Tag Archives: Sebastian Vettel

Vettel eases to Singapore pole position

Sebastian Vettel will start from P1 on the Singapore Grand Prix grid for tomorrow’s race. The Red Bull driver was so fast today, he sat out the final few minutes of Q3, as his rivals attempted – and failed – to beat his time.

Nico Rosberg will join him on the front row, setting up an interesting duel for the Grand Prix.

Q1

The super-soft tyre was almost 2 seconds faster than the medium compound, so the challenge for the top teams in Q1 was to see which could make it through without using the softer tyre.

Eventually, only Vettel, Webber and Romain Grosjean managed to do this, although the Lotus driver only scraped through by 0.2 seconds. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, were 6th and 7th, indicating how fast they were this weekend.

Felipe Massa sat in 18th place for part of the session, before his final lap pushed Paul di Resta into the drop zone. The Scot has now been knocked out of Q1 5 times this year. He was joined by Pastor Maldonado, as well as the usual suspects.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

17) Paul di Resta – 1:46.121

18) Pastor Maldonado – 1:46.619

19) Charles Pic – 1:48.111

20) Giedo van der Garde – 1:48.320

21) Jules Bianchi – 1:48.830

22) Max Chilton – 1:48.930

Q2

Kimi Raikkonen had been suffering from back pain on Saturday, presumably from the many bumps on the Singapore street circuit. This problem seemed to only get worse in qualifying, and Kimi was visibly uncomfortable in the car on his Q2 flying lap. While he did set a time, it was well off what was required to get into Q3, and he will line up 13th.

Nico Hulkenberg was disappointed to line up 11th, and must have been even more aggrieved to see Esteban Gutierrez break into Q3 for the first time this season.

An immensely quick lap time from Vettel – 0.8 seconds faster than anyone else – laid down an ominous gauntlet for his challengers in Q3.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:44.555

12) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:44.588

13) Kimi Raikkonen – 1:44.658

14) Sergio Perez – 1:44.752

15) Adrian Sutil – 1:45.185

16) Valtteri Bottas – 1:45.388

Q3

Vettel set his fast lap surprisingly early in Q3, and a 1:42.841 was definitely not unassailable. Nevertheless, he peeled off into the pits, and after a few minutes of deliberation, decided not to head out onto track again. This left 8 other drivers scrambling to beat his time, while Gutierrez sat out the session.

However, Nico Rosberg threatened to snatch an unlikely pole, going only 0.091 seconds slower than Sebastian. While Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean had impressed in previous sessions, neither of them could pull it off either. Grosjean will line up 3rd, with Hamilton 5th, and Mark Webber sandwiched in between them.

Ferrari’s woes continued, with Massa and Alonso never even remotely close to the frontrunners in 6th and 7th places. Jenson Button called off a strategy to run on the prime tyres only, and he took a decent 8th place ahead of Daniel Ricciardo.

While Red Bull must have been worried in the final few minutes, Vettel seemingly had another tenth or two in the bag in Q3. Whether he can hold off the fast-starting Rosberg and Grosjean in the race is another matter altogether.

Sebastian Vettel dominates Belgian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has won the Belgian Grand Prix, showing that Mercedes’ apparent comeback may not be as smooth sailing as previously anticipated.

The Red Bull driver passed pole sitter Lewis Hamilton on the first lap, and was completely untouchable for the rest of the afternoon. Hamilton clearly struggled with the pace of his car, and gradually slipped away, finishing in 3rd place.

Fernando Alonso made an emphatic start as usual, jumping up from 9th to 5th on the first lap. After disposing of Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg, he later dived down the inside of Hamilton at La Source, but was unable to put any pressure on Sebastian.

Behind the top 3, Hamilton’s and Vettel’s teammates did duel for the entire race. Mark Webber hounded Nico Rosberg since the first set of pit stops, but a lack of straight line speed and outright pace kept the Aussie in 5th place. Rosberg began to catch Lewis in the closing stages, but never got close enough to make a move.

