Vettel: Battle with Webber was closer than it looked

2013 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel says the contest between him and team mate Mark Webber hasn’t been as one-sided as it might have looked at times.

Webber will leave Red Bull after the last two races of the year. He’s run Vettel close at times, including in 2010 when he nearly won the world championship. But he has scarcely had a look-in this year and is yet to win a race in 2013 despite his team mate racking up 11 victories.

Speaking at Red Bull’s base in Milton Keynes yesterday Vettel said the performance margins between them had often been tighter than people appreciated.

“As team mates for the last five years I think we’ve got to know each other very, very well meaning that I know his strengths and I know his – not weaknesses, but maybe the corners where I have a little bit of an advantage and vice-versa,” said Vettel.

“It has always been very close, maybe closer than what people remember so I appreciated that and therefore I have enormous respect.”

The pair have had some high-profile disputed during their five years as team mates, most recently in Malaysia where Vettel ignored a team order to finish behind Webber and overtook him to win the race.

“Surely you have to be honest as well, we didn’t have the best relationship probably on a personal level, if you look back,” Vettel said. “But at the end of the day I think we were very successful for the team as well, winning four constructors’ [championships] in a row, so make sure that together we scored enough points for the team.”

Vettel said he was pleased to see the team taking a chance on promoting Daniel Ricciardo next year as they had done when he joined the team in 2009.

“For sure next year Daniel is coming in which I think is difficult to judge right now but I’m sure he will do a good job and he will try very, very hard to give me a hard time.

“Equally you could look back and say obviously you look for a strong driver line-up in 2009, Mark was part of the team and a strong element of the team, and why would you sign up – if you want to have a successful future – sign up somebody else? Spend some more money and maybe you have success guaranteed.

“But I think this hasn’t been the approach back then, fortunately, it’s why I’m still sitting here. And it’s good to see also that the approach hasn’t changed to make use of the drivers we have, or Red Bull has, within its driver programme.”

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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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31 comments on “Vettel: Battle with Webber was closer than it looked”

  1. This years teammate battle in Red Bull has been almost as one-sided as last year in Ferrari. China and Nurburgring are weekends where Webber probably should have won, but got screwed over. Other than that, Vettel has pretty much dominated him all season.

    1. I think you mean in Malaysia and Japan Webber should have won this year?

      1. Nope. In one he would have needed his faster teammate to be asked not to race him, the other he somewhat squandered with his inability to clear Grosjean efficiently.

        Also, he never would have won in China, and would have probably a podium in Germany.

    2. Not Japan and Malaysia, no. Vettel was definitely just faster on both of those weekends.

      Perhaps Germany, but again Vettel did out-qualify and in the first stint out-race him. I do think however he would have been closer to Vettel than at most points in the season, so I do think you have an argument there @kingshark.

    3. @kingshark Agreed, things weren’t so easy especially with the old front tyres.

  2. Nice to see how Vettel wants to assure us that Webber is not miles behind but instead really is pushing him to get the best out of himself from competition.

    And I agree that its nice to see Red Bull promote someone from within, after all that was the original purpose of their involvement in F1 – to get RB drivers into the sport and in a competative team.

    1. @bascb

      Nice to see how Vettel wants to assure us that Webber is not miles behind but instead really is pushing him to get the best out of himself from competition.

      It’s easy to come over all magnanimous now that he has consistently beaten Webber and recently crushed him.
      I’m sure Webber is looking at that interview saying “Strewth! He’s even beating me in the nice guy stakes too!”

      1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        7th November 2013, 13:16

        crushed him.

        Ooo watch out, @oblong_cheese could chastise you for using the term “crushed” too figuratively, and not literally enough.

        Harharharhar. I kid.

      2. I doubt Webber will read any interview with Vettel unless someone points him to a bit that might interest him really @mw

      3. “Strewth! He’s even beating me in the nice guy stakes too!”

        To be honest I’d put a good wager on Kimi in that fight.

      4. More like a utterly ruthless guy striving too hard to pose like a nice one. But fooling (almost) no one. There’s not a scrap of niceness inside.

        1. Wow, you must know him really well! Like, definitely way better than people who have worked with him for years now. How did you guys meet?

          1. How did you guys meet?

            Hanging stuff by the pool

          2. Yups, Nico Rosberg for one was quite charmed by the fellow’s poolside niceness.

  3. Maybe in terms of pace, they were very close. In qualifying, there was always a tenth or two on Vettel’s side that made the difference but they pushed each other.

