Adrian Newey, Sebastian Vettel, Christian Horner, Interlagos, 2012

Horner: Vettel’s 2012 comeback shows he can still beat Hamilton to title

2018 Singapore Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel’s 2012 championship comeback shows he still has it in him to win the title this year, says his former team principal Christian Horner.

Lewis Hamilton’s victory in Singapore left Vettel 40 points behind the championship leader with six races to go and 150 points available. In 2012 he overturned a 42-point gap to Fernando Alonso in five races to take the lead in the championship, which he went on to win.

“Usually he’s very good under pressure,” said Horner, who was Vettel’s team principal during all of his four title wins. “He certainly won’t give up, he was 40-odd points before down I think in 2012.

“But obviously it will be disappointing for him to have lost out to Lewis at this race.”

“The Ferrari’s a very quick car,” Horner added. “There’s still six races to go, 150 points available. Anything can still happen but Lewis is over a weekend and third place ahead.”

However Horner admitted Hamilton clearly holds the upper hand in the championship fight. “Obviously it looks like Lewis is in the driving seat now. He’s just got to be consistent to year-end. It’s going to be an uphill battle [for Ferrari] to get themselves back into it.”

Vettel’s problems in Singapore were compounded when he fell behind Red Bull driver Max Verstappen while trying an aggressive strategy to get ahead of Hamilton.

“It was very aggressive on a track that’s difficult to overtake at,” said Horner. “They obviously got caught on the out-lap with [Sergio] Perez and that cost Sebastian enough time in the middle sector for Max, with a very strong in-lap, to nail it.”

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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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59 comments on “Horner: Vettel’s 2012 comeback shows he can still beat Hamilton to title”

  1. He’ll need Grosjean to crash Hamilton like Alonso in Spa 2012

    1. And Kimi to do it again in Suzuka.

      1. Alonso hit Kimi in Suzuka, not the other way around.

        1. kimi was behind him. And he hit Kimi? lol. yeah, right. good laugh. thanks.

          1. Sirotkin was behind Pérez in Singapore, so I guess you’re laughing as well when people say Pérez hit Sirotkin, right? Alonso was not 100% in front of Kimi, made contact with his front wing and got a puncture.

    2. He’ll also need a car which is one second faster than Hamiltons and at least 3 to 4 cars between them at every race.

      1. @todfod
        Vettel has never had a car anywhere near 1 second faster than the opposition. The most dominant car of his career was about 0.350s faster than the second best on average. Still won 4 championships though.

        1. @kingshark
          I’m talking about the advantage Vettel had on Alonso in 2010 and 2012. Maybe 1 second is a slight exaggeration.. But it was at least 0.4s quicker in 2010 and 0.7s quicker in 2012.

          The point being that Vettel managed to beat Alonso in 2010 and 2012 because he had a staggering car advantage. He could win a string of races towards the end of the season and scrape through.

          In a fair fight, Vettel would have received a thorough beating by Alonso, just as he is getting thoroughly beaten by Hamilton.

          His 4 championships didn’t prove anything about how good he would be without a machinery advantage.

          1. But it was at least 0.4s quicker in 2010 and 0.7s quicker in 2012.

            Red Bull was nowhere near 0.7s faster than Ferrari in 2012. The gap was closer to 0.35s. In fact, Red Bull didn’t even have the fastest car in 2012. Source:


            The point being that Vettel managed to beat Alonso in 2010 and 2012 because he had a staggering car advantage.

            Alonso had a huge reliability advantage in both 2010 and 2012.

            Bahrain – Vettel’s car fails from the lead. Vettel loses 13 points and Alonso gains 7 points.
            Australia – Vettel’s car fails from the lead. Vettel loses 25 points and Alonso gains 2 points.
            Korea – Vettel’s car fails from the lead. Vettel loses 25 points and Alonso gains 7 points.

            Valencia – Vettel’s car fails from the lead. Vettel loses 25 points and Alonso gains 7 points.
            Monza – Vettel’s car fails from 5th place and loses another 10 points.

            All while Alonso had bulletproof reliability from Malaysia 2010 to Italy 2014. Alonso only lost 2 points at Malaysia 2010 as well.

            If Vettel’s car was as reliable as Alonso’s car, Alonso wouldn’t have had a sniff at either the 2010 or 2012 WDC.

            Speaking of 2010, Alonso made at least as many mistakes as Vettel that season.

