Minardi: It’s not my intention to devalue Vettel, I just want to tell what I saw

Giancarlo Minardi suspicious of Sebastian Vettel's dominance

Giancarlo Minardi writes about his suspicions regarding Sebastian Vettel’s dominance in Singapore

Ahead of the Korean Grand Prix, the 14 the round of the 2013 Formula 1 Championship, I would like to bring back all the wonderful memories linked to my experience at the Marina Bay Street Circuit and make some remarks about my visit to the Singapore Grand Prix, which I’d like to share with you and try to find some answers.

I will start by saying that I was enthralled by the Singapore background. It was a brand new experience, which was completely different from any other experience I was used to live (the circuit opens only in the afternoon and closes at late night). I had the chance to monitor all drivers’ on-track deeds from a suite located at the end of the pit’s straight (which leads to the first chicane). The monitor I used to watch the race displayed also all drivers’ lap times.

Since I left Singapore, I’ve been keeping in my mind the 2.5 seconds advantage of Vettel over his teammate Webber and the other drivers.

Sebastian Vettel on the grid in Singapore

Sebastian Vettel on the grid in Singapore

By this statement it’s not my intention to devalue Sebastian Vettel, who always manages his Red Bull the best way and I don’t want even to jab at anyone, I just want to tell what I personally saw and heard during that three-day-event.

According to my experience, I think that a 2.5 seconds advantage each lap is really too much. It’s like a three-generation development gap, it’s a huge gap. Furthermore, the time gap between Vettel and Romain Grosjean in FP3 and the Red Bull’s driver and Rosberg in qualifying was only few tenths. The German driver could have played cat and mouse on Saturday, anyway, something is still not clear for me.

Doubt 1: From my suite, I chose some mainstays as a reference point in order to monitor and compare the drivers’ way of driving. My mainstays were the kerbstones located on the corner which leads to Republic Boulevard. Their function is to avoid passing on the kerb. I was impressed by Vettel’s neat way of driving on that stretch of the track. He was able to drive all that stretch without making any corrections, unlike all his rivals (also his teammate). His laptime was also remarkable in T3, which is the track’s sector with the highest concentration of corners.

Sebastian Vettel was in a league of his own around Marina Bay Circuit

Sebastian Vettel was in a league of his own around Marina Bay Circuit

Doubt 2: On the same stretch,  Sebastian was able to speed up 50 metres before any other driver, Webber included. Whilst all the other drivers sped up on the same stretch, Vettel was able to speed up before them. The thing that surprised me the most was the RB9 engine’s output sound. Besides speeding up 50 metres before any other driver, the Renault engine of the German’s car grinded like no other French engines on track, neither like Mark’s. That sound was similar to the sound made by the engine when the traction control system got into action in the past seasons.

Furthermore, that sound was only heard when Vettel chalked up his excellent performances. For example, after the Safety Car went off, he took a great re-start and chalked up many excellent laps, gaining a 32 seconds gap over Alonso, then he leveled off, taking precautions in the case he would have had to pit one more time. In those moments the Renault engine was more powerful than any other engines (Renault and other brands).

These are some of the aspects:

  1. Vettel’s very neat way of driving;
  2. Vettel’s ability to accelerate 50 metres before the other drivers;
  3. The abnormal sound of the RB9’s Renault engine;
  4. Vettel’s more than 2 second advantage over the rivals.

That make[s] me think and I would like to have some answers. All those doubts are even more serious if we consider that Webber wasn’t able to do that, since he’s a common human being….I don’t want to blame anyone , I just would like to get into the depth of the matter. (Giancarlo Minardi)

  • filippo vettel

    really bad words, really hard accuses…I can’t believe…no comment

  • filippo vettel

    I hope for Minardi, none from Milton Keynes read this…I hope for him…no comment

  • Jaime Ferreira

    Words of a man who has never built a Formula 1 of way …. IE, all cars that presented were a nullity.
    What difference can give loanwords u7m a nullity?

