Monday 25 September 2017

Vettel leaves rivals stuck at the roadside

Relentless work ethic of the Red Bull team must be depressing for rest of the grid, writes David Kennedy

David Kennedy

Singapore, which is ranked top out of 185 countries for ease of doing business, paved the way nicely for Sebastian Vettel to do his business last weekend. No wonder his post-race beam outshone the 3,180,000 watts that are needed to illuminate the Marina Bay circuit.

In the surreal setting of the illuminated night sky, in a sort of Scalextric come Disneyworld for adults, the German drove a stunning race to outclass, outgun and out-manoeuvre any opposition daring to have designs on his crown. It was as magnificent a victory for him as it was depressing for those in his shadow; a shape that looms ever larger with the passing of each race.

As a German in an Austrian team, the work ethic comes as easily to Vettel and Red Bull as does winning races. In fact, the two are closely interlinked. Vettel reminded those lesser mortals who booed his unrelenting run of victories, of their shortcoming. "Whilst there's a lot of people hanging their balls in the pool very early on Fridays, we're still working very hard and pushing very hard." Clearly, getting in the pool when there's work to be done doesn't appeal to Vettel.

His team-mate, Mark Webber, is working overtime too but without the same spectacular results. As flames licked around Webber's retiring car on the last lap, apart from the spectacular inferno night-time light show, it was surely a metaphor for the disastrous time he's having in the dying embers of his F1 career.

Can he rise like a Phoenix from the ashes? Or has Red Bull pulled the plug on the Aussie. They deny having a favourite but it's hard to believe that Webber has not been consigned to the bin like a dented Red Bull can on a factory conveyor belt.

To compound his misery, he caught a lift with a passing Fernando Alonso (he probably rightly assumed that Vettel was still working during the slowing-down lap) but that decision cost the Aussie dear. A ten-place grid penalty was imposed at the next race in Korea because he'd fallen victim to the 'three strikes and you're out' rule.

Former British F1 driver Derek Warwick, who was the FIA driver Steward at Singapore, had little empathy for the very action he himself was guilty of in his day. He decided that Webber had got onto the circuit without permission and Alonso's sudden stopping on a bend endangered lives.

Ferrari saw the funny side and sent Webber a mock invoice for $27,500 which included a tip of $2, 500 for after-hours service. I suppose a Ferrari taxi with a double world champion at the helm doesn't come cheap but I'm sure Webber would rather pay such an invoice than be punished in this FIA game of snakes and ladders.

In fact, it was Webber who should have sent Alonso a bill for speeding at 107kph while the Australian sat nervously clinging to the Ferrari. Then again, having Webber's foot in your cockpit can't have been much fun for the Spaniard either.

Further down the grid, there's a terrific jockeying for position amongst the floating unemployed who are racing against the clock to fill the myriad seats that are going a begging. It's a kind of inverted musical chairs where the best performer gets a place.

Felipe Massa is eyeing Lotus and the word on the streets is that McLaren has its sights on Massa. Nico Hulkenberg would like nothing more than to see the Brazilian hightail it to the Woking outfit, who would in turn benefit from the Ferrari driver's eight valuable years of insight and experience.

Next weekend is the Korean Grand Prix. It may not be on the 2014 calendar as Russia, Mexico and New Jersey could edge out a few regulars.

If Vettel wins for a third time, the sound of Psy (pronounced sigh) won't just come from the Gangnam Style singer, it will be all those drivers in the pool who've decided to stay there for the rest of the season.

Moving away from F1, Ireland's Peter Dempsey, who won that scintillating Indy lights race at Indianapolis this year, has found himself without a drive as Belardi has had to pull out. Consequently, Peter will miss the last two races. So if anyone out there has deep pockets and would like to see the tricolour waved in Texas and California, he'd love to hear from you.

Sunday Independent

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