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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Aug 2011   |  5:49 pm GMT  |  121 comments

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.”

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121 Comments
  1. I’ve been denying it for ages, but I think it’s finally time I accepted it’s over.

    I bet I’ve changed my mind by Monza and I’ll be back to my hopelessly optimistic self…

  2. PaulL says:

    I wouldn’t mind if it were over sooner rather than later. He’s driven well, he deserves it.

    1. DonSimón says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Would love to see it go down to the wire but we’ve been spoiled in that respect. Most hooked up driver ATM in the fastest car.

      1. Peter C says:

        Automatic Telling Machine? Cashpoint.

      2. Ted says:

        At The Moment…

      3. Peter C says:

        Thanks, I’ll try to remember that.

  3. Even if Webber wins ALL the remaining races, Vettel can still be World Champion if he averages 4th: http://f1banter.wordpress.com/2011/08/29/what-needs-to-be-done-to-beat-vettel/

  4. Let’s look at Bernie’s medal system:

    Vettel – 7 wins (4 seconds)
    Hamilton – 2 wins (2 seconds)
    Button – 2 wins (1 second)
    Alonso – 1 win (3 seconds)

    Seven races left. Hamilton or Button would need to win 6 of the 7 remaining races to take the title, presuming Vettel doesn’t win the other one.

    Notice how Bernie is being rather silent about it right now? Maybe he’s too tied up with legal matters… ;-)

    However, setting up any points system will have major draw-backs. The 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system rewarded holding position for points. The 10-6-4-3-2-1 and 25-18-etc system rewards wins more. The former makes it very difficult to catch up after a few bad races, whereas the latter makes it easier to catch up. The latter helped make last year’s title race more exciting because Alonso was able to catch up, whereas this year it enabled Vettel to streak off into the distance. Bernie’s system would make streaking off into the lead very easy to do for Vettel, but would make catching up very easy as well.

    Therefore, every points system has benefits and drawbacks. Last year we saw the benefit of the current system, and this year, not so much. I still think this system is pretty good, though I prefer the old 10-6-4-3-2-1 system, as it makes getting points a real achievement… it’s too easy now.

    1. . says:

      With the normal system it looks hopeless for the other drivers too, your point?

      1. The point is exactly that. The same system that gave us an exciting title race last year gave us a breakaway this year. The system before that would have reduced the breakaway this year, but might not have allowed Alonso to catch back up last year.

    2. No matter what the points system, if a guy wins 7 out of 12 races and scores heavily in the other races, there’s no way anyone deserves to be close to him in terms of the championship.

      1. AndyFov says:

        And that there is the crux of the this year’s ‘problem’. It’s not the scoring system that’s denied us a close scrap for the championship, Vettle’s simply been peerless.

      2. Chris G says:

        Well Said

    3. I’m not sure Williams think it is that easy to score points these days, sadly enough.

      I rather liked the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 point system as it prevented a single driver from running away with the championship even if he’d won most of the opening rounds. 2006 and 2009 were great examples of that with Schumacher and Vettel catching up in the second part of those seasons.
      It also allowed for historic comparisons.

      Last year’s championship would have been close regardless of the point system used as wins were spread amongst five drivers.

      1. unoc12 says:

        Agree

      2. Personally I think they should have just gone back to 10-6-4-3-2-1. It worked for many years, rewarded wins, and was consistent for historical comparisons.

        I didn’t like the 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 system because it rewarded holding position for points. Why bother trying to pass for the lead for only two more points? If it was four more points, it might be worthwhile…

      3. I was probably thinking of the point system favoured a closer championship.

        Did the previous system hold a driver back from a race win? Unless you are thinking of the points leader only needing to place and not risk a load of points circa Alonso in 05 or 06?
        I thought it was a great points system in 2008 when I was hoping Bobby might win the WDC by being super consistent whilst Hamilton and Massa were fools (Fuji anyone?).

        The only issue I’ve got with the 10-6… or 9-6-4… point systems is that today only the main teams would have points due to the very high reliability from all teams. And Williams would still have 0 points.

      4. But that’s exactly my point; it was a *challenge* to score points back then. A Minardi getting into the top six was cause for ecstatic jubilation.

        As for increased reliability? That’s their problem. If you build a car that’s not competitive, you shouldn’t expect to get points. There were 26 cars on the grid back in the 90′s, and only the top-six got points; why should the top-ten get points with only 24 cars on the grid? Why not give points to 20th?

    4. Alex W says:

      Agree with your very last point.

    5. Michael C says:

      “Let’s look at Bernie’s medal system”

      Please no…

    6. Dom Jones says:

      The points system isn’t really an issue. Whatever they do to the points, if the ratios are pretty much similar, it doesn’t matter how many points you get for 1st, 2nd, 3rd etc.

      For instance, under the 10/8/6 system, 2nd place was the equivalent of 20 points in the current system. 3rd place was the same as 15 which is what you get now. Not much difference. In a season like this the points system isnt the problem.