  • K-15-

    Now we know who started off the booing.

  • Boycottthebull

    So is he saying there is some kind of traction control that Red Bull Switch on and off at select times to avoid detection? Certainly would explain certain things. He was trying to be very diplomatic to raise the issue which could not have been easy. Will be interesting if anyone investigates. My guess is they wont as it would bring the FIA into disrepute so it will be like the Cycling drug scandal, just pretend it isnt happening. Didnt some Italian magazine claim this same thing earlier in the year? Its a nice juicy scandal that would make my day but it seems too good to be true.

  • Dan

    meh… seasons over anyway. 2.5sec a lap is too much for the other teams. the boring schumacher days are back.

  • filippo vettel

    italian magazines said this after Webber collision of Montreal, so 4 months ago, FIA not investigated in 4 months!? I can’t believe…really poor words…really…I’m italian and I always read this garbage anti RedBull…

  • filippo vettel

    I’m italian but I’m not Ferrari fan…really strange don’t you?

  • filippo vettel

    it’s really a miracle who none of Milton Keynes takes Minardi to the court

  • filippo vettel

    really I can’t believe Minardi said those bad words yet…

  • Taskmaster

    This just in. Menardi’s traction control fails – his cheese has now slipped completely off his cracker.

    Interesting: Vettel is able to get on the throttle 50 meters (164 feet) before anyone else -that’s more than half a football field, and longer than the race line of the corner under observation (turn 3 leading to Republic Blvd). This means Vettel was able to get on the gas before he finished braking and turning in – now that is an amazing multi-tasking feat to be noted, or an exaggerated claim without merit – only the shadow knows. Of course we all know that since Weber iss unable to equal such an impossibility, it is a sure sign that Vettel must be up to something.

    Me thinks Mr. Minardi was slugging down too many Vodka Gimlets in his “suite” and got himself all worked up for nothing.

  • filippo vettel

    @taskmaster: in Italy each F1 website or magazine believes in Minardi words…

  • filippo vettel

    really I tried to answer at these crazy words in italian F1 sites but other users attack myself…really italians believe these words…

  • jl

    woooww,…. Minardi are the great grand master, Guru of all engine in F1 world.
    unbelievieble, how can FIA do not offer this calibre man a job and trust.

  • Ukwhite

    @filipo vettel: I wish RB took this old bag to court. No investigation will clear some people muddy minds, remember yellow flag issue in Brazil last year.

    This comparison with Mark is ridicule, the results speak for themselves, even in 2008 Seb in Toro Rosso beat Mark in Newey’s RB, and any year starting with 2009 in RB.

  • KC

    I saw the same race, so I know just as much as he does. Actually, given some of his ravings, I know a good deal more than he does.

    “I was impressed by Vettel’s neat way of driving on that stretch of the track. He was able to drive all that stretch without making any corrections, unlike all his rivals (also his teammate).”

    Sounds like Vettel is just a better driver. Corrections have nothing to do with traction control. As mentioned above, he’s accusing Vettel of getting on the throttle BEFORE he was even starting to brake in some cases!

    “By this statement it’s not my intention to devalue Sebastian Vettel …”

    “…. I’m just suggesting he’s cheating, but please don’t think it is my intention to devalue him”.

    247 must be really hard up for stories if they have to scrape the bottom of this particular barrel.

  • gilgen

    I am surprised at Giancarlo. If he feels that RBR are using some form of TC, he should protest to the FIA, not just cast unfounded aspersions.

    and Vettel was not 2.5 secs faster than anyone else (ex Chilton). He was in clear air, whilst the others were being defensive. He looked after his tyres and got the most out of them. His true pace was around .5 secs a lap. Nothing unusual about that.

  • realf1fan

    Any sensible F1 fans knows that Vettel is not that far head of the likes of Alonso ,Nico and some of the other top drivers I’ve always put it down to top engineers building a top car but now it seems, well I wont say I will just watch this space.

