• Sir Stirling Moss on the 2010 season

My money's on Vettel

Sir Stirling Moss March 13, 2010
Sebastian Vettel is certainly a future world champion ... but it'll take time for Michael Schumacher to develop that at Mercedes © Sutton Images
Enlarge

It's the start of a new season and this year I've decided to put some money down. I don't usually bet on Formula One, but this time round I thought I'd give it a go. It might not surprise you to hear that I went down to the betting shop with three drivers in my mind, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. Alonso is my favourite for the title but unfortunately the bookies agree, so I ended up putting my £50 on Vettel.

Vettel is certainly a future world champion and in my mind he's up there with the other two I've mentioned. He's also at a very strong team in Red Bull. I rate their chief designer Adrian Newey very highly. The Newey-effect is very important and I think we saw that with his 2009 car in the second half of the season. He's highly paid but well worth it and I think that will really shine through during this campaign. Vettel is exceptionally quick, and although he made the odd mistake last year, I think I've backed a pretty good runner.

But there's also a very good reason why I was offered such bad odds on Alonso. In my mind Ferrari will start the strongest; it has an exceptionally good car this year. What's more they are the most experienced people in the business and the team has been around in motor racing longer than I have. It has a very good factory in Maranello and in its two drivers it has a great balance. You've got a racer in Alonso and a driver in Felipe Massa.

Now that might sound strange but there's a big difference. In Formula One you've got all these drivers of which there are only a few real racers, all the rest are bloody good drivers, but there are very few who really get out there and race. That's what is needed to be world champion and that is what goes through my mind when I assess the field. So Alonso is the better of the Ferrari pair, and for that reason he will probably win the championship.

Now, I don't want to underestimate Hamilton and McLaren because I rate them very highly. Hamilton is definitely a racer, that's obvious from his driving style. The thing that impresses me about Lewis is his ability to brake very late and very hard. He's very exciting to watch and that's because he will really go in deep and somehow he'll manage to keep the car under control - braking that late is very difficult. In my mind that will be his strength over Jenson Button at McLaren. But Jenson's strength might be that he can get similar lap times to Lewis using less fuel and with less tyre wear - we'll have to see how the McLaren reacts on a heavy fuel load. It's worth remembering we're talking about a very powerful team, it's very efficient in every way. And now with two world champions, it has to have increased its possibility of winning.

The thing about Michael is that he's never really been up against a driver you can judge him by. Rubens Barrichello was pretty good but he's not a real winner and he would sometimes be as fast as Michael
Now, you might be wondering why I've left Michael Schumacher out of my top three. I think it's very good for F1 that Michael is back; he's got a tremendous name and will bring good things to the sport. But the thing about Michael is that he's never really been up against a driver you can judge him by. Rubens Barrichello was pretty good but he's not a real winner and he would sometimes be as fast as Michael. Schumacher's strength was bringing everything together. Put it this way, if you're a good chef you can take moderate ingredients and make a bloody good meal. The ingredients are important but the person that puts it together is more important. Providing the car has potential a great driver will find it. That was always Michael's forte.

But it'll take time for him to develop that at Mercedes, like it took from 1996 to 2000 for him to develop it at Ferrari. Having said that Mercedes, with Ross Brawn in charge, is a very good team and Schumacher will bring everything together quicker there than at almost any other team.

But Schumacher isn't the only good driver who hasn't made my top three. Kubica with the right car - and I don't think he'll have it at Renault this year - is a very good driver. He always seems to be fast, he doesn't take that many risks and he's not often in an accident that he caused. But compared to the top teams I can't help but think Renault will be an also ran, it's a transitional year for them.

Kamui Kobayashi is also fast, he seems to be a bit of a racer and really gets down to it I reckon. He's driving for Sauber this year, and although the car looks quick, it won't be winning races, certainly not week-in week-out. But it wouldn't surprise me if in a few years Kobayashi became a world champion. He just seems to have a bit of fire in his belly.

So there you have it. My money is on Vettel but it really is going to be a close call between him, Alonso and Hamilton. By the end of this weekend we'll have a much better understanding of where they all are and my £50 could be looking very safe or very silly.

If there is anything you would like Moss to talk about, why not let us know - you may not always like his opinions but we hope it will get you talking.

http://www.stirlingmoss.com/

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Feeds Feeds: Sir Stirling Moss

Sir Stirling Moss Close
Sir Stirling Moss OBE - a British motor racing legend, recognised as one of the world's greatest racing drivers. He won an astonishing 212 of the 529 races he entered during his 15-year career, competing in just about every class of motor racing, including 16 Formula One races. His victory in the 1961 Monaco Grand Prix is one of the most famous races in F1 history. Stirling's vast experience comes from being a racer and from knowing those who compete in and run the sport now. He never shies away from commenting on all aspects of the sport he loves. Gallery of his career