Another runaway win. Another chorus of boos. And another step toward the Formula One title. The pattern has been the same for weeks for Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull. His win at the Singapore Grand Prix last Sunday was his third in a row and it put him 60 points clear in the drivers’ championship standings with six races remaining. The dominant manner in which he won in Belgium, Italy and Singapore meant his rivals have all but abandoned hope of preventing him taking a fourth-straight title.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was second in the race and is second in the championship standings, but even the Italian team knew his chances of catching up to the German were unrealistic.
Vettel’s performance under the lights of the Marina Bay circuit for F1’s only night race was staggering. When it mattered most, in the early laps and again after the restart following a mid-race safety-car period, he was often two seconds per lap quicker than his nearest pursuers.
Vettel’s most dominant F1 season came in 2011 during his first title defence when he was able to secure 15 pole positions and 11 wins from 19 races. It is Vettel’s consistency which has convinced many fans he is already the uncrowned world champion and set to break another record in F1 by becoming the youngest ever four-time world champion. Vettel would also be the only man other than Michael Schumacher to win four successive championships.
With just six more races left in the 2013 season, any competitors for Vettel’s title will have to hope for Vettel to retire in a number of races. Even If Vettel does retire in two races, and assuming Alonso wins those, Alonso will only be four points ahead of Vettel. If anyone does hope to overturn Vettel’s 46-point lead, they will have to hope for the luck which has sided with Vettel over the last three years.
If Vettel wins the title this season, he will move past the likes of Ayrton Senna and Niki Lauda on the all-time list and become one of only four drivers with four titles or more. However, Vettel’s steady march towards another world title has not been universally popular. Boos rang out from the fans at this month’s Italian Grand Prix, where the young German held off Ferrari’s Alonso at the famous team’s home race.
Vettel now has a presence on both Facebook and Twitter, in a sign that sections of the viewing public are not enthralled by another era of one-driver dominance. ‘The loud click that might have drowned out the scream of engines ... was the sound of thousands of viewers, tired of the domination of a serial winner, switching off their televisions,’ wrote The Times’ Kevin Eason after the Italian race.
However, the man in question is in no mood to contemplate the statistics predicting his fourth title triumph. ‘I am not really thinking about the points situation. Obviously, we are in a very good position and I am just thinking about the next race. I am trying to keep focused because, in order to stay at the top of our game, it is important to focus, because a lot of things have to go right for us to have success. So we won’t think about what might happen in six, seven or eight races... just the next one,’ Vettel said.