  • and again?

    there has been talk before this year about an clever/illigal TC system on the redbull, previously on Webber’s car..

  • Rob Ducker

    If anyone really thinks that Vettel is 2.5 seconds better than any other driver then they are deluded. That time span is a lifetime in F1 and its clear from Red Bull comments themselves that they were embarrassed and sought to downplay it as a freak.

    There have been rumours about RBR traction control for 2 seasons and it would be naive to believe that rival engineers on the pit wall are unaware of it. RBR have played around with throttle maps for several seasons for a number of reasons but all, ultimately, in the interests of traction and grip.

    In my mind there is no question that something is going on here. Why does Mark’s car sound different? Do RBR run different throttle maps on each car? Why is Vettel now able to conserve tires, especially rears on a rear limited circuit, AND, lap 2.5 seconds faster? Why is the sound and the performance (remember, the FIA has stopped any V8 performance improvement work….and yes you CAN tell by the sound -rival teams have in the past monitored this electronically) – why suddenly, has the Renault engine the top end to rival the Ferrari and the Mercedes as Spa and Monza?

    The questions are stacking up and individually they might be explained but taken in total the FIA should be holding an enquiry.

  • Rob Ducker

    And yes, Vettel was 2.5 seconds lap faster when he wanted to be, of course while also conserving tires. Wake up and smell the coffee: his car has some form of TC and the #2 car doesn’t.

  • Tamburello_1994

    Cue the conspiracy theories to spice up an otherwise foregone conclusion of a season.

    Mr. Minardi, Produce some tangible proof or shut your pie-hole.

  • Red Bull Cheats

    Plenty of other conspiracy theories in F1 turned up had facts. For two years there were accusation in the media about Red Bull running an illegal hand operated ride height adjuster, then the FIA found one concealed in the third shocker. Red Bull said they never used it. They were told to remove it and nothing else happened. Red Bull were accused in the press of havimg flexi front wings. The FIA changed the front wing flex tests and the flexi wings disappeared. Even Newey admitted they had those wings. Red Bull were accused of having engine map enduced traction control. Their engine maps were checked and found to be illegal! They changed the and got no punishment. There is a HUGE history of these guys cheating and the press being aware of it. No conspiracy theory. Just actual facts.

  • Red Bull Cheats

    What Minardi means is that Vettel was up to full speed 50m before the other cars. Not that he accelerated 50m sooner. Traction control does affect the number of corrections a driver makes in a corner. If the rear is breaking away the driver corrects this with their throttle and their steering wheel. Also feathering the throttle unbalances the car. It might have also been Vettel using an illegal engine map that helps with the exhaust blown diffuser effect. There is definitely something special about that car compared to every other car.

  • Red Bull Cheats

    There is a video on YouTube showing Vettel and the other cars through the same corner. Vettel’s car sounds TOTALLY different, with obvious spark retarding crackles, the type heard when an illegal traction control system as managing the engine.

  • the fan

    die hard vettel fans will be out in full force!

  • Tamburello_1994

    Dood. Take a breath.

  • Jack

    How about a link to this video for arguements sake?

  • LotusFan

    For what its worth this is the youtube video being bandied about:

  • LotusFan

    Let us try it again. Links get stripped off:

  • otiva

    Such a shame RB has spoilt 4 seasons of F1 fun. Shame on you FIA. Drivers, teams & fans knew all along that RB is cheating in the grey areas of your book. Irrational politics.

    Playing sandbagging on weekends, a sudden surprise on quali days. Fly away to finish line “catch me if you can” on Sundays. Squeal “thank you boys” & a patent finger. Monotonous comic.

  • Ukwhite

    Ok guys, bet a dozen of bottles of the best German beer we are wasting time trying to convince people that will never accept Seb’s greatness, let’s call them haters, or to prove that RB is beyond F1 regulations as some of the same RB/Vettel enemies say.

