Spa was telling for a few drivers this past weekend. Michael Schumacher proved that he still has some magic left in that Mercedes and Jenson Button emerged as McLaren’s number one ace. Many believe that championship leader Sebastian Vettel had much to prove as well. Despite taking nearly every pole position and winning on a regular basis and opening a near insurmountable lead, the German has been criticized and discounted given Adrian Newey and the RB7. Many believe that Vettel would not achieve half the success he has if it was not for team favorites and a dominant machine. This weekend however, Vettel proved that he is a force to be reckoned with and is capable of performing when the car is not up to the challenge.
Spa presents a number of challenges for both driver and engineer. The driver must be fully committed and willing to push the car to the very limit. Step over that limit and Spa makes you pay dearly, under perform and you will not sniff a podium. For the engineers, a fine balance must be hit with setup. You must have a knife edge balance between downforce and straight line speed. The Red Bull challenger is down on power to the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari. Their downforce level however is by far the best on the grid. The car can turn and perform better than any other during the middle portion of Spa’s unique layout. That is why Sebastien’s performance this weekend was so good and hopefully went a long way in showing his critics that he can perform when he needs too.
The major point was the ability for Vettel to overtake both in the DRS zone and non DRS zones. Losing out on the start to a missile Rosberg, Vettel was able to chop the lead and make an overtaking maneuver using the DRS system. The youngest champion in F1 history was also able to slash through the pack after the now famous Red Bull tire situation. Granted they were not the only ones with the problem, but the German had to slash his way through and really lay down some laps to time the gap properly.
I am not saying that young Vettel is a Senna or a Schumacher, but I believe that he deserves just as much credit as the car he drives. He has grown leaps and bounds over this point last year and is truly shaping up to be a fantastic champion. While this title may be all but wrapped up, it will be important for Sebastian to realize the competition is just beginning for next year. With drivers like Alonso, Hamilton, and Button in the field; it could all be over next year. For now however, Vettel is the king of F1 with no signs of letting up any time soon.