Vettel’s focus gives him edge over Alonso, says Marko

2013 F1 season

Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Circuit of the Americas, 2012Sebastian Vettel’s concentration is what sets him apart from his top F1 rivals.

That’s the view of Red Bull’s motorsport director and former F1 driver Helmut Marko.

Speaking to Red Bulletin, Marko said: “Sebastian’s driving was virtually flawless. But he is a phenomenon: it is always like that.

“After the summer break, his performance curve shoots up. That?s what happened in previous years, too. I don?t know how he does it, but to keep doing it cannot be a coincidence.

“That brings us back to his method of preparation, the way he shuts himself off from the rest of the world, so that he can still call on reserves that other drivers might not have: Fernando Alonso, for example, who is busy with politics and funny comments.

“Vettel ignores it all, he doesn?t read the newspapers, or the internet. And that?s the point, you see, we concentrate on our job: to make the fastest car and the best team possible.”

Marko said Vettel’s team mate Mark Webber reaches similar peaks in performance but can’t sustain them:

“It seems to me that Webber has on average two races per year where he is unbeatable, but he can?t maintain this form throughout the year.

“And as soon as his prospects start to look good in the world championship, he has a little trouble with the pressure that this creates. In comparison with Seb?s rising form, it seems to me that Mark?s form somehow flattens out.

“Then, if some technical mishap occurs, like with the alternator for example, he falls relatively easily into a downward spiral. No driver remains unaffected by this, because the tension is palpable.

“In 2010, it was particularly extreme. Webber headed into the final race with better chances than Vettel, and he probably carried easy, of course; this would gnaw away at anyone?s confidence. It?s more than understandable.”

“There’s no need for Vettel if we can’t give him the car he needs”

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Valencia, 2012Marko added chief technical officer Adrian Newey was “very irritated” by the setbacks suffered by the team during the year. Newey’s response was to “increase his work rate ?ǣ which was already significant.”

“First, he concentrated on understanding the relationship between the car and the tyres, which was a very, very finicky job [last] year,” said Marko. “Secondly, there was his response to the supposed illegality the front wing.”

“Third, he had to deal with the prohibition of the ‘exhaust blowings’. This was perhaps the hardest setback for us, because we were absolutely brilliant when it came to using the exhaust. Our old method has actually been reinstated, albeit in a modified form.

“Lastly, we can say that, at that stage of the season, the ideal Vettel set-up had yet to be found. It is quite different from that of the Webber cars. Only with that set-up can you see the incredible, 110 per cent Vettel in qualifying.”

Marko admitted he suffered sleepless nights at this point in the championship: “The tension was there, but problems make me even more focused than usual. The harder it gets, the calmer I see things, but my sleep suffers.

“I told my people, ‘Boys, there is no need for Vettel if we can?t give him the car he needs in order for his skills to shine.’ Everyone made such an incredible effort, but for a while even we didn?t quite understand what was going on.”

Thanks to Red Bulletin for supplying the quotes. Visit www.redbulletin.com to read the full feature and to download the Red Bulletin iPad app for free, for more sports, culture and lifestyle content.

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208 comments on Vettel’s focus gives him edge over Alonso, says Marko

  1. Trido (@trido) said on 8th January 2013, 23:11

    Vettel was not flawless. Twice towards the end of the season he tried to throw it away with bone headed mistakes. Only his brilliance as a driver saw him win the championship.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 9th January 2013, 1:02

      @trido – Well summed up. He made a couple of errors, but atoned for them, to grab the title.

      • Atoned for them by relying on Mclarens car failing and people crashing into Hamilton.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 9th January 2013, 18:43

          Vettel wouldn’t have even needed 6th if Alonso wasn’t promoted into a podium position by the retirements of others in Brazil. Vettel atoned for his errors by fighting through the field to get a podium from last in one instance,and by doing the same to get 6th in Brazil with a damaged car.

    • mharker said on 9th January 2013, 7:15

      That’s why Marko said “virtually flawless” as opposed to “flawless”.