      The problem is so many drivers being competitive. Going back before 2007, the championship was almost always between two drivers in two teams. One might have a lead in the championship but it wouldn’t usually be more than about two clear wins (20 old points, 50 new points). And you knew that the leader would almost always have a handful of retirements to enable the other to catch up. Plus, you knew that there wouldn’t be other drivers swallowing up all the points at the same time.

      Don’t get me wrong, its great that so many can win the races, but in terms of wanting an exciting championship fight, so long as one driver just has the edge, the excitiement ain’t happening. Last year’s championship would also have been a bore-fest if Vettel and Red Bull didn’t throw so many points away early on.

      Thank goodness the individual races are exciting.

  5. mo kahn says:

    LET IT BE INDIA :)

  6. Rodger says:

    Although Webber, Alonso, and both McLaren drivers are still mathematically alive in the drivers championship. Here is something to consider.

    If Seb should average 5th place (70 points) through the rest of the season. He will have a total of 329 points.

    If that happens then the only 2 who could beat him would be Webber, and Alonso. While Webber has the luxury of being able to drop 12 points over that span and come in with 330 to win. Alonso would need to gain all but 2 of the remaining points still on the board.

    If Seb scores 73 points in the next 7 races Alonso is done even if he wins out. If Vettel scores 83 then it’s all over for Webber even he wins out.

    Granted the 5th place average score is completely arbitrary. But it seemed to me that it represents a good balance of either; Some good finishes combined with a couple of DNF’s, or consistently poor finishes. I mean 2 wins, 2 fifths, and 3 DNF’s is 70 points. Which would still require a hell of a run by either of his 2 closest rivals.

    1. Michael Prestia says:

      No need to work out the math its OVER! Vettel is the Champ and lets focus on 2012.

      1. James Allen says:

        It’s August and there are seven races left. 2012 can wait

      2. unoc12 says:

        I can wait.

        Would prefer anyone else to win, Webber, Alonso, Massa, Hamilton, Button (again…. probably shouldn’t though), Rosberg, Schumacher (yes, I’d even prefer him to continue his boring stretch), Alguersauri, Senna, Kovalenian, Heidfeld, etc….

        It’s the 90′s Williams cars all over again, except rather than the driver being Mansell, Prost, Hill, Villneuve it’s instead Vettel Vettel Vettel Vettel.

      3. CH1UNDA says:

        James its over. And he bloody well deserves it – he has driven brilliantly; consistent, keeping out of trouble, handling the pressure well, thinking on his feet, nursing the tyres and at Spa, showing that he has improved his overtaking.

        Even as a Lewis fan, at this moment i am quite convinced that Vettel is the most rounded driver on the grid, taking the crown previously held by Alonso. His maturity has been amazing. And its important for a driver to take his environment into consideration and not operate in a silo – which Vettel has done well by ensuring that both friend and foe have accorded him respect and admiration with little reserve.

        Hopefully Lewis would have learnt from the missed opportunities this year to mount a credible fight in 2012. He seemed to miss the point that even if Nigel Mansell is biased against him, he is still a steward and his word like the word of all referees is final. I have argued for his corner fervently but he needs to accept that the field is playing against him at the moment and he will need to change his game plan to get back on top – he has to work better with other drivers on the grid, read strategy better and learn from his team mate to be calmer even when in the short term things are going against him in the race.

        And of course he has to re-learn how his team works: Ron Dennis is no longer in charge, Martin Whitmarsh is – for all his faults, the McLaren board is not taking him anywhere. Time for Lewis to do some serious SWOT Analysis in advance of 2012 and his contract negotiations.

        And of course finally he has to handle the press better – you lot haven’t been his best friends and it will serve him well to find out why. He may need to hire one of you handle his PR as as the moment its in tatters.

      4. James Allen says:

        Don’t agree with quite a few points here, except the first one about Vettel. On the final one, HAM is now managed by Simon Fuller’s 19 and has a PR lady who comes to races on his behalf.

      5. Stu says:

        @CH1UNDA (Not sure why I can’t reply directly!) – I’d have to say alot of positive points about Vettel are true (not that I like to admit it) but overtaking was so easy at Spa that I don’t think it’s something which he has suddenly become amazing at overnight, I’d need to see more before I thought that was the case.

        And nothing would beat Webber’s pass on Alonso at Eau Rouge!!! :-)

      6. Mike J says:

        No way. Sure Vettel will be champ but that doesn’t stop it for me. Webber, Alonso,Hamilton and Button have it all to fight for. Giving up like you portray is not in these drivers.

        I for one will be there. Gee, you must have been not interested a lot back in the the early 2000′s and even back in late 80′s.

      7. Alex W says:

        Injury my friend…..

      8. KRB says:

        That is the only way that Vettel could lose the DWC, if he has to miss the remaining races. And then, if that were to happen and someone overhauled him, would they feel all that good about it?

