Ecclestone: We don’t know how many titles Senna would have won, but Vettel is probably the best

24 October, 2013

Ayrton Senna with Bernie Ecclestone

Ayrton Senna with Bernie Ecclestone

Gerhard Berger thinks that Sebastian Vettel is the best driver on the grid today, while Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has gone as far to say that the German might be Formula 1′s all-time greatest.

If Fernando Alonso fails to finish either first or second in India on Sunday, Red Bull’s Vettel will be guaranteed his fourth consecutive Drivers’ World title.

Bild newspaper said that the 26-year-old will scoop a € 5 million title-winning bonus, while each Red Bull employee will go home with an extra € 12 500 in their regular pay.

Berger, who was the team boss at Toro Rosso when Vettel won his first ever grand prix in, 2008, thinks that the German is now the class of the field.

“I have always put Vettel behind Alonso,” he told APA news agency, “but I think at the moment Alonso is focused too much on himself, becoming unstable.”

Bernie Ecclestone with Sebastian Vettel

Bernie Ecclestone with Sebastian Vettel

“So while he is occupied with himself, Vettel gets one title after the next,” added former Ferrari and McLaren driver Berger. “I think Vettel is clearly the best driver in Formula 1 now.”

Michael Schumacher agrees that Alonso has done himself no favours recently.

“He put himself on a path of stones,” the seven time world champion told Bild newspaper, without elaborating.

“Things have happened that were not constructive,” the former Ferrari driver added, still referring to Alonso.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner would not disagree, saying that the fate of Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber over the past few years proves Vettel’s class.

“Mark Webber is a very good driver,” he is quoted by Spox.

Michael Schumacher with Fernando Alonso in 2006

Michael Schumacher with Fernando Alonso in 2006

“Before Vettel came into the team, [Webber's] reputation was as a future champion. But this year in qualifying, Sebastian Vettel has beaten Mark 14 times and won nine [races] times.

“If it was all about the car, we would be first and second in the Drivers’ Championship, but we are not,” Horner insisted.

“For me, he is now on par with Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher,” Horner added.

Formula 1 chief executive Ecclestone thinks Vettel is even better than that.

“People don’t know how many titles Senna would have won,” he told Bloomberg, “but Vettel is probably the best we’ve had.”

Ecclestone admitted that Vettel’s dominance has hurt TV ratings slightly.

Sebastian Vettel is in the process of rewriting the F1 record books

Sebastian Vettel is in the process of rewriting the F1 record books

“People complain about him winning everything,” he said, “but the racing is good. It’s a bit like with Roger Federer or Muhammad Ali. Vettel is the best there is and people want to be there when he gets beaten.”

Vettel, however, has not been a universally popular figure this year, but Schumacher thinks that is more Red Bull’s fault than his.

“If you win with a traditional team, a brand full of emotion and history, that is the ultimate. And that would certainly change one or two things in [Vettel's] situation,” said the great German.

“Whether he would have had the same successes with Ferrari,” Schumacher acknowledged, “is a different sheet of paper.” (GMM)

Subbed by AJN.


  • Eevel

    We don’t know if Vettel will go on to win as many titles as Schumacher yet either.
    I would agree with the notion that he is the best of the current drivers but only time will tell whether he is the best ever.

  • Hugo

    The old fart is nuts.

  • no hate

    Senna crashed more. Especially unforced errors.

    Senna could overtake, tho. He could also manhandle a poorly performing car.

    Pfft,

  • Alonso_is_slow

    Vettel is the best at overtaking. You have no idea. He can overtake anyone, anytime.

    Uninformed plebians say he can’t overtake but the same plebs cannot remember a single time that he couldn’t get past another driver…. even when his car was slower.

    Stupid sheep.

  • Binoy

    Oldie has lost his mind.
    Vettel is defently one of the best drivers out there now,but by no means better than KiMi,Alonso or Lewis. Any one of these guys in RBR would have done the same.
    Defend all you want,but he has had the best car(fast+reliable) for the last 4 years except probably 2011. And mark isnt really a yardstick to measure any of the top drivers out there.
    KiMi had a couthard,montoya,massa as his teammates. Alonso had lewis. Vettel has only had a bueimi and webber.
    And its a known truth the redbull is built around vettel. No problem in that,but they should have the balls to accept it like Ferrari does.

    Even MSC who won 7 titles isnt said to be better than Senna,what makes vettel who has won just 3 titles(4 at the end of this year) better than MSC??
    MSC is the only driver before vettel to have a dominant car for more than 4 years,none of the other top drivers like KiMi,Alonso or Lewis had a topclass car for more than 1-2 years.

