Vettel: Starting His Career Off Better Than Ayrton Senna?

Cory PesaturoCorrespondent INovember 16, 2010

Vettel and Senna
Vettel and Senna

Before the Season began in March, I wrote an article stating how I felt that there was a Great chance this year could end up being the Best Formula 1 Season of all-time, or at least one of the best.  Outside of Bruno Senna, the historic Schumacher/Brawn duo, and Mercedes all not being able to do much, I'd say this was a Top 5 easily.  It had major controversies on and off the track, no major political situations like previous years, had more points leader changes than any season, and had a kid who never lead the World Championship for any week in his career, Win the title in the end.  He did this, while becoming the youngest-ever F1 Champion, and having his first ever back to back wins, which he needed to win the championship.  Furthermore, it was the First time that 4 drivers had a chance at the Championship; and this is not with 10 races, or 12 races, or 15 races, or 17 races or even 18 races.  This record tightness occurred after most races in F1's history.  That, is just unbelievable. Additionally, only twice in history had the 3rd placed driver going into the final race, won the Championship. Most recently, that fantastic race at Interlagos in 2007. There are more records that were set than this of course.  

But after the dust settled, I remembered that after Vettel won the Italian Grand Prix in 2008, I had realized that there was a similarity beginning to emerge with regard to Ayrton Senna's career.  That particular win of course, reminding me in so many ways of Senna's "should have" win at Monaco in 1984.  So hence, let us look at the stastistics comparing Sebastian Vettel and Ayrton Senna, starting off with Vettel's 2008 year compared to Ayrton's 1984 Season.  




Ayrton Senna - 1984  

Wins: Should Have had the win at Monaco.  Was a Rain Race.  

Poles: 0  

Fastest Laps: 1 at Monaco  

Top 6's (Points) : 5 in 14 Races - 36%  

Championship Standings: Placed 9th Out of 22 Regular Drivers  

Team Points: 7th out of 10 worthy Teams, Senna Scoring all the points.  


Sebastian Vettel - 2008  

Wins: Had the Win at Monza.  Was a Rain Race, but turned into a Dry race and Vettel Still won over the field.  Plus, his car was set up for the wet surely; how else would he get pole in a Toro Rosso.  

Poles: 1

Fastest Laps: 0

Top 6's (Points in Senna's Day) : 6 in 18 Races - 33%  

Championship Standings: Placed 8th Out of 20 Regular Drivers  

Team Points: 6th out of 10 Teams, Vettel Scoring almost all the points.  


It's actually astonishing how closely related these 2 seasons are.  Also, Both Vettel and Senna had similar qualifying stories, so their Top 6 finishing stats are equally impressive.  The one piece of information going to Senna, is that he was only able to finish 6 races, of which he had 5 Top 6 finishes in those 6 races.  Highly impressive the young Senna was.  Vettel was able to finish 12 races.  Also, as my friend Peter Windsor mentioned to me, "Always important to mention that Senna was on Pirellis in 1984.

In my view this actually put him at a disadvantage relative to Vettel in 2008."



Ayrton Senna - 1985  

Wins: 2, which included arguably his greatest win in Portugal.  

Poles: 7

Fastest Laps: 1 at Monaco  

Hat Tricks: 1  

Top 6's (Points) : 6 in 16 Races - 38%  

Championship Standings: Placed 4th Out of 18 Regular Drivers  

Team Points: 4th out of 9 worthy Teams, Senna Scoring slightly more than his teammate.  


Sebastian Vettel - 2009  

Wins: 4

Poles: 4  

Fastest Laps: 3  

Hat Tricks: 1  

Top 6's (Points in Senna's Day) : 11 in 17 Races - 65%  

Championship Standings: Placed 2nd Out of 20 Regular Drivers  

Team Points: 2nd out of 10 Teams, Vettel Scoring slightly more than his teammate.  


