Sebastian Vettel has done it! He is now the youngest ever double champion in Formula One, and the youngest ever driver to score consecutive championships. This is an unbelievable feat. At 24 years old, one can expect several more championships out of this driver, and certainly more stellar qualifying laps and race performances.
Sebastian Vettel only needed one more point so secure the title, and it was clear from qualifying yesterday that as long as Vettel did not make any critical errors, he would become champion. The McLaren’s of Jenson Button and Hamilton had qualified behind Vettel, followed by the two Ferrari’s of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso. Going into the race, Jenson Button was the only man that could have stopped Vettel from celebrating his championship at this Grand Prix, and was determined to do so.
In a way, it is good that the title race is over. It is certain that Red Bull Racing will collect the Constructor’s Championship in the next couple of races. Now that the competition is “over,” I think we will see very interesting strategies, especially from the likes of Vettel, because he is already champion, and also drivers like Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, and Lewis Hamilton in their quest to finish in second place. Of course they will still all race hard to get as many points as possible, but now they may be more creative or take more risks knowing that the title race is over.
Sebastian Vettel, and the entire Red Bull Racing team, have done an incredible job this year. This year will go down in the record books, as Red Bull Racing have taken pole position in every qualifying round, even at their weaker tracks such as Monza and Spa. Vettel has been on pole 12 times, with Mark Webber taking three pole positions. Unlike last year, the Red Bulls have finished races with astounding reliability. Vettel has finished every Grand Prix, his lowest finish being an incredible 4th place in the German Grand Prix, and Webber has only retired in one race.
Adrian Newey, the designer of the 2011 Red Bull Racing contender, should be proud of the fact that he developed a car that is capable of dominating at both qualifying and the race at each race of the year. Usually, teams must take risks to develop an aggressively fast car, which means they compromise their reliability. Also, teams often find that certain tracks suit their car, and some tracks are troublesome for their car. However, Adrian Newey has developed a car that is exceptionally reliable, monstrously quick, and consistent at each race of the 2011 season.
There are very little rule changes for the 2012 season as far as car design goes. This means that Red Bull Racing will have another opportunity with Vettel to secure the 2012 title. However, I predict that both Ferrari and McLaren will be much closer to Red Bull next year. Because they knew they had no real chance of securing the title, they will have most likely started to design their cars for next year, while Red Bull had to maintain their lead. Ferrari have confirmed that their 2012 challenger will be “aggressive.” With Adrian Newey at Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren will have to take risks in order to gain some ground on Red Bull. They are arguably lucky that there are no major rule changes for next year; Adrian Newey has an incredible ability to adapt to radical rule changes and find loopholes in the rules that will give cars an aerodynamic advantage. He exploited the double-diffuser loophole in 2009, and did the same thing this year with the hot-gas blown diffusers. McLaren and Ferrari need more clever innovations like this to bring them to the same level as Red Bull. McLaren were close in 2010 with their F-duct, but in the modern, aero-era of Formula 1, one clever solution is not enough. McLaren and Ferrari almost need to invest in a sort of stimulus spending. The more you spend in F1, the more you win. The more you win in F1, the more money you receive. It seems that Ferrari and McLaren are caught in a spiral where they are not spending enough money to win, and in turn they don’t receive money to invest into future projects. This is a dangerous situation, and one that needs to be addressed by Ferrari and McLaren.
I find it amazing that Vettel is already a double world champion. I still remember his rookie year in 2007 racing for Toro Rosso, and how I never thought much of him. Now, four years later, he is the youngest ever driver to secure a pole position, youngest ever driver to lead a race, youngest ever driver to win a race, youngest ever driver to score points in F1, youngest every world champion, and now, youngest ever double world champion. His rise to the top in Formula One has been incredible, and it seems he is still learning and improving each Grand Prix. I expect much out of Sebastian Vettel in the future.