Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013

Vettel keeping an eye on “dangerous” Mercedes

2013 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Circuit de Catalunya, 2013Sebastian Vettel has become the latest driver to tip Mercedes are a team to watch ahead of the start of the 2013 season.

“I finally took the chance to watch some of the other teams for a bit,” he told his official website.

“Nico (Rosberg) had a great final day of testing in his Mercedes, which shows how dangerous he and Lewis [Hamilton] will be in the future.”

“But there are a lot of others to keep in mind as well,” he added.

Last week Jenson Button acknowledged the W04 had been “consistently quick and consistent on their runs” during testing.

Mercedes set the quickest time during the eight days of running at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Vettel added he was “fairly happy” with Red Bull’s progress during the off-season. “The team did a great job with the car and both Mark [Webber] and I felt comfortable right away.”

“We haven?t come across any big problems and the smaller ones have been dealt with straight away. The RB9 has been so reliable that it?s been a pleasure to drive. We learned a lot over the winter tests and we?ll be bringing that new knowledge with us to Australia.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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57 comments on “Vettel keeping an eye on “dangerous” Mercedes”

  1. I love this post testing and pre racing interviews where drivers talk about who they think are the strongest. Its interesting how Vettel says that Nico and Lewis will be “dangerous” and Alonso says that he himself will be strongest. I say..Cant wait for Melbourne!

    1. Mind providing the in-context quote where Alonso said “he himself will be strongest” driver?

      1. Though that was not exactly what he said, (hence why i didnt mention it with double quotes) i believe thats what he would mean, or atleast i would mean, when he said that “I am better than last year” even before the season starts.

        1. What I understood was that he’s saying he is better than he was last year, because he’s constantly learning. I don’t believe he meant he is better than all the other drivers.

          1. He didn’t not say that either, he was talking about himself. His own performance, and not relating it to anyone else’s.

    2. I definatly think that Alonso was implying that he personalty as a driver was much better than the opposition. He also said that he would be satisfied with a car that was not the best: if it was just close enough he would win anyway.

      1. If you read in context, you will see he was speaking about improving as a driver by constantly learning new things. He said he is a better driver now, than he (himself) was last year, because he has learnt a lot.

        So for example, I believe I’m a better programmer in 2013 because I learnt a lot in 2012 and so by saying that, I do not mean that I think I’m the best programmer in the world.

        1. He said he is a better driver now, than he (himself) was last year, because he has learnt a lot.

          In that case, so have others. I am sure Vettel, Hamilton, Button and Kimi will be better drivers this year because they too did learn a lot from last year. In the same way so have other drivers in the grid. As an Alonso fan, i dont find anything wrong in this but i believe its more of a i-will-be-better-than-others-this-year statement than i-have-learnt-a-lot!

    3. This recent quote from Alonso is quite interesting: ‘”But as for strongest opponent, who is strongest driver? My answer is Hamilton. It was true last year, it was true this year.’

      Can’t quite work out what he is trying to say though. I’m assuming it’s just a recognition of Hamilton’s talents. After all, seeing as Hamilton’s the only team mate who has ever beaten Alonso, of course that means Hamilton’s one of the greatest driver ever! But he could also be saying that he thinks Lewis is going to be a title contender this season which seems to indiciate that he thinks Mercedes have built a decent car as well. That would mean that Button, Vettel, Webber and Alonso (going by their comments) all think that the car has some pace in it.

      Of course it could just be a way of deflecting attention from themselves. But Button and Webber are generally quite honest, I think, so who knows. Of course testing is unreliable, we’ll only know in Melbourne, etc, etc.

      1. It’s all mindgames. I think he likes saying Hamilton is the best competitor since that indirectly means that Vettel, who he thinks is most likely to win the championship, is not on their level.

