This weekend could signal a new milestone for Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. The German may equal Jackie Stewart’s 27 wins from 99 starts tally. The old questions crop up and Vettel detractors begin asking whether this is sheer pace and talent or is it something more? Surely the Adrian Newey factor is at play but Motor Sport Mafgazine’s Paul Fearnley figures there are truths behind the numbers:

“Though he was so obviously greater than the sum of these numbers from the moment of his first Friday Free Practice with BMW Sauber in 2006, even his ‘telling’ F1 stats are skewed: by a heavy reliance on runaway wins from pole positions in cars designed by Adrian Newey. Nineteen of those 26 were secured from P1. That’s 73 per cent – more than confirmed front runners Ayrton Senna (71%), Clark (64%) and Schumacher (44%).

In contrast, Vettel’s tally in the subjective – and therefore less scientific and thus endlessly debatable – ‘racer’ column stands at a solitary one: his outside pass of Fernando Alonso at Monza’s Curva Grande in 2011.”

Arguably, Vettel could be set to write his own indelible mark on Formula One’s history books. At the ripe age of 25, Vettel has a lot of time to equal records and amass wins if he has the right car. But surely Paul argues an interesting case on wins-from-pole? If this is a measure of the cunning and grit it takes to win, then perhaps 7-time champion Michael Schumacher truly is the best and not just because he owns the record book.

Many F1 fans have offered the criticism that Vettel wins from pole but can he pass? he’s shown that he can and Paul mentions the daring pass at Monza but the lingering notion still remains in pub talk and internet forums. The slippery slope of this kind of scrutinizing is that no matter how you compare, the fact is that Vettel does own these achievements and like Senna and Schumacher, he’s placed himself in the best possible position to win. Surely you can’t blame him for that.

When comparing drivers, it’s difficult to take into account the generation and conditions that allowed them to excel at the sport. Many marginalized Schumacher’s accomplishments because they said he hadn’t faced real competitors like Senna did. one could argue the same of Senna compared to Clark. Can you argue the same of Vettel? This generation has fierce competition in Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen and more.

What do you think? Is Vettel’s accomplishments marginalized by the Newey magic? What will it take to finally answer the critics as to Vettel’s pace and cunning?

Paul’s article is an interesting read and I recommend it like I recommend all of the work Motor Sport Magazine produces. Check it our here.

An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Shocks&Awe

    I really don’t think Vettel has much talent. All of his wins are clearly the result of the waving his magic finger. He comes in 10th or 11th, waves his magic “#1” finger and *poof*, he’ in first.

    Also, in Celtic, “Newey” is pronounced “Merlin”.

    Just sayin’.

    • Nathhulal

      Merlin worked with Chimps ( Dennis, Kimi, David Coulthard, Webber) and didn’t get the success, and finally when he found the right Arthur ( Vettel) all the pieces of puzzles fell in the right place, as goes the tale.

      Just sayin’.

  • Rapierman

    Personally, Schumacher’s 7 championship titles overshadow everything, but to say that Vettel is nothing is to belittle what he’s accomplished so far, regardless of who’s doing what to whom. Even if he doesn’t win his third title, Vettel’s in rarified air already. We still talk about him, just as we did when he won his first and and also in his second championship. When your name figures prominently on everyone’s lips, good, bad or indifferent, that’s when you know that you’ve made it big.

  • F1 Kitteh

    If Vettel truly believes that he is the real deal, he couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks and will simply put himself in the best car to keep winning championship after championship and get paid the most that he can for doing it. Senna, Schumacher, Alonso, etc switched teams not to prove anything to anyone, they simply put themselves in the best car for the long run which has usually meant Mclaren or Ferrari.

  • NeilM

    It’s interesting that these discussions periodically come up about Vettel—is it him, or is it the car? Nobody will ever ask that about Alonzo, who has repeatedly shown that he can get a better than expected result even from a less competitive car. Today at Abu Dhabi was one more example of that.

  • tom

    I don’t understand how people can still dismiss Vettel’s talent. His track record from his very first day has been exceptional, starting as test driver for BMW, then bagging the first and only ever victory for Toro Rosso and then going on to rule with Red Bull. Think of 2009 when he came very close to the championship in an inferior car without DD. Think of 2010 when against all odds he claimed the title in the final race or how he destroyed Webber who is no slouch in 2011 to dominate the season. And even now he’s outracing Webber constantly despite the 2012 car being more suited for Webber’s driving style after the ban on blown diffusors. Today he started last, even had to take an extra stop and even if Webber had finished, Vettel would have beaten him. The kid simply has it all, the talent and the work ethic, to be a champion.

  • Andy

    He has talent no doubt and the work ethic to boot but to say he ran a desperate race from lastto third is somewhat misleading in that he had two safety cars there to help him ALOT! I doubt he would have caught Button had that not been the case and even then that pit you mention helped hi, achieve that. Had Button had the same tire under him there’s no way Vettel would’ve been standing on the podium. It’s ashame what happened to Lewis. Had that not happened we wouldn’t even be talking about Vettels amazing comeback.