  2. There is a big difference between 2012 and now.

    1. There are many differences, but what happened in F1 in 2012 (Vettel to win the next couple of races, and the leader to DNF due to a T1 touch no fault of his own) could just as well happen again.

      1. Also another big difference being the team itself, where RBR is much smoother well lubricated machine without too much internal politics distracting drivers vs the new one with lots of politics and in process of reorganisation due to untimely demise of CEO.

      2. @coldfly probably less of a problem this year when starting from poles though.

  3. It is important to remember that Red Bull was much quicker than the Ferrari then, which is not the case this year. But yes, Seb was usually at his best after Singapore so we’ll say. Kimi also needs to deliver.

    And “being very good under pressure” applies only when he’s got fantastic car with some margin over his rivals. If he starts feeling the tension from others’ closing in or situation getting complicated then he cracks.

    1. This “Vettel is at his best after Singapore” is one of the most spread myths of the world of Formula One.
      Back in ’12 he won three straight races out of nowhere, but Webber was also very competitive in all of those races.

      They obviously found something on the technical side, and him being much better than Webber put it to better use.

    2. Kimi also needs to deliver.

      like he did in Japan 2012 ;)

    3. Kimi needs to be taking points away, I agree. Even if he’s used as a dummy, there’s no time for Ferrari to still allow them to race to show the world that they “let their drivers race”

    4. @michal2009b

      Agree. It’s easier to get your head down and start doing what you’re expected to do when you have a car that is significantly faster than your closest rival. It’s not like he had to outperform a faster car or pull out magical performances to win the title that year. He just had to clean up mistakes and maximise his car’s performance. Unfortunately, that might not be enough for hm to win the title in 2018.

      He’ll need not only Kimi to up his game, but also Red Bull to come between him and Lewis on a few occasions. Might also need some divine intervention like he had at Spa and Japan in 2012 to beat Lewis this year.

  4. Horner is the type of guy who would defend Vettel even if Vettel was to Torpedo Verstappen or Ricciardo out of the race. But I understand, he’s the only one who brought those 4 titles to the team.

    In all honesty, he could recover those points, but its highly unlikely. Vettel needs to change his style. I like Vettel’s aggressiveness but sometimes it’s way too unnecessary. If Vettel can show the patience like he did last weekend and his team cooperates, he might make it through the skin of his teeth. But then, I don’t see that happening – especially from the team’s side.

  5. He does not have a hope in hell. LH i s so good this year

  6. I used to think that amongst the current drivers, Vettel is a rock when he’s under pressure…. 2016 and this year have made me change my mind.

    1. To some of us non Vettel fans his flaws were evident. To name but a few Belgium 2010, Canada 2011 off the top of my head were there was some evidence of Vettel’s fragility under pressure. But I suppose he was uusually in front most of the time that these flaws were hidden if you didn’t look hard enough. Don’t get me wrong- all the great F1 drivers have their flaws and weaknesses. But I am not sure crumbling under pressure is a flaw to have when in a WDC dogfight.

      1. Other times he handles it well: Brazil 2012, Germany 2013, Bahrain 2012, Bahrain 2018. In these past few years though he hasn’t been in the zone, whereas Hamilton keeps getting better.

        1. What was special about Bahrain 2012? If I recall it was a routine lights to flag victory from pole. In Bahrain this year he came under pressure for a solitary lap right at the end and Bottas didn’t even try a move so not exactly pressure. Brazil 2012 he created the problem for himself inviting a move and then attempting to close the door very late (a habit he has repeated multiple times). Rain and in particular the safety car timing helped him jump about 10 place up the order, not a spectacular recovery drive.
          Germany 2013 was decent but given just how utterly dominant the 2013 Red Bull was, I wonder why they were under pressure at all…

          1. @dejavous
            Lotus was clearly faster than Red Bull in Bahrain 2012, and again clearly faster in Germany 2013. That’s what made those drives special.

          2. @kingshark, in 2012 Raikkonen closed to within potential overtaking distance approx for 5 laps, attempted a move once and that was it. Both pitted for new tires and thereafter a comfortable 2-3 second gap was maintained. Lotus definitely not faster.
            He was under a little pressure from the Lotus in Germany 2013 but never had to defend from a single passing attempt that I recall. And I’ll re-iterate the 2013 position, with the exception of Silverstone where he DNF’d and Hungary where a poor strategy got him stuck in traffic post pits, Vettel would have won I think the final 13 races in a row instead of 11 wins, 1 podium and the DNF. Doesn’t really get more dominant than that.

