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“Thoughts on Sebastian Vettel and the competition”

November 28, 2012

Sebastian Vettel’s recovery drive to 6th place in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix was just enough to earn the Red Bull racer his third world title in three seasons.

In front of a rapturous crowd, Vettel fell to the back of the field in the fourth corner when he collided with the Williams of Bruno Senna.

Scattered carbon fibre litter – remnants of battles gone awry and grip shy clumsiness – brought a safety car intervention.
Like Abu Dhabi, the race neutralisation eased Sebastian back into the game, but not unduly so – Vettel would have got there regardless, such is the worth of the RB8 under his lightly control.

Meanwhile toward the front, Nico Hulkenberg and Lewis Hamilton tangled behind the gearbox of a wandering Caterham, gifting Jenson Button the victory and Hulkenberg a penalty.
Hamilton, in his final race with McLaren, lifted his dejected frame from the silver cockpit – that walk to the pits must seem an eternity when flirt passed at 180 mph on the start / finish bend.

Despite being a long way off of Button, Alonso charged on relentlessly to 2nd spot, dragging speed and precision from a Ferrari F2012 that often looked like it handled like a cow.
Its unwillingness to turn in on corner entry was often matched by the rear end’s desire to “flick” outward as bends unfolded. So many times, Alonso’s hands would shuffle frantically as control was lost / regained / lost / regained in less than tenth-of-a-second. Rarely was such unease noted in the RB8…

Vettel’s charge continued; easy moves on the Toro Rosso’s and the retiring Michael Schumacher followed, while Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi playing a far more difficult game, before spinning.
The Japanese driver is currently raising money from fans to help fund a 2013 seat in Formula One and has already and has thus far garnered over £500,000 – a good effort, yet one can’t help but think better performances throughout the season would have been more beneficial to his cause.
As good a driver as Kobayashi is, it does not help that has been rather invisible for much of this year.

From there, Vettel’s only needed to settle in to his top six position and with Button a long way clear of Alonso in the closing laps, it would need a catastrophe to rob the German of his third title.
There was a late smash courtesy of Paul di Resta, bringing out a safety car on the penultimate lap, but this was certainly not going to stop Sebastian. He may have taken the crown at reduced speed, but it didn’t matter – the job had been done.

He is growing in confidence and with each season is maturing rapidly. For some, Vettel is winning world championships purely on the back of designs from Adrian Newey and his team – that’s arguable, but one could argue that point about almost every champion.
Like all other title winners, these cars also require someone to drive them, regardless of how good or bad they may be and thus far Vettel appears to be doing his job impeccably well.

As for Ferrari, it would not surprise if that truly was the third best car in the field – Ferrari seem to be getting things wrong on a regular basis at the moment.
If anything, the Ferrari’s true potential was a halfway house between Massa’s and Alonso’s overall performances this season. If the capable Massa had shown up in the opening half of the season, although it may be look back to what upgrade that worked so well for the Brazilian – ten consecutive points finishes is nothing to sneer at. On current form, don’t be surprised if Massa sneaks at least one Grand Prix victory in 2013.

Looking back over the course of the season, Alonso holds my vote as probably best driver in Formula One for no other reason than his sheer stubbornness, but Vettel is a more than deserving World Champion.

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4 Comments
  1. Yo, Leigh. I’m a month behind on Google reader, but making a massive Christmas week catch-up effort. Just had a quick comment on this post.

    RE: Kobayashi: I think he got the raw end of the deal this year, in that Perez is off to much, much greener pastures at McLaren for 2013 and KoKo is basically out of the sport. According to my ARFL scoring system (50 pts. for a win, 40 for a 2nd, etc. to 20 for a 10th, down to 10 for a 20th, and 6 for a 24th, all positions score points), Kamui actually outscored Sergio for the season, 387 to 384. True, it seemed like Sergio’s ceiling was slightly higher over the course of the season, with a little bit of “feast or famine” going on (4 top-6s vs. 6 finishes of 20th or worse), but Kamui was nearly as fast with a more consistent rate of finishing (though he did have 5 top-6s vs. only 4 finishes of 20th or worse…just only 1 podium to Sergio’s 2). Anyway, it’s too bad that Kamui didn’t have quite the flashes of brilliance that Sergio did, since I think he more than proved this season that he belongs back in F1 in 2013 (though I firmly believe that Nico Hulkenberg should have gotten the McLaren drive over Sergio…but that is a totally different thing all together…).

    Anyway, just my $0.02. Great work, as always, Leigh. Many thanks for what you do, and here’s hoping you’re having a great Christmas and relaxing off season.

    • Leigh O'Gorman permalink

      Hi Andy,
      Cheers for the comment.

      With regards to Kobayashi, in my eyes his lack of a drive next year stems not just from his performances this year.
      Although his scores this year may be on par with Perez, the difference lies with a perception of the relative performances several years down the line, which is where Hulkenberg – for example – has an advantage.
      It just seems he has plateaued and is not getting any better.

      So in that sense, it’s difficult to see where Kobayashi goes. He was quiet, he was confident and ultimately brought his car home regularly, but was rarely spectacular, which is why I believe Ferrari stopped talking about him during the year and why Sauber began to run cold on him as the year drew on.
      Ultimately Kobayashi was a paid driver for Sauber and as such I believe his performances needed to be of a far higher calibre.

      Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year,
      Leigh

    • Leigh O'Gorman permalink

      Oh and congrats – yours was the 500th comment on site.
      I’m afraid there’s no mystery prize though.
      😉

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