Vettel Breezes to Finish in Belgium
The DHL Expert likes Vettel
DHL’s F1 Expert and former F1 driver, Christian Danner, certainly think so: “he is in splendid form and has a very good chance to win yet another World Championship.”
Vettel also raced the fastest lap of the Belgian Grand Prix and now also leads the race for the DHL Fastest Lap Award with four so far this season. Though well out in front, he picked up the pace in Lap 40, completing Spa’s long but fast 7.004-km track in 1min 50.756 sec. Vettel holds the lap record at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit for the time of 1:47.263, which he set in 2009.
It’s no secret that the young German driver loves to notch up the fastest track time of the race almost as much as taking the checkered flag. He and his team Red Bull Racing have certainly set the bar for high performance this season.
“He is my number one favorite to conquer the DHL Fastest Lap trophy yet again this year,” Danner said after the race.
The second half of the Formula 1 season is no doubt going to be adrenaline pumping. After wrapping up the first half of the season at one of the slowest Grand Prix circuits, Hungaroring, the series traveled to Spa-Francorchamps, one of the sport’s fastest. The iconic circuit is one of the oldest and most challenging race tracks in the world, set in an area of Belgium that has been a racing mecca since the very early years of motorsport.
The race is all Red Bull
The highly anticipated Mercedes challenge was not to be. After shining in qualifying to take his fourth consecutive pole position, Lewis Hamilton was forced to watch Vettel slide by his silver bullet at Eau Rouge – the most famous corner of the circuit that F1 drivers can take at over 300 km/h. This low point on the track sees drivers come into the corner downhill, change direction at the bottom and then power steeply uphill and has often produced excellent overtaking opportunities for F1’s best drivers. Vettel produced a textbook maneuver in the race’s very first lap, leaving Hamilton helpless to watch him fly by.
Mercedes would only see Red Bull’s rear wing if any part of the RB9 after that. By the end of the second lap, Vettel had already built up nearly a three-second lead. By lap six the Brit was forced to worry less about the German ahead of him and more about the Spaniard Alonso, who was threatening in his rearview mirror. Hamilton would eventually succumb to Ferraris faster car.
Indeed, Alonso overtook Hamilton in lap 17 and defended P2 sovereignly to the finish. Yet despite a fine showing by the former world champ, who moved from P9 to P5 in lap one and proceeded to pick off Button and Rosberg before eventually getting by Hamilton, Ferrari could not match Red Bull’s pace and was too far adrift of the Red Bull to threaten. Vettel crossed the finish line 16.8 seconds ahead of Alonso – an eternity in Formula 1 racing.
“We had incredible pace,” said Vettel after clinching his fifth win of the year. “We didn’t expect that.”
The chase is not over
Although Red Bull’s number one driver cruised to a dominant victory in Belgium and now holds a commanding lead in the drivers’ championship, he is still being chased by three former world champions. Both Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari and Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes finished second and third respectively at Spa and cannot be ruled out of the championship. Kimi Raikkönnen’s consistent driving this year has kept him in contention, although the Lotus driver’s record run of 27 successive races in the points came to an end in Belgium when he was forced to retire due to brake failure.
And they’re not giving up. “It’s a big, big gap: it’s a huge gap so it’s going to be very tough to close that but I’m going to keep pushing,” Hamilton said after the race.
Alonso remains optimistic as well: “our goal still remains the same, namely to fight for the title right to the end,” he said after the race.
“We came from two fifth places in Germany and Hungary, with a little bit of a not good feeling and not good performance from the car and today I think we recovered some of the optimism that we lost,” added Alonso.
We’re bound to see some fastest laps from the chasers as they push the envelope to beat Red Bull.
But time is running out for Vettel’s rivals to convert optimism into hard results. At this point the Champ is making it look like a breeze as he runs away from the competition.