          3. @dejavous
            The fact that Grosjean finished over 20 seconds ahead of Webber in Bahrain 2012 proves that Lotus had the best car that race. In equal cars, Raikkonen would never be able to close down a 10 second gap on Vettel and attack him for the lead.

            As for Germany 2013, Lotus was clearly the fastest car there too. Grosjean was constantly within 1 second of Vettel during the middle stint, and Raikkonen hunting down Vettel in the final stint. Raikkonen and Grosjean would never be able to display such superior race pace to Vettel if they did not have a better car.

            The 2013 Red Bull was only dominant after the summer break. Before the summer break, 2013 was a very competitive season with four different teams being able to win races. Mercedes took the majority of pole positions until Hungary, and Lotus regularly had better tyre wear than Red Bull. It was not until Belgium when the RB9 actually became dominant.

          4. @kingshark, using Webber as a yardstick is tenuous at best, in 2012 he finished 6th in the championship, in 2013 he did a little better but scored no wins to 13 by Vettel.

            Anyhow, back to the races in question my recollection of those events was clearly different to you and thankfully Keith has the evidence to prove it. In 2012, Vettel had pole, fastest race lap and the win with no-one coming within 3 seconds for the final 20 laps. Check out the lapchart info:

            In 2013 Grosjean got close when Vettel had a Kers issue, failed to capitalise and thereafter was a fairly straightforward affair. Links to the review and lapcharts if you need them:

            In 2013, the Red Bull was the class of the field before the summer break too. 4 wins and 3 podiums from 10 races (would have been 5 wins and 3 poduims except for the Silverstone DNF) and a 40 point championship lead doesn’t exactly describe a very competitive scenario…

          5. @dejavous

            using Webber as a yardstick is tenuous at best, in 2012 he finished 6th in the championship, in 2013 he did a little better but scored no wins to 13 by Vettel.

            Webber is not an inferior driver to Grosjean by any stretch of the imagination, so the fact that Webber finished over 20 seconds behind Grosjean suggests that Grosjean likely had the better car.

            In 2012, Vettel had pole, fastest race lap and the win with no-one coming within 3 seconds for the final 20 laps. Check out the lapchart info.

            The race chart shows that Raikkonen was 10 seconds behind Vettel at one point in the race, and then closed the gap to virtually nothing before attacking Vettel on lap 38.

            Now answer my question: how rarely has Raikkonen ever displayed this kind of race pace advantage over Vettel in equal cars?

            In 2013 Grosjean got close when Vettel had a Kers issue, failed to capitalise and thereafter was a fairly straightforward affair. Links to the review and lapcharts if you need them.

            The fact that Vettel’s KERS wasn’t working from lap 34 onward does not support your point that the Red Bull was the best car. If anything, this only further proves that Lotus had the best car in Nurburgring.

            The Lotus pair were both within 1.4 seconds of Vettel and both were using in DRS. Since when in Formula 1 can someone follow a driver in front within 1 second without a pace advantage?

            In 2013, the Red Bull was the class of the field before the summer break too. 4 wins and 3 podiums from 10 races

            4 out of 10 wins is not a class of the field.

            (would have been 5 wins and 3 poduims except for the Silverstone DNF

            You keep on mentioning Silverstone without bringing up that:

            1. Mercedes locked out the front row
            2. Hamilton was leading before his tyre puncture

            and a 40 point championship lead doesn’t exactly describe a very competitive scenario

            Because Vettel was the only driver who made no mistakes.

      2. Can’t forget Singapore 2010. He was so much faster but failed to set the fastest time on Q3 and spent 2 hours looking at the back of Alonso’s car in a much, much quicker Red Bull.

        He should have won that race half a minute ahead, instead, settled for second. Right behind the leader, much quicker, doing nothing.

  7. Quite alot of weird things went on in 2012 favour of Vettel. There was obviously the 1st lap shunt in Belgium that eliminated Alonso. Then there was Alonso’s contact in Japan with Kimi which led to another DNF. Then obviously in Brazil Vettel was very fortunate to survive the 1st lap collision after being squeezed by his own team mate. Then there was Abu Dhabi that also went Vettel’s way in terms of a podium finish after Hamilton retired from the lead with yet another mechanical failure. Singapore 2012 Hamilton also retired from the lead leaving Vettel to pick up the pieces. Somehow I don’t see the stars aligning for Vettel in quite the same way this season. For starters Valterri will not be squeezing Lewis the same way Webber did.

