A dominant win for Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull at the Formula One Korean Grand Prix all but sealed his fourth consecutive world championship. While the German triple world champion eased away at the front, the racing behind him was nothing short of spectacular. All the way through the field, cars were going wheel-to-wheel and jockeying for position, showing that the sport would be a lot more exciting if other teams could somehow up their pace and take the fight to Red Bull.
The epic battle between former world champions Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso towards the end of the Korean Grand Prix underlined the talent and racing instinct of both men.
The former McLaren teammates passed and re-passed each other with their cars being no more than millimeters apart at times, but alas their duel was only for fifth place. Had their cars been equal to Red Bull, this could well have been a battle for the lead.
A dejected Alonso said his Ferrari needed to be “another category of car” to compete with the one driven by Vettel, while Hamilton said both drivers “deserved much better”. No doubt the Brit was referring to the lack of pace showed by his Mercedes and the Ferrari.
Meanwhile, 2007 title holder Kimi Raikkonen proved that despite a back injury, he was back to his very best and put in a stellar performance to finish second from tenth on the starting grid, but even Kimi could not get near the leading Red Bull.
Vettel has been at the receiving end of jeers at podiums across the world and many say his unpopularity is due to the infamous ‘multi-21’ incident, where he barged his way past teammate Mark Webber for the lead of the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix, despite being told by the Red Bull pit-wall that the cars would maintain position towards the end of the race.
Many F1 fans are also tired of Vettel and his Red Bull team’s dominance of the sport since 2010, while past champions like Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen, all crowd favorites, barely have a shot at victory. Canada, Singapore and Italy were among the grand prix that Vettel clinched in 2013, but the Red Bull driver must have left these races with mixed feelings.
Instead of cheering, the crowd booed the triple world champion as he received the winner’s trophy on podiums that spanned three continents.
It seems that the Red Bull dominance is set to continue for the rest of the season as most teams are likely to turn their attention to 2014. The new regulations for next season will give a chance to the rest of the teams to raise their game and level the playing field.
Ferrari has possibly the strongest driver pairing with Kimi Raikkonen joining Fernando Alonso at Maranello, while Mercedes retains Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, both of whom won races in 2013. The McLaren team will also be looking to return to the sharp end of the grid after a woeful season in which neither 2009 world champion Jenson Button nor his highly-rated teammate Sergio Perez managed to finish on the podium to date. Meanwhile, Lotus will be hoping to maintain its performance after the departure of Raikkonen.
With no less than five world champions on the grid, fans will be hoping that the teams will be able to provide these drivers with cars that match their ability. Otherwise, 2014 it could well be another mundane season marred by processional races, which would see the supreme skills of Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen battling it out for podium positions, but never the top slot.