Vettel: Title & Fastest Lap in Reach
Recording yet another hat trick, the reigning World Champion drove a superb race from start to finish, leading every lap from pole position and grabbing his sixth DHL Fastest Lap along the way. It was his third consecutive checkered flag from pole.
“It wasn’t as easy as it looked,” said Team Principal Christian Horner. “Sebastian had to drive very disciplined. But he was in another league.”
The 26-year-old’s lead was never in doubt over the 55 laps on the Korean International Circuit. The win extends his lead to 77 points, leaving little doubt that the undeniably dominant German wunderkind will be crowned World Champion for the fourth time in São Paulo in November.
A vintage Vettel Fastest Lap
Despite a comfortable lead and being warned to look after his front-right tire, Vettel pushed his RB9 one last time to set the fastest lap of the 2013 Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix in Lap 53 with a time of 1min 41.380sec. In fact, the champ piloted one fastest lap after the other in the race’s closing stages – a ‘Vintage Vettel’ move that fans have seen time and again and continues to give Red Bull’s pit crew gray hair. “Sebastian, be careful. You already have the fastest lap. Just finish the race!” Vettel’s race engineer said at one point.
“I’m aware of the right-front,” Vettel replied – and promptly outdid his previous lap time.
Vettel has six Fastest Laps on the season and looks poised to win his second consecutive DHL Fastest Lap Award, a trophy the young German covets. “Sebastian simply loves the fact that he is in a position to set fastest lap,” said DHL’s F1 Ambassador and former F1 driver, Christian Danner. “And he is giving it all.”
Read more about Sebastian Vettel’s record-breaking 2012 season
“For Sebastian, the DHL Fastest Lap Trophy actually means something – and that was obvious when we handed it to him last year,” Danner said after the award ceremony last year. “All year he repeatedly defied team management in his effort to race those fastest laps each week. So he risked a lot.”
Championship in sight
Vettel could seal his fourth consecutive world championship victory if he takes the checkered flag this weekend at the 2013 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix. But he’ll need a little help from his closest rival, Fernando Alonso, who will need to finish no better than ninth if Vettel is to secure the title with four races to go. Alonzo’s consistency this year, however, makes this rather unlikely. And although Lotus’ Kimi Räikkönen and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton can mathematically win the championship, a Vettel win in Japan would take them out of the running no matter where they finish.
Another title that no longer looks in doubt is the Constructors’ Championship. Red Bull enjoys a 118-point lead over Ferrari, with Mercedes only one point behind. But the reigning champions will not be able to score enough points in Japan to seal the deal.
Lotus lives on
2007 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen proved strong on race day once again after a poor qualifying, moving himself up to the podium from midfield for the second consecutive race. Although he had a little help from the safety car, the “iceman” had shown good speed throughout the race in the Lotus – something that was matched by teammate Romain Grosjean, who followed Kimi across the finish for third.
Sebastian Vettel can now hardly be stopped. With a lead of the 77 points, the title is almost his. In the constructors table, too, Red Bull has extended their lead. Behind them, the race for second is getting close – Ferrari is just one point ahead of Mercedes.
Sebastian Vettel is well on his way to taking the 2013 DHL Fastest Lap Award. Only Mark Webber, with three fastest laps this year, could theoretically still overtake his teammate.
“Mark Weber has the theoretical chance to catch up to Sebastian but knowing Seb we can be absolutely sure that he is not going to let that happen,” said Danner after the race in Korea.
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