Result: Red Bull 1-2 followed by Rosberg.
After getting Red Bull fined a ‘paltry’ 25000 Euros following his donut celebrations in Delhi, 4-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel refused to let the stewards steal his thunder again by…what else but screeching donuts in front of a delighted crowd again! This time, teammate Mark Webber too joined in the celebrations after yet another 1-2 that is surely echoing the Ferrari yesteryears of Schumacher and Barrichello. There are so many similarities between both these legendary 1-2 partnerships, except perhaps the most important difference between them: Vettel is a 4 time World Champion at 25. Schumacher had won 2 titles at the same age.
After passing Webber at the first turn at the obscenely picturesque Yas Marina Circuit, Vettel led by over 30 seconds in 30 laps- outclassing a field that seems to be bemused and stunned by his dominance. This was where it had all started 4 years ago when a young Vettel had broken Hamilton’s record of being the youngest ever World Champion by pipping leader Alonso and teammate Webber in the final race of a pulsating season. It was Alonso’s first season with Ferrari, and he has now finished runner-up three more times after the 2010 season. Webber never recovered, not even coming close to winning a title after the race. There were no incidents on Sunday, except for Raikkonen gradually losing interest in the team he is soon to leave- crashing in the first lap once again. It is evident that the pay dispute has not left him in good spirits, and the Finn is probably looking forward to join forces with another skilful colleague- Alonso- next season at Ferrari.
What was interesting was the sudden emergence of the no. 2s in each team. Nico Rosberg defeated Hamilton for the 5th time in 6 races- finishing on the podium, while Grosjean narrowly missed out on his third consecutive podium finishing in an impressive 4th place followed by the perennially struggling Ferrari of Alonso. Lewis Hamilton finished an unimpressive 7th, openly admitting that he has been outperformed by his partner over the second half of the 2013 season. He had also admitted earlier this week that he feared he would never win another title again with the outgoing Ross Brawn from Mercedes.
In any case, this was a night that confirmed Vettel’s spectacular dominance of a sport that desperately needs a burst of fresh air. It was his 7th race victory in a row, equaling Schumacher’s longest streak (2004), and 2 wins away from Ascari’s streak of 9 back in 1963 record. Vettel also equaled his own 11-win season record, only 2 away from the all-time record of 13 in a season by Schumacher. Records are made to be broken, but at the rate at which Vettel is evolving, Schumacher can’t have imagined that his immortal records would be broken in less than a decade.