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Fangio or Vettel - who's No.1?

2012-02-18 14:26

WHO'LL PROVE BEST? Racing great Stiriling Moss believes the late Juan Manuel Fangio (inset) is the greatest F1 driver - but he reckons current No.1 Sebastian Vettel is just as good - or better.


LONDON, England - Red Bull's double World champion Sebastian Vettel reminds Stirling Moss of Juan Manuel Fangio, the Argentine great who denied the Briton a Formula 1 title with his dominance in the 1950's.

Speaking to reporters at a Motor Sport magazine Hall of Fame event in London on February 17, 2012, the greatest driver never to win the F1 crown poured praise on the fresh-faced 24-year-old German with the mischievous grin.

Moss, now 82, survived a three-storey plunge down a lift shaft in 2010 and formally retired from racing only in June, 2011.


"Vettel is a modern Fangio. I can't see, other than his natural ability, how he is that good, how he can be that good," said the 82-year-old Briton, his walking stick poised by his side. "Vettel is outstanding but then he has the best car - fair enough, because normally the best driver gets the best car.

"Fangio went around and took what he wanted and one (others) took whatever was left.

"Vettel has a great sense of humour. He is a damn good World champion. I can think of a lot of other people who get to that position and they don't give back as much as they get out but he really does."

Moss was runner-up in the F1 championship four times while Fangio, regarded by many as the greatest driver in history,and the Englishman's team mate at Mercedes in 1955, won five titles.

Vettel dominated the 2011 season, taking his second successive crown with four races to spare and taking 11 wins from 19 races.

McLaren's British duo Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, each an F1 champion, will be among the German's main rivals when the new season starts in Australia on March 18 and Moss felt his money was more on the former.


"Their problem is that they're against a better outfit," Moss said. "The Red Bull is so good, it's enormously difficult to be as good as that is and I don't think they are yet. Vettel is outstanding. The McLaren drivers are up there, but not as far as Vettel.

"Lewis does funny things, so one can't be sure," he added. "I would put my money on Jenson. Yes, I would... Lewis is terrific, he really is exceptionally quick, but Jenson thinks about certain things better than Lewis.

"Like when it's raining and whether or not to go in for a change of tyres. For all those sorts of things he has a better understanding - experience is a lot of it."

In a year of what some say are ugly new cars Moss - looking forward to a holiday cruise from Hong Kong to Dubai on a liner that he hastened to say was not Italian - said the Ferrari was "hideous" and hoped it had a facelift during the 2012 season.

"Can you think of an ugly car that ever won anything?," he enquired. "There's the saying that 'if it looks right it probably is'. That's what worries me about the Ferrari - it doesn't look very nice, but maybe it's particularly effective."


Fangio retired unexpectedly in 1958 after famously saying he had nothing more to prove and adding: "It is finished." Experts at the time said he would never be matched for his standard of "excellence and domination".

He said later, according to Argentine reports, that only Jim Clark and Ayrton Senna came close to matching his driving skills.

He died on July 17, 1995 aged 84.


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