Sebastian Vettel, a pole sitting winning machine. Or at least that is what this year’s F1 season is quickly turning into to…. again. I don’t usually write about F1 matters on TurnEight but after watching South Korea’s GP last weekend I have been prompted to say something.
Now I am a relative newcomer to F1, the first full season I watched was Lewis Hamilton’s winning 2008. I enjoyed it greatly, British pride and all that. 2009 followed and that was fairly epic as well; arguably it was the season that turned Jenson Button from slightly underwhelming race finisher into massively skilled race winner. Managing to fight for every podium and point during 2009 with a Brawn car that by the end was almost completely out engineered by the competition. Vettel’s 2012 championship was pretty good too, the way he fought back to win after getting spun around at the first corner at the deciding final race in Brazil was truly awesome, much to the annoyance of Alonso of course. But now after three years I am tiring like many of the Red Bull/Vettel dominance.
Now in no way am I shunning the skill of Vettel, he is quite clearly a bit of a blonde haired driving god. And I am not disagreeing with the many far superior F1 commentators who do nothing but praise the little German (he looks small on TV at least). I just don’t feel that F1 is very fair at the moment and shows no signs of getting any fairer; all the rules and bits of aero trickery are interpreted in such differing ways by each team and let’s be realistic if you’re not Adrian Newey there doesn’t seem much point in trying to design a car because the Red Bull in Vettel’s hands will trump even you’re hardest efforts. The team have really hit a sweet spot, with driver and designer but at the expense of enjoyment for the fans.
Having watched Korea and the titanic battle for 4th place it gave me some hope that fairness is still possible. The 4 cars of Sauber, Mercedes, Ferrari and to a lesser extent Mclaren seemed really on par with each other, leaving it up to driver skill to make moves. Their fight for a handful of points reminded me of what excited me about F1 when I first started watching it. In the days before Hamilton had sleeves of tattoos, two less diamond earrings and when Button wasn’t the star of cringe inducing Santander adverts.
I guess what I’m writing though is proof too of how quickly F1 technology moves on, that one car/team can become so dominating so quickly is quite an achievement. I barely remember Red Bull in 08/09. Surely something can be done to make it easier for other teams to keep up or progress that fast?
As wholly unrealistic as it is I would love to see a Williams, Force India and even Caterham trading places with Red Bull on the podium for a change. I do wonder sometimes if taking a leaf out of the BTCC’s book and starting the race in reverse grid order would be any good? Yes some cars will get overtaken in less time than it takes to blink your eye but it might just give drivers in middle of the grid cars the chance to get ahead and stay ahead. Seeing how well Hulkenberg kept Hamilton at bay on the closing laps last weekend certainly made it look possible that given the right conditions some cars can go like badgers escaping a cull. If other teams were able to get podium places it would also distribute the huge prize money pot more evenly, giving the other teams I have mentioned a chance to invest in new tech. In turn this means they can build a championship contending car as quickly as Red Bull has.
For the rest of the 2013 season though I think everybody knows what direction it will take. Alonso is 77 points behind an ever improving Vettel. And it is not as if Alonso is consecutively getting 2nd place, he is having to fight every race. Maybe next year with the introduction of the 1.6 litre turbo engines some fairness will be reinstated? We’ll probably know the answer to that about this time next year, I don’t think my reverse grid idea will catch on somehow though, shame.