A dominant Sebastian Vettel led the way at the Indian Grand Prix this past weekend, followed by a majestic & relentless Fernando Alonso. It is now a battle between Formula 1’s best drivers to take their coveted third World Championship.
‘Give Vettel a car capable of taking pole position and the race win and he’ll dominate’. The 2012 Formula 1 season will clearly be remembered for a season that was split into two halves; full of unpredictability before the summer break and Red Bull’s slow rise to greatness in the second. It should be no surprise therefore that Sebastian Vettel has taken his fourth win in a row and almost has one hand on his third consecutive World Championship, something which few would have thought possible during the summer break. In fact, watching Formula 1 for the last few races would have you believing you were watching the 2011 season all over again, with Vettel leading from the opening lap onwards and not looking back, leaving everyone else scrabbling for the podium positions.
He has undoubtedly been as mighty and dominant since inheriting the Singapore Grand Prix lead in September as he ever was last year, but whilst he does deserve a lot of credit for his results, you can’t help but marvel at Adrian Newey, Chief Designer at Red Bull Racing. This is a man who has built championship winning cars in the 90’s, the 2000’s and once again, after seemingly falling behind McLaren in the early year, looks set to have revitalised Red Bull and created another dominant car. Looking ahead to Abu Dhabi, you would be a fool to put money on anybody else other than Vettel to take the win. His main championship rival Fernando Alonso said over the weekend that he ‘was racing Vettel and Adrian Newey’s car’. Whether or not it was a slight dig at Sebastian Vettel who, whilst being incredible in the fastest car, is believed by many to not be of the same calibre of Fernando Alonso, it is clear to all that if Alonso wants to take the championship he will require Ferrari to make a significant upgrade to the Ferrari, similar to what Red Bull were able to do around the Singapore Grand Prix.
Relentless. That is the only word to describe Fernando Alonso, a man who simply does not understand what it means to be beaten or to give up. At the beginning of the season the Ferrari was so far off the pace that the drivers were banned from talking to the media. This was a massive shock to everyone given the talk of the Ferrari being a ‘revolution’, and not an evolution, of last year’s car. Whereas Massa could barely cope with the car when it was near impossible to drive consistently in a fast manner, Alonso did a truly incredible job of damage limitation in the early races, including an incredible surprise win at the wet Sepang weekend.
True, he has never had out and out the fastest car, but the team has slowly chipped away at the cars niggling issues and with Alonso they have a driver who will extract the maximum performance out of the car. It’s a testament to the great team work seen at Ferrari all year as well as Alonso’s incredible consistency that he was able to lead the championship so brilliantly from the early summer until just a few races ago.
Regardless of who wins the Championship, it’s clear to see that Vettel and Alonso are the most complete drivers on the Formula 1 grid. Whilst Vettel is undoubtedly the favourite, the season will be remembered for the staggering performances of the over-achieving Fernando Alonso who is not only at the peak of the powers but has driven perhaps better than anyone has since Aryton Senna’s 1993 season in the hands of a McLaren that spent most races looking at the back of a dominant Williams.
Shortly after the Indian Grand Prix, Alonso tweeted ‘If the sword breaks, fight with your hands. If they cut your hands, push the enemy with your shoulders, even your teeth’. He is clearly ready for a fight, one that the entire motor sport community can’t wait to see.