Schumacher crash and fatherhood ‘slowed Vettel’

F1 Fanatic Round-up

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Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Interlagos, 2012In the round-up: Mark Webber suspects his former team mate Sebastian Vettel was off his game last year because he had become a father and close friend Michael Schumacher was seriously injured in a skiing accident.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

Webber believes Schumacher crash, first child slowed Vettel in 2014 (Fox Sports)

"From the outside looking at it I think Michael (Schumacher's) accident really knocked him round, that really hit him, as he's very close with Michael. And he had a child, and all of a sudden maybe lap times were not No. 1 for the first few months of the year, and then it started to snowball."

Mercedes doesn't want spending war (Autosport)

"Everybody at Ferrari and Mercedes - and the other teams as well - are conscious we must not let the costs get out of control and end up in a spending war."

Wolff feels 'very far away' from race seat (BBC)

"(Williams signing Sutil) was a sign that, 'Yes, you're close, but you are still very far away',"

F1 struggling to tap the female dollar (Reuters)

"As much as people say ‘We really want to see a woman in F1 and it would be such a great marketing exercise’, the truth is it hasn’t happened. So it can’t be that great because nobody has actually made it happen."

Pastor Maldonado unruffled by his 'Crashtor' reputation (Sky)

"It seems like every time I have a mistake or a crash, even coming from other drivers, it’s my fault. But it’s not like this."

Barcelona 1975: Scary doesn't make a start (ESPN)

"(Fuel) was running down the gutter in which we were standing. Crowding against the wire mesh fence immediately alongside, some spectators were smoking."

The essential... Carlos Sainz (F1)

"What is the essential Grand Prix every fan should attend at least once in their lifetime? CS: I have not seen too many tracks. Of course, Monaco - and Barcelona!"

Spanish Grand Prix Betting: Rosberg's Race Pace Gives Him A Real Chance (Unibet)

My Spanish Grand Prix preview for Unibet.


Comment of the day

McLaren MP4-30 Spanish Grand Prix liveryThe new McLaren livery sharply divided opinion. Here’s one person who liked what they saw:

It certainly isn’t classic McLaren but I like it. I think it is actually quite a clever design for which a series of still photos will struggle to do justice. When the car is out on track on television, I think the elliptical McLaren swirls on the top of the side pods will add to the sense of movement as the camera pans around a moving car. They’ll certainly look great under bright sunshine or artificial light of evening races.

Keeping the sponsor logos (the few that there are) white also means that the team gear and merchandise will still work sympathetically too. A main sponsor’s logo on the side pods would really finish things off nicely, but I doubt that we’ll see one before close to the end of the season, if at all.

A final thought – given that McLaren seem to be struggling with a few heat issues in the power unit, I wonder if black was really the sensible choice?

From the forum

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On this day in F1

Future F1 driver Ricardo Rosset won the Silverstone round of the Formula 3000 championship 20 years ago today.

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  • 64 comments on “Schumacher crash and fatherhood ‘slowed Vettel’”

    1. I actually agree with Webber for once. Fatherhood affects people differently, maybe it just took the edge off Vettel last year. I think he was aware that 2013 likely marked the end of his dominant streak considering some of the radio messages towards the end of that year, so he took 2014 as a cool-down year to maybe focus more on his home life and sort out his future. Pure speculation of course, and I’m sure he would deny it.

      On the new livery – my initial reaction was ‘meh’, but I’ll wait to see it in action before I cast judgement. The previous one I thought looked better on track than in pictures.

      1. I agree “Michael’s accident really hit him” – to me it seemed one of the obvious factors affecting Vettel last season and I wondered when someone would suggest it, though we could be wrong unless Vettel opens up about it. Growing up watching Michael, I’d say it’s highly likely it shook him far deeper than we can ever know.

      2. Fatherhood doesn’t necessary make you slower, it just makes you lift the throttle whenever your car got twitchy moment, loosing a bit confidence.
        If you drive Ferrari 2004 then perhaps 10 children wont make any difference.

      3. This is the typical storyline of Vettel fans. Excuses excuses excuses. To start of with, Vettel is a professional. He should be performing at 100% each time he gets into the car. Otherwise if he felt he had lost motivation he should have hung up his helmet. Despite that, such talk only diminishes the fact that Daniel gave him a thorough going over.

