) said on 16th September 2011, 17:28

        I totally agree. Any front runner would struggle if you placed them in the midfield, that’s why we have qualifying.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 16th September 2011, 16:30

      For N-th time: put him in a middle runner and just watch him struggle, finishing well behind Massa, for example.

      And for the N-th time: Vettel started his career in a middle runner, and did brilliantly. Or have you swept his 2007 and 2008 performances under the rug already?

      • David A, the Torro Rosso was the previous years Red Bull ( considered 2nd.best or best car) in a time of rule stability, it also had the more powerful Ferrari motor, the team may have been midfield but the car should have been a frontrunner.

        • I don’t know what F1 you were watching if the Red Bull from 07/08 was considered the best or second best car.

          That said, Vettel certainly performed brilliantly in a midfield car, but on that particular weekend when he won his first race the Toro Rosso looked to actually be just about the fastest package, so claims he won in a Minardi seem a little exaggerated.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 16th September 2011, 21:53

          In 2007 and 2008, Ferrari and Mclaren had the best cars (pretty hard to claim otherwise), BMW were third, Renault slipped to fourth. Red Bull were in the midfield with Toyota, Williams and STR. So except for race 1 of his career, at BMW, he usually drove in the 5th fastest car at best.

          As matt90 said, the STR3 from 2008 wasn’t a Minardi. But even discounting Monza, which was a great win, though the car was fast, he stuck the car in positions it shouldn’t have been, finishing 8th overall. Kiril is completely wrong about Vettel being unable to shine in the midfield.

    • Yorricksfriend said on 17th September 2011, 2:23

      Put all the top running drivers in a middle runner and watch them struggle. Let’s not forget Seb won the 2008 Italian Grand Prix in a Toro Rosso.

      But the main point here, as much as it may bore us – Vettel and Red Bull are the best driver team combination. And F1 is a team sport, the strange thing is that the driver gets all the glory.

  8. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 16th September 2011, 13:06

    Absolutely correct Keith.

    I’ve been watching F1 for as long as I can remember (1995 onwards) and 2011 is easily, easily the best season I’ve ever seen in terms of action, drama and overtaking – and we’ve still got an entire third leg of the season still to go.

    Everything about the ‘Formula’ at the moment is just right. The race weekend format is fine, the qualifying system is practically perfect (apart from the Top 10 tyre rule), the cars finally have the right balance between aero and mechanical grip and power, and thanks to Pirelli tyres, KERS and DRS we’ve been treated to some incredible racing this season. All of the Tilke tracks (bar Valencia) have produced eventful, exciting races – something they’ve usually failed to do. We’ve seen battles up and down the field, from the moment the lights go out to the moment they reach the chequered flag. We’ve had on track controversy, collisions between rivals, rookies that have both impressed us with their obvious racing abilities and amused us with their habit of losing their front wings and (in general) the best television coverage we’ve seen to date.

    Added to this the fact that we have one of, if not the, greatest grids in terms of sheer ability in Formula 1’s history. Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, Button – we talk about the 60s and the Clarks, the Hills, the Courages, the Stewarts, the Brabhams etc, or the 80s with the Prosts, the Sennas, the Mansells etc, but in the future we’ll look back at the start of this decade as being the golden age in Formula 1’s long and rich history. F1 fans as yet unborn will look back and ask us what it was like to watch Vettel dominate in his prime, see Hamilton battle his own demons in that desperate bid for a 2nd Championship, behold Kamui Kobayashi’s incredible ability to overtake seemingly anywhere and witness the return, the fall, and rise again of the most successful driver of all time: Michael Schumacher. The images of Button passing Vettel in Canada on the last lap, Hamilton vs Massa for those vital points into Club at the end of the British Grand Prix, Petrov’s Yuri Gagarin tribute at Sepang, Alonso’s electrifying starts at both his and his team’s home Grands Prix, the FINGER – they will all be images that will live on in the memories of fans forever.

    Yes, Vettel is dominating. Like Keith says, the Championship is the least exciting race since 2004 but the massive difference is that 2004 was the least exciting season of racing I’ve ever seen. 2010 was an all time classic for the season-long battle for the title. 2011 will be a classic because it was the year Formula 1 finally perfected ‘the formula’ and gave us a show that no longer needs improving.