      9. Chris G says:

        It’s never over until Eddie Jordan sings, but at this rate I expect the only way anybody stands a chance is if Red Bull start work on next years car now and stop developing this, which is kinda a scary thought

      10. bmg says:

        See thats the problem with team orders. You get a runaway winner. Vettel has done a fantastic job, but come on, we all know he gets first choice with equipment and stratagy.

        Could you have been a cracker of a season if RB let them race each other.

  7. Joe says:

    For me, James, more significant than the fact Vettel can win the title in Singapore is – and I haven’t seen this written in any articles so far – that Vettel only has to finish 4th in each of the remaining races to win the title. If webber wins all of the remaining races with Vettel in 4th, Vettel will end the season with one point more than his team-mate.

    And to think that he doesn’t see the title as more-or-less wrapped up…

    1. Nick F says:

      He’s going to have at least one DNF at some point. It won’t make any difference, but something like that will happen because it always does.

      1. Matthew says:

        Schumi podiumed in every race one year… 2002?

    2. Liam in Sydney says:

      The only way Vettel will lose is if he gets a DNF or two.

  8. goferet says:

    Argh, champion by Singapore – that would be something! And thinking about it, it’s very likely to happen seeing as Vettel didn’t win either race last year.

    The person who really let this year’s championship down was Mark Webber for he never showed up & till now he’s still messing up his starts.

    Also the Mclaren lads especially Hamilton let this season down for he couldn’t/can’t string together consistent results. No doubt the Mclaren car during the race has been faster but mistakes & team blunders has been the story of the season

    As for a Vettel DNF, please don’t hold your breath for I recall his father – Daddy Schumi going three entire seasons without a single DNF & since Vettel is always planting it on pole – That’s difficult to see.

    The only scenario that can stop Vettel is if he cuts his hand again or falls down some freaking stairs ruling him out for three races.

    Yes people, get out those voodoo dolls

    1. Mike J says:

      Webber as most disappointing? Never showed up??. Probably a minor misuse of words however I think I know where you are going.

      I agree that Webber would be most disappointed however it would be more down to his car problems in most of the first 5 races with KERS, then Canada KERS and Monaco pit stop. He has actually shown probably the most determination, mental toughness and great ability when the ‘chips are down’. Unlike others, he has driven around his problems. This is why RBR like him. He and Vettel balance each other.

      His start problems, yes are his Achilles heal at present so would agree with you there. However would like more insight into this (James take note please) as Vettel, from post race Spa, is also having similar, however not as bad issues.

      In general, Vettel and RBR have made everyone look ‘second tier’ this year. Even though I had my problems with Vettel last year, he is slowly ‘ticking the boxes’ and is maturing more each race. He and his car and strategy calls have been near faultless. Worthy of a champion and champions make their own luck!….however I would love to see him start one race towards the rear and see how he goes!. This would be the ‘icing’.

      For me the most disappointing by far are McLaren and LH. They did have the car to be a lot closer, they were in the position to do more but as you indicate, were their own worse enemies.

      The race for second is on!…..Vettel and 3 DNF’s/DNS’s, I think I have more chance with winning the lottery/lotto.

    2. docjkm says:

      Agree with the observation that it is Webber most responsible for the current runaway.

      James, is it not overdue for investigative reporting on the consistent and appalling inability of Mr Webber to put his car in motion at lights out?

      THIS is the singular most intriguing variable to the season thus far. Forget diffusers, tires, DRS, Hamilton’s antics, and yes, the constructor’s championship. As per the DRIVERS title, this stands out, yet I have heard no one address it with serious analysis. WTF IS going on? The only other fellow with the (supposedly) same equipment is back with ‘the rest’. For ONE reason.

    3. Simon Haynes says:

      Google webber + KERS + 2011. Saves me posting it again.

    4. Jo Torrent says:

      It’s the 1st or 2nd time I agree with you since you joined JAF1. I need to pay a visit to my shrink. Euuuh… I don’t have one.

  9. Tim says:

    Neither here nor there really. Short of Vettel dropping out of the championship immediately, he’ll close it out. Even if he did, the chasing pack might take too many points off each other to get there.

    Let’s just hope we continue getting some great races along the way!

  10. Rafael L says:

    Good for him but bad for us.

    Can Ferrari and McLaren please hit the ground running next season from RACE ONE?

    Thanks,
    F1 fans

  11. Justin Bieber says:

    the championship is over.

    I haven’t been bored with a championship since 2004.. I hope we don’t see a total Red Bull domination like we had in 2000-2004.

    One team dominating is not good for the sport. If F1 comes back to US in 2012 with a championship like 2011, I dont see how Americans would be interested in the sport.. even with Tom Cruise in a Red Bull.

    Lets hope that Ferrari & McLaren can get their s**t together and build a proper Red Bull challenger in 2012. I truly hope for the best.. but expect the worst.

    At least the races are interesting!

