In Last Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix, some of the biggest names in motorsport were hurling their absurdly expensive, aerodynamic hunks of metal around at breakneck speed making for some captivating racing. Webber and Hamilton were dueling like hicks on banjos, pulling off repeated passing manoeuvres that commentator David Coulthard described as ‘super-clean, super-aggressive, super-respectful race driving’.
Behind those two, Jenson Button was looming and waiting for an opportunity to jump both cars in front, whilst simultaneously fighting off a fast finishing Alonso who was up Button’s rear like the nose of an overzealous dog. It was edge of your seat racing. Formula 1 at its best with all four cars finishing within three and a half seconds of each other. The only problem was, it was all a race for second place.
In what was a very apt reflection of this year’s highly predictable F1 season the Red Bull, piloted by Sebastian Vettel, had already finished comfortably ahead of the others. The only surprise for the race being the fact that the young German was not on pole, although that could have been put down to a lingering Saki hangover following the celebration of his second successive world championship which was secured only the weekend before in Japan. Although Hamilton enjoyed the luxury of starting from the front grid position, he succumbed to Vettel on the opening lap and from there on out the front runner was never really threatened. With the season a long way from passing the chequered flag, the sport of Formula 1 is left needing excitement even more than David Coulthard needs some new superlatives.
This time last season, the tension was building with a few of the top teams and drivers still in the Mintie hunt for the title honours. But this season has been as predictable as an Eastern Block accent on a pole dancer with Vettel’s Red Bull leading precession after precession starting on pole 12 times and winning 10 of the 16 races.
With the constructors championship also locked up by the energy drink manufacturer, it appears as though Red Bull can now give you vastly superior aerodynamic front and rear wings. They have completely dominated the sport over the last two seasons by developing car that is superiorly engineered to its rivals, especially in tighter circuits with high speed corners. But this fact aside, Sebastian Vettel has been in a league of his own.
Let’s remember that Vettel is not the only one driving a Red Bull. Aussie Mark is also fortunate enough to be fanging around in one but although performing consistently, he has not won a race this season. That is certainly not a pop at the undeniable driving talent of Webber (although he is like a Chinese pensioner in a Volvo off the startline), but more a clear indication of just how gifted the young man from Heppenheim is.
It is very easy to dislike Sebastian Vettel. Not just due to his behaviour during the feud with his teammate last season, but more due to the general air of smugness he carries around with him like a gaudy Luis Vuitton man bag. The fact that he can often be heard saying “that is what I am talking about” as he crosses the finish line in first makes him even less endearing, as hearing a phrase that was born on the streets of America cloaked with a hue of German efficiency just doesn’t sound quite right. But for all his self-assuredness, he has also shown himself to be quite affable and good humoured when interviewed and there are not so many that can hold their own with Jeremy Clarkson.
When assessing many great sporting champions over the years, it appears that something bordering on over confidence can often be a key ingredient to their success. After all, it’s helped the likes of Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan get to the top of the pile and the ‘Greatest’ of all time, Muhummad Ali, was never one to be unsure of his talents. Sebastian Vettel is well on his way to joining this list of sports somwhat ‘cocky’ elite.
The records are already piling up. Youngest ever; to score a point, to be on pole, to win a race, to win a race with 2 different teams, to win a world title, to do it twice and of course the much coveted fastest lap on Top Gear. With unique skills behind the wheel, a contract with Red Bull until 2014 and the fact he is still yet to turn 25, Vettel has the potential to become one of the biggest sporting stars on the planet. One must also not forget what’s under the helmet as his Aryan features are enough to make Hitler even stiffer. With these boyish good looks Vettel is every marketers dream which puts his earning potential through the chicane both on and off the race track.
Back when cutting his formula 1 teeth with the Toro Rosso team (Red Bull’s B team), Vettel caused a crash behind the safety car with his now teammate Mark Webber, who famously complained on television after the race “It’s kids isn’t it… kids with not enough experience – they do a good job and then they f*** it all up.” Well Mark, it appears that the kid is now all grown up and unstoppable.