On the one hand there was Gilles Villeneuve, a driver who wanted to win every lap of every race, and who subsequently paid the ultimate price, widely regarded as a legend but his six Grand Prix wins barely making a dent in the record books.
On the other there was Alain Prost, not for nothing nicknamed The Professor, a driver who won titles by approaching his racing methodically and still widely remembered as one of the greatest.
As Sebastian Vettel‘s hopes of a fifth title fall apart before our eyes, former team boss and driver manager, Flavio Briatore, believes that the German’s approach to his racing is all wrong and that he should basically learn from the likes Prost and Nelson Piquet, who put their championship titles together in the same manner as a football team seeking to win the league by taking every single point possible.
“Vettel is not winning the championship, he’s winning races and it doesn’t work like that,” the Italian tells Nico Rosberg. “If you lose out in three or four opportunities like that it’s 25 points thrown away every time and it’s becoming very difficult after that mentally.
“I believe the stress you have as a driver is enormous,” he continued, “and if you’re in the position to handle the stress and do the job and not go out, you’re winning. Because when you go out, it’s the worst possible scenario… we know that.”
The former Benetton and Renault boss, who has also managed a number of drivers including Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber, points to the incident on the opening lap at Monza, when Vettel made an unsuccessful move on rival Lewis Hamilton on the first lap.
“You need to explain to him that the race is 53 laps, and not one lap,” he says. “I remember we had the same experience with Fernando. When you want to win the championship finishing third place is already bingo. It’s important to stay on the track.
“His accident in Monza made no sense, honestly. You know the car is better, you just brake and stay behind, finito. You have 50 more laps to recover it. If you go out, you have zero laps to recover.
“Sure, with the car he has he could finish fourth because the car is better than the rest of the competition. But when you want to win the championship you have to be a master at that and do well and finish second and third also.
“The target is to just get the points. You don’t need to win every race to win the championship. It’s not about the race wins, it’s about the points. If you have a competitive car, you overtake somebody. If you are going to have an accident with the guy who has more points than you, the advantage goes to your competitor.”