Posted 27 May 2012 - 20:59
I've always tried to be an objective fan of F1, being a fan of Alonso; and I was one of those that said of Vettel 'that boy is going to be a world champion one day' the day he first stepped into an F1 car alongside other F1 drivers, on Turkey free practice in 2006 where he beat Alonso and Schumacher who were fighting for the championship.
HOWEVER, I still don't think he's a better driver than Alonso...he's outright faster, and in fact much as I don't like Lewis as a driver, especially in 2007, I still admitted and even now still believe he's also a faster driver than Alonso - outright.
But that doesn't make a better driver. In fact, I believe Vettel is a better driver than Lewis...I think Webber is on par with Jenson...the former two are faster than the latter two, but the latter two are more 'all round' than Lewis...not Vettel (who I think will continue to improve in that 'all round' department'.
Alonso sits between the former two and the latter two on pace...it was clear even in 2006 that Schumacher was a FASTER driver, but not a BETTER driver than Alonso...just more experienced, and Alonso showed he was on par in 'completeness' and getting better with maturity.
But Alonso is outright the best all round driver on that grid, and pretty much everyone in F1 either believes and admits to it, or is on the fence but certainly wouldn't deny he's an equal best. The red bulls admit it, Ross Brawn has always been vocal about it, most of the drivers admit it...and its because he's always 'there'.
Today was a prime example of why he's the best driver out there.
Knowing he couldn't overtake, he held back in those first set of laps, holding everyone up, Massa right up against him - he looked the slowest. Everyone else was driving pretty pacy to to build a gap. He then sniffs the pitstops and Lewis' pace, and starts putting in consistent 19.1s which was the fastest laps at the time to get right up against Lewis, and jumped him just by looking after his tyres he managed to continue creating purple sector times. And its a shame that we all see he could have jumped Webber and Rosberg too just on that tyre management.
Aside from the fact later in the race he kept ebbing and flowing his pace to manage the tyres, just on that first stint of the race was smart thinking on his part - thinking about the bigger picture and never about being the fastest.
Vettel is also decent at tyre management, that is true, and that's why I think he's the second best on the grid right now - but I don't think he'll ever be as refined as Alonso who is the smartest driver in a long long time.
I mean come on - it pains me to realise this could have been his 5th title he'd be fighting for - 2007 was part his own fault I admit...he was too caught up and distracted (though if the pit stop rule during safety car that got thrown out the following year wasnt there in Canada, he would have won the title) 2008 and 2009 he was in a dog of a car yet still brought in consistent top 8 performances; 2010 he would have won the title with the 3rd best car if Ferrari hadn't botched up his pitstop...2011 was a worse car and he was in touching distance of 2nd and 3rd place...and 2012 the Ferrari is still I believe the 4th quickest car in a race, and 5th in qualifying and he's leading the championship.
NOBODY can do that year in and year out; not get frustrated where Vettel easily does, and is always in the hunt.
There is no better driver right no, and every argument against it will fall over because his entire career since 2005 speaks for themselves. And how many times have you watched him finish out of the points or even have a DNF since 2005?