    1. So, it’s fair to say that Seb, despite having the fastest car in the second part of 2012 (Ferrari being faster in the first part), also had a teammate who at the time hated his guts and actively tried to sabotage his title campaign. He was extremely lucky to win that year. This year Vettel does not have the fastest car, only a car that is very competitive, is dealing with a free to race teammate (who stopped him from getting the lead in Monza) and a Lewis Hamilton in incredible form who has been also greatly helped by very effective wingman Bottas. Furthermore, Seb’s mistakes have been very costly while his wall has been less than stellar in a few cases, while Hamilton has been lucky to not pay for his/his teams mistakes nearly as much (having made less mistakes as well). We seem to forget very quickly what a formidable team Mercedes has been since 2014 and I, for one, am very grateful that Ferrari and Seb Vettel brought the competition back. Without them and an MB team without Nico Rosberg 2017 and 2018 would have been terrible. I honestly hope Ferrari recovers and gives as a great ending (even if they lose) to this season.

    2. How convenient to ignore the things which did not go Vettel’s way in 2012, such as car failures in Monza and Valencia, Karthikeyan in Malaysia and USA, and having to start from the back in Abu Dhabi. If anyone was lucky in 2012, it was Alonso.

      1. Soo salty. I mean it’s not like Alonso had any car failures neither is it. He obviously had bulletproof reliability. Pot kettle doesn’t come close does it

        1. Alonso’s reliability was bulletproof in 2012 compared to Vettel and Hamilton.

          Alonso lost nothing from reliability. Vettel retired twice. Vettel lost 32 points relative to Alonso in Valencia and another 10 in Monza.

  8. Looking at that picture, I am not sure it is the same Christian Horner.

  9. If i’m not wrong, Horner said the same thing last year, when he was 34 points down on Hamilton after the same 15 races.

    Well, it can happen. But i wouldn’t bet on that. Specially considering Hamilton’s form this year.

  10. It definitely isn’t in the bag for Hamilton yet and I’m sure 2007 would be more likely to play on his mind than Vettel’s 2012 triumph. Let’s not get started on 2016 either!!

  11. ”over a weekend and third place ahead.”
    – That’s one way to put it. An alternative is simply; ‘A race win and a third place ahead.’

  12. This year Ham gould write on his Mercedes: resistance is futile.

  13. The main difference for me (among others that my fellow racefans pointed out) is that back then the Ferrari Alonso drove was much more uncompetitive than the Mercedes in Hamilton’s hands. And you had the McLarens, Lotuses, Mercedes (all 3 GP winners and frequent podium contenders that year) and even the Saubers taking points off the championship contenders. Nowadays you only have the Red Bulls, and only at selected races and under certain circumstances.

    The chances of reducing such a Point gap that quickly are much smaller nowadays.

  14. I believe both Seb and Lewis are really emotional people and definitely need the support of their team in order to succeed for better or for worse. Seb has done some amazing drives such as Brazil 2012, Germany 2013, Canada 2017, Bahrain 2018 but in each of those races he was supported. Similarly, Lewis can be amazing when he has the team with him such as in Germany 2018 but crumbles (not as often as Seb) when he is faced with circumstances that it seems as the team isn’t with him such as in Hungary 2011 and Austria 2018 (Let me remind you of the complaints in that race).

    As I wrote in a comment a couple of days ago, it is totally within the realm of possibility that Vettel wins the title. It isn’t going to be easy but he has the car and skill to do so. I found his comment about winning every race quite far sighted at the moment. If he wins in Russia (better if Ferrari have an 1-2) the teams morale will be boosted which will allow them to look at Merc in the eyes.

    I think it became quite obvious in Singapore how Vettel learnt about rash moves in the start of the race. He didn’t attacked immediately and got past him where it was certain. Him dropping to 3rd was the teams fault and I believe it was a miracle he finished 3rd despite the fact he was coasting in the end. If Ferrari fixes their strategy I expect they will have a chance.

    Finally, we need to take into account that Alonso drover a worse car compared to the equal of Hamilton so that will certainly play its part. Plus Lewis is at the top of his game.

  15. Lewis has won 7 races this year, with the biggest gap between wins being 3 races. It just seems improbable for him to go the next 6 races and not win one of them.

