Sebastian Vettel

Opinion – Why contemporary F1 is boring, statistically

The Hungarian Grand Prix is often regarded as being a processional affair, with limited overtaking opportunities. This weekend’s event is therefore unlikely to liven up a Formula 1 era that is the most one-sided in a generation. ESM’s editor has donned his anorak and crunched the numbers from 1998 to present.2016 Mercedes AMG F1 HamiltonCast your mind back to the year 2000 and you might recall the Millennium Dome, fears of the ‘Millennium Bug’ or even just the Willenium. Yeah, the latter really did happen. If you’re a Formula 1 fan you might remember it as the year Ferrari and Michael Schumacher started out on a five-year long display of hegemony over the World Championship.

But, after watching Lewis Hamilton take another victory at the British Grand Prix, it got us wondering as to whether the current Mercedes AMG streak out ranks even the 2000-2004 Ferrari era for dominance. Surprisingly it does, and by a fairly significant margin!

Let’s break it down to the most basic numbers in terms of wins during those title-claiming periods. For Ferrari this is from the 2000 Australian Grand Prix, to the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix. That covers some 85 races in total, of which Ferrari won 57 of them. In percentage terms that’s 67%, so just over two-thirds were won by the Scuderia in that seemingly endless period of Ferrari success.Ferrari F1 Dominance StatsSince the 2014 Australian Grand Prix, which saw the introduction of the new engine regulations, there has been 48 races. That’s counting the 2016 British Grand Prix – won by Lewis Hamilton, of course. In that period Mercedes AMG have taken 41 victories! Yes, seriously, in two and a half years, only seven races have been won by non-Mercedes drivers. That gives Mercedes AMG a win percentage of a staggering 85%!

Even more considerable is that they’ve claimed 94% of pole positions (45/48) in that time frame. For comparison, Ferrari only managed 59% of poles during their era of dominance. Taking over two-thirds of all fastest laps since the beginning of 2014, must also make Mercedes feel pretty smug about just how far ahead of the game they are.Mercedes AMG F1 DominanceEven in comparison to Red Bull, who many claimed to have made F1 dull during the period of Vettel domination, Mercedes-AMG still stands far ahead. With four back-to-back titles, Red Bull took wins in just over half (53%) of the 77 races entered. Pole positions percentages are also lower (66%) compared to Mercedes, with fastest laps at less than half  (45%) in total. Those who bemoaned the seemingly constant chain of Red Bull wins might be a little surprised, although Vettel’s nine-race winning streak at the end of 2013 is perhaps what people remember.
Red Bull Racing F1 Dominance Stats


EngageSportMode Awards 2015 – Part Two

The Awards for 2015 continues. No, we still don’t care that it’s now 2016, so just sit back and read which people and things caught our attention over the preceding twelve months. If you need it, you can find part one here.

2015 Awards p2

Person of the year – Max Verstappen
Max Verstappen 2015

You don’t need EngageSportMode to tell you that Formula 1 in 2015 was a pretty dire affair. Whether it was the comically tragic debacle of McLaren-Honda, the constant money worries for Lotus, or Lewis Hamilton wrapping up the title virtually unchallenged, there was little to be positive about. Apart from one young Dutchman in his debut season. Yes, Max Verstappen was by far and away our highlight of F1 in 2015.

Having a father like Jos Verstappen clearly helps, and it meant the rookie Toro Rosso driver wasn’t flung blind into the F1 arena. He topped the list of most overtakes in a season, making some quite astounding manoeuvres to pass 49 cars in total. For comparison, the driver average was just 26.8 passes. His only major mistake came at Monaco when he tangled with Romain Grosjean, but rare is the young driver who manages perfection throughout an entire season.

At ESM we hope Max manages to maintain the same momentum in 2016, as he clearly has a huge amount of raw talent. Whilst saying he is a potential championship winner might be a little too hasty, with his youth and the correct management, there’s no reason why he couldn’t do it one day. Providing the Red Bull driver programme doesn’t spit him out the other end with no seat, as has happened to others before.

(C) Ferrari Media

We also had to tip our hat to a previous winner of this award: Sebastian Vettel. Having suffered a torrid 2014 at Red Bull, the four-time World Champion joined Ferrari and instantly seemed revitalised. Taking three wins and a host of other podium finishes, he outshone teammate Kimi Räikkönen substantially, whilst also looking to be actually enjoying himself again.

