Sunday, 14 November 2010

He Actually Won It

After a season of ups, downs and unthinkables the final stamp on this year's season fell in favour of the one everybody thought would win it when the season began. Despite failing to lead the Championship all year until crossing the line in Abu Dhabi young Vettel made it count when it mattered: at the end.

What we expected was the defining moment of a brilliant season when 4 contenders would split to reveal 1 Champion. But what we weren't really contemplating was that the Champion would be the guy who seemed to throw it away so often. So much so that we no longer could take him seriously. And yet for all the permutations and romanticism of an ageing Webber making the final glorious capture; or Alonso showing what Ferrari were made of; or of Hamilton tip toeing through the field to rhythmic glory; in the end what we ended up with was the sight of the wonder kid coolly bringing his car from start to finish to complete the job. Done.

The F1 circus will be delighted to see a new constructor set in history with the established names. And yet they will also feel downbeat because Vettel is a name we know will become synonymous with winning for perhaps 15 more years. The time for Webber was today and today will soon be yesterday, a yesterday forever remembered in F1 history books as the one that Webber did not win. As for Alonso, his time will come again but the Tifosi will fume at what could have been.

The race started spectacularly when Shumacher spun into the first chicane and ended up facing 15,000 bhp of F1 fury full on. Unfortunately Liuzzi seized the opportuniy to add to his sizeable crash record and promptly smashed into the Mercedes. Ugly memories of the death of Henry Surtees came back when the Force India seemed at first to have wedged Shumacher's helmet to the cockpit. Thankfully all was fine but then again Hakkinen's fright at the start of the Brazilian Gp a few years ago secretly prompted him to retire from the sport. As the 42 year old looks at the heir sit down at what once was his throne, is this the final straw for the Great One? Without even a solitary Podium this year perhaps he'll think the time has come.

During the resultant safety car period the Renaualts made their pit stops, a move which would ultimately lead to Alonso's demise. Alonso had seemed to play it logically when he shadowed Webber's every move knowing that if they finished near each other then Alonso would emerge as Champion. And yet in hindsight it seems so daft. When an F1 stalwart like Ferrari takes its eye off a blazing Red Bull piloted by a multiple race winner and Championship contender then its asking for trouble. And no Italian could've anticipated just how much trouble. The tactic worked in the sense that Alonso ended up beating Webber in the Championship table. However; it failed in that he got stuck behind two resilient Renaults from lap 16.

It didn't help that the junior Red Bull team were complicit in allowing its elders through and making a difficult time for Alonso & Massa. There will be conspiracists pointing to the fact that Red Bull, who are powered by Renault engines, were given a very significant advantage by the Renault factory team. On the surface every giddy scrap of logical thinking will get some limelight in a season as close as this. But Red Bull created their own luck (and I'm not referring to their Junior Team) and Vettel his. The German slowly strangled both Alsonso and Webber whilst grinning from the front of the field.

And so we have a new Champion, a new Constructor and much to ponder over the winter. In the end we were all left a little stumped that the prodigy had actually gone and won the thing. At 23. Are we meant to be this surprised? Perhaps it will all make sense as we ponder it at leisure over the winter. What a great season!

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