        1. I’m not sure I would describe Mark Webber as a “Vettel fan”.

        2. To be honest, I don’t any driver who’s performing at their 100% every time.

          Vettel had a poor 2014.
          Raikkonen had a poor 2014.
          Hamilton had a poor 2011.
          Rosberg makes mistakes every weekend.
          Alonso got beaten in qualy 4 times in a row by Massa a few years ago.

    2. I on the other hand think that Webber has said this to make him look more representative/competitive against Daniel Ricciardos performance.

      1. Oh, is Webber coming back to Formula 1 sometime soon, and looking to boost his image?

        What you’re saying is nonsense. Webber has nothing left to prove in F1. He doesn’t even participate in the sport anymore!

      2. Actually, I think its rather just Webber applying common everyday logic and experiences to Vettels situation @dam00r. There have been many drivers who went a tad less agressive after getting kids, at least temporarily. And its quite common that a big accident of ones friends, or even heroes, can make one think about the risks involved that little bit more too.

        Off course Webber also knows both the team, Vettel and Ricciardo enough to be able to make a halfway decent guess at it, and that is what he does: Explain why Vettel suddenly seemed like a wet blanket last year, and now seems to be back on it again.

        1. I won’t disagree with what MW is suggesting, but I also think it is the job of the athlete to block those off-track distractions from coming onto the track. That said I know of course we are all human beings, not robots, so as I say I won’t disagree with what MW says. But what I always felt from the start of last year, the start of a whole new chapter, is that it must have been darn hard for SV to go from a car he was winning in to a car that was far inferior and something he was not comfortable in, nor was reliable. That’s always going to be a real hit coming from a four year run of having the best.

          1. @Robbie

            My thoughts too, Daniel was superb last season but people are quick to discredit SV as if he didn’t try to race or get to grips with the car. He drove some superb races last year but I feel some of his problems prevented him from gaining any momentum. We saw from Hamilton/Rosberg last year that momentum can change the tide with Rosbergs manouver at Mirabeau and in Spa, as Hamilton seems untouchable.
            Daniel did have almost the same number of issues as SV but they occurred after lengthy periods hence never halting his momentum.

            1. Daniel did have almost the same number of issues as SV

              No, Daniel had essentially zero issues.

            2. @mim5 I agree. But I also think in some races there were some issues that didn’t result in DNF but serious lack of performance. Or had the problem in quali. So sometimes it looked like he got beaten by Dan fair and square while he was racing with a car underperforming. Skewed the results a bit.

          2. I think its always a combination of factors. The shock of seeing what happened to Schumi, being a father changing view on life a bit combined with suddenly seeing himself in a car that just did not do what he wanted from it and was used to, with a teammate that clicked better with the car, must all have been a factor @robbie, @mim5
            Then with worse reliability and suddenly seeing the team look at your young teammate must have added to the feeling of being in the wrong place and hurting motivation to give that bit extra that makes one win went on top.

          3. Dave your comment typical Vettel fans excuses excuses doesn’t that also apply to Lulu fans when he has his girlfriend breakdowns and other off track excuses?

            1. Yes. It does. It also excuses Alonso’s rather negative effect on his teams. These are all part of these characters. You cannot expect them to drop those traits each year for every race. You wouldn’t like to be treated like a robot, even if you were getting millions of dollars for your job.

    3. I would call the McLaren “smartphone’s night mode livery”. McLaren did say they wanted a livery that would look good for the night races, in terms of sponsorship visibility it’s working already, the logos are popping out, wondering how it does look in action maybe it gives out the effect COTD mentioned. I’ve said this earlier and I’ll say it again, the old and this new livery are too similar to those of SFI and Lotus. I think Lotus has reasons to dislike the McLaren livery. There’s a rule that forbids significant livery changes but somehow this was allowed but not for the right reasons as it still clashes to someone elses livery. I think the teams should’ve resolved this earlier. It’s McLaren’s SFI and Lotus loss, not the fanatics, we can tell the cars easily.

    4. “Love it or hate it, motorsport is not purely talent. It never has been and never will be.”…uh-huh..I suppose you were looking in the mirror then Susie?