    • uan (@uan) said on 9th January 2013, 17:11

      In Brazil, Alonso nearly threw away any opportunity for the championship by going off track at T1 on the 3rd lap when Vettel was looking to finish out of the points if he was even going to be able to finish, letting Hulkenberg through into 3rd spot. Only the incident between Hulkenberg and Hamilton late in the race salvaged a podium spot for Alonso–not his brilliance as a driver.

  2. chaostheory said on 8th January 2013, 23:46

    Alonso can be flawless on track all season AND put some psychological pressure on his rivals off track, Vettel can be flawless, but needs to “shuts himself off from the rest of the world”.

  3. Todfod (@todfod) said on 9th January 2013, 5:24

    Boys, there is no need for Vettel if we can’t give him the car he needs in order for his skills to shine

    I think Marko sums up pretty well. Give Vettel a phenomenal car.. or else he’s not really going to shine.

    • F1fanNL (@) said on 10th January 2013, 21:38

      @todfod

      A bit like Alonso in 2009 then.

      As for this year. Alonso’s entire season was based on the mistakes and failures of others. He drove well, he never did anything extraordinary.

  4. Dutch Guy said on 9th January 2013, 7:37

    Although cant say it about vettel vs. alonso in racing but Marko seems to be regularly beating Luca when it comes to giving stupid comments to the media… so RBR has definitely one up on Ferrari in this respect…

  5. mnmracer (@mnmracer) said on 9th January 2013, 14:02

    I’ve done some calculations to check the merrit of Marko’s claim, though one that most of us have opted at some point: Webber can be the fastest driver on the day, but he is very much geared towards his favorite tracks.

    Since Mark Webber joined Red Bull in 2008, he has raced 93 Grand Prix’ on 24 different tracks (21 tracks more than once).
    He has scored 904 points (’08-’09 points system adjusted).

    He has scored 250 of those 904 points, or 28%, on just his 3 favorite tracks: Silverstone, Monaco and Sao Paolo.
    He has scored 426 of those 904 points, or 47%, on just his 6 favorite tracks: Silverstone, Monaco, Sao Paolo, Barcelona, Istanbul Park and Shanghai.

    So, in an average 24 race season, he would need almost 18 races to score as many points as in his 6 best races.
    This is not too unsimilair to 2012, where he scored 95 points in his best 5 races (53%, 19 points per race), and 84 points in the other 13 races he finished (7 points per finished race).

    To compare:
    In 2012, Sebastian Vettel scored 125 points in his best 5 races (40%, 25 points per race), and 156 points in the other 13 races he finished (12 points per finished race, 1.7x Mark).
    In 2012, Fernando Alonso scored 111 points in his best 5 races (40%, 22 points per race), and 167 points in the other 13 races he finished (13 points per finished race, 1.8x Mark).

  6. Alex Lewis (@lewis465151) said on 9th January 2013, 17:11

    I 100% Disagree on him.

  7. uan (@uan) said on 9th January 2013, 17:27

    I’m not sure why folks are bashing on Marko for his comments. Singing the praises of your WDC driver? Marko’s not working for Ferrari. On the Ferrari side, you get LdM and Stephano talking about how “perfect” Alonso is. Marko at least goes into an assessment of Vettel that lines up with how the season (and previous seasons) unfolded. He talks about how both Vettel and the team worked hard to get the level of performance they had at the end of the season.

    Boy he even said that Vettel struggled a bit in the early part of the season (unlike Alonso who is just perfect lol). So all in all a pretty well formed opinion on a 3x WDC.

    As for his comments on Mark, those are no different than LdM talking about Massa needing to get better. It’s an acknowledgement of reality. Mark’s a pretty straight shooter and I’m sure he’d agree with Marko. Marko could have come out and said Webber had a horrible race in Abu Dhabi where the team needed him to be stellar. Even given his start, Webber kept going backwards and had a very scruffy race (the attempted pass on Maldonado, Webber v Massa).

    You could say Webber’s race in Japan was compromised by the Grojean shunt, but if Webber didn’t have one of his classic poor starts, it would have been Kobayashi who Grojean hit, not Webber. Webber not being able to keep the Ferrari’s behind him in Brazil wasn’t too helpful for the team/Vettel either (and yes, that was his role in Brazil, not to roll over and let Alonso win the WDC).