Honourable mention – Sebastian Vettel

BTCC Driver of the year – Matt Neal (chosen by ESM’s BTCC Correspondent)
BTCC 2015 Snetterton

ESM’s BTCC driver of the year is, once again, not an easy decision or clear-cut. There were many stand-out drives over the season that caught the eye, but consistency was naturally the key. Drivers deserving a place on the shortlist include Josh Cook, with a staggering 22 JST wins out of 30, and Tom Ingram. Both had outright podiums of their own including a brace of seconds for Ingram. Despite their final championship standing only being 2 places apart, Ingram scored significantly more points so you would favour him as ‘young gun’ of the year, although he doesn’t claim driver of the year. (more…)

2014 Belgian Grand Prix – EngageSportMode Photo Gallery

EngageSportMode went to the 2014 Belgian Grand Prix. Quite frankly, it was amazing. Along the way we took some photos to try to capture the spirit of attending the race.

Spa 2014 Panorama copy

This was the first time either Uncle Steve or myself had attended a Grand Prix. Suffice to say Belgium is probably one of the best to pick for the atmosphere and the amazing, historic, Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

Friday – Free Practice

After travelling overnight from North East England to Spa, via Dover and the Belgian motorway network, we pitched our tent and headed in for Free Practice 2.


Saturday – Free Practice & Qualifying

Saturday was dominated by the weather. The rain before qualifying was like nothing we’d ever experienced. Virtually horizontal, mixed with vicious wind and hailstones for good measure. To say the weather at Spa can change in an instant is an understatement. Still; it didn’t dampen our spirits.


Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge – Vettel Tests Prototype

Ahead of an expected production confirmation at the Beijing Auto Show later this month, Sebastian Vettel has been behind the wheel of the F1 inspired Infiniti supersaloon.


With his role as Infiniti’s Director of Performance, Vettel will seemingly have a real hand in assisting with the development of the performance four-door. Infiniti has teased his involvement with this short video, showing him behind the wheel of a development prototype:

It seems an ever-increasing likelihood that we’ll see a production version of the Q50 Eau Rouge, named after the infamous uphill bend at the Spa-Francorchamps race circuit. Previewed at the recent Geneva Motor Show, further details have since been released such as the fact the concept makes use of the engine and drivetrain seemingly lifted straight from the Nissan GT-R. (more…)

EngageSportMode Awards 2013 Edition – Part Two

If you’ve read Part One of the EngageSportMode Awards you’ll be ready for Part Two. Well, here it is. Whilst the first instalment concentrated on the metal that made us take notice in 2013, this section concentrates on the people who we feel deserve recognition from their efforts in the last year. 


Man of the YearSebastian Vettel and Sébastien Ogier

Sebastian Vettel F1 2013 WDC 001

Motorsport in 2013 was dominated by a tale of two Sebastians (or variations thereof) with both of the top FIA titles going to such named people.

Vettel stamped his name in the Formula 1 history books with an exceptionally crushing Championship drive, breaking and rewriting various records on the way. His run of nine straight victories from Belgium to Brazil cemented his position as one of the greatest drivers ever.

Detractors will point to the “Multi 21” incident in Malaysia, which saw Vettel disobey team orders to pass Mark Webber for the lead of the race, as a smear on his character. The tension in the Red Bull garage festered all season from thereon, and was only alleviated by the announcement that Webber would be leaving to race sportscars for Porsche in 2014. Such an overwhelming display of dominance by Vettel led some to question whether his success was making the sport boring, with some fans turning to booing him on the podium in later races. (more…)

Sebastian Vettel – 2013 Formula 1 World Champion

Victory in Sunday’s Indian Grand Prix meant Sebastian Vettel secured his fourth straight Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship. Love him, or hate him, there is no denying that Vettel has stamped his place in F1 history as one of the greats.

Sebastian Vettel F1 2013 WDC 001

It has been well documented that statistics and records matter a great deal to Vettel who, at only 26, now sits alongside Alain Prost in terms of total F1 titles won. Only Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher have taken more championships, but given his youth it would be a brave person who bets against Vettel surpassing Schumi’s seven wins.

