Sebastian Vettel romped to an easy victory at the Indian Grand Prix last Sunday to take his tenth win of the season and secure his fourth consecutive driver’s title. This extraordinary feat was a repeat of his dominant 2011 season, which itself was the first of its kind since Michael Schumacher took his fifth Championship in 2002.
Much like Schumacher’s dominance, however, there are those who argue that Vettel’s dominance is killing off the sport, making it uncompetitive and predictable. I, for one, would disagree. Although it is slightly disappointing that Vettel’s driving is largely unchallenged week after week, it is easy to forget that it is due to Vettel’s superiority, not the inferiority of others, that we are witnessing such a show of excellence. The combination of Sebastian Vettel with the design guru Adrian Newey creates an unstoppable force, which blows the other teams’ hard work out of the water. Although to some it does seem that Vettel’s stronghold on the sport is monotonous, in years to come, I am confident that we will look back upon these years and marvel at the brilliance that is being demonstrated.
Despite all this, those who wish to be constantly entertained with wheel-to-wheel fights for the lead of Grands Prix may not be waiting long. A huge shift in technical regulations is to be implemented next season to coincide with the introduction of the ‘greener’ V6 engines. It’s hard to guess as to the effect of these regulations.
On the one hand, it could destroy the upper-hand that Red Bull has had for the past four years. Given their dismal performance this season, it is remarkably easy to forget that only last year, McLaren was a front-running, title-contending team. They readily admitted mid-way through this season that they had given up hope on their 2013 campaign and instead switched focus to developing their 2014 car. While Red Bull was still focusing on developing upgrades, the same which saw Vettel’s superiority over Mercedes increase following the F1 summer holiday, McLaren was well underway with preparation for next season. So for fans of the ‘Rocket Red’ team, this year could be a minor glitch en route to a Championship next year. Of course, they will also have to fend off Ferrari and their extreme power, and Mercedes who this year seemed to be the only team capable of challenging Red Bull.
Then again, one can never be certain what tricks Adrian Newey has up his sleeve. If Newey was to take out motor insurance from the likes of Express Insurance in the off-chance that he was to build a car that wasn’t a front-runner, I’m sure Express Insurance would not be paying-out too much!
Of course, one must not forget that Vettel will have the fiesty Daniel Ricciardo to contend with next year, as the Aussie moves up from Toro Rosso – the only man to do so since Vettel made the move for the 2008 season. Ricciardo appears to be able to do incredible things with his STR8, and judging by his current form could be a real threat to Vettel. Then again, Sergio Perez was the hottest name last season while at Sauber, but has moved to McLaren for this season and has been almost completely forgotten. Also moving to a new team is Kimi Raikkonen – the cool Finn who won the 2007 World Championship with the Scuderia. Ferrari, who has Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, their famous Maranello factory and the whole of Italy behind them could provide the biggest threat to Vettel.
So to finish, nobody can be sure as to exactly what will happen next season. With Red Bull, Ferrari, Lotus and even Mclaren or Force India vying for the top spot in 2014, Vettel will be far from assured of a fifth World Championship. I am confident that the coming year will be a repeat of the nail-biting 2010 season, and definitely one for the history books.
To see just how dominant Vettel has been this season, see the drivers’ points table on the F1 website.