Sebastian Vettel, the Pep Guardiola of Formula 1

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    This analogy will only make sense to football (soccer) fans. Bare with me, this might be a longer post.
    When Pep Guardiola, the former spanish midfielder, took over FC Barcelona as their coach in 1998, he almost instantly became the new star in the manager scene. At the end of his very first season, he had won all possible trophies, including a historical beating of Manchester United in the Champions League Final, making Sir Alex Ferguson’s boys look like amateurs. Ferguson is considered probably the greatest football manager ever.
    After a few years of success and football for another star, quite frankly, Pep gave up his job at the team he played for when he was a pro. And opinions diverged. Guardiola was either a genius to walk on the football (soccer) planet, or he was just lucky and anyone would have won those titles with that team and that Lionel Messi, by some already considered the all-time greatest football player.
    So he made a bold move half a year later, announcing he would take over German side Bayern München.

    This is what people seem to want from Sebastian Vettel, who burst into F1 basically instantly a success, even as a 19-year old sub driver for BMW, winning his first F1 points in his very first race. After a great season at Toro Rosso, where he outperformed the Red Bull drivers, he chose to stay with the family, although he could have probably picked any team. With him, Red Bull became a winning car, and a car to challenge the WDC with. For those of us who can remember the Red Bull beginnings, first as Sauber sponsor, and then as their own team(s). RBR followed acts like Stewart (some good moments) and Jaguar (a disappointment), and no one really believed this could become a championship winning team. They had the potential and the money, but could someone make it work?
    Now, people don’t know if Seb is just lucky to be at the right place, at the right time, or if he is really that talented, compared to the all-time greats. So they want him to drive for another outfit, to prove his worth.

    Against that logic, we now see Pep at Bayern, a team which ended up winning this years Champions League in a very convincing manner. Some already say, once again Pep is just lucky and his team was already the best in Europe without him. After an impressive 3-1 win at Man City, some have given in, saying that this Spaniard is trully talented. But for others, he will never convince.
    Same could happen to Seb. Who moves, say, to Ferrari, and when he comes, magically the car is the best on the grid. People would still be saying “It’s the car, not the driver”.

    I’m curious to see how these two stories continue.
    Just as a comment: Sir Alex Ferguson had some astonishing success early on in his career, at Aberdeen FC, where he challenged the establishment of Rangers FC and Celtic in Scotland, but then went to ManU and never left.

    Any thoughts?


    Fair comparison, but is it Vettel who deserves credit for sticking with the unproven Red Bull or was he contractually obliged to? But I agree. I think the only way people will start properly rating Vettel as a world class driver is when he is given a world champion team mate. That would be the best test of all and something to relish.

    Despite that I can’t see how anyone can win 4 world titles and not be considered a truly fantastic driver. He’s not the only one driving that Red Bull, afterall.


    Same could happen to Seb. Who moves, say, to Ferrari, and when he comes, magically the car is the best on the grid. People would still be saying “It’s the car, not the driver”.

    Without a doubt. If Seb moves to Ferrari in 2015 and wins the title, the same people who now say that Vettel is only lucky would say that “Alonso built a superior car for him”.


    I think this a good comparison. When people look at someone who has generally had nothing but success in their career, it’s easy to dislike them for it because that’s not how life works for most people. Guardiola is a great coach and Vettel is a great driver, and that’s why they’re able to benefit from having great teams to work with.

    took over FC Barcelona as their coach in 1998

    Guardiola took over Barca in 2008. :)


    Here’s another little F1-Football comparison, just for fun!

    Ferrari = Manchester United, red and the most famous team in the sport
    Mclaren = Arsenal, very corporate, successful but not winning silverware of late
    RedBull = Chelsea, bought all the talent a few years back and are reaping the rewards now
    Mercedes F1 = Manchester City, rich and recruiting for a title push!
    Williams = Liverpool, big years ago but going through a lean spell

    Lucas Wilson

    Brilliant comparison callum :-)


    If it was possible to convince those who can’t be convinced, there would be either 100% religious people or 100% atheist in the world. Or neither.
    I think it’s wrong to do anything if your goal is to please everyone. You will inevitably fail. Not at what you do but at pleasing everyone. Some people just want to see other people fail miserably. That’s the way the world rolls :)


    I would compare Red Bull to FC Barcelona – they mostly use talent which comes from within the team, and have a program (not only for drivers) that incentives good work and team spirit, above stardom (Real Madrid = Ferrari)…


    The problem with Force India is, they always try to walk it in…

    Loup Garou

    Without a doubt. If Seb moves to Ferrari in 2015 and wins the title, the same people who now say that Vettel is only lucky would say that “Alonso built a superior car for him”.

    I agree 100%. Vettel will be in a ‘no win’ situation with some people no matter how many races and titles he wins. And Alonso & Hamilton will continue to be complimented for the races/titles they ‘could have won’ but did not quite manage.

    Iestyn Davies

    I like where this football/PL analogy is going.. here’s my opinions:

    Force India has to be Everton….. :D Challenging 25 years ago, like Jordan did half that time ago, now run efficiently (on the driver and technology buy in front), usually strapped for cash (despite the thought that they should have lots/be okay on that front).

