Newey recalls the last-lap defeat which left Vettel “absolutely distraught”

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In the round-up: Red Bull’s chief technical officer Adrian Newey describes how Sebastian Vettel reacted to his famous last-lap defeat by Jenson Button in the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix.

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In brief

Newey recalls podium that hurt Vettel and inspired team

Vettel took pole and led all but two laps of the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix. He began the final lap in the lead, but a mistake halfway around the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve allowed McLaren’s Jenson Button through to nab the win

“Jenson beat him. And he was absolutely distraught at that because he felt he had not driven as well as he could have done, and therefore he had lost what should have been a dominant win,” Newey recalled in a Red Bull podcast.

The defeat made a big impact on Vettel as he pursued his second world championship, Newey explained. “Everybody’s packing up the computers and everything in the engineering office around him while he just sat there going through the data with his engineer, going through the television feeds and stuff. He wanted to understand what he could do better should that situation arise again.

“I think that dedication, that played through into the team as well. That meant that then the team often prepared to put in that extra mile because they saw his work and commitment that he was prepared to put in.”

Alonso banks on needing extra engine

Fernando Alonso has told his new Aston Martin team to plan on needing an extra power unit this year, The Objective reports.

While the 2023 F1 calendar has expanded to a record 23 rounds this year, and could increase to 24 if China’s cancelled event is replaced or reinstated, drivers remain limited to a maximum of three power units. Using a fourth will trigger an automatic grid penalty.

Alonso got through six Renault power units over the course of 22 events at Alpine last year due to various failures. However he is understood to have been impressed by the performance of the well-used Mercedes power unit in his car when he made his first appearance for Aston Martin during the post-season test at Yas Marina. Alonso will be powered by the three-pointed star this year for the first time since he drove for McLaren in 2007.

Hamilton pays tribute to Ken Block

Following the death of famous rally driver Ken Block in a snowmobile crash, seven-times F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton joined those paying tribute to the late American on social media.

“Today I received news of the loss of a dear friend. I am devastated to hear of Ken Block’s passing. He was such an amazing person, always lived life to the fullest,” he wrote.

“I remember our first time working together and how positive he was. So much talent behind the wheel. Years ago we had an amazing time heli skiing and snowboarding in Canada. We held so much respect for one another. He will truly be missed and my thoughts and prayers go to his beautiful family. Gone too soon. Rest in peace, Ken.”

R-ace GP reveals FRMEC line-up

French team R-ace GP have revealed six drivers for their four-car attack on the Formula Regional Middle East Championship.

Two of the drivers, Levente Revesz and Formula 4 graduate Nikhil Bohra, will do all five rounds of the series which runs through January and February.

Francesco Braschi and Martinius Stenshorne will share the third car, with Braschi doing the first two rounds and Nicolas Todt’s protege Stenshorne doing the remaining three.

In the fourth car, British F4 runner-up Matias Zagazeta will do rounds one to three then hand over to ADAC F4 runner-up Tim Tramnitz.

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Comment of the day

Audi have said they are looking to bring a development driver aboard their F1 project by the end of this year, ahead of joining the series as a power unit manufacturer in 2026 with Sauber. One RaceFans reader pointed out that Sauber, who are currently racing in F1 as Alfa Romeo, already have one experienced driver signed to the end of 2024.

Someone needs to tell Audi they already technically have Valtteri Bottas on their books and that he has experience of the Mercedes and Ferrari power units…

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Anne Lambert, Timi, Bosley and Gitanes!

On this day in motorsport

  • Born on this day in 1989: Future IndyCar race-winner Graham Rahal, son of multiple IndyCar champion and Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching Photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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20 comments on “Newey recalls the last-lap defeat which left Vettel “absolutely distraught””

  1. The current allocations of 3 (ICE, MGU-K, MGU-H, & TC), 2 (CE & ES), & 8 (EX) are generally okay & I’d be okay with them remaining for next season despite either 23 or 24 events.

    1. Likewise.
      The teams can easily make them last longer simply by using them less aggressively and more strategically.

