Sebastian Vettel’s lead of 92 points over his nearest rival, Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, has almost certainly assured him of a second successive world title. He continues to sweep all before him.
And yet there are still those who question Seb’s driving. As if he is simply fortunate to have found himself in a Red Bull. As if he is an average racing driver because he wins races from pole.
'I don’t think the standard in Formula One has ever been higher than it is now'
Well, I think we could well be witnessing the development of the best driver ever in Formula One. We can’t say yet, of course. Only history will judge that. But the fact that Seb continues to improve every aspect of his game, from racecraft to tyre management, building on his natural speed, is indisputable.
This has nothing to do with Red Bull or my association with the team. This has everything to do with the way Seb has stepped up his game this year. I don’t think the standard in Formula One has ever been higher than it is now. Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Mark Webber: these guys are world-class. Michael Schumacher has come back and has discovered that first-hand. Seb is simply outperforming everyone.
People are asking whether we are about to see another period of dominance à la Schumacher. I don’t think so. Michael was driving a car which never broke down, a car superior to those of his rivals, with unlimited testing and the biggest budget in Formula One. Ferrari and McLaren have the resources and personnel to catch Red Bull, and in fact they have done so; their race pace has been as good as Red Bull’s for months now. McLaren probably had the quickest car in Belgium at the weekend. They just didn’t get the job done. Seb got it done.
There were so many good performances on Sunday. Mark’s pass on Fernando going down the hill to Eau Rouge was one of the bravest I have ever seen. Jenson’s drive from 13th to third was beautiful. And, of course, there was Michael’s drive from last to fifth on the 20th anniversary of his debut. Of course he, like Jenson, profited from the safety car, but he paced himself well and used his tyres judiciously. I wonder whether it has taken Michael this long to get used to the fact that it is not a sprint formula anymore. It is about brain as well as brawn.
'Seb is setting the bar very high right now'
Lewis Hamilton, a man with pace to burn, is still coming to terms with that fact. He has everything in his armoury, but for whatever reason the clarity of thought is not quite there at the moment.
Actually I didn’t agree with Lewis’s assessment that his collision with Kamui Kobayashi on lap 13 was “100 per cent” his fault, but there have been too many incidents this year. He needs to improve that area of his game because Seb is setting the bar very high right now.
I would like to end by paying my respects to Martin Hines, who died on Sunday morning aged 64. Martin was basically ‘Mr Karting’ in the UK and everyone – from myself to Seb to Lewis to Jenson – owes him a debt of gratitude. A huge loss to motorsport.
David Coulthard writes for the Daily Telegraph in the UK, and as well as being co-commentator for the BBC’s Formula One coverage, he is an ambassador for Red Bull Racing.
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