Vettel Ready to Be Crowned F1 Champ in India
As far as the battle for the right to be called the world champion driver is concerned, it is all over but the shouting. But we didn’t need to see Sebastian Vettel win five straight races to know that.
The only doubt about this season’s winner was exactly when the Red Bull star might wrap up his fourth straight championship. He hasn’t eliminated Fernando Alonso quite yet, but that should happen on October 27 at the Buddh International Circuit in the Indian Grand Prix. Regardless of what Alonso does, if Vettel finishes fifth or better, he will end the whole thing officially.
Last Sunday Vettel won the Japanese Grand Prix, but was only going to be able to clinch the title if Alonso finished ninth or lower. But Alonso (of the Ferrari team) finished fourth, so the champagne will have to wait a bit before being popped.
Talk about an anti-climax.
Vettel is now 90 points ahead of Alonso, after completing this run of five straight, which is the first time that has been done on the Formula One circuit since Michael Schumacher did it 2004.
These are the posted odds to win the Indian Grand Prix, as they appear at www.Bet365com:
Sebastian Vettel -200
Mark Webber +650
Lewis Hamilton +900
Fernando Alonso +1200
Kimi Raikonnen +1200
Romain Grosjean +1200
Nico Rosberg +2200
Felipe Massa +10000
Jenson Button +25000
Nico Hulkenberg +25000
Sergio Perez +50000
Daniel Ricciardo +50000
Adrian Sutil +100000
Esteban Gutierrez +100000
Jean-Eric Vergne +100000
Paul DiResta +100000
Pastor Maldonado +200000
Valterri Bottas +20000
Charles Pic +50000
Giedo van der Garde +50000
Jules Bianchi +50000
Max Chilton +50000
As you can see, Vettel is a prohibitive favorite in the F1 betting odds, and Webber, though far behind, is the next man behind him nonetheless. The Red Bull duo finished 1-2 in Japan, and that was enough to sew up the constructors’ title for the fourth straight season for the very well-heeled team.
Romain Grosjean of Lotus, who has not won yet as an F1 driver, was actually the leader for a full 28 laps, having come to the front from a second-row start, but lost the lead to Vettel and then was overtaken by Webber with a lap to go. He is currently +1200 to win in India at Bet365. Grosjean is noted for his talent, but he has had to work hard to escape a reputation for being somewhat reckless at the start of races. In fact, Webber once labeled him a “first-lap nutcase” for a collision he had with the Frenchman at last year’s Japanese GP.
Vettel, who was the youngest driver ever to win a Formula One race and the youngest world champ, is just 26 years old but is about to win his fourth consecutive F1 title, which will put him in some very exclusive company. He will join Juan Manuel Fangio (1954-57) with that four-year string. Schumacher won five straight F1 world championships from 2000-2004. There is also a very short list of drivers who have won four titles overall. Schumacher won seven; Fangio captured five, and Alain Prost was a four-time world champion.
There has always been certain amount of tension for Webber surrounding Vettel’s status as “favored son” of the Red Bull team. Last Sunday he was asked to make three pit stops, as opposed to just two for Vettel, despite the fact that, as he described it, “there was life in that set of tires, and that I might just have been able to hold on to the end.” By this time he has almost become numb to Red Bull’s patronization of Vettel, so he takes those kinds of things in stride.
And it hardly matters all that much for the driver who is in fifth place in points. Webber is leaving the Formula One ranks after the last race of the season, as he is headed to Porsche and its sports car program. The heavy rumor is that Lotus’ Kimi Raikonnen will get his spot with Red Bull Racing, and the right to play second fiddle to Vettel.
For his part, Alonso, the second-place driver, feels that his Ferrari team was too slow in adapting its cars to the new adjustments Pirelli made to the tires after the blowouts that happened at the British Grand Prix.
“I think the problem was our development,” he told a reporter. “We didn’t adapt to the tire, or didn’t have the steps that we planned.”
This year it is feared that the Indian Grand Prix is bidding its final farewell. There will be no such event in the 2014 F1 schedule, and though there is hope that it can return in 2015, that will all depend on economic conditions. Reportedly the organizers of the event are looking to the government for bailout money in order to keep the event going, but they haven’t gotten too far with that.
From India, the Formula One circuit moves to Abu Dhabi (November 3), the United States (at Austin on November 17) and Brazil (November 24), though with Vettel likely to retain his title this weekend, there won’t be a huge amount to play for.