    1. Travis R says:

      I imagine if Red Bull wraps up the title soon, that allows them to focus on the development of the 2012 car. That could be bad news for the competition.

    2. Simon Donald says:

      It all comes down to what you would rather see an exciting points race with boring races or fantastic races with a runaway champion. We would all rather have both exciting races and championships, but I would bet that for US audiences who are just coming in (or coming back) to F1, they would rather have a single exciting race in Austin! American racing tends to be full of overtaking and exciting wheel to wheel racing and this is fundamentally what F1 will need to do if it is to succeed in the country and find the first true successful home since the Glen.

      1. James Allen says:

        Excellent point. The only thing to add is that what a championship battle does is give a great tension to every event in the closing stages. That tension is completely lacking now. But the races are closely fought and that is exciting

      2. **Paul** says:

        I don’t find the Championship that exciting, but I enjoy the races, just as I love watching Real Madrid play Barcelona or Man Utd vs Liverpool. The outcome at the end of it all isn’t something that really matters to me, but the entertainment for those two hours is exactly what I tune in for.

        I’d also have to say this season has produced the most exciting racing for at least 15 years, and perhaps it’s driver bias that makes them come out with such crazy statements about boring seasons. We’ve seen more overtaking and incident this season that we have for a very very long time. We’ve seen Vettel win races where frankly he (and his RBR car) weren’t the fastest and perhaps that distorts peoples view somewhat.

      3. unoc12 says:

        JA, one word

        Indycar.

        The races are wheel to wheel. It’s as American as apple pie. The championship battle is comically close. The racing is half ovals wheel to wheel and half ‘road courses’ where it is still pretty close.

        Yet most things have higher ratings than Indycar, nascar, baseball, eating competitions, Barack Obama in Alaska etc…

        Added to that I would hate to see F1 turn into wheel to wheel racing passing constantly like Indycar or NASCAR.

        Quite frankly, all the DRS does it allow out of place drivers to move back into place.

        The overtakes with the DRS in Spa, like Turkey were comical at best and most downright sad. Rosberg got into the lead on skill, then Vettel went straight past without any chance of Rosberg defending without being suicidal.

        So what did we see, a show of skill by Rosberg, and then the DRS corrective device coming into put the car behind ahead and vettel went off into the distance and that was that.

        Schumacher used it quite a bit too, even hitting the rev limiter with KERS. Easy passes without showing the skill we expect from a 7 times world champion, or even any top level racer.

        In short, James, what your describing is Indycar, and the Americans doesn’t like it. And I hope that F1 doesn’t try to replicate.

        oh and btw, Spa only every 2 years ..[mod]!

  12. jay harte says:

    james
    were you suprised red bull dominated at spa ?
    does this mean they go to monza as the favourites again or can you see someone beating them next time out ?
    thanks

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes and no. I’m impressed with the way they’ve updated their car with skinny rear wing and clearly the KERS is now working properly, which cannot be underestimated

      1. **Paul** says:

        Just wondering re: Hamiltons lack of straightline speed on Sunday, was that because he ran more downforce than others to ensure a good grid position? I know McLaren had some kind of uprated DRS so I was wondering if he went slightly too far on the downforce?

        Monza will be interesting, as for me the Renault engined cars don’t quite have the raw horse power of the Merc & Ferrari, and RBR’s KERS isn’t quite as powerful, so perhaps we’ll see Ferrari and McLaren in control there?

    2. Darren says:

      I think McLaren falling over themselves really helped them rather than Red Bull having dominant speed. Clearly Button was fastest by some margin.

      1. jay harte says:

        dont forget button pitted at the end of the first lap took off the mediums and then did the remaining 43 laps on a few sets of softs ,so this is why i think he was so fast especially at the end when the 2 red bulls and alonso werent so fast on their mediums .
        i agree with what you say mclaren did trip themselves up , and if button did start in the top 4 he could have challenged for the win no doubt . but did you hear lewis say they were struggling down the straights ? i think mclaren got the set up wrong for this track .

    3. AB says:

      Spa, Monza. Two classic circuts but very different beasts. They both require power but Spa also requires you to be able to carry that speed through some awesome corners. I also love that Spa has elevation (Why I also love Bathurst). Monza is about power, power and more power. The Bulls will have an advantage through the Parabolica which will help them get onto the front straight with more speed but, with the straight being so long, the others will catch up. Other than that, and the two lesmos, it is a point and squirt circuit so drive out of the chicanes will be very important. With the speed the Mercedes showed at Spa, they could well be a dark hourse

      1. jay harte says:

        yes thats right about monza being about power and more power
        i think ferrari will be good but then again the old problem for them not being able to get temp into the mediums during a race. mclaren seems to have more mechanical grip but will go for more downforce as they did in spa ,thats why i think red bull will beat them again next time in monza

      2. KRB says:

        If McLaren and Ferrari let Red Bull win at Monza, they will only have themselves to blame. Agree with AB about Parabolica, and they’ll have it through Lesmos too, but still the Mercedes and Ferrari engines should be too much for the Renaults.