Jenson Button did his usual strategy of using prime tyres to briefly jump up the order, before being forced to revert to a 2-stopper, and took  6th. Felipe Massa passed Romain Grosjean in the later stages of the race, while Adrian Sutil and Daniel Riccardo took the final points-scoring positions.

Sutil previously survived an incident with Pastor Maldonado, which resulted in Paul di Resta being taken out of the way. During a 4-way battle into the Bus Stop chicane, Maldonado broke his front wing off Sutil’s car, then clattered into Di Resta while trying to pit. A stop/go penalty combined with his repair stop ensured the Williams driver finished well out of the points. After a brilliant qualifying session, Di Resta fell down the order at the start, was soon passed by his teammate, and afterwards never even looked like challenging for a good finish.

Kimi Raikkonen was never on the pace of the Red Bulls and Mercedes today, and a brake failure ended his 27-race streak of consecutive points finishes.

Vettel’s victory gives him a commanding 46 point lead over Fernando Alonso, who in turn is 12 points ahead of Hamilton. Raikkonen’s retirement puts him in an extremely difficult situation, so the title fight appears to be narrowing to a 3-horse race.

Belgian Grand Prix: Tyre failures overshadow Friday practice

Sebastian Vettel set the fastest time in practice for the Belgian Grand Prix, but once again controversy has reared its head, as two tyre failures have threatened to ruin the entire race weekend.

One happened to Vettel at the end of an 11-lap stint, while the other was discovered on Fernando Alonso’s car after FP2 had concluded. While Pirelli have claimed that the failures were due to debris, drivers have grown worried that there will be a repeat of the Silverstone tyre explosions.

First practice

Rain across Thursday night and Friday morning in the Ardennes forest meant that the track was damp at the start of FP1. As the session continued, the middle sector began to dry out, while everywhere from the Bus Stop chicane to Rivage was still wet.

While McLaren’s Jenson Button set some impressive times in the varying conditions, once the slick tyres were available, the usual drivers topped the timesheets. Sergio Perez, Nico Rosberg, Daniel Riccardo, Lewis Hamilton and later Fernando Alonso all took P1 at different points in the session.

Light rain fell again with 15 minutes to go, leaving Lotus as the only team who failed to set proper lap times when the track was at its driest.

Times from FP1:

 1.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari               1:55.198          11 Laps
 2.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes  1:55.224  +0.026  10
 3.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes  1:55.373  +0.175  11
 4.  Sergio Perez         McLaren-Mercedes      1:55.518  +0.320  14
 5.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes              1:55.614  +0.416  10
 6.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault      1:55.636  +0.438  14
 7.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari        1:55.954  +0.756  18
 8.  Nico Hulkenberg      Sauber-Ferrari        1:56.110  +0.912  11
 9.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:56.770  +1.572  14
10.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Renault      1:56.858  +1.660  18
11.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari               1:56.863  +1.665  10
12.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault      1:57.081  +1.883  14
13.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:57.084  +1.886  17
14.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes      1:57.281  +2.083  14
15.  Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes              1:57.358  +2.160  10
16.  Heikki Kovalainen    Caterham-Renault      1:57.821  +2.623  16
17.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault      1:57.887  +2.689  16
18.  Max Chilton          Marussia-Cosworth     1:58.600  +3.402  14
19.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault      1:58.929  +3.731  12
20.  Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth     1:59.209  +4.011  12
21.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus-Renault         1:59.441  +4.243  11
22.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault         2:03.176  +7.978  15

Second practice

A dry track greeted drivers for FP2, allowing everyone to make full use of the medium and hard compounds.

Until a tyre failure for Vettel put some worried faces in the paddock, that is. With 20 minutes to go, the Red Bull developed a puncture around the Turn 13/14 area, resulting in the German limping slowly back to the pits.

This is the same area where Fernando Alonso’s car later developed a problem. Giedo van der Garde crashed at the same corner, but this was caused by the Dutchman losing control of his Caterham, rather than another worrying blowout. Pirelli have stated that they will inspect the track overnight, but they do not attribute the failures to a tyre design flaw.