        1. Yeah I too think it is as much about that as anything. With Vettel saying Merc might look ‘dangerous’ he is also saying Ferrari and Mac do not. But of course he acknowledges that there should be several drivers of concern. And of course Ferrari and Mac should still be SV’s main worry on a regular basis.

  2. I think everybody is using Mercedes timings on the last 2 days to deflect the attention from themselves and lower the expectations before Melbourne.

    Well Well Well…. If not Ferrari there is a always the next door Mercedes for Vettel……. I am sure his good friend Schumi had put in a good word for him to Wolf, Brawn and Lauda :) Vettel and Hamilton would make a super fast qualifying team… I cant wait to see that ….

    1. I don’t think he’d need Schumacher to put a good word in for them to notice him. It’s a great idea though, one I’d not thought about. If Mercedes do have a strong year in 2013 and 2014 it is entierly possible Vettel could move there, German driver in an iconic German car/team? I’d say he would consider that for sure. It would leave Lewis somewhat behind enemy lines though… so to speak haha.

      1. I think everyone is overlooking Roseberg. I for one expect him to be a close match for Hamilton on speed. I expect Hamilton is going to push (encourage) Roseberg to match him. I don’t think merc is going to give up either one for Vettel and the match-up that everyone wants to see will be there between the two of them.

        1. @trophicip Yeah I agree completely. Sorry I didn’t inetend that to come off as bad against Rosberg. I rate him quite highly. I was very happy for him in China last year :)

          1. I know that I have not overlooked NR at all, and I think LH will have his hands full besting NR, at least initially. It seems at a minimum only natural that NR should start off the season ahead, given that he is the one engrained on the team, and LH is not used to a non-top-3 car. NR has done enough, with his win last year and his besting of MS, to show all the potential in the world. Even when you consider MS’s unreliability issues, NR was usually at least a match for him or closely ahead or closely behind, so there’s no reason the same won’t happen this year. And NR didnt’ really have the car to answer to much. I think NR is full of confidence, seems to thrive having a WDC as a teammate, and it’s only onward and upward for him. I think NR is going to be the best he’s ever been this year, at a time when LH should be in the least strongest position he’s ever been in in F1 to fight for wins. That’s not a dig at LH. Just the reality as I see it. And huge kudos will go to LH if he is immediately on the pace and doing great things with this year’s Merc. Just saying NR is going to be a factor, let alone the traditional top 6 drivers on the top 3 teams. I wish LH the best, but I pull for NR.

    2. @tmax didn’t lauda say a while back that they had Vettel as first choice, but because Lauda “understood his contract situation with Red Bull” they went for Lewis?

  3. Don’t worry Sebastian, even if they have a winning car now they’ll lose any advantage in the development race well before the season reaches the halfway point.

    1. I wouldn’t be so sure about that. They made a point about fixing that problem, which in F1 terms generally results in overcompensating. For example, Macca went from worst (unreliable) pitstops in 2012 to the fastest pitstops.

      Considering Micheal set the fastest time this time last year and then the Merc completely failed to find speed in Aus, I really would not look into those testing times too much.

      1. @robfff
        Michael Schumacher did not set the fastest time this time last year and also Merc were not the slowest car on the field in Melbourne last year. Michael Schumacher started Melbourne Gp in 3rd position and retired due to drive shaft failture. So qualifying on second row of grid, doesnt sound me by any means a slow car.

        1. Merc had rubbish tyre wear in the race though. They were slower than RBR, Macca, Ferrari, Lotus, Sauber and Williams.

          1. Not really. Rosberg couldnt get the tyres to work in quali or the race… but Schumacher seemed to be coping just fine. He was fighting for P3 as fas as I could remember before he had his mechanical issues

  4. Well seeing as I placed a bet on Hamilton to win the 2013 championship a week ago, I’m hoping that Mercedes are as ‘dangerous’ as Seb thinks. At odds of 14/1 I’m set to win a tasty sum if he pulls it off!