      1. Yea i also couldn’t believe she had the guts to say such a thing.Nowadays even the least regarded drivers have impressive records.Jokes are made of Maldonado but he spanked everybody’s butt in junior categories and won championships, same with Gutierrez,Perez,Nasr,Verstappen,Vergne,Grosjean and all the other guys!Even Max Chilton was front-runner at some point in British F3 and GP2!What i’m trying to say is that regardless of money the race seats are in the hands of drivers who proved themselves since childhood and deserve their shot.No offence but she’s just a rich wife who doesn’t want to stay home whilst Toto travels the world.If she’s really itching to race there’s hundreds of series around Europe to go to.Blood literally boils to see Simona De Silvestro hustling in Indy whilst Susie pretends to be a racing driver.How are young lady drivers going to take her seriously?Say what you want about looks or her Dad’s money but Carmen Jorda is a better role model IMO as she’s mid twenties,not married to a engine supplier guy and doesn’t look like she’ll hang around till she’s 33;if she does’t get the sit (she wont) she’ll move on,worst case scenario she’ll go back to RACING (yes,racing) in GP3 to add to the 3 years she’s already got.Susie hasn’t raced in how many centuries?

        1. GB (@bgp001ruled)
          8th May 2015, 21:38

          well said! if something, women should be ashamed of susie! she destroys the image of women in F1!!!

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        7th May 2015, 7:38

        @gregkingston, well done.

        On your ‘final thought’ (I wonder if black was really the sensible choice?).
        IANASc, yes black will absorb more light energy than white and thus becomes relatively warmer (especially during day races), but that is hardly the problem. F1 cars have their heat source inside and need to emit heat, and then black is the clear winner (emissivity).

        The worst performer is actually silver!!! Thus McLaren will have a slight advantage over Mercedes (but probably at irrelevant low levels).

        1. I think that the cooling effect achieved by thermal radiation is insignificant compared to what it is achieved through forced induction (car moving through the air). But the incoming radiation from the sun (about 1kw/m^2) may not be insignificant so white would be the best choice to keep car cool.
          Anyway I’m fairly sure that thermal radiation is irrelevant, otherwise all teams would paint their cars the same way.

      2. good one @gregkingston!

        And yes, as @coldfly mentions, the black works both ways and with the car most likely being hotter on the inside, that is not bad at all.

    5. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      7th May 2015, 1:10

      It seems like every time I have a mistake or a crash, even coming from other drivers, it’s my fault. But it’s not like this.

      Yeah but, most of the time it is.

    6. Mark Webber suspects his former team mate Sebastian Vettel was off his game last year because he had become a father and close friend Michael Schumacher was seriously injured in a skiing accident.

      Maybe. I suspect the fact his car kept breaking while his teammates did not played a larger role. Once RB realized he was leaving (which I think they knew in the first half of the season) they engaged in the time-honored F1 practice of favoring their other driver.

      1. Yay! A conspiracy theory!!! Love when we have one of this in F1…

        1. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that his car was breaking because RB were sabotaging it. (I’m not suffering from Webberitus!) It’s indisputable that his car had strangely more engine issues than Daniel’s, but then the same could be said for all the other Renault powered drivers that season. That seems to have been just one of those statistical oddities which pop up from time to time in life, just as its possible to flip a coin and get heads 20 times in a row.

          Of course from what I’ve seen there are plenty of people out there who are completely unaware (perhaps deliberately so) of the car failure disparity. Perhaps whats needed is a “vettel-ricciardo-and-reliability-at-red-bull” compilation similar to the one done for Vettel and Webber.

          1. I’m not suffering from Webberitus!

            I’d like to point out, as a big Webber fan, that it were mostly Vettel-haters rather than Webber fans suffering from that…

      2. Well, I didn’t see you bringing that up when Webber was ‘less-favoured’ and Vettel was the undisputable number 1. Webber used to unequivocally state, on the radio, on the podiums- that he was treated like a number two driver. Despite that, IMO Dan earned his number one status by giving Vettel a thorough going over. He gave Sebastian a lesson in qualy, tyre management and race craft. But of course you being the Vettel fan-boy you are, cannot make any objective analysis when it comes to Vettel which makes the prospect of a reasonable and impartial debate obsolete and a futile exercise.

