When comparing 2010's Sebastian Vettel and 2011's Sebastian Vettel, it is clear that one is doing much better than the other. After Monza last year, Vettel was in real bother, after making silly mistakes throughout the season, costing him points and race wins. After Monza this year, he just needs two podiums to be crowned world champion. His driving in 2010, while at times brilliant, was erratic and unpredictable. This season, he has been just sublime. It is becoming more and more difficult to describe the young German's driving, because it is just so good.
|Vettel won the season opener in Australia.|
Spain was always going to be a Red Bull track, but few predicted that Mark Webber would beat Sebastian Vettel to pole position in qualifying. Vettel got a good start and passed his team mate, but neither thought that Fernando Alonso would make a gorgeous start from fourth and take the lead. Vettel had to think fast if he wanted to win the race, and adopted a brilliant strategy which saw him beat the Ferrari driver at the first round of stops. He then went on to win the race, with some good defending from Lewis Hamilton towards the end of the Grand Prix.
If strategy was key to Vettel's win in Spain, then Monaco would be even more impressive. The Pirelli soft tyres were meant to last 45 laps, everyone knew that. And Vettel made a good start from pole, leading from Button and Alonso. However, the German was looking likely to finish 3rd after a messed up pit stop from Red Bull. Vettel really thought on his head and chose to do an unlikely one-stop strategy, which would require the 45-lap tyres surviving 60 laps. They lasted 52, before the red flag was brought out after Vitaly Petrov crashed. Another brilliant strategy from Vettel giving him the win.
He might have lost Canada, but when you're really angry that it's your worst race result of the season, and you're 2nd, you've had a bloody good season. He returned with an easy win in Valencia, before what looked to have been a turning point. Excellent drives from his rivals saw Fernando Alonso win in Britain, Lewis Hamilton win in Germany, and Jenson Button win in Hungary. Many (including me, in my first article on this site) predicted that he would face a challenge from his rivals. Also was the factor that the next two races at Belgium and Italy, two tracks not suited at all to Red Bull.
|Vettel wins at Monza, another superb drive.|
Then he took pole at Italy, where his car wasn't suited to the track. This in itself was brilliant, but the race win was even more impressive. Passing Fernando Alonso on the outside of Curva Grande at 200mph shut the doubters up.
During the off season, a change happened in Vettel. He matured, grew calmer, and generally got better.
This young man is becoming a seriosuly good driver, and for me is in the top 20-30 of all time, a remarkable achievement for someone of 23 years. Well done Vettel, you've been amazing this year.
Pictures by Ausmotive.