2013 F1 season driver rankings #1: Sebastian Vettel

2013 F1 season review

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2013

Heading into the summer break Sebastian Vettel had a handy lead in the championship but there was little indication he was about to end the year with a record-matching nine wins in a row.

Consistent top four finishes in the opening rounds had allowed him to open up a margin to the chasing pack. But there were some small signs Red Bull had found an advantage.

Vettel won emphatically in Canada – not a strong track for the team in previous years. At Silverstone his gearbox failed while he was leading, without which he would have scored three wins in a row.

But after the August holiday, through a combination of the new tyre compounds and Red Bull continued development of the RB9, Vettel had the means to achieve an almost unprecedented feat in Formula One history. That he capitalised on that advantage so effectively makes him a clear choice as driver of the year.

It’s easy to gloss over the details of his incredible run of nine consecutive wins which began in Belgium. Such as the care he had to take in Italy to nurse a damaged tyre in the first stint and an ailing gearbox in the second.

At Suzuka he almost beat Webber to pole position despite his KERS not working. In the race his irresistible speed meant his team mate would have struggled to contain him whichever strategies they had been on.

In Brazil wet weather conditions were supposed to give his rivals a chance to get on terms with them. Instead he comfortably took pole position and was over a second quicker than Webber.

Beat team mate in qualifying 17/19
Beat team mate in race 15/15
Races finished 18/19
Laps spent ahead of team mate 921/1038

The sheer scale of Vettel’s superiority over his team mate this year underlines how strong his season was. He never finished a race behind Webber, was only beaten on merit in qualifying once and took almost twice as many points.

The defining moment of the season in terms of their relationship was, of course, in Malaysia, where Vettel disregarded the infamous “Multi 21″ instruction – an order for him to hold position behind Webber. Vettel had lost the initiative to his team mate early in the race by pitting too soon to switch from intermediate to slick tyres on a drying track.

One week earlier in Australia Vettel had started the race from pole position but fallen behind Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen as the Red Bull proved tougher on its tyres. A challenging season appeared to lie ahead, and a driver who has won two world championships by less than seven points was never going to pass them up again just to placate his team mate.

There were other occasions when Vettel railed against the constraints imposed on him by the early 2013 tyres. Spain was a repeat of Australia. Then in Monaco he took a temporary break from nursing his tyres in second place to set the fastest lap of the race for “satisfaction”.

The fragility of the tyres in the first half of the year seemed to be the only thing that gave Vettel’s rivals a chance to catch him – no wonder a fierce off-track battle was fought trying to influence Pirelli’s decisions.

Vettel’s best win of the year came at another venue where he was yet to taste victory. Despite an intermittent KERS glitch he resisted a twin-pronged attack from Lotus to take his first F1 victory on home ground.

There were certainly days in 2013 when Red Bull comfortably had the best car and Vettel merely had to turn up and beat his increasingly demoralised team mate. But he also took 25 points on days like these when Red Bull’s supremacy was seriously tested. In 2013 the best car also had the best driver in it.

Sebastian Vettel 2013 form guide

How the rankings are produced

This is a ranking of how drivers have performed in the 2013 season, irrespective of their form in previous years. Among the data referred to in producing the rankings are notes on each driver’s performance at each race weekend, compiled data on car performance, direct comparisons between team mates and each driver’s form guide.

Over to you

How highly do you rate the drivers who’ve appeared so far in the rankings? Give your views on them in the comments.

You can also vote for your driver of the year here:

Image ?é?® Red Bull/Getty

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95 comments on 2013 F1 season driver rankings #1: Sebastian Vettel

  1. craig-o (@craig-o) said on 17th December 2013, 16:56

    Vettel simply was better this season than in the last few seasons whereas his rivals were not, and made mistakes. Vettel didn’t make a single race ending mistake all season.

    We are looking at one of the greatest here. On a different level to Raikkonen, Hamilton, Alonso and Webber. He is arguably complete as a driver. He has the lot. Yes he has the best car but the best drivers mentally and in talent are always in the best car and that is why they are so successful. However unlike some dominant combinations in the past, unlike the MP4-4, the car wasn’t three seconds quicker than the next car. That almost makes me want to say Vettel could become the greatest.

  2. His worst race this year I feel was Hungary. He finished 3rd.

    That pretty much summarises his season: unmatchable consistency and a run of dominance unmatched by any in the history of F1.

    Consistent speed won Alonso this poll last year: likewise, it has won Vettel it this year.

    • craig-o (@craig-o) said on 17th December 2013, 17:05

      I completely agree @vettel1 , Hungary was really his only off-weekend, but was simply unstoppable all season. Rarely put a foot wrong.

      • @craig-o as he noted at the Autosport Awards, he made a mistake in qualifying without which he could’ve been on pole.

        His race wasn’t stellar either but his car also lacked the top speed which would allow him to overtake, a problem Hamilton didn’t have. And he lacked the tyre conserving ability of the Lotuses.

        So really, 3rd was a decent performance. Stressing the fact that arguably that was his worst race!

  3. What completely seals the deal in this is not that Vettel won 9 races in a row, it is that he was still in possession of a healthy championship lead before mid season, when Mercedes had the faster car and Ferrari and Lotus had the better race pace.
    His form seemed to be on god mode the whole season, which was rather impressive I think.

  4. Well Deserved Ranking and the Strongest Championship year of SV so far.
    He was learning things and getting better and better.

  5. antonyob (@antonyob) said on 18th December 2013, 8:58

    There’s just such an easy answer to any doubters of Vettel or any “only cos he had the best car” merchants:

    Webber, webber webber, what about webber? A battle hardened quick race winner was nowhere this season, in terms of the wdc or winning a single race.

  6. Chris Greene said on 21st December 2013, 10:02

    For all those Vettel fans, I have just one question. How would he do if either Hamilton or Alonso were driving a Red Bull alongside him? If you think he would dominate them, you don’t know what you are talking about. If you think that either or both would beat Vettel, then he is not the greatest. If you are not sure, then his is still not the greatest. Webber was a good driver, but far from the elite class. He is 37, way past his prime, and was the worst starter on the grid. At best, he is the 10th best driver in F1.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 31st December 2013, 22:01

      It doesn’t have to be one extreme or another.

      In 2013, Vettel clearly extracted more performance from his car than either Hamilton or Alonso did. Therefore in my opinion, and a lot of others, including the team bosses, he was the best driver of this year. So if Hamilton or Alonso were in the Red Bull RB9, neither would be dominated like Webber, but neither would beat Vettel.

      • Chris Greene said on 2nd January 2014, 1:41

        Of Vettel, Alonso or Hamilton. Let’s compare their teammates. Vettel has had Liuzzi, Bourdais and Webber(who is 11 years older than Vettel). Alonso has had Fisichella, Piquet, young Grosjean and Massa. Webber ten years ago would have been a much tougher teammate against Vettel. If you are saying that Webber at 37 is at his peak that is nonsense. Alonso has only had one tough teammate in his career. How did he react to having a great teammate, like Hamilton? Hamilton’s teammates so far: Alonso, Kovalainen, Button and Rosberg. Hamilton’s teammates blows the others away. As a Hamilton fan I can say that if he was beating a 37 year-old, that would mean nothing to me. Him beating Alonso, Button and Rosberg says alot. Results look better when you have weak teammates. Hamilton has been a part of the best driver pairing in 5 of his 7 years. Winning in F1 only means something if your teammate is an elite driver! Prediction: Vettel will go his entire career and never have a teammate that is on the elite level!

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