• Sir Stirling Moss on Sebastian Vettel

'His only weakness is his impetuosity'

Sir Stirling Moss November 17, 2010
Sir Stirling Moss on Sebastian Vettel: "There is no doubt in my mind that he is the fastest driver in Formula One" © Getty Images
Related Links

When I was asked why Sebastian Vettel won the championship this year I had a simple answer: Speed. He's had plenty of bad luck and made a few silly mistakes, but there is no doubt in my mind that he is the fastest driver in Formula One at the moment.

I think he's got huge reserves of natural talent and when you combine that with a very good car you have a formidable combination. I can see parallels between Vettel's career and Jimmy Clark's. Clark came in at Lotus and didn't have to try that hard because he was so talented and Colin Chapman was delivering very fast cars. I think the Vettel/Red Bull combination is similar.

Jimmy was a very pure natural talent and would always get the best out of his car and Vettel drives in the same way. On a personal level, Vettel is much more outgoing, whereas Jimmy kept himself to himself, but that's another strength Vettel has and another reason why he will be a very good world champion for the sport.

When you meet Vettel you come away thinking he's got a lot more to him than just being a driver. I've met him away from racing and he handles himself well and has a very good sense of humour. In contrast, Fernando Alonso is a good role model, but goes about it in a less human way. I have great respect for what Alonso has done and how good he is - and I believe Ferrari let him down in Abu Dhabi - but a fresh, young face is something the sport needs and Vettel is exactly that.

I think his only weakness is his impetuosity, but he is learning to control it and he can soon turn it into a strength. I've always felt that you can be impetuous as long as you get away with it and increasingly we are seeing that with Vettel. I think he probably enters corners or goes to overtake and thinks, "Christ, how have I ended up here" but then gets on with it and uses his natural talent to pull himself through. In Belgium we saw that talent run out on a damp surface and he took Jenson Button out, but I'd be surprised if we saw much of the same in 2011.

Mark Webber has come up against F1's golden boy in 2010 © Getty Images
We've also seen signs of maturity for one so young and I think he handled his dispute with team-mate Mark Webber very well. Webber is quite a bit older; he's been around the block and knows how F1 works. Vettel is much younger and could have been rattled by some of the comments pointed in his direction, but he dealt with it very well and continued to impress on track.

To the contrary, I think having Webber as a team-mate has pushed him forward, because Mark has been the most improved driver of the year and that's kept him on his toes. If you look back at Webber's career he has had a hard run up to this point, and I have to say that I think he's done a terrific job to come so close to taking the title.

Whereas Vettel has been dropped into a good team and performed due to his natural talent, Webber has worked incredibly hard to end up where he is, and that is just as commendable. But I think Mark's going to find a tougher team-mate in Vettel next year and that could be rather depressing for him. He's put a lot into this season and improved a lot, but to still get beaten by Vettel, who looks so effortless, will be hard to cope with for a driver.

Add to that his outspoken belief that Vettel is more emotionally supported at Red Bull, and he's in a very tricky situation. It may well be the case that Vettel is more popular - after all he is younger and a product of Red Bull's driver programme - but it's very difficult for Mark to prove it, and it's something that he'll just have to accept next year.

Having said that, being an underdog is not always a bad thing. Mark proved that at Silverstone when the team gave his front wing to Vettel and he went on to win the race anyway. Personally, I always felt that the greatest incentive to drive fast and beat the opposition was to have unequal machinery.

Sir Stirling Moss took on Lotus and won at the 1960 Monaco Grand Prix © Sutton Images
In 1960 and 1961 I raced for privateer Rob Walker in a customer Lotus 18, and beating the Team Lotus 21s was more important than beating anybody else. We had a car that was a year older than the factory team, but we went out there to try and prove that it was faster in the right pair of hands. It was great fun, we were racing against the world and we spent the whole time trying to figure out how we could get one over on the other teams. If Mark can create that kind of atmosphere on his side of the garage then he'll have a far better chance in 2011.

I've said before that when I see the Red Bull name over a garage in Formula One, I read Adrian Newey. He's the driving force behind their success and I think the other teams are going to find it very hard to compete against him in 2011. They have to hope they can find another designer on the same level, but I can't think of any right now who fits that bill. Newey is one of F1's hottest properties and I think if you were picking a driver and designer combination to deliver the fastest car on the track, you would pick Vettel and Newey.

I think the pair of them can take a second championship next year. I placed a bet on Vettel at the start of this year and if I can get the same odds on him doing it again next year I won't think twice. I'd say the only shame is that Red Bull - the drink - doesn't taste better. I'd rather have a bitter lemon personally, but they tell me it tastes a lot nicer with a splash of vodka...