    To be the best,he’ll need to do more than just win titles with Redbull. He’ll have to beat an equally good team-mate. Redbull had a chance to prove vettel is as good as he is said to be,by pairing him with KiMi. But they chickened out and took Daniel,who will play the side-kick happily.

    In 2014,the field will be even again…and we’ll see if vettel can win the championship in the chainging circumstances.

  • Binoy

    @Alonso_is_slow you dont need to go back too much to see vettel getting stuck behind another driver. Hungarian Gp 2013!!
    “he didnt leave me enough room” is enough.
    KiMi holding of vettel in a slower lotus. Vettel doesnt come close to Kimi,in overtaking skills.

  • Binoy

    @Alonso_is_slow Lewis holding off vettel in chinese gp 2013.
    Either you are just ignorant or you have no idea what you are talking about. There has been numerous occasions where seb had to settle behind a slower car.

  • Bob Wheeler

    It’s the car and not driver? What was pointed out in the article regarding Webber and the Red Bull RB9? You people are either such haters you are blind or you are just simple F1 Village Idiots!

  • Tamburello_1994

    Vettel is attaining some pretty rarefied air at this point, But best ever?

    Bold statement.

  • F1 Fan For A Long Time

    @Binoy

    How can you say that Vettel’s car probably wasn’t as dominant in 2011, when that was the year that it was completely dominant, out of all the 4 championship years?

  • realf1fan

    Thank god some of us F1 fans can think for themselves and wont listen to drivel from the likes of Bernie.

  • Ukwhite

    Who does not see greatness in Seb is wasting life watching F1.

  • flaf1

    how many drivers on the grid right now could get in vettels car and win a championship. i say alonso hamilton kimi button all could be champions. could vettel get in their cars and win i pesonally don’t think so.

  • Saša

    Without dumb rule changes over last decade, Michael would have at least 10 titles, 100 pole positions and surely over 100 wins. But he was in wrong team. If that was McLarren, no one would dare to touch rules.

    So far, Sebastian is in ex Jaguar, he is safe to do miracles.

    If he move to Ferrari, he will go down.
    (maybe if he go together with Adrian, maybe…)

    my opinion only, sorry if some one don’t like it

  • Saša

    And yes Sebastian is perfect but also Alonso, Luis, Kimi, and Jenson.

    Come on, did that old man forget 2009?
    Or 2007?

  • CHL

    A bit premature Bernie? Been drinking too much Red Bull? Comparing Vettel to the likes of Nuvolari, Fangio, Moss, the Rat, Mansell, Senna and Schuey? I don’t think so. Given equal cars, Alonzo and Lewis would take him. Additionally, none of the above Drivers have ever been booed on the Podium! Wonder why he is the only one?

  • JS

    most comments i see are usually rubbish and made up, so i just want to avert your mind back to japan where vettel won, having to pass grosjean, which he did so immediately, unlike webber who needed to pass him and it took him about 5-7 laps and cost him the race. And vettel just learned when to play it safe and when to push, and when he pushes you cant stop him. I’m thoroughly looking forward to see how he drives(masters) a turbo engine with little downforce. shame his teammate is slightly lackluster.

  • Boycotthehaters

    “Given equal cars, Alonzo and Lewis would take him.”

    They had equal cars last year and failed to take him then.

  • TylerC

    Equal cars? I think not! The F2012 was a dog driven beyond its potential by Alonso, who like it or not is very good, even if he is a bastard. And the McLaren, though very fast had massive problems with reliability which cost Jenson and Lewis dearly

  • Manfried

    At least we don’t have Jacques Villleneuve mentioned in the discussion about who had been great. He recently said in an interview that even he could contend for the title in Vettel’s car. Methinks he would get lost on the way to the garage…

  • Boycotthehaters

    The F2012 was a fine car which people pretended was a dog in order to make Alonso look good and Vettel look bad. No car had more podium finishes in 2012 than the F2012.

  • Chris

    Once Vettel faces some adversity with a new car that isn’t designed by Newey, then let’s talk. It’s easy to give him all the praise when he’s got the best designer building cars that suit his driving style. If he changes teams and dominates just the same then there wouldn’t be any question.

    The reason people put Hamilton up there with him is because of how well he did with McLaren with a somewhat unreliable car and how well he’s now doing with Mercedes with a questionable car. He hasn’t been competitive the second half of the season but he’s done very well overall considering he hasn’t had a great car. Everyone wants to see if Vettel can do what he’s doing now in a lesser car.

  • Boycotthehaters

    Vettel has already faced plenty of adversity both on and off the track, it’s hard to take seriously the opinions of people who claim otherwise.