    The car is ok, it is a no-hanged-balls-on-Fridays engineering by a team where Seb and Newey are just exceptionals.

    As I have said, I like to believe Singapore was choreographed by Seb and Co as a response of booing and continous discontent saga, to show who is the boss.

  • Joe Kinnear

    Hahahahaha… and you’re telling me absolutely nobody else “noticed” it, Giancarlo?

    My sum up: Haters gonna hate. Just that. When you hate somebody you come up wit all sorts of accusations. I’m not a Sebs fan, but I admit… he’s just making the best out of the equipment he’s given.

    When you have a good car, you need to get good results. If not you’re plain dumb that’s it.

    When he wins too much it’s wrong… if he doesn’t it would also be wrong. What the hell is wrong with everybody.

  • Neville Mehta

    I believe that Newey had once said that the car was designed around Vettel. Newey is an absolute genius when it comes to designing championship winning cars remember Williams and Mclaren. There is no doubt they favour Vettel ( from what I heard from Newey). But this Minardi stunt is a bit too much. I am a total anti Vettel guy, but I doubt RB would take such a risk. Lets say that Vettel is most in sync with his car than any driver/machine on the grid. On sheer talent Alonso and Raikkonen are simply better, but VEttel has the better machine.

  • JPSmoove

    It’ll take a while but with the way the press is now a for profit business, sooner or later the truth will come out. Once they get a hold of a story like this..there is no letting go and this story about RB is now gaining more and more press. And if it’s not true, why haven’t RB taken Minardi and every other press outlet exec’s that printed it to court.

    I believed in Lance Armstrong and for years as he deflected and escaped the rumors about steroids, but eventually the truth was presented and there was no escape. Alas, RB have cheated their way through and with such a stellar individual like Bernie at the helm having their back, who knows what might be a foot. Years after someone will always get to the truth. …”And the truth shall set you free”!

  • JPSmoove

    @Neville Mehta “…but I doubt RB would take such a risk.” Two words…A-Rod. Were talking hundreds of millions of dollars..there is no risk too high if it means winning and in turn that kinda $$$$.

  • Tamburello_1994

    Newey is so great – he has to cheat. . . . .

    Is that the meme now?

  • KC

    “Red Bull were accused of having engine map enduced traction control. Their engine maps were checked and found to be illegal! ”

    They were NOT fond to be illegal, you drooling idiot.

    ” Red Bull were accused in the press of havimg flexi front wings. The FIA changed the front wing flex tests and the flexi wings disappeared.”

    All front wings (and rear wings) STILL flex, you drooling idiot.

  • filippo vettel

    I believe in F1…no way of phantomatic cheat

  • filippo vettel

    really stop these bad words about Rb9

  • farizY

    If RB is cheating; other teams, please prove it. If you can’t prove it, try to catch up instead of whining.

  • James F1

    So everyone here is an arm chair team owner…

    We all forget Hamilton and Roseberg got an extra 1000 miles testing and they suddenly improved as well so they actually cheated but its ok… why aren’t they booed, they blatantly broke the rules and got away with it. Why didn’t Alonso get a grid plenty for stopping on a corner to pick Webber up?

    I really do think if RBR had these devices don’t you think that every team in the Paddock will be complaining and launching appeals.

    So 2.5 second faster… simple clean air, the car isn’t getting too hot and running optimally. Vettel not fighting the car… simple driver understands the car and has no traffic in front or behind so he can enter the corners at a speed he can manage. Different engine sound… clean air, different setup to Mark.

    The problem is that no other driver is as good as Vettel, and no other engineer is as good a Newy and RBR are bloody good at putting cars together. We all know Webber can not handle the tires or starts, or able to overtake cleanly, we can see this with the number of crashes he has had. When you put the best driver, the best designers and aerodynamic engineers with a good engine its going to win. If Lotus could get the aerodynamic to work they would challenge RBR as we have seen. We also forget Singapore and Korea, India RBR excel and Vettel alway does well. Lets not forget Schumacher and Brawn where unstoppable… Vettel is pure talent with a very good car.