    And the very best thing about 2011? It’s not even over yet.

    • TommoTHFC said on 16th September 2011, 13:09

      COTD.

    • damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 16th September 2011, 14:45

      Fantastic comment. Thanks for (hopefully) injecting a bit of positive energy into a few people. :P I agree completely. The only thing I think F1 is lacking now is some of the ‘awesomeness’ that it once had. The racing has improved, the drivers are more refined, but the cars don’t look as nice and the engines sound pretty drab and are due to get worse shortly. But in the grand scheme of things, those are minor issues, and certainly not enough to make people switch off.

      When people look back on the ’80s and as you said, “the Prosts, the Sennas, the Mansells etc”, I don’t think they genuinely believe the racing was any better, but on the surface, F1 was probably a bit more ‘awesome’, if that makes any sense. If they could couple the rules of today with the engines and aero of the late ’90s/early ’00s, I think F1 would be perfect.

    • panache said on 16th September 2011, 15:43

      What’s the F1 equivalent of nerd chills?

      Because reading that comment sent shivers down my spine.

    • craig-o (@craig-o) said on 16th September 2011, 17:29

      This field almost makes me want to be 5 again. When the likes of Hill, Villeneuve, Coulthard, Schumacher and of course, my boyhood hero, Hakkinen were around. Fantastic era also…

    • David BR said on 16th September 2011, 18:57

      +1 spot on MG, the top 5 finishers at Monza all being world champions shows just how good the field of drivers is.

    • Agreed. I actually enjoyed watching Vettel race so dominantly, he’s been faultless and relentlessly fast, since I started watching in 2008, this type of domination is new for me, it’s really quite impressive to see a driver that focused and on his game. Every single bit of criticism he’s got particularly the past season where he was clumsy on overtaking and defending, or unable to overtake, he’s mastered.

      The races are great just for the sheer amount of competition going on. Hamilton versus Button in the WDC I think is the most interesting one at the moment, secondly if either can finish ahead of Alonso.

      Still absolutely hate the DRS though, love the kers. Otherwise, great season.

    • Summed up perfectly. I understand it’s frustrating to have the championship decided so early, but people who cite that as a reason for this being a bad year must only enjoy the tally of points after each race rather than the races themselves.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 17th September 2011, 8:17

      Well put MG!

  9. This year is not called Vettel Era,because he hasnt dominated that long and he just lucky to have fastest car to drive and the rest struggle,Btw…you can called this era only a person has dominated more than years…like micheal did. Even we never heard of so called Prost ( 4 times World Champhion or the Great Senna Era) so ….please dont called this is Vettel Era,he doesnt deserved it!! he just lucky to have fastest car in the field!!

    • I agree, Alonso won back-to-back titles too but I didn’t hear about an ‘Alonso era’.

    • craig-o (@craig-o) said on 16th September 2011, 17:59

      No, there was not a Prost or Senna era. However, there was a Piquet/Prost/Senna/Mansell era. Because there was more than 1 fantastic driver at the top of their game for so many consecutive seasons.

      I don’t think it will be a Vettel era unless he wins the next 4 or 5 championships in a row purely because he outclasses Alonso, Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, Kubica, Schumacher, Webber, Sutil, Kobayashi and all the other greats and up-coming drivers in the field today.

    • Kimster said on 17th September 2011, 8:33

      He doesn’t have the fastest car, the Ferarri is faster and the McLaren is even faster.
      The RB is the perfect car. They lack engine power but make it all up with aerodynamic grip.

      Did u see the qualifying difference between Vettel and Hamilton at Monza?
      They were very close until Ascari, then Vettel charged through Ascari and got 1 car length ahead and stayed there.

  10. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 16th September 2011, 13:22

    I totally agree with the most of Keith’s article, yet I wouldn’t say Vettel’s job so far is SO good.
    It’s true Webber is not helping like Schumacher’s teammates did, but he’s prevented from racing Vettel by the team, and having in mind Red Bull’s car advantage for the most part of the season – Mark was the only one who could stop Vettel. So having the most dangerous opponent out of the picture, it still doesn’t make it a great title defense. Some things are given to Vettel, and we can’t deny it.