Despite their issues, Red Bull still secured a 1-2 finish for FP2, with Vettel 0.05 seconds ahead of Mark Webber. While Mercedes appear to be their main rivals this weekend, they opted to complete only long-run simulations in second practice.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Sebastian Vettel     Red Bull-Renault      1:49.331          22 Laps
 2.  Mark Webber          Red Bull-Renault      1:49.390  +0.059  34
 3.  Romain Grosjean      Lotus-Renault         1:50.149  +0.818  34
 4.  Felipe Massa         Ferrari               1:50.164  +0.833  27
 5.  Jean-Eric Vergne     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:50.253  +0.922  28
 6.  Kimi Raikkonen       Lotus-Renault         1:50.318  +0.987  33
 7.  Fernando Alonso      Ferrari               1:50.510  +1.179  21
 8.  Sergio Perez         McLaren-Mercedes      1:50.536  +1.205  27
 9.  Nico Rosberg         Mercedes              1:50.601  +1.270  33
10.  Paul di Resta        Force India-Mercedes  1:50.611  +1.280  27
11.  Adrian Sutil         Force India-Mercedes  1:50.629  +1.298  30
12.  Lewis Hamilton       Mercedes              1:50.751  +1.420  27
13.  Nico Hulkenberg      Sauber-Ferrari        1:50.972  +1.641  33
14.  Pastor Maldonado     Williams-Renault      1:50.991  +1.660  28
15.  Jenson Button        McLaren-Mercedes      1:51.195  +1.864  28
16.  Daniel Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:51.447  +2.116  26
17.  Valtteri Bottas      Williams-Renault      1:51.568  +2.237  28
18.  Esteban Gutierrez    Sauber-Ferrari        1:51.644  +2.313  26
19.  Giedo van der Garde  Caterham-Renault      1:53.157  +3.826  21
20.  Charles Pic          Caterham-Renault      1:53.251  +3.920  29
21.  Jules Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth     1:53.482  +4.151  28
22.  Max Chilton          Marussia-Cosworth     1:54.418  +5.087  12

2013 half-way driver rankings: 4th – 1st

In the last of 3 articles, I rank this year’s F1 drivers based on their performances in the first 10 races.

We are left with 4 drivers, each driving for a different team, which shows just how spoiled we are for driving talent these days. Without delay, here’s the driver in 4th place:

4th – Fernando Alonso

Previous ranking: 1st

Previous quote: “In 9 years of watching F1, this [2012 season] was the closest thing to perfection I’ve ever seen.”

Had Fernando Alonso reached his peak in late 2012? It’s a question I refused to believe at the start of this season, but slowly I can see why this may be the case.

Flawless victories in China and Spain demonstrate what he can do when the car is on form. Spirited drives in Australia and Canada earned him praise as well. But we’ve also seen uncharacteristic errors from the Spaniard – a bizarre decision to stay out with a broken front wing in Malaysia cost him a potential podium finish.

Making the error of activating his broken DRS wing in Bahrain forced a second unscheduled stop, ruining any chance of a good result. As well as this, we have seen Alonso become more visibly flustered by Ferrari’s incompetence at building a consistently competitive car. A rift in the team grew over the summer break, fuelled by comments from Luca di Montezemelo, criticising Fernando for turning on his team.

None of this has helped his 2013 challenge in the slightest. It also puts him under pressure as to his drive for the 2014 season – should he switch to Red Bull or Lotus, or continue to try with a team that can’t fix a wind tunnel after 3 years of failure?

At this point, there’s no correct decision. All he can do for now is push on track, and try to close the gap to Sebastian Vettel as much as possible. But the title may already be out of reach, thanks to his early-season errors.

3rd – Lewis Hamilton

Previous ranking: 2nd

Previous quote: “If Hamilton can transform Mercedes like Schumacher did to Ferrari, he will go down as one of the best drivers of the modern era.”