    1. @kibblesworth
      Don’t worry, he will.
      And those odds are just to great to let slip by.

      1. @kibblesworth
        Why do people bet so much? It’s an addiction!

        1. Don’t worry, this the first time I’ve ever placed a bet! I just figured that if Alonso can drag a half-decent car to 2nd place, conceding the championship only by the most marginal of differences, I wouldn’t put it past Hamilton to do likewise. And the odds are super-good considering this is a championship-winning driver in a decent car who is widely regarded as one of the best drivers in F1 right now.

          It’s worth a punt. Plus although I put £50 on it, half of it came from William Hill who give a free £25 to new people who sign up. I think Sky Bet had a better sign-up deal, but after the fourth test they cut the odds on Hamilton winning from 14/1 to 10/1 so I acted fast!

          1. @kibblesworth,
            William Hill changed they’re odds on Hamilton to 8/1.
            Both give only 6/4 for Vettel. That means he still is the most favorite for the championship by a quite big margin.
            This betting thing .. made me wonder what were the odds for the 2009 championship… well from a quick search i found that it was about 70/1 for Button ( who won) and about 40/1 for Vettel (who was 2nd)- i think these odds were before winter testing.
            I also never bet, but i look at the odds on the betting sites because you can have a clearer picture about the pecking order based on those numbers. Usually they are close to reality (except 2009 :) ).

    2. LoreMipsumdOtmElor
      7th March 2013, 8:06

      I put 10 € on Maldonado for the championship which will reward me with 2000 € ;) Last time I had a chunk of luck was in 2009 when 20 € placed on Button far ahead of the season start converted to a 900 € win.

      1. Well Merc will have had to take quite a leap in performance for LH to win a WDC this year, and he’ll have to get by NR to do it too. So with the points that Red Bull, Mac, and Ferrari, and NR are going to gleen, let alone KR, I think it is quite an optimistic stretch to project LH as 2013 WDC. But hey, if it happens, LH will have done something very very special and it will be a great story for the history of F1. I think they will have surprised themselves as much as anyone, since I think their main goal is to continue to progress toward becoming a solid top 3 team, and aren’t expecting to have leapt ahead of today’s traditional top foes. Just come a lot closer to them, ahead of bigger chances of leaping ahead relatively, next year when things are going to change quite a bit.

  5. I still fail to see how a car which was just under a second (9 tenths) from the Red Bull in Brazil in Q3 could suddenly be a ‘danger’ to the top teams when the rules have have been very stable. I can see some benefit coming from employing the coanda exhaust, and from the Red Bull losing their double DRS, but then again, Mercedes also lost their DDRS.

    I think that too many people have focused on the Mercedes time, and as was said above, perhaps drivers and teams are using these to deflect the attention away from themselves, but I still expect Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari to be top. I can see Mercedes making some improvement, but perhaps this will just put them back on par with Lotus.

    1. Well it’s partly because the rules are so stable that mid-field teams can catch up with the front-runners. There’s much less room for innovation now, so it’s reasonable to suppose that the gains that the mid-field teams are going to be able to find are going to be greater than the gains that the front-runner’s are going to be able to find.

      In addition, there are changes that Mercedes have made to the car that will be of great help. Mercedes DDRS proved to be more of a hindrance than a help last season as they just couldn’t get it to work properly unlike Red Bull who came up with a far more effective version. So banning it probably helps Mercedes vis a vis Red Bull. The benefits brought on by the coanda effect will also be useful as will the generally improved aero of the car.

    2. Mercedes stopped working on their car quite early last year to work on this car. Don’t forget that they were quite good early last year: setting pole times in China and Monaco and winning China as well was being fast in other early races. There is not really any reason that they could not equal that this time.