  13. Roddy says:

    I hope it will be Japan which is a great venue for a title win.

    Vettel may take the more cautious and pragmatic approach which will mean waiting one or two more races, and one or other of his rivals are no doubt thinking they can do a Kimi and pull off a series of wins while our man flounders, but I can’t see it happening.

    1. devilsadvocate says:

      appropriate too, as Vettel loves and typically excels at Japan

  14. Michael S says:

    Vettel has had an amazing year by any standards… It was brilliant on so many levels. I know many want to claim it is all car, but clearly the driver is top shelf too. The ’88 McLaren was a beast but Senna and Prost took it to amazing levels

    1. Mike J says:

      agreed, his improvement over last year as a person and driver is fantastic. maybe the ‘finger’ is still a bit too much though.

    2. pargo says:

      I agree. Vettel has driven pretty well this year. I absolutely caned him on RBR website last year, Turkey incident, and commented Lewis will always have the edge over him (Vet). Have had to eat my words. Not sure how Lewis is handling it…

    3. Liam in Sydney says:

      +1 Can’t get it any more correct than that. Although I am not a Seb fan, only an idiot can’t grudgingly respect he has been a head above his nearest rival this year.

    4. KRB says:

      At least in ’88 there was still a DWC battle, b/c both drivers at McLaren were top-class. That’s why I’d like to see Lewis and Seb head-to-head in the same car.

      Even the ’88 McLaren didn’t snag up every pole (I know there’s 7 races left for RBR to not get pole, and Monza’s a prime candidate for that, but they’re 12-for-12 so far).

  15. Divesh says:

    I see many people complaining about Vettel and Red Bull dominating etc. but if you look back over Vettel’s race wins you will see that he has had to work hard for almost all of them.

    They are quicker on a Saturday, but come race day it is usually the Mclaren that is the faster race car. In my opinion, the fact that Vettel is going to sew it up so early is more down to his rivals missed opportunities than Red Bulls utter dominance.

    Don’t get me wrong, they still have the fastest car, just, but Mclaren in particular have made it far easier for Vettel than they should have done.

    1. Roddy says:

      Ferrari I think more than McLaren have failed to take the fight to RB despite Eddie Jordan’s declaring them the most improved team. After all the trumpeted changes of the last 2 years they trailing 3rd. What sort of triumph is that?

  16. Dan says:

    Let’s face it the championship has been over for ages. For any of Vettel’s rivals to catch him would take unbelievable circumstances, even before he won in Belgium. This season has been the reverse of last year. 2010 was boring races and an exciting championship, 2011 has been great races but a boring championship. McLaren and Ferrari’s comments about just wanting to win races this year tells you they’ve thrown in the towel.

  17. Simple says:

    Credit where credit is due. I’m not a vettel fan but he deserves the championship. He’s been super consistent, his only real ‘off race’ being Germany. It could have been more interesting if Hamilton didn’t keep dropping the ball, or if webber could get a decent start. Bring on 2012 and a decent title challenge!

  18. Hesley says:

    Anything can happen, but chances are that the championship is finished and the fight will be, as Senna would say, for “the first of the losers”… the second place.
    Another note:
    Please keep in mind you are transmitting for other countries, not only GB. We understand your support for the Brits; however, don’t try to hide the obvious. Every now and then Hamilton makes a stupid mistake. It was clear he’s made another one by hitting Kamui Kobayashi.
    This is not only my opinion. Please, read Niki Lauda on “The Guardian” He knows better than me.
    Thanks!

  19. Lindsay says:

    You /could/ argue that they’re due a retirement or two, but that’s the Gambler’s Fallacy.

    No doubt it will happen, of course, but there’s no reason to believe that it’s more likely to occur now just because it hasn’t happened yet.

  20. Joseph says:

    My focus is already on 2012 as with many teams this year has been nothing but a boring season, there was no real excitement to it no bang nothing wanted me to go wow look at the show the drivers have put on. At the start of the Belgium GP i was like wow Rosberg in the lead was awesome and Alonso ans Massa battling hard for 3 was fun then the SC comes out around half way and that was when the race ended. Vettel is the 2011 champion as he was able to win in the early part of the season. I believe that testing should be brought back as the competition would be able to maybe close the gap on high end teams and for one thing F1 is the only sport in the world that do-sent allow testing.

    1. James Allen says:

      You are very hard to please, then. We’ve had many fantastic races this season, in my opinion.

      1. Macca says:

        I agree with you James. I think the races this year have been just as thrilling and close as last year.
        Hats off to Vettel though. He has out classed all of his main competitors from the very start

      2. Mattoz says:

        Agreed! I haven’t missed a race since 1995 and i have to say that I don’t recall a season where there have been as many exciting races as we have seen this year.