    Lotus are Spurs??? I’ll back that…. they had one of the best drivers who is now moving to the ‘ultimate team’! Lots of support and style, if not the official space in the ground/secure finance in the back room, for this moment, soon to be resolved. Occasionally able to break the top 4.

    Sauber… West Ham? Always midfield, they brought on a great (Schumi, in a previous series) and now have gained significant assets with the old BMW investment for the wind tunnel (like how we paid for West Ham’s new ground at the Olympic stadium, which they will pay us back for in instalments over the next 100 years…… Another British planning balls-up, naturally by someone non-elected to the Olympic deciding committee)

    Toro Rosso.. Swansea? From the bottom up, now with style playing with the big boys, won their first race recently. Had a time in the 80s where they were near the top, only lasted one year though (Ferrari engines).

    Caterham.. Newcastle? Big fan support for their operation, but failing to live up to the hype? Actually run like a business (as is Newcastle) and rumoured to have the smallest budget (although Marussia have even less people, and their significant debts only just got wiped out).

    Marussia.. West Brom? Now run on a tight budget and staff, managing to punch above their weight. Formerly great in a lower series (read: old Football League First Division) as Manor Motorsport.

    Aston Villa – the rumoured new 13th team that never arises. But their wind-tunnel facility is well used (like Villa Park for internationals and cup matches). Could be the return of a former great manufacturer, like Renault or Honda.

    Toyota would have to be a team that got close, spent a lot, and never won anything.. I’m thinking Leeds United (and they are also now out of the PL picture). Maybe Lotus (original iteration) could be Brian Clough/Notts Forest/Derby County etc. and now with Colin Chapman gone sadly out of the picture.

    I feel Southampton could be someone like the Epsilon Euskadi operation that never got an F1 shot (they have the facilities, just needed the funding and chance, and heck they’d be better than HRT), yet could do well if they got secure funding. In contrast maybe HRT could be Portsmouth? Or Coventry? Sadly there are many football teams its situation could be compared to.

    The former Lola, March etc. could be Sunderland – a fallen great, now in total disarray. Lets hope it can survive, and not befall a fate similar to the one that happened to Rover etc, but the cards don’t look great at the moment. Considering the massive Nissan car plant in Sunderland, they could also be a huge manufacturer that never entered F1, I’m thinking GM? Sheffield sides could be other fallen teams like BRM etc.

    The other PL teams, like Stoke, would have to be the lower league GP2/3, F3 etc. teams, that get by with the funding of drivers coming up the ladder, and occasionally have the chance to join the big-time but don’t get let in by the FIA. Although, Tony Fernandes would disagree with that, as the football equity distribution is a lot more even than the F1 prize money funding. Perhaps Caterham could be QPR then, if they are successful next year/second chance!

    PS. I feel Vettel is more of a Sir Alex – He won a league title in the Toro Rosso, against the big boys McLaren and Ferrari (pre-2009 rules) and is now Red Bull till they quit. He’d rather have the glory of being statistically the best ever, than the glory of driving/winning in the Ferrari. Hamilton will stick to Mercedes/McLaren, as he can’t get in at RB due to the Marko production line, and Ferrari will start bringing up their own talent like Bianchi and Marciello, after Kimi and Alonso depart I’m sure (but you never can be sure with Ferrari – if they suddenly want a top driver then one could magically appear in their line up), unless someone like Hulkenberg is left out of the picture at the top teams (say HAM/ROS stick at Merc and McLaren still don’t take him and get Alonso instead). I think Schumacher is more like Guardiola – and probably on and off the pitch (skills, hard work, attention to detail, although Pep doesn’t have controversy like MS, there Ferguson and Guardiola can swap).


    I’d compare Williams to Wolverhampton Wanderers, and the Tyrrell lineage to the somewhat fresh-from-administration Rangers, especially considering its great past with Jackie Stewart.


    @ Calum;

    DO very much so agree with your comaprisons. But – why do you think McLaren and Arsenal are much of the same? I mean, imo Mclaren isn’t that “anglo-french” or “multinational/multicultural” as Arsenal is, but totally corporate they are.


    Ferrari — mix of Real Madrid and Manchester United, or maybe a litte AC Milan in there as well
    McLaren — mix of FCB and Arsenal, a team with a “north-european structure” but with southeuropean/latin/middleeastern players. Maybe something Italian or german in the mix as well, but i’m not sure.
    RBR — mix of MCFC and FCB. Having loads of money, and loads of talent, specially in recent times
    Lotus — Liverpool/a little AC Milan
    Mercedes — Manchester FC
    Force India — West Brom
    Toro ROsso — Juventus or Inter Milan (lol)
    Sauber — Liverpool maybe or Bayer Leverkusen or Borussia D.
    Williams — Liverpool, totally

    ..about the other small teams, really not sure.


    In the spirit of this conversation, I’m declaring that Paul DiResta is F1’s David Moyes:

    Scottish, Dour, talks a good game but consistently fails to achieve the results to back it up!

    Iestyn Davies

    And speculation about his job security has started already…..

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