    1. @drycrust – I was looking at the “rolling average” values over 3 races for Seb and Lewis.
      Seb’s worst average over 3 sequential races is 9.3 points per race and his best so far is 18.3 points per race.
      Lewis has a worst of 11.7 points per race and a best of 22.7 per race.
      If Seb continues scoring at his best rate of the season and Lewis at his worst, they end up tied on 351 points each…

      1. Just to add an interesting stat, Hamilton has a 12.55 points-per-race career average, according to the driver profiles on GPToday. I imagine that he will exceed that for the rest of this season.

  16. Also, Ferrari strategy department has been lacking these last few years. They seem to get everything wrong.

  17. Can’t see Hamilton losing it. I’m not much of Hamilton fan but does amazing things consistently that make you glad to be alive to see such skill, amd in such a clean way too.

    Wait maybe I am a fan!

  18. The reason why Alonso lost his lead was that two hits by Lotus in Spa and Suzuka. Considering Vet’s weak ability and Ferrari’s horrible team and strategy management, I think he will need Hamilton DNF three times in the last seven races. Sorry, impossible.

  19. We’re all focussing on Vettel and missed the day fact that Ricciardo is now out of contention for the WDC.

    RBR will now install team orders ;) multi33.3

  20. Of course Vettel could do it, but ‘pigs will need to fly’ first!

  21. To Be honest i do not see Hamilton Losing this championship its in the bag for lewis , Kimi is racing fro himself now and bottas has finally settled for a support role knowing lewis is fighting for the championship Ferrari should focus on Vettle now ,apply team orders cause Lewis will not let this championship slide his so consistent and strong Im a fie Hard Seb Fan but im defiantly not delusional I have great respect for Lewis and his driving but Seb is gonna need a whole lot to win this year and lady Luck on his side till the end if not its WDC Lewis …. who ever does win this deserves it .

  22. You are an idiot naturally or you are doing a course. what happens you are angry because with a team of four cars you do not gain anything since 2013

  23. The 2012 Red Bull in 2012 was much faster than Ferrari’s challenger that year, but just a bit more fragile. Since the second half of the season, it was largely expected that Vettel would go on to win that year’s title, even though most people were backing Alonso/Ferrari.

    I rooted for Vettel (and maybe am still rooting for him) to win this year’s title. But if anything, his mistakes this year and failure to capitalize on opportunities (apart from Australia) is only reviving doubts against his ability to fight and win in equal/less than superior machinery.

  24. If I were Vettel, I would call Rosberg because he knows guys who are working on Hamiltons car.

  25. All I hear is blah blah blah from Horner. Yes Vettel is good but he is well beaten and will only get more aggressive. Hamilton thrives at the back end of a season. I expect Bottas on pole in Russia which is a gobby shout. Russia is just not Hamilton track (Hope I am wrong).

  26. Ferrari is likely going to stand in that way as well in a way. My personal suspicion is that Ferrari has likely already set Constructors championship as the number 1 priority for the team. They are not out for a consolation drivers championship and the WDC is further out of reach than the WCC. Seb won’t be able to rely on team orders, or a preferable strategy if he isn’t in the best racing position.

    From here on out, I suspect, Ferrari are looking to maximize points regardless of whether Seb or Kimi are in front of one another.

  27. Yes, Ferrari want to win this year overall and here is instant solution and advice for Sebastian how to win this year.
    1.Seb does not have to listen to team orders at all. He must be brave! Tell them Noooo!
    2.Their strategy does not carry any benefit and value. Their pit is chosen irrationally. Their pit is sooo long…pensioners…
    Seb should pit when HE THINKS that is time to change tyres and if everything is fine, why he should change tyres according to their programme earlier drawn and prepared. Adjust to the situation on the track.
    3.He should not answer team’s orders but must do it HIS way. He has to pretend that cannot understand italian language and that he is slowly forgetting english or that radio line is cut off somehow, because it is Ferrari.
    It can happen.
    When Kimi can break technician’s leg, than why shouldn’t Vettel pull out radio wires and lose contact with garage.
    Freedom for him, success for all of us.
    He must be strategist as well.
    He must choose tyres.
    He has to sense the proper timing for pit according to his desires, he has to drive and he should never speak out his intentions on the radio that all of us, especially little Hammy, can hear his opinion.
    Be completely yours. Express yourself Sebastian like you did in 2012!!!
    We need your brain, your insight…
    Win celebrate together with whole team, tell Grazie mille, although Seb will not have radio connection and everything will be done only by him.
    Ferrari… That is selfish Ferrari.
    I would not be proud of driving Ferrari and be in Seb’s shoes.
    Cristian Horner!
    Come to Ferrari.
    Ferrari need you.

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