Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Formula 1: Germany's Baby Schumi

Nicknamed “Baby Schumi”, in reference to fellow German driver and 7-time World Champion Michael Schumacher, Sebastian Vettel is proving to be a naturally gifted driver in the pinnacle of motorsports racing, Formula One.

Only 22 years old, a lot of F1 nuts consider Vettel as amongst the top 3 in the mythical pound-for-pound list of drivers, regardless of car or manufacturer, which include double World Champion Fernando Alonso of the current Renault drive and 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton of McLaren Mercedes.

In the circuit that was Suzuka last weekend, Vettel’s precision driving allowed him to lead in all qualifying sessions and start from pole to finish on race day, notwithstanding this being the German’s first try in the 5.8-km, high-speed, figure of 8, free flowing tract owned by Toyota which was last raced on by F1 in 2006.

The German driver has now converted 3 of his 4 pole positions into victories. Outstanding feat.

Eclipsing Lewis Hamilton, who was then the youngest driver to win a GP at 23, who in turn eclipsed Fernando Alonso’s record of 24, Vettel’s first GP win at 22 years old under Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari in the drenched Italian Grand Prix last year in Monza was the beginning of the German’s ascent into the driver’s pound-for-pound.

Currently third in the driver’s standings with 2 races to go, Vettel, in the Red Bull Renault, will have to win both upcoming penultimate race in Brazil and the first ever season ending combined day and night race in Abu Dhabi for a chance to grab the 2009 Driver’s title away from Brawn duo Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello. He takes inspiration much like the title race in 2007 when Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen, 17 points adrift, jump started frontrunners (and feuding) teammates Hamilton and Alonso in the last 2 races of that season winning by a single point.

But Vettel will have to nurse his engine well, high revs or not, in the coming races. He no longer has the luxury of a replacement having already used all 8 engines for the season.

Title in the bag for the Englishman? Anything can happen.