Considering Lotus was of the best teams but certainly not the Best team vs. Red Bull which was in a battle with Brawn for the best team throughout the season; these 2 seasons are once again very similar.  Vettel finished in the Top 6 much more than Senna, although Senna only finished 9 races, and finished in the Top 6 on 6 of those 9 occasions.  



Ayrton Senna - 1986  

Wins: 2  

Poles: 8 of 16 Races  

Fastest Laps: 0  

Hat Tricks: 0                  

Top 6's (Points) : 10 in 16 Races - 63%  

Championship Standings: Placed 4th Out of 22 Regular Drivers  

Team Points: 3rd out of 11 worthy Teams, Senna Scoring almost all the points.  


Sebastian Vettel - 2010  

Wins: 5

Poles: 10 of 19 Races  

Fastest Laps: 3  

Hat Tricks: 0  

Top 6's (Points in Senna's Day) : 14 in 19 Races - 74%  

Championship Standings: Placed 1st Out of 24 Regular Drivers  

Team Points: 1st out of 12 Teams, Vettel Scoring slightly more than his teammate.  


This is where the statistics get skewed.  Senna had to stay with the Lotus team (and did in 1987 as well with similar statistics as in 1986) which continued to be in a "best of the rest" category, while Vettel went to the best team on the grid.  Senna was not able to go to the best team until 1988 at McLaren.  Although when he did, he shattered the field even with the legend Alain Prost next to him in an identical car, most proved by the historical qualifying session at Monaco.  Vettel had a similar year in relation to Mark Webber vs. Senna to Prost.  Although Webber is no Alain Prost, Vettel was only in his 3rd year, not 5th as Senna was.  In Arton's defense, out of 12 races or so Senna should have finished, he finished in 10 of them, and no worse than 5th in those 10.  


This is all just amazing to see.  Sebastian Vettel has a Worthy case, to say he is better than the Legend himself, Ayrton Senna, at least at this point in his career.  But Vettel, also has age on his side, as Senna did not start in Formula 1 until he was 24.  Vettel is just 23; and already, a Formula 1 Champion.  I became infatuated with racing and cars when I would watch a yellow helmet at 2 years old, do things with a car that I thought even at that age, seemed strangely more impressive than the usual.  Similarly, I have been a big fan of Sebastian Vettel since 2006, and especially in 2007.  Hence, this is quite extraordinarily to Now see these statistics side by side.  

I do not speak of Hamilton yet, as to me, Vettel proved himself as better than Hamilton when he passed the Brit in the 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix.  A race where Hamilton needed to do whatever was needed to finish 5th or better.  Vettel, under those incredible circumstances for Hamilton, passed Hamilton; in the rain.  He also did this, in a Toro Rosso, against Hamilton in the McLaren.  Again, in a race where the last thing Hamilton needed to do, was to allow a mid-pack Toro Rosso, to pass him for 5th place.  Thank Goodness for Timo Glock.  Hamilton also started with the best team, so we were not able to see that crucial part of a legend being born - the champion-like drives in a bad car, such as Vettel at China in 2007.  We can judge him for his incredible talent, but must first wait to allow more time to pass before making comparisons.             


From The Book I am Writing:  Here are the Statistics on my own Point System and Driver Rating System.  


1st Year:  

Vettel - 66.67

Senna - 174.99

(Jim Clark - 50)  


2nd Year:  

Vettel - 364.72  

Senna - 473.11

(Jim Clark - 87.01)  


3rd Year:  

Vettel - 505.26    

Senna - 318.70      

(Jim Clark - 758.87)    


Total After First 3 Seasons:  

Vettel - 936.65              

Senna - 966.80  

(Jim Clark - 895.88)  

(Michael Schumacher - 396.60)  

(Emerson Fittipaldi - 830.52)      


So - Even with a Statistics Project that I have devoted so much time to - Vettel and Senna come out almost Exactly the same.  Truly Amazing.