      3. For sure says:

        Yes I enjoyed a lot of races, Michael went from p18 to 2nd in 20 laps window or something like that in Canada which was an awesome race and there were a few like that. Championship wise, if your fav driver can’t win, its not fun, let’s face it.
        But James, he does have a point regarding testing. Because when you ban testing, it becomes a simulator development race which handicapped certain teams and rookie drivers. Why not bring it back. Any news regarding this?

  21. Jez says:

    Vettel has out classed his competitors, and will continue to win all the way to the final race.

  22. Rich C says:

    Is my maths wrong? Vettel wins Monza and Singapore with Webber second. Vettel will (only) be 106 points clear of Webber. Webber wins the remaining 5 races to score 125 with Vettel scoring 0 (ok unlikely) and Webber is champion. So Vettel can win the title in Singapore, but winning Monza and Singapore alone does not guarantee it mathematically.

    1. Allan says:

      In the article James does mention that Seb would have to outscore Webber over the next two races for him to clinch the WC in Singapore (amongst other requirements).

  23. Matt Cheshire says:

    The chance of Vettel losing this is lottery odds. Unless he is hospitalised for the rest of the season- and that’s a hollow win for the victor anyway.

    So what happens from here?

    Webber will race to the death now he has the 2012 seat. Every point he can take from Vettel is turning the tide for 2012.

    Alonso has no one to push against. Vettel is off the horizon, Massa isn’t allowed to be ahead, Hamilton is beating himself without any pushing. Is he just looking ahead to the 2012 car? The F150 is a truck after all.

    Hamilton will be looking over his shoulder. No.1 isn’t clear cut at McLaren any more. He’ll be Driving Miss Daisy to bank points and finish every race, to be ahead of JB. He can’t drive with his volume control at 11 with the championship gone. A shame.

    JB could be interesting out of Hamilton’s shadow- with nothing to loose he seems to like the dark horse strategies.

    Vettel will win by 90 points+ Webber and JB close second/third. Alonso and Hamilton fighting limply over the scraps.

  24. Sarvar D says:

    No matter what month Seb clinches the 2 title in, he will be a favorite to win Suzuka, Abu Dabi & Interlagos as he dominated on the tracks last years.

    1. Rodger says:

      He dominated Korea last year as well.

      Until his lump melted of course.

  25. Robin says:

    People use “mature” to describe Vettel but one could equally use “disciplined”. He seems, for example, to be able to program himself to drive at the limit of acceptable tire wear so that, he loses time to a rival until gradually the gap turns around he’s making time as the tires change. He doesn’t seem to ever panic or drift off the game plan. This can be a bit dull on the surface but it’s often fascinating because as the strategy unfolds, you see the true subtlety and guile revealed. It’s also greatly in contrast to Lewis who is massively entertaining, but really needs more discipline especially on these tires.

    Speaking of which, British people use the word “massively” much too often, especially in F1. Lewis said he was “massively slow” on the straights at Spa. What the heck does that mean? I have to wrap this post up now because I’m massively sleepy and have to go to bed.

    RC

    1. Brad says:

      “This can be a bit dull on the surface but it’s often fascinating because as the strategy unfolds, you see the true subtlety and guile revealed.”
      Could’nt have said it better Robyn. Man, I love the boy. I love the way he matured late last season and got the job done. Despite all the criticism, just put his head down and did what he needed to do. And now that experience he carried forward this year and he’s just improving all the time, as a human being and a complete racing driver. I use to be the “greastest” Kimi fan and Seb’s somehow filled that gap that was there when he left…

    2. terryshep says:

      For sure.

      1. Hesley says:

        Very well said! His talent is in walking the line at the limit whenever he wants. Many drivers can make a a few good laps, but very few can make many good laps in changing conditions.That is what sets apart talent from just effort and training.

    3. Chapor says:

      As I do not like Vettel very much, I am a disappointed McLaren fan, I do have to admit that his discipline this year has been outstanding.

      James, can you recall if Vettel has had any contact with another car/driver this year? I am desperately trying to remember and cannot recall any such incident.

  26. Lewis J says:

    Seb has been the best driver this season in the best car. For these reasons he deserves to be WDC. End of discussion.

    Let’s hope Ferrari and Macca raise their game next year.

  27. Matt W says:

    The races this season have been the best in decades, but unfortunately Mclaren and Ferrari have been too inconsistent and mistake prone for the championship. it reminds me of Moto GP when Rossi was dominating but the races were exciting enough to keep tuning in for. In a way they have denied Vettel any kind of credible challenge for the title.

    Vettel has certainly stepped it up this year. He is easily the most rounded driver out there right now. Alonso has some work to do if he wants to recapture that tag. Lewis needs to look to his form in 2009 when despite a poor car he was probably one of the best drivers in the field.

    One thing the BBC haven’t considered is that it is all very well having the final race of the season under the new deal, but potentially the championed could be crowned on pay to view TV and most viewers will find out via the internet or the news.

