Vettel champion special - 5 steps to the title

By on Sunday, October 9, 2011
In the first of a series of features about Sebastian Vettel, we briefly outline the 5 main steps towards his achievement of a second successive world title.

Learning the rubber, late 2010

After the emotion of winning his maiden world title, Vettel stayed on in Abu Dhabi to drive for two days on the new Pirelli rubber. Both McLaren drivers went on holiday. Even after claiming his title, Vettel was focused on the following season and the information learnt across those days proved vital. A few weeks later, Vettel visited the Pirelli tyre factory in Milan, to talk further about the way the tyres would be developed. Tellingly, he was the only driver to visit the Pirelli factory, something that impressed Paul Hembrey, boss of Pirelli.

Pre-season testing

Unlike in previous seasons, Red Bull launched the RB7 at the first group of pre-season tests. The car was immediately on the pace, whilst Vettel understood how key the new regulations – specifically the DRS – would be. A few journalists commented on the fact that Vettel’s focus was on how early he could deploy DRS exiting the corners around Barcelona, Jerez and Valencia. This work pre-season undoubtedly had a positive impact on his qualifying pace, particularly at the start of the year.

Getting a good start

In 2009, Vettel failed to score a point until the third round of the season. Similarly, the 2010 season also began in less than satisfying circumstances with just a fourth place finish to show after two events. This season, Vettel dominated the opening two races and then went on to win five of the first six races of the season to create a comfortable lead in the championship. Also aiding him was the inability of his rivals to mount a consistent challenge, with Vettel seemingly having a different rival finishing as runner-up.

Riding the storm

After such a triumphant start to the season, it was always going to be difficult to maintain brilliant form. Despite winning in Valencia, a rejuvenated Fernando Alonso in an improved Ferrari, as well as Mark Webber showing pace, gave Vettel something to think about. The team orders furore in Silverstone suggested favouritism once again and a poor showing at home gave the critics plenty to write about. Still, Vettel’s worst event of the season – which included a lack of pace and a spin – still saw him finish in 4th. To put that into perspective, Felipe Massa has failed to finish in such a high position all season. Nevertheless, a poor event gave Vettel’s rivals hope.

Back with a bang

Having gone three races without winning (how tragic), Vettel returned from the summer break eager to extend his lead in the championship. He did so in emphatic fashion by taking three wins on the bounce, including some memorable moves, especially the one around the outside of Alonso at Curva Grande in Monza. A dominant victory around the streets of Singapore left him just one point shy of claiming a title which he fully deserved. Third place in the Japanese Grand Prix cemented his position at the top of the table once again.

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