    However, on sundays, there’s no denying. Snice 2010, it’s been absolutely one sided.

  4. The battle between Webber and Vettel in 2009 and 2010 was really good to watch, there was often less than a tenth between them in qualifying and they took turns showing each other how it was done in the races. But since 2011, be it because of exhaust blowing, Pirelli or because Vettel just reached another level as a driver, it hasn’t been a contest, it has been a massacre.

    1. this is about right. they were the closest matched team-mates in qualifying in 2010 – the average gap was 0.05 seconds, which included some real howlers by webber. i think vettel just got better from there, whether it was down to him adapting to the EBD or whether he just got quicker and made fewer mistakes.

      webber’s story is a bit sad – if he hadn’t crashed in korea he would be world champion. some people just bottle it and sadly that was him bottling it. hence, he is world champion.

    2. New Pirrelli tyres have a lot to do with it, Webber has said as much (yesterday’s roundup?) Also, a lot of drivers lose their edge around their mid-30s, they can still battle at their peak on occasion, but week to week they just don’t seem as fast. Unsure if that’s because of reflexes or car development changes over careers. It happens to most drivers in the motor racing series I follow, and I think it happened to him.

      1. a lot of drivers lose their edge around their mid-30s

        Sure, Juan Manuel Fangio is an example, he hit 35 in 1946, afterwards his racing was pretty average.

    3. Mr win or lose
      8th November 2013, 12:18

      Indeed Vettel en Webber were very close in 2009 and 2010. I think they are or they were very closely matched in terms of pure pace, but pure pace isn’t the only skill required. Vettel has improved a lot since 2010, especially his overtaking skills have improved (remember Turkey and Belgium 2010). Webber’s downfall is very much related to the exhaust-blown diffuser – he hasn’t figured out how to extract the maximum from a car with an exhaust-blown diffuser or special engine-mapping to mimic the exhaust-blown diffuser. Webber himself explained that he is too old to adapt his driving style to make the most use of it.
      So in the end Vettel has become better in every respect: his starts are usually much better and he is also softer on the tyres. That and his talent to deal with Newey’s inventions in a great way, is what’s making Webber look extremely bad.

      1. How is Webber looking bad ? The only drivers ahead of him are world champions.
        Vettel has just wiped the floor with everyone , and yes , including his team mate . I would be more inclined to view Webbers mechanical DNF’s as keeping him from a top 3 finish in the WDC

  5. Come on mister Vettel you have fianly broken the last bit of Mark Webber this year, promting him to move to Porshe, you have dominatid him on and off the course. You got your way and next year you will have a teammate that listens verry carfully to mister Markos instructions.

    1. Webber had a mini revival in the first half of 2012 and actually led Vettel on wins and points at the halfway stage. Apart from that, it has been downhill since 2010 Korea GP where he put his car into the wall which ultimately cost his a world title.

      1. In fairness to Seb though, he lost a heafty 25 points in Valencia and a further 12/15 in Malaysia through no fault of his own @ginola14, which does change the picture quite drastically.

        1. And Webber gained four due to each. So that’s a whopping theoretical 42 points.

  6. Out of five seasons 2 and a half were very close, so Vet is right.

  7. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    7th November 2013, 17:57

    Vettel has never been with less points than Webber in a full season. Even in 2008, he got more points in his Toro Rosso than Webber could in the “parent” team.
    Webber has seen a dead end here. And because of his age, I think it’s wise to look for other challenges in Porsche.

  8. “parent” team

    team vettel?

  9. Where Vettel really has it over Webber it the race starts. There’s no other way of looking at it. By race starts, I don’t just mean the launch, but the first stint/few laps in general. Whereas Webber comes good towards the end of races, and isn’t a million miles away in qualifying.

    1. Yeah, that’s exactly how I see it too. And once a driver has bolted away, pit stops these days are so quick and reliable that the lead runner can usually cover bursts by a late-race challenger. The present-day pattern of tyre performance has severely curbed the ability of drivers to do what (say) Alain Prost used to do, and go very gently in the first third of the race so as to push hard in the final third. Sadly, for Webber, I think he would have been more successful in previous eras of F1.

  10. It was a nice gesture from Vettel, when he took out his cap like a ‘hat’s off’ to show his respect for Webber as a driver mentioning his points finish for Minardi on debut.

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