It’s rare for a driver to win the F1 World Championship without
using the best car, but on the few occasions when it’s been
achieved, there’s been a wide variety of explanations.
Words Mark Hughes All images LAT archive
Sebastian Vettel has made clinical use of the Red Bull RB7 in cleaning up the 2011 World Championship, locked into the winning groove with Adrian Newey’s latest design
masterpiece. The combination has been too good for the others.
But consider his teammate Mark Webber, a very good
driver, someone who in the past proved capable of dominating
a grand prix weekend and who last year was a close match for
Vettel. In 2011, he’s struggled to match his driving style with
the traits of the Pirelli control tires; he
takes too much out of them, they hate
being under lateral load for too long and
Vettel has found a way to minimize that.
Now imagine Vettel had been
elsewhere this year and Webber was Red
Bull’s lead driver. The championship
contest would have been extremely
closely fought, possibly with Webber
hanging on to snatch a last-gasp title,
possibly not. Maybe it would have gone
instead to Fernando Alonso or one of
the McLaren drivers. There would have
been little external clue that the RB7
was a significantly better machine
than it was being made to look.