Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is four races away winning his third straight Formula 1 drivers’ title. The feat will allow him to join an elite club of two F1 drivers who have won a hat-trick of titles and six who have won at least three crowns.
However, former three-time champion Sir Jackie Stewart told BBC Sport that Vettel can’t be considered an all-time great until he distances himself from cars designed by Adrian Newey.
Newey has designed title-winning cars at Williams, McLaren and Red Bull Racing that have won seven drivers’ titles.
On the face of it you could say that Stewart has a point considering Fernando Alonso has been in contention for this year’s title all year despite driving a car that is far inferior to the Red Bull RB8.
However, it seems a little like saying that Jim Clark can’t be considered the all-time great that he is because he only drove cars designed by the late great Colin Chapman. Or that Stewart’s own achievements would be diminished due to Ken Tyrell being the constant in his three titles.
The same goes for the Michael Schumacher-Ross Brawn partnership and the fact that Ayrton Senna won titles only in Gordon Murray designed cars.
Stewart is quick to add that Vettel can still attain all-time great status should he succeed despite adversity, but it’s hardly the young German’s fault that he drives for a team so well funded and well staffed.
It should also be noted that Red Bull never won a race until Vettel joined in 2009 and were beaten to a win by Toro Rosso when Vettel drove for them in 2008.
All in all the benefit of the doubt lies with Stewart I guess. When a man who beats the best car on the grid by four minutes in the rain at F1’s most fearsome venue ever (see vid), you at least listen to what he has to say.