3rd place in qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix confirmed what many had hoped over the winter – Hamilton’s switch to Mercedes was indeed the right call. More than that, we are seeing inspired, confident drives from the Brit more than ever.

Coping with a car that proved erratic under braking and suicidal when it came to tyre wear, two podiums in Malaysia and China were also very impressive, with his first Mercedes pole position to boot. Losing out in the pit stops in Monaco cost him another excellent finish.

Once he got to grips with the W04, wins were just around the corner. To everyone’s surprise, he calmly converted a pole in Hungary into a win, and I feel he could have done it even with Vettel unhindered by backmarkers. More superb victories in 2013 are expected, naturally.

Any poor finishes were the fault of the car, not the driver. The two Pirelli tyre massacres – Barcelona and Silverstone – threw him out of podium-finishing places. If it weren’t for these, he would have finished in the top 5 at every single race. With himself and Kimi Raikkonen both on form, there could still be a surprise winner to the 2013 season.

2nd – Sebastian Vettel

Previous ranking: 4th

Previous quote: “I still think that he was out-performed by other drivers on the grid.”

His unsporting antics in Malaysia earned him criticism, but in my mind it has cemented Vettel as a true racing driver. No triple world champion would throw away a victory like that – drivers like Hakkinen, Senna and Gilles Villeneuve have done the exact same.

His 2013 campaign is already shaping up to be one of his best – flawless performances are a standard for him these days. Of course, he is assisted by the Red Bull RB9′s stellar pace, but what world champion won their title in a Minardi? Sebastian has proven himself, once again, to be more calculating, more tactical and overall faster than his disillusioned teammate.

If it wasn’t for a gearbox failure in Silverstone, he would have finished in the top 4 at every single race. Such consistency is what we’ve come to expect from the triple world champion, and we’ve seen so much of it that perhaps we’re used to it. Perhaps that’s a good and a bad thing, but at the end of the day, Vettel is as ferocious a racing driver as ever.

1st – Kimi Raikkonen

Previous ranking: 3rd

Previous quote: “Raikkonen did a hugely impressive job this year, establishing himself as one of the sport’s finest drivers.”

It’s easy to appreciate Vettel’s stellar streak of wins across multiple seasons. But Raikkonen’s string of second-placed finishes is perhaps even more impressive, considering the speed difference in the cars they drive.

This year’s Lotus is reliable and consistent on the tyres, but lacks overall pace. The fact that such a car can be dragged to 5 2nd-placed finishes in 8 races is proof of Kimi’s impeccable racecraft. A win in Melbourne was earned with supreme tactical finesse, surprising many inside and outside the paddock.

Where the E21 has failed, it has tended to drag Raikkonen down with it, but I doubt any other driver could do much better. But even where his car was clearly off the pace, we still saw tremendous racecraft from the Finn, with Monaco being the prime example. After falling to 13th, Kimi pulled off three impressive passes on the final lap to snatch 10th place.

Such consistency has earned him the record for most points finishes in a row, with 27 being his current streak. It’s impossible not to recognise this kind of racecraft, and that’s why I’m tipping Raikkonen to be the surprise victor of the 2013 championship.

Who can catch Sebastian Vettel in 2013?

We are now halfway through the 2013 season, and Sebastian Vettel again holds a commanding lead in the championship – a sizeable 38 points over nearest rival Kimi Raikkonen.

But if the form of the first half of 2013 is anything to go by, we’re in for an unpredictable battle all the way to the end. Let’s have a look at the drivers who will take the fight to the Red Bull:

Kimi Raikkonen

Gap to Vettel: 38 points

Finishing form in 2013: 1-7-2-2-2-10-9-5-2-2

To say that his return to F1 has been a success would be a massive understatement. Kimi has been on the pace from the get-go, and has shown nothing but sheer determination and speed every time he’s out on track.