  28. Zorg says:

    For fans of Sebastian Vettel ;-) http://www.wallpapersf1.com/Sebastian-Vettel?wallpaper=424
    This driver is a great champion !

  29. Dave says:

    I seem to remember this time last year Martin Whitmarsh calling Seb Vettel ‘The Crash Kid’. However, it seems more fitting for Lewis one year on!

    1. Allan says:

      This really brings it home in a way.

      I like Lewis quite a bit, but I can’t really say he has developed as a driver from last year to this. In many ways, he seems to have plateaued since 2008.

      Vettel on the other hand does seem to have made thorough advances on multiple fronts as a driver.

    2. Tim Parry says:

      This time last year, Whitmarsh was right. Vettel has shown himself to a quick study. Hope Hamilton can do the same. He needs to stop trying to be the next Ayrton Senna and focus on being the first Lewis Hamilton. That should be plenty.

      1. Ashwin says:

        Bang on… I second that

  30. kirbs85 says:

    Congrats to Vettel. He deserves to win, he’s been clearly the most consistent driver this year, he’s had the best car and he’s had his fair share of luck, but then some say you make your own luck.
    Webber has been outclassed this year by Vettle in the same machinery. Not quite sure why, but his inability to get off the start line always puts him in trouble.
    Alonso is probably the best driver out there still – just had a pig of a car and very poor strategy calls from his team this year.
    Button – probably in the right position for him – neither done better or worse than expected for me.
    Hamilton – biggest let down of the season. Some his fault – others the fault of his team but nonetheless he could have and probably should have been very close to winning the WDC this year. Unfortunately for him his petulance has ruined his chances. I do still think he is the fastest driver out there at the moment, but his inability to aviod banging wheels with other drivers which tend to land him in hot water with the stewards and/or out of the race has put paid to his chances this year.
    Ultimately he needs to bide his time more and take a calmer/Buttonesque approach to his racing – oppertunities will present themselves and there is no need to force your way through at the earliest oppertunity.

  31. Raymond says:

    I don’t mean to steal your thunder James, but this is something I calculated (in a running spreadsheet system I have going on) and posted in another forum:

    Back after the amazing Spa Grand Prix with another points summary.

    Standings:
    Vettel 259
    Webber 167
    Alonso 157
    Button 149
    Hamilton 146

    There’s 175 to play for; and again, still open. Here are the gaps:

    Webber -92
    Alonso -102
    Button -110
    Hamilton -113

    It’s not possible for Vettel to wrap it up by Monza. Singapore, however… is possible.

    In Singapore, there will be 125 points to play for. So. By the Singaporean checkered flag, he has to, over the next TWO races now, outscore:
    Webber by 34 points (17 points average)
    Alonso by 24 points (12 points average)
    Button by 16 points (8 points average)
    Hamilton by 13 points (6.5 points average) – a win is 7 points; so winning the next two would knock Hamilton out of the race, even if Hamilton scores 2nd in both races.

    For him to do so by the Suzuka checkered, he has to outscore (over the next 3 races):
    Webber by 9 points (3 points average).
    Webber is the only one “above the curve” in this regard. The others, however, have to catch up a set amount of points. Vettel can let the following happen, and still win:
    Alonso has to outscore him by 1 point (.33 average)
    Button has to outscore him by 9 points (3 average)
    Hamilton has to outscore him by 12 points (4 average)

    By Korea, with only 75 points left on the table, EVERYONE is below the curve. Note that for all the stats below, if the guys outscore him by that number of points, Vettel will be champ by 1 point

    Webber has to outscore him by 16 points (4 average)
    Alonso has to outscore him by 26 points (6.5 average)
    Button has to outscore him by 34 points (8.5 average)
    Hamilton has to outscore him by 37 points (9.25 average)

    By India:
    Webber has to outscore him by 41 points (8.2 average)
    Alonso has to outscore him by 51 points (10.2 average)
    Button has to outscore him by 59 points (11.8 average)
    Hamilton has to outscore him by 62 points (12.4 average)

    By Abu Dhabi:
    Webber has to outscore him by 66 points (11 average)
    Alonso has to outscore him by 76 points (12.67 average)
    Button has to outscore him by 84 points (14 average)
    Hamilton has to outscore him by 87 points (14.5 average)

    By Brazil:
    Webber has to outscore him by 91 points (13 average)
    Alonso has to outscore him by 101 points (14.43 average)
    Button has to outscore him by 109 points (15.57 average)
    Hamilton has to outscore him by 112 points (16 average)

    So. Singapore looks unlikely, but if he can gain 9 points (over the next 3 races) over Webber, and not lose any gap towards his other contenders, he WILL be champion, by Suzuka. With FOUR RACES remaining.

    If you linearly extrapolate all of their points now, the two McLarens will be knocked out by Singapore; and Vettel will win the WDC in Suzuka.

