Welcome to Badger’s home of debate, the Scrutineering Bay. Over the past few week’s we’ve been putting the power into the hands of YOU, the fans, and this week is no different as we look at the 2010 World Champion – and 2011 runaway points leader – and ask;

“Is Sebastian Vettel becoming one of the greats?”

We’ve been getting your answers from emails and Twitter this week, so look out for your opinion!

Our first Scrutineer comes from as far away as South America, and has plenty to say on the matter;

Vettel, could he be considered amongst the truly great ones? In short, no.

Before I get Red Bull cans thrown at me let me explain why. Sure he is ludicrously fast, but so would 3 or 4 other drivers from this generation were they in that same car. As someone once put it, he’s like a gazelle on PCP – insanely fast is he’s in front, but if he’s not he’ll also fight like a gazelle (i.e. n0 resistance). Don’t let last race’s overtaking-over-the-grass thing fool you, there’re also a million other times when he just couldn’t handle the pressure and ended up spinning, crashing, or worst yet crashing into someone else (Turkey 2010 anyone? Australia 2009 maybe?).

So no, he’s not one of the greatest, and by greatest I’m talking about Senna, Fangio, Hill, even Alonso. He’s just an excellent sprinter, but with the resistance of a sprinter. I’m sorry, but in GP history, there’ve been far better sprinters (look for a certain Schumacher…no, not that one, the other one!).

Lastly, to be one of the greats you need a special feature, like a huge moustache or something, and he looks like a little boy, and no, the finger thing is not enough, that’s just annoying. Cheers from Chile! – Daniel Chirino, also on Twitter @Chiriplock.

Speaking of Twitter, there were some responses we received;

@graemefowler he won’t be considered a “great” until a generation after he retires. Meaning he won’t even be 50 years old…

@asif_hossain yes!! He is youngest double world champion.. and I guess he is in the same league of Schumacher and Senna!

@joelfothegill Well he’s definitely a great bloke, really nice when I met him! See my profile pic!

Ace pic!

The next fan to have their say is…(drumroll)…James Connor, who establishes the World Champion’s pro’s and con’s in the form of an organised list;

He has improved massively on 2010 when he still managed to win the championship.

In 2010;

– Made some really bad errors, ie smashing into Button at Spa and obviously his clash with Mark Webber in Turkey.
– Would also act childishly, like after his deserved penalty in Hungary, and lacked maturity.

However at the end of 2010, he drove the perfect final 4 races and took the championship.

This year I’ve gained huge respect for him because;

– He can now overtake,as we saw at Spa and Monza with stunning moves on Nico and Fernando.
– He’s consistently turning poles into wins.
– He’s a lot more mature.
– He’s cut out the silly errors from last year and has been utterly dominant.

He is now the complete driver in my opinion, and could become the greatest if he keeps getting great cars in years to come.

All fair points!

Our final contributor is friend of Badger GP, Geoff Collins. Many keen fans may remember Geoff being our special guest at our Brazilian Bash at end of last season, while even keener F1 fans will know he used to be Social Media Manager at Marussia Virgin Racing!

I’ll admit I was intrigued by the Badgers’ latest question: “Does Vettel already belong to the Greats of Formula One?”

When you’re as pedantic as I am though, the first thing to do is to define what “Great” means. Is there, for example, generally at least one Great in action at any given time, or should they be ranked like eternal Olympians, and only three can ever count as being truly Great?

It’s acknowledged that it’s impossible to compare drivers from different eras on an objective basis. So here’s my first pass of my own personal list of the best drivers from each of the seven F1 decades. There’s no consistency as to whether a driver is listed in the decade they started or finished their career, but that’s half the fun.

1950s Fangio, Moss
1960s Clark, Stewart
1970s Fittipaldi, Lauda
1980s Piquet, Prost Senna
1990s Schumacher
2000s Alonso
2010s Vettel

Note that the list doesn’t include drivers that have one more than one title. Graham Hill, for example never dominated the championship, and while you could never say he was lucky, Jim Clark was clearly the man to beat in both the years when Mr Monaco (as Graham Hill was known; he is definitely a Monaco Great) won the championship.

Jack Brabham too, doesn’t make the list, despite winning three championships. He simply spent too much time tinkering and building his cars and I can’t imagine that Moss wouldn’t have beaten him in similar equipment. Häkkinen was perhaps the hardest to leave out, but somehow, I never felt he was “better” than Schumacher – fairer yes, but not better. Ascari? A double world champion and stood on the podium in over half of the races he started. But it was that strange Formula 2 era, and I simply can’t rate him as highly as Fangio.

So then, Sebastian? Where does he rank?. For me he is the Jim Clark to Webber’s Graham Hill. Somehow you know he is going to be just that bit quicker and make fewer mistakes. He’s already definitely in the top ten – I could leave out Alonso and either Fittipaldi or Piquet. But he’s not quite ready to break into my top three yet.

And who would my top three be? In alphabetical order: Clark, Fangio, Senna and Stewart.

You’re thinking that’s four? That’s because we not only have to define “Great”, we also have to define “three”! For an explanation of “Option Base Zero” see http://vb.mvps.org/hardcore/html/optionbasezero-basedarrays.htm.

So who’s in your top “three”?

You can also follow Geoff on Twitter (@GeoffCollinsF1) and check out his blog (The Starting Grid – well worth a read!

So, there we have it. Three different perspectives on whether or not Sebastian Vettel can be considered one of the greatest F1 drivers. But, more importantly, what do you think?

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