        1. Good grief, you calling anyone a fan-boy is the very definition of hypocrisy! The rest of your ad hominems should get your comment deleted.

          Was Webber treated like a number 2 driver all the times he ignored team orders and got away with it? Was he treated like a number 2 driver the times Vettel was ordered to stay behind him? Webber was playing head-games to try to get an edge within the teams, not describing any reality of him being disfavored.

          You don’t even attempt to argue that Dan had the same amount of car problems as Seb because you know you cannot. So instead you try to pass over the matter completely with boilerplate about how Dan “gave Sebastian a lesson in qualy”, conveniently leaving out all the instances when Seb’s car broke in qualifying.

          1. Actually, while Dan had nowhere near the same number of car problems he definitely lost something to the tune of 38 points thanks to the disqualification in AUS, front wing failure in Malaysia and DNF in Brazil. Add that points tally to the difference the difference between Seb and Ricciardo rises to 109 points. Now, please give us a breakdown of how Vettel lost 109 points to Ricciardo. See this is what I mean. You can never view things objectively, because you are a fan-boy of your messiah Vettel.

          2. In other words, reliability WAS NOT the deciding factor between Vettel v RIC.

        2. I agree with @rm, moreover Vettel vs Ricciardo is not the same as Vettel vs Webber in that respect since they didn’t have the reliability disparities unlike whatever people claim. So since Webber’s car didn’t keep breaking down unlike Ricciardo, why would he have brought it up?

    7. That notion that having a woman driver in F1 will magically make women interested in F1 is silly. The presence of Danica Patrick has not resulted in millions of women deciding that they wanted to become NASCAR fans.

      1. John Rymarchuk
        7th May 2015, 1:36

        Wasn’t the NASCAR fan split somewhere in the 60/40% (men/women) already, I think that the viewership/fan split probably tipped more once Danica joined for sure but I don’t think there will be a sudden rush once a woman goes on the grid.

      2. no, thats not the point. But by having women in a motorsport, it tells young girls that this is something that they’re allowed to do and can do just as good as men, if not better. My mates daughter races in go-karts her in Australia and she loves beating all the guys. She is genuinely talented and ruthless to boot. She said that she started racing because she saw Danica on tv and asked if she could go down to the go-kart track. Her father being an ex-touring car mechanic had no hesitation and he loves watching her belting around the boys on the track.

        1. that’s the catch-22 though. How many other girls are out there with your mate’s daughter? Of kids that start out karting, maybe 1/10,000 will make it to F1 so if there aren’t many girls in karts, it’s less likely for a woman to make it to the F1. I don’t think it’s a problem of sexism, just that girls are less likely to be interested in motorsports. One of these days we’ll see a woman make it to F1 on talent, but to make that happen, they need to focus on getting girls participating in karts.

          1. @lancer033 – That’s not a catch-22, that’s a knock-on effect of no (well, few) female racing role models. There are some girls starting out in karts and the like based on professional female drivers. It stands to reason that with more female drivers, more girls might pursue karts and other forms of racing. Once there is some level of parity at the lower levels (note: I’m not saying forced parity, I simply mean when the number of voluntarily interested and talented kids/teens start to be more representative of the population), you will start to see more girls/women rise through the ranks on pure skill/sponsorship than there are currently.

            I think your comment that, “girls are less likely to be interested in motorsports,” is too simplistic. It may be true, but it may also be due to socialization. Given the long history of it being a boys only club, it may need a pull from the top and a push from below. So, provide a few role models at higher levels and, as you note, get more girls in karting—perhaps by being more inclusive and open at the lower levels—and then we can see which it is.

        2. you make the assumption though that women can compete at the same level in motor racing, when the same is not true of any other sport. I agree that motor racing no longer requires the strength that it once did but scientific physiological research has pretty clearly shown for a long time that womens reaction times and choice reaction times are delayed compared to mens, which seems like it would have in impact in speed sport. That also ignores the testosterone effect on competitiveness and ignoring danger with regards to commitment to a corner etc. Or even sex differences in past-time/passion/interest inclination.

