Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

Fearless Vettel prepares for final title assault

FORMULA ONE: If Sebastian Vettel still dreams of securing the 2018 Formula One championship, his fightback against runaway title leader Lewis Hamilton must start at this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.

By Michael Lamonato

Friday 28 September 2018, 11:00AM

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel gets ready to drive at the Marina Bay Street Circuit during the first practice session ahead of the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix. Photo: Manan Vatsyayana / AFP

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel gets ready to drive at the Marina Bay Street Circuit during the first practice session ahead of the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix. Photo: Manan Vatsyayana / AFP

Only victory will do for Vettel, who trails his rival by a season-high 40 points heading into the Sochi race on Sunday (Sept 30) – but if only it were so simple for the Ferrari driver.

Vettel’s last victory at August’s Belgian Grand Prix feels like a lifetime ago. At the historic Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, for so long dominated by Mercedes, the German landed a stirring blow against Hamilton’s title campaign with an untouchable charge to the flag.

But that memorable weekend has been followed by only forgettable results for the famous Italian team and its star driver.

Costly losses to Hamilton in Italy and Singapore have dramatically swung the momentum and the points standings in the Briton’s favour, leaving that happy memory in Belgium looking less like the beginning of a fightback and more like a flash in the pan – it remains, after all, one of only two wins for the reds since June’s Canadian Grand Prix.

The climb back into title contention is now as simple as it is strenuous: Vettel has to win, and he has to win a lot.

Only victory at all six remaining races can deliver him his fifth championship, but letting slip even one grand prix to his rival would allow the Briton to cruise home in second place for the rest of the season and maintain a points buffer.

“I think it's pretty straightforward,” Vettel said, reflecting on his lot. “If we win every race from now, we are safe, so that is what we need to aim for.”

There have been few comparable comebacks in the history of the sport, though Vettel can claim one of them – in 2012 he recovered from a 39-point deficit with seven rounds remaining to overcome Fernando Alonso by three points.

The Spaniard, however, was in a markedly inferior car, and he was forced into retirement at the Japanese Grand Prix after he was crashed into on the first lap, costing him 25 points to race-winner Vettel.

EPL Prediction Competition 2018-2019

In 2007 Kimi Raikkonen recovered from a points deficit worth two race wins to claim his sole championship, but the Finn was aided by his two rivals, teammates Hamilton and Alonso, taking points off each other in an acrimonious McLaren civil war.

But in 2018 the battle for Vettel is harder still. His Ferrari car is only marginally faster than the Mercedes machine and he’s in a straight fight against an indomitable Lewis Hamilton, who’s racing in perhaps the best form of his life.

Worse is that his fight must start in Russia, where Mercedes has claimed victory at every race since Sochi’s addition to the calendar in 2014.

But faced with no choice but to win – or to pray for a technical failure on Hamilton’s car – Vettel is remaining steely eyed ahead of the potentially make-or-break test of his title mettle.

“Russia, I think, has been getting better the last years for us, so it should suit our car as well,” he said. “I don't think we have any tracks to fear that are coming. I think our car is working pretty much everywhere.

“No need to be afraid of what's coming.”

But with Hamilton and Mercedes in perfect harmony at their powerful best, fear will be the least of Vettel’s problems in Russia as he seeks to kick-start the most unlikely of championship comebacks.

Don’t forget to listen to Live89.5 each and every Saturday at 9am and 5pm for the Box of Neutrals radio show.



Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here


Phuket community
Safety measures ordered to reduce accidents at Chalong-Kata roadworks

Huh, 3months work for 1.5 km road resurfacing? This is a joke, yes? Can't be true. 1.5 km: 1 ...(Read More)

Police search for man missing at Phuket reservoir

... Thousands? Really? And all for free? Wow! My point is, taking care of water quality. Not about ...(Read More)

Police search for man missing at Phuket reservoir

"It should be a no-go area" Thousands of people like to visit those areas like Bang Wad Da...(Read More)

Phuket Opinion: A testament to life

Sure he was a good bloke but most readers wouldn't have known him, one story about his passing i...(Read More)

Police search for man missing at Phuket reservoir

This water reservoir is for housing water supply, right? Are private people allowed to be there, d...(Read More)

Six healthy movements to loosen your spine

OMG. Your neck in movement 2 looks terrible. Never do it like that! You should keep your neck in lin...(Read More)

Government readies handout of free SIM cards for the poor

The whole 'free internet exercise' confirm in a way that the government expects that the poo...(Read More)

New tax law to see online, bank transfers to be monitored

.... 'My' guests are 'non paying friends'. Arriving Phuket airport they hand over ...(Read More)

Thailand worst in Asean for road deaths

Anyone who has driven on Thai roads already knows this. Driving standards are abysmal, common sense ...(Read More)