Sebastian Vettel is an amazing driver driving what is perhaps the most advanced Formula One car ever produced. His performance at the latest race in Singapore was stunning. Qualifying in the first position to start the race, grabbing a nearly two second lead by the end of the first lap, and gaining at least a second a lap he led the entire race, set the fastest lap, and finished first. If there had not been a safety car caution period one wonders if Vettel would have lapped the field by the end of the 61 lap race.
Before Sebastian came on the F1 scene there was a very different kind of racing. While each of the top drivers had differences in style, they were all top drivers, and the competition was tight. After Vettel that changed. Over time the pattern became almost the normal. Vettel would qualify in first place, dash off on the start and immediately pull away and gain a double digit lead (in seconds) by the time he had to pit for tires so that he could enter and leave the pits without giving up his position. And there he would be, standing on the top spot of the podium. He made the top drivers in the world look almost like rookies.
Ferrari struggles with a car that would never challenge Sebastian’s Red Bull if it were not for Alonso’s driving talent. They struggle with a wind tunnel facility that appears to be letting them down, yet the Ferrari strategy seems to be to focus on the driver and not blame the car as they have lured Kimi Raikkonen back into the fold and away from Lotus. This was probably not that hard since Lotus cannot keep up with their salary payments to Kimi. It will be interesting to see how these two drivers work together next year.
Sebastian’s co-driver, Mark Webber, enjoys every race as his last since he has announced that he is leaving Formula One after the end of the season. His attitude is now that of a “short timer”. When his car died on the last lap of the Singapore race he ignored the steward’s request to stay off the track and ran out and flagged down Alonso so he could hitch a ride back to the pits. It was Webbers third reprimand of the season and that required a 10 position grid penalty in the next race. Drivers are no longer subject to fines.
Next year could be a very different year for all the teams as the power plant rules will move them from naturally aspirated 2.4 liter, to turbo-charged 1.6 liter engines. There will also be new technology in terms of energy recovery systems – basically electric powered engine boost. All these changes will result in new engine layouts and a re-balancing of the chassis that will require the addition of intercoolers. The start of the 2014 season should be quite interesting. How long will it take Red Bull to dominate?
It would be a shock if Vettel did not collect his forth World Championship at the end of the 2013 season. So is that why there are boos from the crowds when he accepts his trophy? Have the F1 fans gotten frustrated with the series having become Formula Vettel?