      1. @kibblesworth I agree that the mid-field teams have the more room to improve with restricted room for innovation, yet the top teams also have the top funding and resources to keep on top. I think Merc is still reaching and gathering the ingredients to become a top 3 team, but I think they will have done well this year to become a strong 4th place team, knocking on the door of the top 3. Ahead of more potential of a leap in the standings next year, I think Merc would be thrilled to be in a strong 4th in the WCC come the end of the season.

        @kelsier I hesitate to compare to last year’s first half, since it was a tire lottery that presented multiple surprises. While I agree there is no reason to expect they couldn’t equal said surprises this year, I don’t find it anything I would bank on. But since the tires seem to be very degrady this year, by design, I’m sure there are going to be more surprises this year in the first half especially, by design, so no reason Merc shouldn’t be in that mix of surprises. Once things level out more, like in the second half, I expect Merc will be lucky and will have done well to be in a strong 4th in the WCC.

  6. It annoyed me a lot how when he was talking to the BBC at the end of the final day of testing, and was discussing how Red Bull had struggled and weren’t stonger than Mercedes etc etc… he had a smile on his face the whole time.

    I’ll be surprised if Red Bull aren’t the quickest car come Melbourne. Just depends on how much Mecedes held back. Same with other teams I guess. Who knows, maybe Caterham will be on pole…

    1. Who knows, maybe Caterham will be on pole…

      If thats true, i’ll eat my shoe!

      1. Place your bets people, if you’re right you are a rich man all of the sudden;-)

    2. Except that he normally doesn’t keep a serious face throughout an interview, unless something really unpleasant happens.

      “(Red Bull) weren’t stonger than Mercedes” Where did you get that?

    3. Yes, if I was better able to use this gadget I would have started with his quote to the effect “We learnt nothing because the tyre swore out so fast”

  7. May the best marussia win. :D

  8. Mmmm…

    “…Mercedes have recorded some head-turning times in the programme they have been operating. ‘Their car has looked quick and with Lewis joining the team, they have taken a step forward. He is worth lap times…”

    — Horner


    1. You understand that, by virtue of being a quote from the Daily Mail, Horner probably didn’t say that..?

  9. I wouldn`t be at all surprized if Mercedes has produced a car that is as fast or even faster than the rest of the field. We must remember that the 2012-Mercedes was very close to the front-runners in terms of ultimate speed in the first half of the 2012-season. The problem was tyre-wear, but despite this Mercedes won a race in 2012. That`s a pretty good basis for 2013, after all Lotus too won just one race..

    I suspect the reason Mercedes stopped development of their 2012-car quite early was that the team realized that there was a fundamental flaw in the design that triggered excessive tyre-wear. This couldn`t be fixed short term so they focused on the 2013-car instead. Again a good basis for 2013, the team know what was wrong last year and will not repeat the same mistake this year.

    Still I wouldn`t read too much into lap times from testing. We don`t know the fuel levels or what programme the different teams were running. The cool conditions could also play a major part in how different teams were performing in Spain as we`ve seen how narrow the temperature range of the tyres is. Last years Lotus was very good in hot conditions and quite poor in cool conditions, but overall had the most moderate tyre-wear. A car that works well in cold conditions might be able to do so because it is harder on the tyres and is able to generate more heat into the tyres in cold conditions. In hotter conditions what was an advantage in coll conditions might turn into overheating and a disadvantage. Or maybe not, nobody knows untill we see running in hot conditions.

  10. aaaaand cue Melbourne qualy Red Bull 1-2 half a sec ahead of the next team.

    1. That is exactly what I’m expecting.

    2. not all that unlikely @asto113, at least far more likely than seeing Hamilton (or Rosberg) do something like that.

      1. that should have been @sato113, sry.

  11. I’m so tired of this talking about who will be fast or not, these words are empty air. Bring on Melbourne!

  12. In 2009 Brawn GP cars were all the talk after testing. They went on to win the Championship.
    My point. Sometimes these test can indeed be a pointer for the coming season. Not always, but sometimes.

