Pit Stop -Vettel takes fourth title – By Lewis Brearley

The Buddh circuit pit straight, a Red Bull RB9 and a four time world champion. A series of donuts followed by a bow from driver to car. An exuberant celebration after a flawless and sublime victory in which Sebastian Vettel made the legendary appear easy.

It was an iconic moment on a day when Vettel seemed to finally get the respect he, his team and his fans felt he deserved a long time ago.

Lewis Hamilton, who a few months ago claimed that Vettel was not even in the same class as himself and Fernando Alonso, admitted he might just have got it wrong.

Hamilton was talking after a poor race in which he had been outpaced by his team mate, Nico Rosberg. It’s the frequency of these subdued races that stops Hamilton from putting up any sort of championship challenge against Vettel who himself has worked to make sure every single race is a show of excellence.

Alonso also had a poor race by his own high standards. Outqualified by Felipe Massa, contact on the first lap and a race long struggle to overtake slower cars combined to damage his claim that Vettel is only beating him because he drives a faster car.

This isn’t criticism of Hamilton and Alonso as not even the greatest drivers are perfect. But Vettel is currently the closest of any of the current grid to that perfection. Sure, he does have the fastest car but his team mate – a highly rated race winner and championship challenger – lies fifth in the championship with zero wins in 2013.

Vettel took his sixth consecutive win – becoming only the third man to do so – and his tenth win this season with a perfect performance.

Starting from pole position he pulled out a comfortable gap before he pitted on only the second lap, the extremely short first stint necessitated by the fragility of the Pirelli softs.

This early stop put him right in the centre of the midfield and here was where many expected Mark Webber, on the alternative strategy of starting on the longer lasting hard compound, to gain time.
However, as with so many things this season, Vettel showed his class by pulling off a series of clean and precise overtakes, and also setting fastest laps in the meantime.

Vettel made sure he encountered his victims at the DRS zone and backed off during the fast corners, minimising time spent in a car’s dirty air and therefore minimising tyre wear and lost time.

Towards the final few laps, after Vettel had relentlessly gained a 20 second lead and Webber had retired, the team began to worry that they wouldn’t make the finish with their number one car either.

So paranoid were Red Bull that even Vettel’s KERS and drinks bottle were purposely disabled. Yet Vettel reached the chequered flag and became only the fourth, four time world champion.

A sub plot to all this was Kimi Raikkonen’s spat with his Lotus team. After stupidly getting in the way of team mate Romain Grosjean, Raikkonen was profanely told to move aside. Kimi responded with his own strong words and unsurprisingly is rumoured to have fallen out with the team over the affair to such an extent that on Thursday he hadn’t yet arrived at the Abu Dhabi circuit.
Whether he turns up or not, Vettel will be there. And he’ll probably be leading too.

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