      They know the limits – use them accordingly. Use extras, and accept the penalty. That’s generally how rule-breaking works in sporting competitions…

    2. Yeah, especially now that there shouldn’t be any performance updates I see no good reason for teams to not just do their season with the allocation as it stands.

      They have gathered enough information and will be perfectly capable of shovelling them around the season to get through, if they want.

  2. some racing fan
    4th January 2023, 1:51

    The Senna documentary (which I didn’t like because it was too simplistic and basically preached to a choir) gave F1 some kind of exposure here when it came out, but not like Drive to Survive. If Senna was a trickle, then DTS was a flood of monumental proportions. It’s just amazing how good a job Liberty did in marketing F1 here.

    You know why F1 is now so popular over here? It’s not for the reasons why it’s so popular in Europe or elsewhere- it’s not the amazing technology, or the circuits, or the racing itself.

    No. It’s the people. The drivers, the team managers, the racing engineers. The personalities. The US is so thoroughly influenced and culturally dominated by the entertainment industry that there needs to be some kind of interpersonal sophistication that is part of it- hence DTS. People over here can’t relate to racing drivers- F1, NASCAR, Indy, etc. doing their jobs on track. There’s just no obvious, simplistic nuance in that.

    It’s like pro wrestling. Hulk Hogan actually had to technically wrestle when he was in Japan, whereas in the US he just had to put on an act that people liked and could relate to, which is why he was so successful here. Keyword- relate.

    Also, a side note: if something that doesn’t come from there isn’t the top quality of its specific industry, they’re not as interested. But I think that’s the case everywhere in the world.

    1. some racing fan
      4th January 2023, 1:52

      Also- people in America love a rags-to-riches story and can relate to the underdog.

    2. I think the two films/series are different by nature. Senna doco revealed the relentlessness, passion and commitment from 1 incredible racing driver, whereas DoS is a livelier take of the circus…

    3. I agree with the flood gates of DTS. I enjoyed the Senna documentary. It dis what it supposed to do… Elevate Senna even further into God like status. Even to the point of predicting his own death in a way over that horrific weekend. While Senna was abit of a max in the crashings he was more of a ricciardo (past) and lewis in the finesse of their driving skills.

    4. I’m not sure I agree with “interpersonal sophistication”. Maybe what the American public requires is someone to give them a narrative, because otherwise they’re not able to see the value in the sport. If it’s not dramatised, it’s not consumed. People nowadays are so trained in getting their senses overloaded with action and drama, that anything less than that has no effect. Imagine getting the American audience to appreciate snooker. Do you need a camera crew following the players and creating a good guy / bad guy narrative full of events blown out of proportion, just to appreciate the actual game?

  3. If I recall correctly all Sebastien needed to do that race was not spin and let Jenson past.
    Spinnala was ever his Achilles heel.

    1. +1000 he buckled under the pressure of Button power…

    2. That’s a simplistic way of looking at it, but also if he was faster in the closing stages then Button wouldn’t have got so close. With hindsight, that race was kind of typical of Ferrari era vettel – crumbling under pressure. However, he usually offset that risk in his red bull days by being so far ahead that no one got close to him. It’s just as valid a way of winning as sneaking it on the line under enormous pressure.

      1. Nice points. I must admit I’d never thought that the drive into the distance strategy was also because Vettel was prone to mistakes under pressure.

        But there were too many safety cars that race to use his usual strategy of keep a huge gap to the field. Remember Jenson did something like 4 pit stops, a drive through penalty and came from the back of the pack to win. So it is a unique case, and the simplified version of why Vettel lost is probably the most fitting.

      2. There have been plenty of races were Vettel was under maximum pressure and he performed admirably (Abu Dhabi 2010, Brazil 2012).
        If you feel like you could have driven better before the mistake to ensure you didn’t risk get caught in the first place, it makes plenty of sense to go over the data.

