Going to Formula 1′s Fly-away Races, can Anyone Stop Vettel?
The 2013 Formula 1 season has been a gripping thriller for all motorsport fans; at least up to the mid season break. After the first ten races of the season, a group of five different drivers had each won at least a race each and even though Sebastian Vettel, the reigning three-time world champion of Red Bull Racing, was marginally ahead in the Drivers Championship, his lead was not insurmountable. Moreover, Mercedes had began showing imperious form with Lewis Hamilton producing a dominant performance to win the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of July.
The first two races of the second leg of the 2013 Formula 1 season: the Belgian Grand Prix and Italian Grand Prix, were won by the mercurial German almost hands down, building up a lead of almost sixty points in the Drivers’ Championship. His main rivals: Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes and Lotus‘s Kimi Raikkonen do not seem to have anything to give him any sleepless nights.
As the season enters the final seven races with a frenetic flyaway schedule beginning from Singapore to Brazil, we take a look at each of the three main Vettel rivals and what they can do to offer the baby-faced German a run for his money. Be forewarned, it does not make for good reading for any of the trio.
- Fernando Alonso
The urbane Spaniard looks, at least on paper, to have the best chance of upending Vettel to the championship. But it won’t be easy for Alonso; stuck as he is with a car that is clearly about a second slower than the Red Bull in qualifying trim. Ferrari began the season with a car that promised increased pace from last season and this was proven true when Alonso won in China and again before his home fans in Barcelona. Since then it has been a downward spiral for the prancing-horse team.
While Alonso has consistently scored podium places despite perennially starting in the third or fourth row on the grid, it is not good enough with Vettel coasting from pole to chequered flag with such ease as he has shown in the previous couple of races. For Fernando Alonso to wrestle the lead from Vettel’s grip, he will need the Red Bull man to undergo a series of bad luck moments and his own team to bring on some upgrades that will ensure he qualifies in the first row with some consistency.
- Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton himself admitted after the Belgian Grand Prix that his title hopes were over. Although he later recanted the statement, it was apparent that this was just putting on a brave face in the face of what is, by all objective measures: the inevitable. Over the first half of the season, the Mercedes team had a car which was without a peer over one lap. They have however been incapable of repeating the performance in recent Grands Prix and their competitiveness in actual races has not been any better. If Alonso needs Vettel to be hit by bad luck to have a chance, Hamilton will need nothing short of a huge miracle to rise to the top in the pecking order.
- Kimi Raikkonen
Kimi Raikkonen began the season with a surprise win at the Australian Grand Prix. His form since then has been erratic and many have already counted him out to contention for the championship. After signing for Ferrari in recent weeks, many will be lead to conclude that he has neither the drive nor motivation from his team (they have consistently failed to pay him his wages in time) to take the fight to Red Bull. While no one will question the fact that the taciturn Finn remains one of the most technically gifted drivers on the grid, his chances of winning the championship in November are definitely all but over.