    • It’s true Webber is not helping like Schumacher’s teammates did, but he’s prevented from racing Vettel by the team

      He was that once. And that didn’t change the outcome, because he kept attacking anyway.
      I simply can’t see how Mark would even have a remote chance of challenging Vettel, even if he had not had a few radio calls in Silverstone.
      Webber certainly have managed to throw, the minuscule chance of putting himself in the title fight, away at the start to just about ever race this year.

      • Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 16th September 2011, 15:00

        I’m far from being a conspiracy theories supporter, but let’s just say I find it weird that Webber, who last year was closer to the title of the two just to lose it in Abu Dhabi, now finds it difficult to be in a front row and not to lose 3 places at the start. A team doesn’t need to use team orders each race to make sure the number two driver remains number two, and judging by the drastic drop in Webber’s performance and a simple the fact it would be logical on Red Bull’s behalf (based on what we saw last year or in 2007 at McLaren), I find it difficult to believe Horner’s declarations of equal support and machinery being given both drivers.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 16th September 2011, 17:24

          But he had many bad starts lat year too. Seven places lost at Valencia, five at Spa and Monza, also losing two at Hockenheim and some more at the Hungaroring, Suzuka and Sepang.

          Webber did finish close to Vettel last year, but only beat him in 6 out of 19 races. His points tally was simply flattered by Vettel’s car failures, without which, Vettel would have had at least 60 points more, and the standings would bear more similarities to his domination over Webber this year.

          While Webber’s not won this year, he’s made less errors- only the Monza crash and letting Button through at Montreal, as opposed to the Valencia flip, Korean crash, and three collisions with Lewis Hamilton across Melbourne and Singapore in 2010. I wouldn’t say he’s had such a dip in performance. Vettel’s just cut out most of his errors as he’s responded to the low of Belgium 2010, and also isn’t losing points through no fault of his own.

        • I’m far from being a conspiracy theories supporter,

          Huh — let’s just say you could have fooled me!

          Why not instead consider Webber’s admitted difficulties in adapting to the Pirelli tires? Or how about the fact that even last year Webber was having trouble with his starts? Actually, they both were having some trouble with their starts last year. But Vettel clearly learns from every mistake he makes and works hard to make sure they don’t happen again — and seems to be largely successful at it. That’s not something I’m making up myself; it’s something those who actually work with him, including Adrian Newey, have said time and again. Vettel keeps getting better, and he’ll probably just continue to get better. I don’t think it bodes well for those who can’t seem to get past their obsessive hate of “The Finger.”

          Webber hasn’t been making excuses for himself. I’m not sure why other people feel the need to. I know it’s often tempting for people to fall back on conspiracy theories, but it might be worth at least considering some of the more prosaic possibilities.

          • bosyber said on 19th September 2011, 9:53

            I agree. I do think that Webber has come to realise just how competitive and fast Vettel is. Last year the mistakes and troubles meant Webber could for most of the year tell himself he was just as good.

            This year, maybe helped by tires making him start the year on the backfoot, he, as we did, saw Vettel not make those mistakes and keep his pace, and I think he might have become less confident, knowing this year won’t be his year, and he’ll be the teammate of the WDC wherever he finishes.

            Maybe we will see him not have silly bike accidents now, and he will focus on coming back with a flying start next year, or maybe that’s it. It doesn’t need a conspiracy.

  11. StefMeister said on 16th September 2011, 13:24

    I never really found all of the Schumi/Ferrari dominated era to be that boring.

    Its true the title fight wasn’t close in 2002/2004 (Neither were many races for the wins those years either), However there was plenty of good racing throughout the rest of the field those years.

    I know the main focus is on 1st place in races & the #1 spot in the WDC, However I don’t think that just because that happens means a race/championship is boring.

    I can recall plenty of good battles through those years, They weren’t for the win or championship but they were still great on-track scraps & produced some good, memorable & exciting racing.