What holds him back though is the team itself. Lotus is bearing the brunt of severe overspending in recent years, and they have shown to be unpredictable when it comes to car development. A temporary slump from Monaco to Silverstone hurt Raikkonen’s chances of making steady progress, and it remains unclear whether Lotus can keep up to Red Bull in the development race.

The E21 can be described as “erratic” when it comes to performance between races – track temperature impacts on their car moreso than others, and this tends to make or break their race weekends before they even begin.

But when the car is on the pace, so is Kimi, every single time. The emergence of Romain Grosjean as a more reliable teammate may also come in handy, as the team may opt to use him as a tactial tool to delay his rivals. If Raikkonen is to win the championship, it won’t be by out-pacing the Red Bull, rather by clever tactics and strategy.

Fernando Alonso

Gap to Vettel: 39 points

Finishing form: 2-DNF-1-8-1-7-2-3-4-5

Rumours of a rift in the Ferrari garage wouldn’t be unrealistic – Alonso has been unhappy with the pace of his Ferrari for some time now, and he can only do so much with the 3rd fastest car.

Like Raikkonen, Alonso is being forced to put more pressure on his team to achieve results, but Ferrari’s leadership has struck back, claiming Fernando should put the team before himself. This has produced a rather worrying situation where Fernando may lack the support from Ferrari in order to win the title.

To make matters worse, Alonso is not the faultless driver he was last year. A bizarre decision to stay out with a broken front wing cost him a Malaysian Grand Prix finish, and Fernando made the mistake of accidentally activating his broken DRS wing in Bahrain, despite having just pitted to have it fixed down.

It’s clear that he has been rattled by years of chasing the apparently unassailable Vettel, and it is now a case of whether Alonso will jump ship altogether, or continue to fight with Ferrari. Despite being a fan, I can’t see any realistic chance of the Ferrari/Alonso combination catching Sebastian in this form.

The next 2 races are expected to suit the F138 though, so if we are to see any late-season charge, we will have to see Fernando perform well in Spa and Monza.

Lewis Hamilton

Gap to Vettel: 48 points

Finishing form: 5-3-3-5-12-4-3-5-1

Only a week ago, I assumed that the 2013 title battle was a 3-horse race. It seemed impossible that the tyre-melting Mercedes could possibly mount a charge. But mount a charge it did, in the searing heat of Hungary no less. Lewis Hamilton is now equipped with the best car to take down Sebastian Vettel, but is it too late?

A 48-point gap is by no means unassailable – look at what Fernando Alonso managed after Silverstone 2010. But the fact that Red Bull are so strong in the second half of the year is the biggest issue. Tackling Vettel at the power circuits – Spa, Suzuka and Austin – will be Hamilton’s biggest test.

Another factor will be Lewis’ reliability – we know all too well what happens when Hamilton goes off the rails, and to do so in 2013 would be catastrophic. I feel that he still lacks the precision driving that Raikkonen excels in, and this could be the difference between becoming the champion and crashing out at the decisive moment.

Lewis has progressed in leaps and bounds in the last 2 years, but it remains to be seen whether he can tackle his major weakness in 2013.

Vettel survives Lotus onslaught to win German Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has taken his first ever home victory at the Nurburgring, defending valiantly against Kimi Raikkonen in the closing stages.

Both Vettel and Mark Webber swamped pole sitter Lewis Hamilton at the start, Mark almost snatching the lead, but was quickly pushed wide at Turn 1 by his teammate. Felipe Massa made a decent start, moving up to 6th, but a self-inflicted spin on Lap 4 resulted in yet another embarrassment for the floundering Ferrari driver.

Fernando Alonso didn’t perform well in the opening stint either. He was only 7th after the start, and made little progress on his opening set of prime tyres. However he seemed to gain pace after the first stop, and soon began to catch the leaders.

Webber kept up with Vettel’s pace after the start, but yet another botched pit stop ruined his race. Again, the rear left wheel wasn’t secured, and disaster struck when it fell off and collided with an FOM cameraman in the pit lane. Mark was wheeled back into his box, dropping him a lap down, while the cameraman was sent to hospital for checks.

