It’s hard to believe that it’s already time to put 2013 to rest but the calendar doesn’t lie. Another chapter of racing has been written and recorded in the history books. The trophies have been handed out and the drivers are now doing jumping jacks under the watchful eye of a Finnish fitness guru somewhere near a beach in the South of France.
It’s been quite a year for bulseyeview! We went live in May with the buzz equivalent to a Flavio Briatore orchestrated new car launch party in Sardinia, but much like the recently completed F1 season, we find ourselves closing out the year with as much excitement as another Sebastian Vettel rout. The bottom line…bloggin ain’t easy! Format changes have been expressed in recent meetings. Falconry, male grooming tips, outlaw country, baby products and 1980’s sitcoms have been bandied about as possible new categories for 2014. Guest correspondents have been contacted. Public surveys completed, unveiling startling results (32% polled believe that bulseyeview is dedicated to voyeurism). Advertisers have been assured that readership will increase to over 30 views per week. In other words, bulseyeview will fight on. I mean, how long did it take Nigel Mansell to win his first GP? (ans: 71 races) How many elections did Abe Lincoln lose? (ans: 8). To quote the immortal Bluto from Animal House, “Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?” No, Bulseyeview is committed to you, the faithful reader, and we will continue on as your source for all things buzzardly.
Internal Buzzard Debate:
As much as it pains me to say this, I have to concede that the achievements attained by the Vettel/Newey/ Red Bull combo over the past four years takes the cake as the most impressive feat in my 32 years of following F1. It doesn’t seem possible that anybody could better Senna’s run of three titles in four seasons or Schumacher’s run of five straight for the Scuderia Ferrari, but I stand firm in proclaiming Vettel King.
Statistically, here is the 4 year tale of the tape:
Senna (1988-1991): 3 Titles, 27 wins in 64 races (42%) and 44 poles (69%)
Schumacher (2000-2003): 4 Titles, 35 wins in 67 races (52%) and 32 poles (48%)
Vettel (2010-2013): 4 Titles, 34 wins in 77 races (44%) and 40 poles (52%)
As usual, there is more to the story than just the numbers, but the bottom line is I’m rating Vettel’s achievements over those of Senna and Schumi because of the level of competition that he’s had to face. It’s the classic sporting debate. Is Jimmy Johnson better than Dale? Is LeBron better than Jordan? Can you really compare different era’s? Don’t get me wrong, the drivers of the 20th century were by far the more heroic figures, but for pure success, I’m going Sebbie Vettel and here’s why:
Senna had to deal with Prost and occasionally Nigel Mansell, Gerhard Berger or a long in the tooth Nelson Piquet. Granted, the two years with Prost as a teammate pitted the two best drivers of their era, or any era, in a no holds barred battle royal, but beating Prost all but guaranteed victory. In 88-89, the McLaren had over a second a lap on the rest of the field. It wasn’t until the Williams resurgence in the 2nd half of ‘91 did Senna find himself in a situation where he didn’t have the best car.
During Schumacher’s first two titles, he really only had to worry about Mika Hakkinen in a Newey penned McLaren. Formidable yes, but Mika was coming off two straight titles and his motivation was starting to wane. DC was never a legitimate threat in the sister McLaren. In the final two years of Michael’s run, he only had to face off with Kimi at McLaren and Montoya at Williams. Kimi was brutally quick but was constantly plagued with reliability issues and for all of JPM’s phenomenal skills, he didn’t really have the makeup of a World Champ. With Reuben’s driving as Michael’s wingman at all times, the rout was on.
Vettel has had a totally different landscape to conquer. A hostile and quick teammate in Webber and at various points 5 former World Champions to contend with. Alonso in his prime with the might of Ferrari behind him. Hamilton in his prime at McLaren and Mercedes. A motivated Kimi in a quick car. The wily Jenson Button in a McLaren. And the old man himself, Michael Schumacher, toiling around in the Mercedes. In addition, Vettel’s reign has been in a time of the entire grid being on the same rubber, frozen engine development, and reliability approaching 100%. The competition has never been closer. It’s been an amazing run and one that I personally hope to see end in 2014. When does the Kobayashi era begin?