    3. I think on that day he missed overtaking button to jenson button

      1. Sorry, I don’t know what you mean by that ?

  4. Canada 2011 is probably my favourite ever Grand Prix.

    Sebastian Vettel started from pole position for Red Bull having won five of the first six races, with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa behind him on what was a safety car start with everyone on wet tyres, and Jenson Button started seventh. At the first corner after the safety car was withdrawn, Lewis Hamilton dived down the inside of Mark Webber and spun him around. Hamilton was faster than Button, but making mistakes and went wide trying to pass Schumacher, dropping behind his teammate. He attempted to pass Button on the main straight but Button pushed him into the pitwall, unsighted, and took his teammate out of the race. Button pitted for intermediates under the safety car to clear Hamilton’s McLaren, but then got a drive-through for lapping too quickly behind the safety car.

    On the next period of the race, a few drivers including Alonso pitted for intermediates, but the track conditions then got worse and they had to swap back to wets, leaving Vettel out in front from Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber and Felipe Massa. The red flag was called to wait for track conditions to improve, and this ended up lasting two hours, causing this to be the longest race of all time at 4 hours and 4 minutes. But the race restarted eventually, and the long wait made the second period of the race even better.

    On the restart to the race, many drivers immediately went for intermediates, and Jenson Button challenged Fernando Alonso at turn three for 10th and they collided, beaching Alonso on the outside of the gravel and giving Button a puncture and causing him to pit for repairs, dropping him to 21st and last with another safety car. This was lap 37 of 70. In the words of Pedro de la Rosa, every incident had been slightly more the fault of Button, but never quite enough to give him a penalty.

    Button then began to carve his way back through the order, always the master in mixed conditions, and drivers began to pit for slick tyres. Michael Schumacher made a beautiful double pass on Kobayashi and Massa for second place behind Vettel, who still looked secure in the lead, and after all had pitted he led by a comfortable margin from Schumacher and Webber, and Button soon moved into a great fourth from the back. The safety car was called once again as Nick Heidfeld hit Kobayashi and damaged his front wing, before going over it in a scary incident and going off down the escape road. The leaders were now close together, but Vettel pulled away on the restart.

    Button, in fourth, was considerably faster than those around him, but as there was a dry line on the track and the rest was wet, it was very difficult to overtake, with many getting out of shape when they went off line. However, when Webber made a mistake at the chicane, Button went onto the wet patch and passed him, keeping the car absolutely straight, and took third, a great piece of driving. He then picked off Schumacher for second and set about Vettel. The Red Bull driver had dominated the entire race despite all the stoppages, but now Button closed him down and was just a second behind going into the final lap. Vettel pushed hard to keep Button out of DRS range, and that was where he made his only mistake of the race, dipping a wheel on the wet at turn five and going wide. Button went down the inside to take the lead and took a great victory. After six pitstops, collisions with Hamilton and Alonso, a penalty for speeding behind the safety car and running in last place just after half-distance, he had passed Vettel to win on the final lap. I believe Vettel said after this race that it always gave him a little fright when he heard that Jenson Button had taken second.

    There are other great races from F1 history like Nurburgring 1957, Silverstone 1965, Adelaide 1986 and Interlagos 2008. But none can beat Montreal 2011 in my opinion.

    1. I agree @f1frog. I think Canada 2011 is my favourite race of all time. I have been watching for 30+ years as well.

      1. Jonathan Parkin
        4th January 2023, 20:20

        I’ll never forget this race either. Just the experience of watching it was unforgettable. Because of the red flag I had to switch TV sets to watch the whole race because my mum wanted to watch something on our main TV and then I was able to switch back once she had finished. I had to eat my tea in front of the TV as well, and a last lap pass from Jenson Button was just the icing on the cake

        Oh and there was a never to be forgotten (by me anyway) line by Martin Brundle; ‘We are on Lap 27 of this Grand Prix which should finish by next Wednesday if we’re lucky!’

        However for me it isn’t the longest race of all time. Deleting the 2 hour + stoppage gives you a final race time of 2:00:27. Which is what I consider it to be. I will never understand why they started letting the race clock run through a red flag stoppage

    2. I also agree @f1frog and I very much enjoyed re-living the race through your excellent summary! I’ve been watching since ’93 and Canada ’11 is my favourite race, it was was an epic thrill ride.

      Disclaimer: my race by race memory reached saturation point after 2014.

      1. lol, Mine did after 1980 ….

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