Posts Tagged ‘crash’

When Sebastian Vettel won the 2008 Italian Grand Prix for Toro Rosso the German media immediately christened him ‘baby Schumi’, hailing him as the replacement for the great Michael Schumacher.

It’s been a rapid ascent for the 23-year-old following that win at Monza but his sudden leap from the back of midfield to the podium and the switch to title contenders Red Bull may have come too soon. Eleven poles and six victories for Red Bull prove that he has the speed to make him a successful F1 driver.

But despite fighting for two championships, does he have the temperament to claim the ultimate prize?

Despite lying third in this year’s championship, Vettel is 31 points behind leader Hamilton after a series of costly errors, which also dented last year’s title bid. Last weekend’s smash into the side of Jenson Button’s McLaren at Spa was the latest mistake of a driver who is perhaps a little too raw to win the championship and showed he still is unable to master overtaking.

Out of control: Vettel veers into Button's McLaren at Spa

Five of his seven wins have come from pole position with last year’s win in Abu Dhabi (when pole sitter Lewis Hamilton retired) and a start line jump on Mark Webber in Malaysia in April being the exceptions. Vettel, unlike his rivals, has never had to fight his way from anywhere further back than third on the grid to take the top step.

Adrian Newey has arguably designed F1’s fastest car in the last two seasons and this outright speed has constantly put Vettel at the front of the grid where he’s not required to overtake as much.

But despite claiming so many poles, he’s often been unable to win the following day’s race.

Vettel also has a terrible pole to win conversion in 2010. Out of his seven P1 grid starts, he’s only gone on to win one race, at Valencia in June. And after some of his mistakes during the past two seasons it is easy to see why the man from Heppenheim has been unable to win so many races.

A collision with Robert Kubica three laps from the end of  last year’s Australian Grand Prix cost both driver a podium finish and handed the race to Brawn’s Jenson Button. That was the first of a series of errors which have hindered his championship challenges. A few races later Vettel slid wide into the barriers at Ste Devote as he chased the Brawn’s around Monaco’s streets.

His attempted block on team-mate Mark Webber at the start of this year’s British Grand Prix ended in disaster, as the young German found himself at the back of the grid with a puncture. Despite climbing back up to seventh he had his overtaking skills criticised by compatriot Adrian Sutil.

“I defended my position well against Vettel until the final lap, but then he just seemed to drive into me and I lost the racing line and had to move over – otherwise I don’t think he would have got past me,” said the Force India man.

Vettel must work hard for more moments like this

Vettels most infamous moment came at Istanbul in May where his attempts to overtake Webber for the lead resulted in his retirement and the Australian falling behind both McLarens to finish third.

A few laps later Button and Hamilton showed Red Bull how racing between team mates should be done as they battled firmly but fairly for the lead. The blame for this collision was laid at the feet of the young German by many in Formula 1, except by Vettel and the Red Bull hierarchy.

“I was quicker. I dived down the inside. I had the corner,” he said..

But after he careered into the side of Button six days ago, Vettel had no excuses and has come in for more criticism  and calls to calm down.

“It seems Sebastian is just too impetuous; look at the incident with his own team-mate, look at incidents that put him out of the race,” said Mclaren’s Former Team Principal, Ron Dennis.

“It’s good to push, it’s good to be competitive, but there are so many historical lines in motorsport and the one that fits him more than anything is, ‘to finish first, first you have to finish’.

“If he doesn’t win this year’s World Championship and he’s considering the reasons why, I think he should first consider his own actions.”

This criticism of the young German suggests a consensus amongst those in F1 that he is not yet ready to win the world championship. The pressure of fighting for championships when still relatively inexperienced in Formula 1 seems to be taking its toll on Vettel as a series of mistakes hamper his championship chances for another year.

His latest mistake leaves him 28 points behind Webber with six races still to go. Although he is still within touching distance, if he fails to close the gap on his team mate he could soon find himself playing second fiddle, hardly a situation he wants.

If he fails to win this year’s title, the winter break should present him with an opportunity to calm down, reflect on his driving this year and look at the mistakes he’s made.

Then he may be able to put in a real title challenge.

Photo courtesy of iragazzidiredbull

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Cast your mind back to the mid to late 1990s in Formula 1. There was a driver who was always trundling around, somewhere near the back of the field, in either a Footwork or a Tyrrell. This is when he managed to qualify. Any ideas? Here’s a picture to help you if you’re not sure.

Still unfamiliar with him? Well his name was Ricardo Rosset. Remember the name now? One of the many extremely average drivers to grace F1 around the turn of the century and today is his 42nd birthday so I thought the best way to celebrate that would be too remind people of his existence in F1.

A man who pulled off amazing feats of driving such as this in his debut season:

A man who played his part in one of the most spectacular crashes in F1 history. Look out for the white Tyrrell getting in on the action on 11 seconds:

And this is perhaps his finest piece of driving:

Rosset was the classic ‘pay driver’ in that he brought plenty of money to the table but was actually rather inept behind the wheel of an F1 car. Whilst commentating on a race weekend once, Murray Walker said there was a debate as to whether or not Rosset was F1 quality. Martin Brundle’s response?

“It’s a fairly short debate.”

After failing to qualify for five out of the 16 rounds in the 1998 championship, Rosset’s mechanics were known for swapping round the ‘t’ and ‘r’ in his name on the side of his car. Harsh as he didn’t drive like one, he just wasn’t very good. There’s a difference between being a rude driver and an inept one.

But what’s happened to him since I hear you ask.

Well after losing his Formula 1 seat at the end of 1998 he turned his back on motor racing and focused on his sportswear company. In 2008 he made a return to motor racing in the Brazilian GT3 Championship in a Ford GT from GT Racing, alongside film maker Walter Salles.

The pair were second after round one before claiming victory in the following race and at Interlagos where they also took pole for both races. Round three saw the them retire in race one before winning the second race ahead of Ford rivals Xandy Negrao and Andreas Mattheis. After three rounds there were six points of the top of the standings with 38, compared to Negrao and Mattheis’ 44.

By the time round five came along the Fords were dominating the championship and the Rosset/Salles combination took victory in race one at Rio de Janeiro, helping them to take over at the head of the championship, before a second place in race two. This left on 62 points, one ahead of Negrao and Mattheis.

The final round of the season, back at Interlagos saw Rosset and Salles win race one but it would not be enough for them to win the championship which went to the Matech Ford team drivers who finished 16 points ahead. However this showed a reasonably successful return to racing for the F1 reject.

Buoyed by this success, success in fact he hadn’t experienced since 1995 (yes he very nearly one a championship!), Rosset decided to buy a Footwork FA17, the car in which he made his début in Melbourne 1996, to race in one of the classic grand prix series.

However despite his success in Brazil, he’ll be remembered across the world for driving like this.