          It might actually be that women are measurably behind in motor racing as in every other sport, it might be that they’re closer allowing one or two to compete on a level playing field or it may be that there is no difference, my point is everyone just assumes (or rather, is forced to assume by a pc brigade that like to ignore fundamental biological differences) that its the latter and thus lack of representation is a problem that needs fixing. Very similar to the way girls are promised higher salaries better opportunities, bursaries and whatever else if only they’d study a hardcore STEM subject yet the update is still so low (for anything other than biological sciences/medical, shock, something about people, people that women are actually interested in over things like cars).

      3. The presence of Danica Patrick has not resulted in millions of women deciding that they wanted to become NASCAR fans.

        Don’t know about Nascar but when Danica was in Indycar there was a significant increase in young girls watching the series & getting involved in Motorsport themselfs.

    8. People often suffer confirmation bias when it comes to their personal opinion of a driver.

      They find the facts that suit their opinion. Be it Button outscoring Hamilton if you add three years together, Hamilton beating Alonso on count back, Ricciardo topping the Top Gear lap time board and Vettel having one weak year off the back of four consecutive titles.

      People who don’t want to believe Vettel is a true talent will leap on the instances of relatively poor performance as though the previous 6 years didn’t happen. All they actually prove is that despite metronomic years like 2011 & 2013, he is actually human.

      1. ResultantAsteroid
        7th May 2015, 13:19

        My thoughts exactly. I usually tend to bypass those emotional ppl who act as if they were their favorite drivers’ girlfriends sometimes, as I believe that history always levels things up in the end. Whether you are a true talent who proved itself with WCs, did not get the chance to, or an overrated driver with lass-than-legendary talent you will more or less get the appreciation you sort of deserve.
        As for Vettel’s case, some ppl thought (and unfortunately still think) they know better than all the F1 experts, team managers and engineers, current and former F1 drivers, and even Vettel’s direct opponents. It must be a very nice and relaxing life to live believing you know the absolute truth like this :-P

        1. Who are the true experts though? The guys commentating each race on BBC/SKY, the mechanics, the engineers, team leaders, drivers themselves, ex-drivers etc… They are almost all biased. There are ones who claim Vettel is on par with Senna better than Schumacher, while there are ones saying Hamilton is the best ever, while someone else say Alonso is the best on grid. So who are we listening to?

      2. @philipgb
        Very well put, I couldn’t agree more.

        Funnily enough, reading the first sentence of your comment, I thought it was going to be about Maldonado. I have neither the time nor the inclination right now to look at the stats and see how many of his on-track incidents can be considered his own fault and how many he was blameless for, but I do wonder whether those of us who view him negatively are simply suffering from confirmation bias. I am well aware that, for my part, I struggle to get past the ugly incident at Monaco where he severely injured a marshall, and this has no doubt coloured my view of Maldonado ever since.

        1. @ladym

          2012 where he smashed in to Hamilton and showed zero contrition did it for me with Maldonado. And i was guilty when watching Button recently rear end him of immediately looking how it was Maldonado’s fault.

      3. Shishir (@)
        7th May 2015, 19:34

        spot on.

      4. That was well articulated and spot on. Congratz.

    9. Daniel (@dstaplet13)
      7th May 2015, 3:33

      Wolff’s last single-seater race was a decade ago? How she is even an option to be a driver (on merit alone) in F1 is beyond me.

    10. This BBC story about Susie Wolff. I might be too harsh, but has Toto now decided to sell his remaining 5% of the Williams F1 shares? After this, there is no “real” reason why Susie is needed in the Williams team. So now there is this story and statement by her, that – “Love it or hate it, motorsport is not purely talent. It never has been and never will be.”

    11. Porsche LEGO to be won!? I’ll just have to make an account for every single possibility.

    12. Whilst I’m not suggesting Wolff was ready to race, the BBC article seems to me a bit harsh:

      when race driver Valtteri Bottas suffered a back injury and was forced to miss the season-opening grand prix in Australia, the team had no one able to stand in at short notice.
      Wolff only has a licence to drive in practice, not races, and the team felt that it would be too big a risk to ask her to drive in a grand prix

      My understanding is that because Bottas withdrew following qualifying there was no option to replace him anyway. Perhaps they wouldn’t have put Susie in the seat even if they could but I think in reality they didn’t even have to consider it.