    Lets support a pure talent…

  • Hugo

    He’s onto something.

  • Red Bull Cheats

    @KC Engine maps were found to be illegal which is why they had to change them. If they were legal why did they get ordered to change them?? I guess you are too retarded to understand that simple logic?

  • Red Bull Cheats

    @KC. Everything flexes by a certain amount. But the degree of flex on the Red Bull front wing went from massive to minimal with the changes in the regulations. If there was no issue with the flex of their wings why did the FIA change the rules 3 times? I guess you don’t understand you retarded idiot!

  • Jules C

    I really do think that RB cheated with that car in Singapore. For Vettel to be 2.5 seconds ahead of Mark, who is another good driver doesn’t seem right. 1 second in F1 is already huge. So a 2.5 seconds gap doesn’t seem right unless RB modified the car..which it appears that the could have.

    Other teams should question legality of RB’s car last weekend. A disqualification of Vettel would be appropriate if they cheated.

  • KC

    “If there was no issue with the flex of their wings why did the FIA change the rules 3 times?”

    Your drooling moron, if there had been “issues” with the flex of their wings then the FIA would not have needed to change the rules. They would simply have charged Red Bull with breaking the rules.

    “the degree of flex on the Red Bull front wing went from massive to minimal with the changes in the regulations.”

    As did the degree of flex on everybody elses wings. And after all this effort to ban what idiots like you think of as “Red Bull cheating”, what did it accomplish? Nothing. Red Bull are still winning. And yet it never occurs to idiots like you to ask yourself if the supposed “flexing wing” ever made any difference.

  • KC

    The same simple-minded numbskulls who were running around screaming “Vettel illegally passed under yellow flags” after Brazil last year are yapping their silly little heads off again. No matter how often these people are shown to be blithering idiots, they never learn.

  • Jules C

    Common sense will show that it is not possible in today’s era of F1 to have a 2.5 second gap. Even Webber in a similar equipment could not have pulled that gap over his rivals. Something is not right with Vettel’s car. I have doubt that Vettel is a good driver but not that good to pull a 2.5 second gap over a Ferrari or Merc.

    Vettel fans are just choosing to turn a blind eye to this cheat. There is enough evidence to warrant the FIA to investigate Vettel’s car. That is the reason why Vettel does not command the respect of many fans and other drivers on the track..he is a cheat along with Horner and Newey.

  • MightyK

    I have no trouble wrapping my head around Minardi’s statements/theory. Also have no trouble believing Red Bull F1 / A. Newey would actually cheat. Newey is always pushing the legality envelope everywhere he has been, and many times has had to take a step back for it. It’s in his nature and it won’t cease (of course he’s earning gazillions to do just that!).
    I’m just an F1 lover/watcher like everyone else here. Got started 21 years ago and enjoyed every minute. I’m nowhere near to being an engineer-tech type, though I do understand. BUT, watching the Singapore race I actually did think to self, yes Vettel’s got great talent and is in the best car, but this is just TOO MUCH !! It seems others with much more wherewithall than I thought the same thing

  • gilgen

    jules. In case you did not know, the ecus of all cars are checked before each race, and none have been tampered with or reprogrammed. If you are so sure that Vettel is a cheat, why don’t you put up or shut up?

  • Red Bull Cheats

    @KC, remember Piquet Jr crashing in Singapore and many people in the press questioning that event? They were laughed at as conspiracy theorists. One year later and it was the truth. So some conspiracy theories are real, you idiot!

  • Red Bull Cheats

    @KC, if you don’t know the facts about Red Bull front wing flex, I can’t help you. Press photos showed their wings flexing much more than other teams, as they found a way to circumvent the tests. New tests stopped that, until their front wing flexed the same as other teams. Then they made their nose flex. That was also banned. It’s like a cyclist using a new performance enhancing drug. They can’t be punished for using it until it is on the list of banned drugs. They are still breaking the spirit of the rules in order to get an unfair advantage. Same as Red Bull.