Vettel described himself as ‘speechless’ after winning at the Buddh International Circuit, almost 30 seconds ahead of second-placed Nico Rosberg. Having to pit on only the second lap to replace his rapidly degrading ‘soft’ Pirelli tyres. Rejoining in 17th, Vettel gave another demonstration to those who claim the young German is not a ‘real racer’ by slicing his way through the pack, to sit in 3rd place by lap 13. Such dominance secured him a vital advantage over Mark Webber, running a different strategy to Sebastian. In the end, it didn’t matter, as another Renault alternator failure put paid to Webber’s race.

Sebastian Vettel F1 2013 WDC 002

Taking the title in such a way will matter to Vettel, as much as not claiming the fastest lap – Kimi Räikkönen sneaked it on the last lap with fresh tyres – will irritate him. It’s less likely that the €25,000 fine and reprimand for his dramatic doughnut celebration will bother him though. It was a rare glint of showmanship from Vettel and, in many ways, a fitting tribute to a circuit and its fans which has given him great success in the past three seasons. The rest of the F1 paddock may breathe slightly easier knowing there will be no Indian Grand Prix in 2014, removing at least one guaranteed win for Red Bull. (more…)

2012 EngageSportMode Awards (Part Two)

After part one of the 2012 EngageSportMode awards, here is the imaginatively titled “part two” with a distinctly motorsport flavour:

 Man of the Year

I realise there will be some screaming “fix” when I reveal that Sebastian Vettel is EngageSportMode’s Man of the Year for 2012. But putting aside my Red Bull bias for a few minutes, who else could I realistically have picked from the automotive/motorsport world?

(Image courtesy of

(Image courtesy of

Red Bull did not have the quickest car this season. As a result Vettel had to fight for this year’s title much harder than in 2011, when it became a veritable stroll to the finish line. By comparison, 2012 asked Vettel to use every ounce of his race-craft, and put in efforts like those in Abu Dhabi and Brazil that needed him to fight through the pack.

Almost as important as the title itself was the fact Sebastian was able to silence those who said he wasn’t a “real racer” and only won by virtue of having the fastest car. 2012 proved those who doubted him wrong.

Away from the circuit, Vettel also impressed ESM with his highly amusing performance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, ripping up Lord March’s front lawn in the eponymous Vettel Edition Infiniti FX. Whereas drivers like Hamilton were getting engaged in Twitter “drama”, the young German had his fun by left his talking to the track.

 A worthy triple-champion, and a very worth ESM Man of the Year.

Twitterer of the Year

If you’re reading this and not following ESM on Twitter, then shame on you! Add @EngageSportMode straight away, then come back and read the rest of this.

 There were a number of contenders that I could have picked from to take this award. Many of them are other bloggers, such as Mr Keith Jones (@keithwrjones), Rich Gooding (@polodrivercom), or Amber Maren Johnson (@AmberMaren). All of them purveying excellent automotive writing to the internet.

But then, there is Taki Inoue (@takiinoue).  If you need any explanation as to why his tweets have been the best in 2012, try taking a look at this ESM post for a start.

Whilst he’ll admit himself to not being a particularly great F1 driver, as a twitter pundit he is in a league of his own. With insight, knowledge, and a devil-may-care attitude to what he says (just ask Kamui Kobayashi about the greasy stick), Taki brings some great entertainment to the often serious world of Formula 1.

Senna’s Favourite Grand Prix of 2012

If you read ESM’s canine F1 correspondent’s review of the Hungarian Grand Prix, you should know that the Eastern European round has a “cat in our back garden’s” chance of winning this award. Quite frankly, there was no competition. It had to be Brazil that the whippet picked as the greatest Grand Prix of this season, if not many more seasons past.

Not only was there the hype of a championship-decider at the final round, the weather and the lacklustre qualifying, but Vettel’s incident on the first lap changed the entire dynamic of the race. I cannot remember a Grand Prix producing so many emotional highs and lows as Brazil did for the ESM team members that watched it together.

That opening lap, with Vettel’s damaged RB8 rolling backwards, was a true heart-in-mouth moment. Right there, in that instance, it looked like the title was Alonso’s. But SV’s epic recovery drive meant the Spaniard would not be the one taking a third World Championship.

Aside from the drama of the title decider, action and more action unfolded on every lap of the race.  With the Hamilton/Hülkenberg battle at the front, cars sliding and spinning everywhere and the contest for 10th place in the Constructor’s Championship going to the wire, it was a truly epic race.