    And he adapts his driving style to suit the car, he does not have anyone designing cars to suit him.

    “The reason people put Hamilton up there with him is because of how well he did with McLaren with a somewhat unreliable car”

    Hamilton’s car have been more reliable than Vettels over their respective careers. He should have done better with the cars he’s had but he’s shown a tendency to get into crashes.

  • sebolonso

    Everything Bernie says has a hidden agenda. In this case message is, Vettel in and Alonso out 2015. Last time Bernie gave credit like this, it was to Alonso, before that it was Schumacher, so there is a track to follow, who will be in reds after a while.

  • Alonso_is_slow

    Vettel is way better than senna. Period.

  • gcherna

    This is ridiculous. It would be idiotic if people didnt accept the fact that vettel has had (by and large) the best car on the grid for a while now. A car that had the best designers and engineers working on it is one thing, but to compare the likes of schueys beginning at ferrari with rb huddled around vettel to get him the car he wants is just preposterous. Even with schumachers records he isnt considered above Senna. What happened to Senna drive with toleman at monaco in the rain? Sennas unbelievable run in ’93 against the williams car that was lightyears ahead of any competition? Sennas impact on the sport, his country and the world? Those are just as important as titles and records. Senna was a complete driver and a peoples champion, schuey as well, but unfortunately for vettel all he has are trophies.
    Please, that vettel is the best ever is such a farfetched idea. He might be one of the best on the grid, but hand the car to any prost, mansell, fangio, schuey, kimi, alonso, hamilton, etc and theyd be just as dominant as he has been.

  • Alonslow

    Senna will always be my Hero no matter who or what.

  • haha

    My all time greats if I had to choose (based on driving not titles): Fangio, Clark, Gilles Villeneuve, Senna, Raikkonen. And my 3 jokers are Nuvolari, Cevert and Kubica. But no one will ever have, has or had the charisma and heart that Ayrton had. He acknowledged poverty and world problems, and actually tried to do something (and not because he had to from the team or sponsors)

  • Boycotthehaters

    “It would be idiotic if people didnt accept the fact that vettel has had (by and large) the best car on the grid for a while now.”

    What’s idiotic is this strange insistence that whatever car Vettel drives is always “the best car on the grid”. When he moves to Ferrari that car will also …. magically!!! …. be “the best car on the grid”.

    Of course the same was true of the great drivers of the past. Clark won his titles in the best cars on the grid. So did Senna, and Fangio and Schumacher and all the rest. By a truly amazing coincidence the car which wins the WDC is generally seen as being “the best car on the grid”.

  • Boycotthehaters

    “Everyone wants to see if Vettel can do what he’s doing now in a lesser car.”

    Then “everyone” is an brain-dead idiot. No driver has ever dominated the opposition in a poor car. Senna did not win over half the races in 1984 while driving the Toleman. Hamilton is not dominating the opposition in this years Mercedes.

    This is the usual tactic of the Vettel bashers … demand that he meet some crazy arbitrary standard which no other driver has ever met or is ever expected to meet.

  • farizY

    So from haters’ logic, a champion, will only be a true champion, when that person, wins titles in a lesser car? Is that it? LOL, what a joke.

    The winning Formula has always been and will always be; Outstanding driver + Incredible package = titles.

    Kimi, the most overrated driver on the grid, but nobody beats Hamilton as the undisputed overrated driver.
    Alonso, on the other hand, earned my respect due to finishing second in quite a number of times. but still, he might or might not perform in a redbull. But the fact of the matter is, Vettel is currently kicking their butts. Enough said.

  • Adriana

    For those who said that Vettel can’t overtake , they should ask Hamilton how he felt , when he almost lost his WDC in ’08 because Vettel passed him on the rain ! and if it was not for Glock slow motion last lap Lewis will be right now with 0 WDC’s ; so Vettel can overtake anyone , in any car! and Ecclestone’s comments maybe a dagger in Hamilton’s heart !!

  • farizY

    @Adriana
    Exactly!! Thanks for pointing that out. Well, haters will always be haters.

  • Alonso_is_Slow

    People talk about senna in 93, well what about schumacher in 92? Rookie season, beating senna, nearly taking second place in the title against the all conquering williams.

    Schumacher and Senna, superstars.

    Vettel = perfection. God. Alpha.

  • Hawk

    Hamilton is WDC 08 period; hOwever much you try to rationalize it. Ferrari and FIA conspired to gift Massa the title but to nought.

  • mclarrow

    I knew that 4 championships ago. Now I am waiting for the next 2.

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