High track temperatures meant both Lotus drivers were on fine form, with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean putting heavy pressure on Hamilton in the first stint. An early pit stop for Grosjean propelled him into 2nd place, but Raikkonen wasn’t so lucky. He was stuck in the back of a train, led by Nico Rosberg, who hadn’t pitted quite as early, and held up his teammate and the Lotus up massively.

Nico was eventually instructed to release Lewis, which he eventually did on Lap 14, but the damage was done for Mercedes. Once Kimi got past the German, he quickly dispatched of Hamilton, and had to chase Grosjean down for 2nd.

In the middle of all these battles was Jenson Button. The McLaren driver ran a huge first stint, running as high as 4th up until Lap 20. The same strategy was applied by Nico Hulkenberg, another driver who appeared to be outperforming his car this weekend.

Romain had the advantage of a batter tyre strategy when chasing Vettel, but a Safety Car appearance ended that. It came out for a bizarre reason – after parking his Marussia with an engine failure, Jules Bianchi soon watched from the track barriers at the final chicane as his car began to roll across the track, almost colliding with race leader Vettel.

With all the frontrunners pitting earlier than expected, Grosjean’s advantage over Vettel was wiped out. Red Bull gained massively from the SC appearance, as Mark Webber was allowed to regain a lap, and was now able to fight his way back through the field.

Soon after the safety car, Vettel had to weather another problem – this time from his own car. His KERS began to malfunction, and Sebastian was forced to alternate between constant changes of the brake bias and occasional bursts of KERS to keep the system running. This allowed Grosjean and Raikkonen to close up on the leader.

Despite his KERS issues, Sebastian was able to fend off both Lotuses in his third stint. Lotus then opted for a split strategy to attack the Red Bull – Romain attempted to undercut Vettel, while Kimi ran a longer stint to outpace him.

Amazingly, neither worked. While Raikkonen may have been able to run until the finish, his team brought him in with 12 laps to go, surrendering the lead and possibly the win for a set of used soft tyres. Grosjean was ordered out of his teammate’s way, to allow a final attack.

Raikkonen wore down Vettel’s lead in the closing laps, getting tantalisingly close by the end, but was forced to concede defeat by the final corner. Sebastian extended his lead in the championship to 34 points, while Lotus took an impressive 2-3 finish, with Grosjean finally putting in another good drive this year.

Further back, Alonso put in blazingly fast laps on his last two stints to fight his way to 4th place, almost catching Grosjean in the process. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button were locked in a last-lap battle for 5th, until a slow Caterham lost Button time and the position. Jenson was left fuming, saying: “When you’re fighting for position, you expect the backmarkers to move over, even if they’re fighting for position themselves.”

Off-camera, Mark Webber had a spirited drive, recovering all the way to 7th place. Sergio Perez and Nico Rosberg couldn’t keep up with their teammates at all, while Nico Hulkenberg blasted his way from 15th to 10th in the final few laps, after pitting late for the option tyre.

This was a stunning win for Vettel – in a car not as fast as the Lotus, or as reliable as the Ferrari. Despite an extremely tense 30-lap battle, Sebastian remained cool and composed throughout, and this victory will be a huge stepping stone towards a potential fourth championship.

Vettel pips Hamilton for Canadian Grand Prix pole

Sebastian Vettel will start at the front of the grid for tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix, ending a thrilling qualifying session just ahead of Lewis Hamilton.

Valtteri Bottas was the star of the day, earning a superb 3rd place on the grid in changeable conditions. Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen both struggled, while the McLarens and Felipe Massa didn’t even make it into Q3.

Q1

A shower before Q1 dampened the track, although many drivers tried an initial run on slicks, with little reward.

With a 10-place grid penalty for tomorrow, Romain Grosjean was hoping for a good performance to minimise the damage. However, a poor closing lap put him 19th, and with his penalty will start from the back of the grid.

