Remember the date of August 29 2010. Not only was it the day Lewis Hamilton won the Belgian Grand Prix, but as of Sunday’s Malaysian race it was the last time – in my view – Sebastian Vettel made a mistake while driving a Formula One car.
It’s pretty infamous by now. While chasing down reigning champ Jenson Button, Vettel lost control under brakling and t-boned the Brit’s McLaren on the approach to the Bus Stop chicane. The German lost most of his front wing and limped into the pits and ultimately 15th place. Button retired in a cloud of steam.
The next race at Monza had Sebastian’s reputation under the microscope. With the Red Bull hampered by the lack of power from their Renault engines, starting 6th and finishing 4th without any issues was a good return to confidence. Chasing the in-form Fernando Alonso around the streets of Singapore showed their was a higher level of concentration possible.
At that point Vettel was seen as a hot-headed young driver that had the talent but lacked the experience. His racecraft was yet to be finely tuned even though the speed was there for all to see. Except if we are to look at the last six FIA Formula One Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel has been the fastest man on four wheels.
One remarkable Sunday in Japan saw him win pole position and the race in a single day. Korea saw another pole, but a blown engine robbed him of a guranteed victory. Vettel was the fastest of the championship contenders when the rain struck in Brazilian qualifying, and then won that race too. Then in Abu Dhabi it was another pole position, another win, and the World Title was in the bag.
2011 has carried on the same form, with a 100% record so far. As a fan, I can label only a handful of drivers “great”, usually after their career has finished or after a season has concluded. Sebastian Vettel is has 17 pole positions, 12 wins and one World Title to his name. The astounding thing is that the monikor of “great” sits on his young shoulders very well indeed.