Two races into the F1 season, and we as F1 fans have been treated with a fantastic couple of races in Australia and Malaysia. There have been some surprising results, the strong showings from Sauber in the first two races, Mercedes’ lack of race pace, and Fernando Alonso’s stunning victory in Malaysia. One area of interest in the F1 world lies within the Red Bull Racing team, more specifically between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel.
Last year, Webber was completely dominated by Vettel. Although Webber scored more points than he had in 2010, he was completely outgunned by his younger team mate, and won only a single race. Many thought 2011 could be the end of Webber’s run among the top driver’s, although some had hope that he could rebound in 2012.
So far, Webber is looking strong. His main downfalls in 2011 were a lack of qualifying pace, and a tendency to lose several positions before the first lap was over. His pace during the races, however, was often quite strong, and on par with Vettel’s lap times. So far this year, he has outqualified his team mate twice in a row, showing possible signs of an improvement from Webber in qualifying. Webber lost out to Vettel in the first race when Vettel secured second place, and Webber could only manage fourth. In Malaysia, Webber secured another fourth place finish, while Vettel scored zero points after a tire puncture late in the race.
The Malaysian Grand Prix was somewhat chaotic, and therefore did not give a clear picture as to how the drivers and teams stacked up. If Webber can manage to beat Sebastian in qualifying, and be consistently quick on the first lap, he stands a strong chance of beating his team mate.
For Webber, one can be sure that one of his primary goals this year is to beat his team mate, or at least race on the same level. After being completely dominated by Vettel last year, he must feel that he has to prove himself worthy of a Red Bull seat. So far, Red Bull have been slightly slower than McLaren, who seem to have the quickest car at the moment. If Red Bull are able to bring significant upgrades to the next few races and gain some aerodynamic advantages, then the title is fair game.
So far this year, it seems that F1 fans around the world could view Round 2 of the titanic battle between Webber and Vettel that took place during the 2012 season. If Webber keeps up his pace, he could bring the fight back to Sebastian Vettel. Most likely, it will take a few more grand prix before we are able to determine how they stack up against each other. As of now, Webber is ahead of Vettel in the championship, but this could all change in an instant. If Webber is considering staying in F1 for much longer, he must seize this opportunity to fight back and finish ahead of Vettel.