Most of Q1 was relatively wet, but as the track dried out towards the end, Paul di Resta was caught out on old intermediate tyres, and didn’t progress past the first session for the second race in a row.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

17) Paul di Resta – 1:24.908

18) Charles Pic – 1:25.626

19) Romain Grosjean – 1:25.716

20) Jules Bianchi – 1:26.508

21) Max Chilton – 1:27.062

22) Giedo van der Garde – 1:27.110

Q2

A spurt of rain between Q1 and Q2 threw many teams’ plans into disarray, with most drivers losing 5 seconds per lap once they had left the pits for the second session.

A crash for Felipe Massa with 2 minutes to go almost ruined the days of several drivers, but a swift red flag meant that drivers were able to set a lap afterwards. The Ferrari driver made a mistake entering braking for Turn 3, spun and slammed into the barriers, leaving him 16th on the grid.

Both McLarens suffered a dismal qualifying performance. Sergio Perez will take little solace in beating Jenson Button today, considering they lie in 12th and 14th places respectively. Nico Hulkenberg was initially impressive in Q2, but wasn’t quick enough after the red flag restart, and lies 11th.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:29.435

12) Sergio Perez – 1:29.761

13) Pastor Maldonado – 1:29.917

14) Jenson Button – 1:30.068

15) Esteban Gutierrez – 1:30.315

16) Felipe Massa – 1:30.354

Q3

While the track dried slightly after Q2, it still wasn’t dry enough for slick tyres.

Vettel’s first attempt was enough to put him on top, with Rosberg slotting behind. He was soon pushed down the order by Hamilton, Webber, and Vaterri Bottas, who excelled in the challenging conditions.

Nico’s next lap put him 4th, while Fernando Alonso could only manage 6th, with Kimi Raikkonen a disappointing 9th – the Lotus appeas to be out of its comfort zone in the wet.

Both Toro Rossos made it into Q3, with Jean-Eric Vergne taking a respectable 7th position, ahead of Adrian Sutil, Raikkonen and Daniel Ricciardo.

While most drivers put on a new set of tyres for the final few minutes, a badly-timed shower dampened the track further, and secured Vettel’s pole position.

Vettel wins in Bahrain as Alonso recovers from misfortune

Sebastian Vettel has taken a comfortable win in the Bahrain Grand Prix, while rival Fernando Alonso fought his way back up the grid after suffering mechanical issues early on.

Alonso’s DRS jammed itself open on lap 8, forcing the Spaniard to pit for quick repairs. However, the exact same thing happened on the following lap, and the Ferrari driver’s race was ruined.

Vettel took the lead from Nico Rosberg in the opening laps, after an enthralling battle with Alonso and the Mercedes. Both drivers disposed of Nico, and after Fernando’s DRS failure, Sebastian was unmatched for the rest of the afternoon. At the back, a first-lap clash between Giedo van der Garde and Jean-Eric Vergne put the Toro Rosso out of the race on the first lap.

Rosberg later slipped further down the order, being carved up by the midfield and falling to 6th place.

Paul di Resta and Kimi Raikkonen emerged at podium contenders throughout the race, utilising 2-stop strategies to slip ahead of the Mercedes cars after the first round of stops. However, Di Resta was caught by Romain Grosjean in the closing laps, and the Scot will have to wait a while longer for his first podium finish. Teammate Adrian Sutil incurred a puncture on the first lap after contact with Felipe Massa, and could only recover to 13th place.

McLaren saw a fascinating inter-team battle develop, as Sergio Perez fought bravely with Jenson Button all afternoon. They clashed wheels on more than one occasion, earning Sergio some criticism from Jenson on the radio. Nevertheless, they stayed out of the barriers, and Perez took a commendable 6th place by the end of the race.

He became embroiled in another battle near the end, between Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber, who had absolutely no pace in comparison to his teammate. Both drivers found their way past the Red Bull on the final lap, leaving Hamilton in 5th position.

