Post-Race Debrief: Vettel wins storm-free Malaysia Grand Prix
It’s easy to forget a time when the Sebastian Vettel juggernaut did not exist. It’s even easier to forget the time that the plucky, charismatic German took a very popular pole position and win for the perennial minnows of the sport, Toro Rosso nee Minardi only in 2008. It was a refreshing victory to see a stereotypically slow team and a fresh face finally take centre stage on the winner’s podium. Fast forward barely a few years and one world driver’s championship later, Formula One is confronted by the now far too often sight of Sebastian Vettel continuously pointing to signify his success.
It’s easy to find flaw with the guy. He is still very young, albeit in extraordinary circumstances – after all, how many other 23 year olds are Formula One world champions? He was heavily criticised last year for being easily rattled, having the likes of Dr. Helmut Marko and the Red Bull company molly coddling his racing career and his now infamous trademark the obnoxious post-pole/victory finger point. He’s hardly as hard nosed and cynical as Mark Webber, nowhere near as dastardly as Fernando Alonso and not obviously parading around with an incredibly attractive girlfriend like Lewis Hamilton. All subjective characteristics of those drivers they may be, but there’s no denying that despite the talent that exists on the grid, Sebastian Vettel is doing the best job out of all of them.
Vettel will feel vindicated by the run of good fortune he has encountered so far this season. A 100% success rate in terms of pole positions and race victories – albeit in two races, but he did not achieve anywhere near the same success as this time last year. However his misfortunate last year was more to do with the early unreliability that Vettel seemed to encounter with the Red Bull, and in turn gave the illusion that he was still rather ragged with his craft.
Now Mark Webber has the misfortunate of the early Red Bull gremlins this time around. Webber will at least take some solace in the fact that Vettel still won the championship despite his horrendous start to the season. Maybe not solace, but Webber needs a good reason to get out of bed in the morning and to start giving Vettel more of a hard time on track.
It was unfortunate to see Webber fail to capitalise on the inherent speed of his RB7. That isn’t to say he was slow in Malaysia, he was caught out by the KERS and by the fact that he isn’t Sebastian Vettel. Webber had absolutely no chance at the start without KERS, had he jumped the start he probably could have gotten away with a penalty such is the advantage of running the KERS system.
The McLarens, thankfully, are keeping the Red Bulls honest. Not just in terms of confronting about their Colonel’s secret recipe front wing, but in outright pace. To think they had a fundamentally flawed car barely a month ago, love or loathe McLaren, they are avoiding Red Bull from repeating Ferrari-mania from 2004.
Renault mostly certainly deserves the recognition as the most improved team so far this season. The absence of Robert Kubica is a major loss to the team, and had the Pole not hurt himself in a rally car out of a fit of restlessness, he could have been even closer to challenging Vettel – dare say even beat him.
Nick Heidfeld would be breathing a very welcome sigh of welief (sic) after his podium finish, given that he was technically unemployed last year and had a very poor showing in Australia. Vitaly Petrov did not repeat his Australian performance, but he did not overly disgrace himself with his performance – at least in regards to his aerobatics display.
Not to discredit the Russian, but his accident was a ‘very Petrov’ style of accident – completely airborne, the collapsed steering wheel and the clumsy ding into a polystyrene marker. You could not have scripted a funnier exit from a Grand Prix, and for what he lacked in a result in Malaysia, he will have made up for with that footage being replayed ad nauseum on news reports and in late night ‘best of’ racing compilations on television. His old ways may have crept in this weekend, but it’s easy to forget Sebastian Vettel was just as erratic in his early tenure.
The Formula One circuit now will look forward to the Chinese Grand Prix. Well, maybe look forward to is a slight stretch, but teams and drivers will be anxious to ensure Vettel and Red Bull do not waltz away from these flyaway races with a dominant stranglehold over the world championship. At least so we could be spared the sight of Vettel’s finger point and accompanied gurn.