Can anyone stop Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel? That is the question that the F1 world wants answering following yet another dominant performance in yesterday’s Turkish Grand Prix by the young German. He has now won three of the opening four races to the 2011 season and many people are starting to fear that he will run away with the championship.
The weekend started badly for the reigning World Champion at Istanbul Park when he crashed heavily in the wet in practice one and consequently missed the whole of the second session. On Saturday, many people were suggesting that he would be on the back foot due to his lack of running on Friday but he proved everyone wrong by topping the last practice session before setting a blistering lap in qualifying to take pole position, four tenths quicker than his teammate Mark Webber who qualified second. In fact, Red Bull were so confident that the times of both their drivers would not be beaten that they took the decision not to do a second run in Q3 meaning they saved a set of tyres for the race. It also meant that while their rivals were doing their second timed runs, Vettel and Webber were already relaxing in the pits watching the action unfold on TV. It was an ominous sign for everyone.
Come Sunday, Vettel did what he does best; lead from start to finish. He made a good getaway from the line and never looked back as he controlled the race with ease; pushing when he needed to and at other times backing off to conserve fuel and tyres. After the race, there were those pondering how much Vettel still had in reserve. How much could he had won by if he had really pushed? When people are asking such questions then it points to a driver on the top of his game. It seems that Vettel has gone up another level after winning the World Championship last year. He has now won six of the last eight races and has qualified on pole for five consecutive races. Such statistics is reminding everyone of how Michael Schumacher used dominate the sport.
It’s clear that the 23 year old is riding a wave of confidence and he probably feels like he is on top of the world right now. After yesterday’s race, his teammate Mark Webber, who was involved in a season long battle with the German in 2010, said that it was up to himself and Vettel’s other rivals to stop the domination. “He is on top of his game. He’s had a great start to the season and he is near to his maximum. It’s not ideal for the rest of us, but it is up to us to bring that to the end sooner rather than later. Everyone has weaknesses, and it is up to you to interrogate those as much as you can. Seb has done a good start, and the team has done a great job so that is it.”
So what are Vettel’s weaknesses? He seems to have matured a lot this year but we are yet to see him struggle in a race like he did at times last season. At times in 2010, we saw a petulant side of Vettel and a major part of this was due to his teammate beating him in the middle part of the season. It was at Spain and Monaco where Webber had the upper hand over his teammate and with these being the next two races; it will be very interesting to see whether he can spoil Vettel’s party again and if so how Vettel will react.
However, the one thing that people constantly bring up when discussing Vettel is his ability or lack of to overtake. There is no doubt that he is very quick when he is out in front on his own but the jury is still out over his skill when he is around other cars. He has built up a reputation of being poor at overtaking due to numerous accidents in the past which is why even though he is the youngest ever WDC, some people don’t think that he is the complete package.
Nevertheless, his plan is clear, qualify on pole and lead from start to finish. If he does that then he has no need to overtake anyone! Therefore someone needs to spoil his plan otherwise the championship could be over before we know it.