Sebastian Vettel’s win on Sunday had many significant aspects to it, but perhaps the most significant is that it dealt a body blow to his rivals’ chances of closing the gap in the championship.
Vettel has now extended his lead in the championship in the last two Grands Prix to the point where he can clinch his second world title as early as the Singapore Grand Prix, five races before the end of the season, if he wins in both Monza and Singapore. At just 24 years, he would be the youngest ever double champion.
The reason is that with 259 points in the bag already – more than he scored in all of the 2010 season – he needs only to outscore team mate Mark Webber in the next two races by 33 points, Fernando Alonso by 24 points, Jenson Button by 15 points and Lewis Hamilton by 13 points.
Vettel is 92 points clear of Webber, 102 points ahead of Alonso, 110 ahead of Button and 112 ahead of Hamilton. With five races to go Webber would have to be less than 125 points off his team mate to have even a mathematical chance of winning. So far Vettel has won seven times with this 2011 car and Webber has yet to get his first win.
In all probability the championship “fight”, such as it is, will go on a little longer than that, more likely Korea or possibly India. Given that Red Bull has the amazing record of bringing both cars home in the top five at every race, reliability has clearly been outstanding this year. You could argue that they are due a retirement or two.
Speaking after the race on Sunday Vettel underlined the only scenario in which anyone else gets a possible look in, “If you are out in two races and someone else has a good couple of races, it could change,” he said. “So we…try to get the optimum every time.”