The Austin GP weekend was amazing again. COTA is a solid track with excellent vantage points for the buzzard on a budget or the mogul looking to impress. The City embraces the race and the combo of excellent music, restaurants and Texas hospitality makes Austin the perfect spot for the US GP. I was blown away when we arrived at the track on Sunday to a sea of people blanketing the general admission turn 18-19 complex one hour before the race. I thought I was suddenly transported back to a European GP in the mid 80’s.
And if you want to be a groupie, the lobby elevator at the W Hotel is the place to be. Last year I shared a ride with Mario Andretti and literally bumped into Niki Lauda while exciting. This year on Thursday I had a seven floor conversation with Adrian Newey and his lady friend about BBQ and peppered Romain Grosjean with questions on Saturday just a few hours after he had put the Lotus on the second row of the grid. I even spotted Seb Vettel’s attractive PR girl walking (or should I say stumbling) out of the elevator and down our 7th floor hall in a cowboy hat after no doubt downing a few glasses of bubbly in celebration of her drivers victory.
Other buzzard sightings: Dr Evil (Helmut Marko) drinking beer and eating Mexican food a few tables over on Friday night. Maybe he is human? And I caught Martin Brundle off guard by saying hello to him as he wandered the W bar solo. He turned like he knew me but quickly realized that I was just a buzzard and made a bee-line out of there. Those old F1 drivers are still quick!
On the subject of buzzards, after the race it was cool to see three hardcore buzzards in a dead sprint to the site of the first lap Sutil crash to gather little shards of carbon fiber and other bits of car for their personal collections. It brought back memories of the excitement we had gathering up pieces of Oliver Panis’s Ligier after he had his leg breaking accident in Montreal ‘97. My buddy Nivens actually carried his blue carbon fiber around in his wallet for years and we would pass it around in bars as a pickup prop. No wonder we didn’t do a lot of dating.
My F1 Major Gripe: The cars are too damn stable! In three days of watching all sessions from corners of all variety, I witnessed zero spins and zero four tires off in the dirt. Technology and billiard smooth tracks have made these cars too easy for a professional to pedal. I miss the days of lurid lockups, spins on entry and exit, major burnouts and handfuls of opposite lock. I know I sound like a crusty old dinosaur, but I want to go back to the days of witnessing a driver such as Andrea De Cesaris have one lap to qualify a pig chassis with a 975hp turbocharged motor strapped to his back!
I’d like thank the following for making my 2013 Sundays spent sitting on the couch ignoring family and friends seem somewhat justified:
Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Nico Rosberg, Will Power, Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud and Takuma Sato.
Bulseyeview Hall of Fame Induction:
A special lifetime buzzard award goes to the newly retired Dario Franchitti. I can remember sitting in a drizzle watching the ‘97 Portland CART race thinking that this Dario character in the Hogan looked to have the goods. 31 open wheel wins, 3 Indy 500 wins and 4 titles later, Dario goes out as one of the all time legends in the States. And serving as one of my year in and year out prime time fantasy league performers, I will always be personally indebted to the Great Scot. A toast of Famous Grouse to Dario!
2014 Buzzard Wish List:
A Robert Kubica WRC win and a new hand so he can get back to F1
Indycar getting the Phoenix mile and Road America back on the schedule
The new US Sportscar series becoming a mega battle filled with factory teams and pro drivers.
The Doctor, Valentino Rossi, retiring now while his body is healthy and his legendary rep is intact.
Casey Stoner getting bored and returning to Moto GP
Kevin Magnussen being the next brilliant F1 driver
Kobayashi scoring the first ever point for Caterham
My thoughts and prayers are with Michael Schumacher and his family as he fights for his life after a freak skiing accident. Schumacher’s will and determination served to make him one of the great sportsmen of all time and I pray that his indomitable spirit will carry him through this crisis. The world still needs Schumacher. I have no doubt that if he makes it through this, he will be a beacon of inspiration for all of mankind with whatever pursuit he chooses to tackle. He’s been a major part of my life since the day he qualified the Jordan 7th at Spa in ‘91 and I’m not ready to say goodbye just yet. Keep fighting Schumi!!
Have a happy and safe 2014!