    • Just for clarity could you confirm which team and driver you predominantly followed from 2002-2004?

      • StefMeister said on 16th September 2011, 16:15

        My favorite drivers back then were Montoya & Villeneuve.

        Wasn’t a fan of Schumacher at that time & apart from respecting Ferrari’s history in the sport I wasn’t a Ferrari fan, Didn’t really support any team at that time although did love seeing the smaller teams do well.

        Just to add to what I said above, I’ve felt the same during periods of other team/driver dominance.

        I’d admit that a season is gererally more intresting when there’s a close title fight with goes to the final races (Such as 2010), However if one team/driver dominates then im happy as long as theres something exciting going on somewhere through the field each race.

        I know that a close fight for the race wins & championship is important to others, For me I just wanna see good racing regardless of where it is in the field. If its at the front all the better but I don’t think it has to be.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 16th September 2011, 18:00

      You are right, there’s a lot of generalisaton of the Schumacher-era being boring. 2000 was a close Schumacher-Hakkinen fight, much like 1998, while 2003 was not only a three way fight for the title, but a year that saw 8 winners and an incredibly close field and plenty of overtaking.

  12. jordanwarez (@jordanwarez) said on 16th September 2011, 13:28

    The races are pretty interesting.
    REDBULL has a fantastic car and for the first time I’m watching battles from 2-24

  13. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 16th September 2011, 13:38

    This year has seen some of the best racing ever, including at least 4 classics, nevermind the quality of the season as a whole. I have to agree with Nick though, the last two Monday mornings have had me feeling a bit flat because of the championship, but you can’t have everything. Ironically for myself it’s Hamilton that’s ruined the championship for me, because he could have been about 20 points behind Vettel now, but he blew it. No doubt I’d be happier if he were cruising to victory, but that doesn’t take away any enjoyment I have for Seb’s sake. It’s a true masterclass from the Wunderkind.

    • AdrianMorse said on 16th September 2011, 14:07

      the last two Monday mornings have had me feeling a bit flat

      same here. This year, the feeling for me after a race with a disappointing result has been amplified by the fact that there was never much hope of the ‘damage’ to the championship standings being reversed.

      Nevertheless, contrary to other comments here, I do get very excited for upcoming races, because the racing is so good this year. Singapore with DRS, supersoft and soft tyres: I can’t wait!

      As a side note regarding DRS, what I like about it is that contributes to racing to the last lap. In previous years, when a driver was catching the guy in front at about 0.5-1.0s per lap in the closing stages of the race, I didn’t get terribly excited yet because there was often little chance of actually getting by. With DRS, though, I think Vettel was getting pretty excited as well when Button started catching him in Canada!

      • the last two Monday mornings have had me feeling a bit flat

        +1. This is what I was talking about.

        On the other hand, when every race approaches, I think: OK, just how far Vettel would be this time? But that’s life, I don’t complain. I really hope for reshuffle in 2012.

        And I think we all agree that Pirelli are doing great job to spice up the show.

  14. For me the races have been incredibly exciting this year, by far some of the best racing for a while. The only issue I have is you cannot help feeling a bit disappointed with it ending so soon, and getting so frustrated with Sebs finger pointing!!! Now if Seb was within the same points range as Hamilton, Button, Alonso and Webber up until Brazil that would have been an exciting last race and a beautiful close :)..

    Hopefully the other teams will continue their development and the gap to the RB8 will not be so substantial as the RB7 this year!

  15. streetfightingman said on 16th September 2011, 13:44

    Don’t forget the amount of great drivers on the grid now compared to the Shumacher era. The amount of world champions on the grid is stunning.

    • jordanwarez (@jordanwarez) said on 16th September 2011, 16:26

      the amount of world champions are fight against themselves letting vettel runaway at the top.
      alonso constantly putting the ferrari on the podium and second in the c’ship with the 4th or 5th fastest car on the grid.
      webber having the same car as vettel cant fight for a win.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 16th September 2011, 18:22

      Arguably, the drivers back then were great, but Schumacher was great enough to take a larger than normal slice of the wins and championships.

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