  • aberracus

    This is the sound of Red Bull Cheating

    if the link is removed search youtube for “Unusual engine sound Red Bull Singapore GP”

    Have great time explaining that Vettle Redbull fans…

  • otiva

    @ Red Bull Cheats…you rock.
    RB has always been cheating, but this time they went over board. This one should not just fly by. At least F1 fans deserve the right to see a balanced fair race.
    But, the politics behind it is much stronger. Can you just imagine if Red Bull is busted what impact it well have on its industry & all the sports they sponsor.

  • Jules C

    gilgen, you are such a naive RB fan. It is quite obvious that Newey and this cheats have a clever way of ‘switching’ on the system without people easily detecting it. It is not something that the stewards can pick up thru visual inspections. These systems are highly sophisticated and are programmed into the car’s computers.

    Vettel and RB are cheats anyway, they have always tried to exploit the loopholes illegally but were never caught.

    Vettel is a good driver but not so good to pull out 2.5 seconds over Alonso, Kimi and the 2 Merc. He had to cheat to do that. BOOOOO..

  • farizY

    I will say it again, please provide EVIDENCE of RB cheating. If there aren’t any, stop whining.

  • fools

    awhile back they showed a twitter pic of Mark Webbers traction control. They showed 2 pictures the skid on one lap and another lap and the skid marks. basically influencing there is traction control rather on RB cars.

  • Izham

    The extras came from the extra supersoft…you forgot that old man ?

  • filippo vettel lies

    2.5 secs are too much for these levels of professionality. Race with same tires wasn’t the solution, formula 1 should go back to the times of human error. All this bullshit of electronic control is a shame.

  • David F1

    I agree so much which is said here about RB. It’s already ridiculous how many times the RB was warned to remove the modified engine map and other illicit instruments on aero. In most circuits, a difference of 2.5 is just outrageous, in Singapore, to acquire this type of traction is outright impossible compared to the likes of Alonso, Hamilton and even an old fox like Raikonen. No, no, people, something isn’t right and agree fully with Minardi speculation. The engineering inspectors are either paid off or quite simply not doing their job. RB may have had the magical instruments in place for the whole season and only turn on to not make it obvious – part of the tactics. Impossible that other teams haven’t been able to decipher and I believe that there is much more than meet the eye.

    Alonso is the best driver I have ever seen in circuit racing. His take offs are close to none. This could be seen as an arrogant person but he is an unbelievable driver and respect his fair play since day one. We all remember the infamous scene of Vettel driving Alonso off the road and getting away with it. A year later the regulations changed. Enough!!!! FIA start doing your job and let the spectators enjoy real racing the way its suppose to be.

  • Mick

    Has anyone stopped to think, that in modern day F1 (last 15 years or so), has any other driver or team been able to pull this much time from their car, over every other team in the championship after the mid season break?
    Or is this the first time in history that such a gain has been made by one car?

    If the answer to the second question is yes, then it sounds like cheating or an unfair advantage at the very least.

    TWO AND A HALF SECONDS guys!!!

    Put your support aside for one second and think about this,
    I´m sure we have all watched and closely followed F1 for long enough to know this is NOT POSSIBLE compared to the rest of the field without something strange going on. It may not be illegal but might not be playing fair. It´s called sportsmanship, something I don´t think Vettel has a clue about, but that´s a seperate issue.

    I think Vettel is still one of the greatest drivers ever, I don´t support him, but look at his record even in other Formulas as well as this as proof. It´s hard to argue against him. It´s also hard to believe what you didn´t think was possible to do with a car.

    I really hope that nothing is ever proven because hopefully there is nothing to prove but pure genius. (Then again, that´s what Lance Armstrong though his scheme was, and we all saw how that played out).