  13. Mercedes has been the ‘one to watch’ since 2010 pre season testing.

    I’ll be keeping a keen eye on Sauber and Lotus before that team.

    1. @prof-kirk And if Merc GP wins several race or WDC or WCC or both? Then what will you say? As others have said Brawn was strongest back in 09 after testing and went on to win, do you think it may be possible that it could happen again?

      Also I too will keep an eye on Sauber I think they can finally get a win, especially with Hulkenburg.

  14. @magillagorilla I will probably say “Go Rosberg!” if they were in contention for WDC. I’m a fan LH but NR would have my support by a bees ****!

    Hulkenburg and the often criticised Grosjean is who I’m spending my merchandise money on

  15. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    7th March 2013, 8:34

    So Vettel thinks Lewis will be dangerous? Sounds like a subtle nod to 2011 to me. These F1 drivers sound more and more like politicians everyday.

    WARNING FOR THE UNPERCEPTIVE – The above comment was typed with tongue-in-cheek.

    1. @william-brierty – perhaps it’s a rouse to deflect attention from Red Bull, who will then promptly as has already been suggested qualify 1-2 in Mebourne by half a second? :P

      I think from looking at testing form though Mercedes do seem very good indeed, perhaps ahead of Ferrari and McLaren and maybe even quickest on one lap (although that is stretching it).

      1. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
        8th March 2013, 12:28

        Remember my former teams ranking? Well, I’ve updated it…
        1. Red Bull
        2. Mercedes/Lotus
        4. Ferrari
        5. McLaren
        6. Williams
        7. Force India
        8. Sauber
        9. Toro Rosso
        10. Marussia
        11. Caterham

  16. But Vettel does say ‘in the future.’ I read that as not ‘this year.’ Whatever that implies.

  17. if all the omens are true then this going to be repeat of 2009 and Lewis will be champion well before Brazil GP.

  18. Paul Barrass
    7th March 2013, 22:24

    Well, I’m no expert, but as talk on the forum turned to betting, and the William Hill offer, I have just taken the opportunity to put on the first bet of my entire life on Nico Rosberg to win Australia at £50 (25 plus matched 25) at 25/1.
    That’s 25 pounds of my money for a 1250 pounds return, and I deny anyone to say it’s a more foolish bet than whatever odds were available at the time on Pastor winning the Spanish GP last year…
    And so, to turn a phrase, I am putting my money where my mouth is and am prepared to say the Mercedes will be fast this year, but more importantly it will be consistent on the tyres, meaning Rosberg and Hamilton will be able to reproduce form across a variety of races.
    I don’t think they will win either of the titles, but I expect them to mix it up with Ferrari and McLaren a lot more this year, at least over the first third of the season anyway.
    I had high hopes for the Sauber (race win maybe) and Lotus (to push for constant wins and nail second in championship) this year, but testing has been less than revelatory on this front which makes me a little sad, and I am also unsure about the Williams. I think both myself and many other more experienced commentators and pundits expected testing to show a tighter concertina effect in contracting the mid field teams up towards the top end. Instead, everyone seems to have pushed on by roughly the same margins, with Ferrari showing more improvement, and Lotus maybe a little less. The long run pace of the mercedes after Jerez seems genuine, and obviously the showboating on the last two days of testing, whilst not indicative of anyone elses comparative time through testing, show a remarkable improvement over last years pole time and the top testing times of the previous Barcelona tests, although I think that the Rosberg time had very little scope for improvement at all, and was probably on v. low fuel indeedy. Despite that, I do not expect that any other vehicle in testing would have hit the 1:19 mark, meaning the Mercedes is there or thereabouts. The Red Bull, as always on a Newey/Red Bull pairing showed it’s pace off the timesheets, and instead looked very nice indeed through both slow and fast corners thank you very much, and I am predicting that over the course of the year this car is going to be the fastest and the eventual winner of another two championships, but I also think it won’t be quicket over the first three races by any means.

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