SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX 2011

Sebastian Vettel came. Sebastian Vettel saw. Sebastian Vettel conquered. Sebastian Vettel will, in all probability, conquer again. And again. And again.

Cloud Eight

The year 2011 will go down in the F1 history books as the year of the reincarnation. Choose your driver, though- could be Senna, Schumacher (who is still alive, mind you) or Hakkinen. Whatever it is, Vettel will be known as the youngest double world champion, and twenty years from now- we might be talking about a reincarnation of Vettel. That’s how GOOD he is. Why, there’s even a #gay4Vettel hashtag on Twitter.

The Bigger Picture:

Ninth victory of the season. Fourteenth podium of the season. Red Bull’s 12th pole of the season. Statistics strip most of the other teams naked here. There is not much else to report- except the much predicted fact that Button has now overtaken Webber to rest in second position for the Championship. Webber was never going to finish second, even with THAT car at his disposal- simply because there are four better drivers than him in the top five. It was a matter of time. The season is not over yet, though. But expect a late surge from Alonso instead, or even from Hamilton. With five races to go, of course, Vettel needs just one more victory to seal the Championship. He could have done it here at Marina Bay in Singapore, but Jenson Button had other ideas. He is now 124 points behind Vettel- knowing fully well that the German needed to be 125 points ahead to win it all. There’s always Japan, though. Or Abu Dhabi. Or India (wouldn’t that be cool?).
Red Bull, meanwhile, are more than 140 points ahead of their closest rival McLaren, while Ferrari is having to deal with a severe case of the one-horse carriage disease- with Alonso earning more than double the points than the struggling Massa. It could all come to an end at Japan, though- and Red Bull Renault, the constructors, could be nursing a massive Red Bull-Vodka induced hangover by the time they’re in Noida next month.

At his Wrinkled Best

The Smaller Picture:

The Marina Bay circuit is one of the most challenging surfaces in the world. Drivers often worry so much about the fact that this street circuit hosts a night race, the only one on the calendar, that they underestimate the actual skill required to navigate the ‘street’- what with the race directly following the Italian Grand Prix, the fastest and also a smooth circuit to race on. It has been four years since this race has been on the calendar, and factors such as LUCK and good fortune go out of the window in this race. The great drivers are separated from the good ones, clearly, and the rest are mere test drivers racing for a spot in the sun…or under lights, in this case. Fernando Alonso has mastered this circuit over the four years, as has Sebastian Vettel after Sunday’s race. The under-drive going into most corners after not-s0-smooth straights make it a tricky drive for even the most experienced and guileful drivers.
Schumacher crashed out in spectacular style after a run-in with a Sauber in a messed-up overtaking maneuver , and duly neutralized Vettel’s hard-earned 20 second lead till then. The second half of the race was basically the story of the season- Vettel charged forward yet again, leaving Button to outrace the others. Webber overtook a shocked Alonso in the midst of the chaos, while Hamilton could not nothing but play catch-up after a senile move on Webber at the start line. Di Resta finished a shocking sixth, a career best for him.
Rosberg is back in the limelight as the Number One driver of his team, too. All’s well that ends well.


The Real Picture:

We might as well fast forward to the 2012 season. Because as the old saying goes, ‘End of show, folks!’
Vettel leaves nothing to our imagination anymore. He is scarily dominant, and one is not even sure if the CAR he drives is THAT good anymore. It couldn’t possibly be the next Ferrari. But Vettel could be much more than Schumacher. Not only is he superhumanly consistent, he has learnt to eliminate the minor errors in his driving in just two years. He has learnt to finish a race incident-free, something a whining Brit could learn from. I have a pleasant feeling that this German could transcend mere numbers and statistics by the end of his career. He has more than ten years, though- and even if he does NOT win another world title, much like Senna did, he will be known as one of the all-time greats that hit the F1 scene running- a time when the sport needed him…and probably deserved him too.                                                                      

Unless Ferrari discover a miracle fuel, or Mclaren discover a non-British component in their team or merge with Ross Brawn’s Mercedes- there will be no considerable changes in order next year.
Michael Schumacher does feel threatened by this pint-sized version of him. Why else do you think he’s still racing.

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