    It’s strange, people critique Marko for basically saying the Mark isn’t a world championship driver. I don’t think Webber’s ego needs to be stroked that much. Webber’s definitely the best number 2 on the grid and better than most number ones. No shame in that.

  8. andrew simmons said on 9th January 2013, 19:22

    Marko. I know, your sensitive. I know that you feel the need to constantly talk webber down and vettel up.

    but just about every publication I have read, journalistic opinion and even fan opinion have been Alonso and Hamilton as the best two. Ive even seen Kimi 3rd, and precious Vettel 4th.

    Fact is, Alonso mightve made comments, but look at his driving. He made a smart comment, then overtook two Mclarens and had a real good battle with them before overtaking Webber with his usual KERS issues.

    While Alonso was winning races he shouldnt have, your boy was hitting backmarkers and overtaking off track. Its only when redbull found dominance in their car did Vettel step up.

    Says something, does it not?

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 9th January 2013, 22:35

      Says something, does it not?

      Not really.

      Webber was hardly talked down, given that Marko described him as “unbeatable” at times. He just stated that he doesn’t suatain that performance over a season. His 6th place in the standings prove that.

      You say look at Alonso/Hamilton’s driving, yet Vettel was the one who faultlessly won 3 races in a row when no-one else even won back-to-back races. And you can argue about Red Bull being dominant, but Mclaren had a similarly dominant run when they won Hungary, Belgium and Italy, and have also been widely acknowledged as having the fastest car of 2012. You say Alonso won races he shouldn’t have, but it’s not like his car was so uncompetitive in the conditions presented in Germany and Malaysia was it?

      • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 10th January 2013, 8:23

        But crucially for McLaren, they had a 2nd half season where Button and Ham had technical issues in opposing races, so at least one of them finished, but not back to back without issues for either. Can’t really use that in a comparison of driver focus , and it helped bring Vettel to 4 races, reduced pressure on him.

        Still, Vettel somehow has been doing really well on those 4 tracks for a few years now so I am certainly not saying it is luck and circumstance that got him there.

        • F1fanNL (@) said on 10th January 2013, 21:44

          @bosyber

          In Spa there was no such thing as a technical issue for either Button or Hamilton. Hamilton got his setup wrong and then chose the wrong wing as well. He could have won Hungary, Belgium and Italy in a row. The car was certainly good enough.

          • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 16th January 2013, 13:38

            Then Button could have equally gotten better results in his spring lull, and in some of those other Asian races: how is it only the drivers at fault when the setup is often regressing during the weekend; McLaren do have some problem there.

  9. JackySteeg (@jackysteeg) said on 10th January 2013, 21:28

    Those comments about Webber are incredible. What sort of person, in the build-up to a new season, publicly states that one of his drivers is not championship material? That sort of thing kills morale, for one half of the garage at least.

    I can only imagine he’s doing this to big-up his beloved Vettel, but if anything it does the opposite. It’s this sort of insane bias that makes it difficult for so many people rate Vettel.

  10. Garns (@) said on 14th January 2013, 13:56

    Marko may or may not have in in for Webber, may be playing the role to get some attention to the opposition, but the fact is the clown bags his own driver, who has had a MUCH better career that himself is a disgrace!!!!

    Fact: Seb was the Red Bull up n comer.
    Fact: Webber ALMOST and SHOULD have beat him in 2010.
    Fact: The Red Bull hieracy didnt like that, but Marko keeps opening his mouth……………to answer questions nobody asked.

    People think (and rightly so) that Ferarri’s open disrespectful comments to their drivers has always been too much- Marko takes this to the next level!!

    I understand they dont want the old boy from down under mixing it with Golden Boy- but Golden Boy does have a few weaknessess that the Old Fella can help with before he gives it away- some at RBR like Newey seem to understand that- other ********* like Marko dont!!!

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 19th January 2013, 7:19

      Fact: Webber ALMOST and SHOULD have beat him in 2010.

      …only because of technical faults on Vet’s side losing him multiple victories. Driving wise, it would have been like 2011 to be frank.

  11. This is the same thing that used to be said about my friend Lance Armstrong, that he won 7 Tours de France b/c he was mentally tougher and more focused than anyone else. We all know how that worked out and what the truth of the matter turned out to be…

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