      1. It’s not clearly written, but I think it’s referring to having no one to stand in at short notice for Malaysia should Bottas have failed his fitness test.

        1. @sharoncom, It is an article produced by Benson, so perhaps it’s no surprise that it’s badly written.

          JerseyF1 is right to point out that a driver cannot be substituted once the qualifying session has begun – for example, Toyota’s attempts to substitute Glock with Kobayashi after his crash during qualifying for the 2009 Japanese GP were turned down on those grounds.

          As for competing in Malaysia, I’m not sure that she could have obtained a full superlicence in time. Although she might qualify under the clause that she has competed in test sessions and therefore demonstrated that she is capable of driving an F1 car, the FIA might have rejected her application given that those test sessions would have been more than 90 days before her application.

    13. I think it is easy for Toto to buy a seat in FR3.5 or GP3 in order to prove his wife.
      I hope I’m wrong but they doesn’t seem to have confidence to do so.

    14. Webber is only saying that because he was demolished by Seb who in turn was beaten by Ricciardo by quite a margin. Is it me who’s the only one bored of the talk of Suzie Wolff getting a F1 seat? If she was quick enough she would be driving one now, no need to have a woman driver just for the sake of it.

    15. As Webber mentioned there were probably multiple factors; in addition to what he said about Schumi and baby, the change in the engine, the all dominant Mercs that made any hope of the title futile, regulations and car that made the driving style he had perfected with blown exhaust, and a teammate that not only hugely talented but in superb form.
      Finally I don’t think the Ferrari deal happened overnight and if on top of everything else one is considering to leave the place that has nurtured him for most of his career, it’s not odd to lose a couple of tenths. After all he’s also human :)
      Probably also explains that as the season progressed and esp. once he made the decision his performances got better compared to Ricciardio.

    16. A few years back vebber said that Lewis hamilton is not at the level of Alonso and vettel.Now he is saying fatherhood and msc tragedy slowed vettel.the fact is vettel is an average driver not exposed because of slower team mate,if ham,Alonso,button,ricardo or even rosberg instead of webber in those years the outcome could have been different.

      1. Your comment may be passionate and all but unfortunately its wrong. Vettel was the class of the field when he won those WDCs.
        The turning point was when he beat Alonso, Webber and Hamilton to the title with superb drives in the last three races in 2010 as an outsider and 2011 when he blew everyone out of the water. Average? I don’t think so!

      2. You do realize that Webber beat Rosberg in the same car?

        No, I expect you don’t realize that, or even care about it.

      3. Thing is, sometimes things get together (great car, feeling confident, really being in top form and having the feeling of full support from the team and working extremely hard for a clear target) and make a driver run on a wave of success. THat mostly comes too an end when several of those things fall away.
        There is not really an absolute or constant level of a driver. It evolves, changes with things happening in their lives and can go up and down as well. Surely Hamilton in mid 2011 was not on the same lvl as Vettel or Alonso was at that time. But last year Vettel was not on the same lvl as Hamilton was. So far this year Hamilton is more or less at the level Vettel was at in 2012-2013 I would say.

    17. with all this talk of not enough women in F1 and it being a concequence of girls not feeling that they can mix it with the boys is quite ludicrous in my opinion. I don’t believe the people that attend races are only male. women watch F1 as much as men. i also don’t believe the millions of fans of the drivers are only male. Aren’t they role models enough?

    18. Looks like the Lotus team disagree with Pastor, because he now has to drive around with this on at all times…
      Fotos GP Spanien 2015 (Donnerstag): Die besten Bilder aus Barcelona (Bildergalerie, Bild 16) – AUTO MOTOR UND SPORT

    19. When you look at the history of the sport and stats it looks like it is unacceptable that Vettel performed at the level he did. However, when you look at it rationally without trying to fit the situation into a mould, it’s fully possible that he had a bad year because of all the reasons listed here in comments and what Webber says and even more that we don’t know about. However, I would think it will be really hard for him to again perform at the same level that he did before. If he can though, all the more impressive.

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