Jun 1, 2011

curious case of the German prodigy

It's been a while since I have penned on my blgospot but the blame can be laid on the back of a flourishing facebook and on my apparent impatience in writing a huge chunk. ;) Nevertheless, here I go on a review rampage of the first 6 races of the 2011 F1 season as we head to Montreal in a few days time.

Just what's so right about Sebastian Vettel?
It's simpler said and even more effortlessly done. Yes, he's keeping it simple by putting his confidence on the RB7 completely and sometimes taking matters into his own hands like we saw in Monaco last week, when the team made a strategic cock up and he dug them out of the hole. The fact that he's winning even on difficult weekends and even when he's not putting the hammer down like he did many times in the past, is ominously pointing at what could be another title up his grabs. Lemme elaborate! In Sepang, Hamilton had the measure of Vettel up until Q3 when the defending champion stormed to what would later become a very important pole. Yet with DRS, KERS and the highly unpredictable Pirellis, a pole position isn't as important as it was in 2010. That's where we need to sit and laud the race craft of Vettel who didn't put a wheel wrong and went onto claim his second win of the season.

He was probably undone by a strategic glitch in China where McLaren out-thought Redbull by adapting to a faster strategy and clinching their only win this season so far. And there were murmurs of a possible Lewis Hamilton fight back but all of those were put to rest when the young German took the pole and flag, this time in the twitchy Istanbul park with unmatched precision. Catalunya was supposed to be a Redbull citadel but McLaren upgrades paid off brilliantly as Hamilton had a sniff of Sebastian all through the race when the latter was unable to pull away and pile a gap. Vettel had to defend aggressively for 40 odd laps across two stints and boy, didn't he do it well? Those were the first signs of a world champion on song and in complete control of the machinery beneath him. Hamilton had no answer.

In came the acid test, the Monaco GP. This had a McLaren victory written all over it as the narrow circuit had neither fast corners, nor medium ones and since traction was for once weighed above downforce, Redbull's chances looked slim. But what unraveled on Sunday would certainly make certain Woking hairs go grey. Vettel had a forgettable pitstop when he was mistakenly given a prime set of tyres instead of the softer ones which were needed to undercut Button. They lost around 4 secs in the pits and that along with Button's roar meant Vettel had to slot in behind the 2009 champion. Its Monaco and one has to expect a 70% chance of the deployment of safety car and unfortunately for Button, he pitted for the wrong tyres just before the SC was deployed. This gave Alonso an opportunity to pit one time less and emerge in front of the Brit, which he skillfully did. Vettel was still in the lead with 30 odd laps to go and was expected to pit sooner or later, blowing any chance of a victory but the boy decided not to listen to the team's call to box. That's the kindov championsque moves that his rivals are unable to match this season. Vettel did an amazing 56 laps on soft tyres before a lucky break came in the form of a red flag. 10 laps to go and three drivers on three different strategies were separated by just 1 sec when the flag was waived. Vettel won again!

Vettel allowed himself to cool it a bit in the Redbull pool leaving some of his rivals fuming to the thoughts of his unchallenged charge towards his second title. The trick as I said is simple. He's able to generate a one lap performance from the aerodynamically triumphant RB7 but he's also able to a put a daylight between him and his teammate which was not the case in 2010. And on Sundays, with the help of some superb pitstops or sometimes well thought moves and a bit of good fortune, he's able to lead from the front like a driver who just got the monkey off his back. Vettel won a cliff hanger of a championship finale last year but he has come of age as he's leaving no screws unturned, no stones untouched. Ofcourse you cannot discount the might of McLaren and Ferrari but if the crash kid is grabbing wins from the clutches of defeat mcuh to the horror of his bitter rivals, one would wonder what he will do on tracks which suit the RB7 best, like Silverstone, Interlagos, Nurburgring, Abu Dhabi etc.

You are in for a long season if you like wearing a Red T with Silver stripes!!!