The Bigger Picture:
Prior to this, Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel had never won the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps. But then, prior to the 2011 season, Red Bull were never the best team in the world, were they? In a telling season that could spell the immediate future of Formula-One, Red Bull have all but won the World Championship in storming fashion- with 7 races still to go. Only a fool would bet against their eventual world title, and only a disaster of Indian-tour-of-England proportions could deny them their rightful place amongst the Champions of this year.
As Lewis Hamilton continues to strengthen his claim as the ‘competitive passionate racer’ who attracts extremes (according to his team principal Whitmarsh), it will not be surprising to see him being called the original ‘crash kid’ by the end of this season. Whitmarsh had famously called Vettel the crash kid last year at Spa, after he denied Button a victory by crashing into him in the dying stages. But atleast Vettel went on to win the Championship- and justified his aggressive style of racing in the process. His credentials back his plan (if one could call that ‘crash’ a plan), and Hamilton seems to be doing anything but driving according to plan. He spends most of his post-match interviews apologizing and demonstrating mood-swings that would put Ramgopal Varma to shame.
Chocolates, Beer, and the Land of the Vettel
The writing is on the wall: It is all over. Vettel has won his 7th race out of 12 this season, and has scored points in each one of them. He is now 93 points ahead of his own teammate, and more than 100 points ahead of any other non-RB Racing driver. Alonso has conceded his helplessness, thereby sealing Ferrari’s fate. Massa was never in the running, and neither is anybody else.
To put things into perspective, there are only 175 available points left this season- and Vettel has already crossed his winning points total of last year with 7 races to go (256). He is now on 259. All hail the new King.
Isn’t he too young? No. Neither is Novak Djokovic, on his own record breaking spree in Tennis this year.
The Smaller Picture:
Vettel says that their gamble paid off in the Belgian Grand Prix. It could hardly be called that. It was quite a simple pole-to-finish for him, though the same can’t be said for Webber- who struggled at the start. Inspite of early tire problems for both the Red Bull drivers (and an early pit stop), their cars were so efficient that Vettel made no fuss in reclaiming the lead soon after Rosberg took it- and even Webber, the birthday boy, was stunned by the sheer brilliance of his own car. Maybe they should trade them for jets, and fly over the circuits (wings, wings!) to save the others the ignominy of watching the sheer mismatch of mechanical competitiveness at hand.
The change in positions that occurred during the Kemmel straight this race was staggering (because of the DRS)- and Lewis Hamilton made sure that he held every position by the 13th lap, when he was duly rid of his misery. He accepts, later, that it was his own fault and not Kobayashi’s, but his reaction in the car seemed to say otherwise. His teammate, starting from a disastrous 13th, drove a typically determined race to end up on the podium- and true to form, made his weekend look better than it actually was. If he had qualified better, though, I guarantee you that he’d have finished lower than 3rd. That, in a nutshell, is Jenson Button- the king of underdogging backmarking storming Brits. Andy Murray could use a lesson or two.
Will the real Crash Kid please stand up?
Alonso seemed satisfied with his fourth place, but deep down, we know he is hurting. How could Button begin the race behind him and finish it ahead of him? Ferrari, oh, Ferrari. To top it all, he has been partnered by a shadow of a driver who was once called Massa. After a life-threatening crash a season and a half ago, the soul of Massa still lives on- in this imposter of a driver who refuses to live upto Ferrari’s massive legend.
The Senna legend though, is having to bear a penetration in the form of Bruno Senna- the eager kid who shares a surname. That’s all.
It was a decent day for Force India, with Sutil scoring some much-needed points. The surprise of the day, though, was the man named Michael Schumacher. Never heard of him before. But he sure as hell raced like a guy we once knew- all the way upto 5th position. Yes, that is the farthest he might get.
The Real Picture:
Come rain, come hurricane, Red Bull will still give us wings
The Vettel-Webber pairing, believe it or not, are already the fourth most successful pair in racing history. Webber is nearing the end of his career- but Vettel is only beginning his. This was their 10th one-two, and considering the fact that most of them have come in 1.5 seasons- we all know who this new decade belongs to. And this track was not even supposed to favour them. Sigh.
Next up. Monza. The home of Ferrari. Schumi’s second home. Also, one of the simpler tracks in F1. No, not because I mastered the PS3 circuit and won with a Virgin Car. It genuinely is a good simple track, and depends a lot on qualifying speed. One can’t help but wonder if MSC feels a bit of emotion- returning to those same tracks he once dominated like an emperor, and having to play 5th-8th fiddle to youngsters who were almost in their diapers when he won his first race. It may hurt. A lot. How does he take it?
By being foolishly defiant- and almost senile. One wonders if he still has a race win left in him. One also wonders if Sachin will ever score his 100th century. Maybe they’re better left this way- these legends.
The Buddh International Circuit may see a final shootout for the remaining podium positions. Exciting? Yes. Bone-chilling, heart-attack-inducing adrenalin too-close-to-call festival? Maybe not.
But, what the hell, let’s subtract Vettel from the standings- and we have seven deadly sinful races left.