A lack of pace and a puncture resulted in no points for Felipe Massa, finishing 15th. Alonso found himself almost a minute behind the leaders after his two early stops, but bravely fought his way back to 8th place by the chequered flag. He was briefly as high as 6th, but was punished by the resurgent Perez near the end.

With Vettel amassing a comfortable 10-second lead by the end, he increases his championship lead to 10 points, ahead of Raikkonen, Hamilton and Alonso. However, it is apparent that no one driver is a clear favourite for the title yet.

Team orders are ugly and unpopular, but they have to be made – and obeyed

The use of team orders by more than one major team this weekend has left a sour taste with many F1 fans. The fanbase is divided – at Red Bull, there are those who feel Sebastian Vettel should have respected the order to hold position, and those who claim that he should race as hard as he could, regardless of the situation.

In the case of the Mercedes team orders, things are more clear-cut. Nico Rosberg passing fuel-saving Lewis Hamilton would have had no adverse affect on the team’s standing in the championship, and it was a more “pure” outcome – if they weren’t teammates, Rosberg would have passed Hamilton easily.

I fully agree with those who argue that Nico shouldn’t have been held up, and that he deserved to take the podium spot. However, the fact that he still obeyed team principal Ross Brawn shows a degree of respect within the team, something that is not apparent at Red Bull.

If another team orders debate arises at Red Bull, neither driver will think twice about ignoring such an instruction from the pit wall. This might be fun to watch, but it raises huge risks for the team, and can destroy any professional friendship between the drivers and/or their bosses. Sebastian and Mark would do well to avoid a repeat of Turkey 2010 in the future.

Whether the fans like it or not, Formula 1 is a team sport at heart, and the team should always come first. Ferrari understand this, having ironed out any hope of a rivalry between Alonso and Massa in recent years. Meanwhile, the current constructors’ champions are faced with dealing with two ego-fuelled rebels, who will now lock horns on-track at the first opportunity. It doesn’t take a genius to calculate that Ferrari’s system is more consistent and safe.

Vettel’s ignoring of his team’s instructions has unraveled any remaining friendliness between himself and Webber, that much is certain. Compare this to Rosberg’s choice, which has gained him respect within the team, and by Hamilton. If such an issue arises again, both drivers should be able to deal with it in a professional manner which benefits the team. Red Bull have no hope of this.

This isn’t about adrenaline-fueled glory runs, or brazen chest-bashing. It’s about understanding that the team is more important than the individual driver, and how sacrifices should be made for long-term benefits. If a three-time world champion can’t comprehend this, the Red Bull have a serious problem on their hands.

Vettel backstabs Webber to win the Malaysian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has won the Malaysian Grand Prix, but the fallout from today’s events will surely stain what was an impressive 1-2 victory for the Red Bull team.

Mark Webber led much of the race, but was instructed to dial down his engine in the final stint to save fuel and tyres. Vettel, who was close behind throughout the race, was instructed to hold position, but instead locked horns with his Red Bull teammate, and eventually came out victorious.

The podium ceremony was awkward to say the least, with Webber angrily quipping “Multi 21, Seb?” to his teammate beforehand. Mark was also seen gesticulating at Sebastian on-track during their battle.

Mercedes were embroiled in a similar battle, but both drivers decided to respect the team orders. Lewis Hamilton finished 3rd, and was struggling with low fuel with a few laps to go, but Nico Rosberg was blocked from battling his teammate. While clearly unhappy, the two drivers respected the situation to seal a good result for the Mercedes team.

Ferrari failed to capitalise on their excellent grid spots. Fernando Alonso tapped Vettel’s car on the opening lap, then crashed out a lap later after his front wing lodged under the nose during braking. Felipe Massa slipped back, but steadily fought his way back up to 5th position by the end.

Jenson Button was set to complete a great 5th place for McLaren, but a disastrous pit stop resulted in his front right wheel coming loose, and he dropped all the way down to 14th. Sergio Perez was forced to pit in the final laps, but still scraped a 9th-placed finish.

This article will be updated.

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