Looking back, 2012 was an excellent year to be involved in watching and writing about motorsport. ESM strongly hopes 2013 will prove to be just as exciting, and the team will be looking to bring you news and opinion throughout.

Brazilian Grand Prix: The Aftermath

Yesterday’s Brazilian Grand Prix was possibly the most intense and terrifying motor race I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Never before have I felt the need to actually start drinking beer during a race; such was the sheer drama that occurred at Interlagos.

As I had set out before the race, EngageSportMode was firmly rooting for Sebastian Vettel to take his third World Driver’s Championship, and surpass Ayrton Senna by becoming the youngest winner to do so. Therefore watching the first lap chaos, with Vettel’s RB8 pointing the wrong way with damage, left ESM speechless. The title looked like it had already gone to Alonso before 1/71st of the race was done.

Vettel has come in for criticism from current and past F1 drivers for not being a “true racer” and not being able to overtake or battle for position. Yesterday, as with Abu Dhabi, proved he is more than capable of fighting his way through traffic, to challenge and pass other drivers. With the damage he suffered in turn 4, Sebastian did not have the best car on track at Interlagos. But the rain is a great equaliser, as it was in Monza back in 2008 when he scored his first win, and he was able to use his skills to come back through the field. That is the mark of a true champion and a driver deserved of legendary status, regardless as to what Jackie Stewart might think. Ironically, Vettel has now matched Stewart’s three World Championship titles; somehow I can see him adding more to that, unlike a certain tartan-hatted Scot.

However, more important things were proved by Vettel’s triumph. Namely, you should not listen to this, or the punditry of this:


7 Reasons to Back Vettel Today

In less than an hour, the lights will go out on the final race of the 2012 Formula One World Championship. After an epic season, two drivers still remain in contention for the Driver’s title; Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. Both are vying to become triple World Champions, but only one will emerge from Interlagos today as the victor.

EngageSportMode makes no attempt to deny that its allegiances are firmly in the Red Bull camp. But in case you haven’t quite made up your mind whether to back blue or red this afternoon, here are a few reasons to sway you to ESM’s way of thinking.

1. Vettel wants the Championship more

This is purely opinion; obviously I cannot really measure the motivation of each driver. But from the interviews, body language and on-track attitude I would hedge that Vettel is more bothered about taking the title today. He cares about records, achievements and statistics. It will have galled him to not win his 100th Grand Prix in Austin last weekend. In addition, I would imagine that winning three titles in a row would mean more to Sebastian than them spread out over a number of years.

2. That performance at Abu Dhabi

Pundits and drivers alike have criticised Vettel for not being a true racer and only being able to perform from the front of the grid. The 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix blew that argument out of the water, and proved he could overtake and battle through the field. No, it wasn’t perfect; contact with Bruno Senna and the bizarre Ricciardo/polystyrene sign incident certainly slowed his progress. But he still drove from starting in the pit lane, to finish on the podium in third place. (more…)

Japanese Grand Prix Weekend Round Up #1

#1 That Whole Hamilton Twitter Drama

Twitter has a lot to answer for. Along with making people fixate on constantly checking their phones during major television events, it also opens up the doors of self-humiliation on a truly epic scale.

For a prime example of this, see Lewis Hamilton’s outburst from last night:

When I first saw this retweeted, I actually though it was some kind of joke. But then he followed it up with this:

Which quite quickly confirmed he was serious. Let’s just recap things a little bit here. This a multi-millionaire sports personality, who races in the top-level of international motorsport, and is considered (by some at least) to be an iconic role model. Yet he’s tweeting rubbish about his, still current, teammate like he was back in primary school. Lewis is only three months or so younger than me, but with actions like last night’s he sounds about 13 years my junior. The internet has probably softened my palate towards shocking or distasteful content. But these two tweets made me genuinely cringe and feel awkward for having read them. Although, perhaps, not as awkward as Hamilton felt when he had to point this out:

Ouch. That Button has never followed him asks more questions that it answers. But that is very much beside the point; the fact is Hamilton made ridiculous, childish accusations which turned out to be completely untrue in the first place. You have to wonder what his management team, Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment, tell him with regards to social media. He has already tweeted Mclaren telemetry data from the Belgian GP whilst whingeing that Button had a better setup than he did. (more…)