    1. Sharp_Saw says:

      @Raymond
      Are you asserting that you drew a scatter plot and used correlation and regression to deduce that? Give me some guidelines as to how you did that so that I can brush up on my statistics as well.

      Anyway, its clearly not over yet.

      1. Raymond says:

        Nope. I just used a linear extrapolation. I COULD have used regression; but I was too lazy to :P

  32. balint says:

    The most interesting question is? Whether Alonso/Hamilton/Button/Rosberg/Schumacher etc. were able to beat Vettel if they sat alongside Him in a Red Bull? In other words, is it really Vettel or the car that earns the WDC(s)?

    1. Joseph says:

      I think if you put Alonso, Massa, Hamilton, Button and Schumacher in the Red Bull alongside Vettel we would see a diffrent championship. Vettel may be a good driver and all but if you look at the names mentioned they all started out in small teams just like Vettel did a grew and became better. Vettel needs more of a challenge, i believe that for him to be the best he has to deliver something special that will make everybody go wow.

      And no James i have not been hard to please this year i just believe that the racing has been boring this season. I thought when i watched Schumacher and Alonso dominate in there respective championship years racing was boring. I just think that F1 is about competition and seeing a battle between the best drivers in the world not watching one driver drive around the track with a 30 second lead it just makes for boring racing.

      These are just my views and i hope nobody judges me for this.

      1. Tom says:

        Vettel has never won in 2011 with a 30 second lead. The closest he has come was in Australia with a 22 second lead.

        The rest have all been under 10 seconds.

        One wonders if you have watched a race since Australia.

      2. Joseph says:

        I have watched every race this year haven’t missed a single minute. And i said that he drives around with a 30 second lead not a 20 second win.

    2. KRB says:

      Vettel would destroy Massa, beat Schumacher, edge Button, and be a strong second to both Hamilton and Alonso.

  33. Cag says:

    Vettel destroy complete destroy Mark Webber.

  34. goferet says:

    @ Jo Torrent Lol. Try not to make a habit out of it.

  35. Tom says:

    One way to prevent a driver from running away with the championship:

    If they get the equivalent of a three race win lead, they have to sit out the next two races or until another driver gets within 50 points.

    Alternatively, just make them ineligible to score points in the drivers championship until another driver gets within 50 points, but allow their results to count toward the constructors championship.

    1. Tim Parry says:

      NASCAR in the states is almost to this point now. It hasn’t helped any.

    2. KRB says:

      Maybe we have to go back to the “best x results of y races” that we had in the late 80′s.

      Surely Button’s two DNF’s bear no reflection on his driving prowess; they were both mechanical failures out of his control.

      I say take off the rev-limiters, and let the teams mess with their engines s’more, to get whatever bhp out of them that they think they can get.

  36. Lord Spa says:

    has anyone picked up the reference to the film Tron Legacy when Seb says “thats what im talking about” ?

    Look at the lightcycles scene – it’s a comment about teamwork.

    1. Gromit says:

      I was watching the movie last night and had the same revelation!

  37. JohnBt says:

    80% that it will happen in Singapore, finally we have to accept the maths. Nando’s record has been smashed.

    1. KRB says:

      What record is that? Schumi won the DWC with 6 races remaining, in a 17-race sched.

      1. JohnBt says:

        I meant as back to back youngest double WDC.

  38. Miles Anderson says:

    If you take Vettel out of the equation for one moment, the battle for 2nd place is very close. There are only 21 points between 2nd and 5th place. “The battle for 2nd” may not have quite the same ring to it, but its still something fascinating to watch for the rest of the season. If one of the remaining drivers can put themselves in a clear 2nd place, it would send a powerful message for next season.

  39. Thebe says:

    For me one thing has become evident about Vettel: He is a very consistent driver , he can cope with pressure , we have seen him in some races including this one(Belgian Grand Prix) where he was really under pressure and he somehow managed to deal with the situation as camly as possible.

    I think his performance this year outshines last year’s performance by far. As for Mark the time has come for him to really rise to the challenge and catch Vettel. It is undeniable that Vettel is getting more out the car than he is, team favourite or not , Vettel is driving very well at the moment it has to be said. He deserves this title.

  40. bmg says:

    Not a fan of Vettels, but credit were credit is due, he has been a stand out this year.

    The real race is for 2nd.

  41. Jon Wilde says:

    Do you think any of the top teams would consider changing the driver line up once the season is done?

    they could “rest” the likes of Vettel and Hamilton to allow a young gun a shot. Hamilton’s motivation will drop as soon as the championship is over for him. Why not give it a go? Yes constructors is important, but if positions are secure why not give it a go?

    1. James Allen says:

      Sponsor contracts wouldn’t permit it

    2. KRB says:

      I don’t think Hamilton’s motivation will drop, anymore than it has already. He wants to win any GP he’s a part of. That won’t change. At the moment, Vettel’s beating him again on total race wins (17 to 16), so why wouldn’t he want to do something about that?

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