2013 F1 season
Sebastian 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”
Marko 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 – 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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