Deconstructing Vettel…questions remain

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.

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