IMAGE : Sebastian Vettel celebrates his pole position in Abu Dhabi.
Sebastian Vettel has had an almost flawless year. For one unforgettable season, he has been the best driver in the best car. Whether this keeps up for two years or for ten, it's time to look at the World Champion's 2011 success.
In the opening Grand Prix in Melbourne, Vettel came into the new season, a new man, not the same kid he was the year before. He came into this season as a World Champion, the man to beat. That was the pedestal he would want to stay on in 2011.
That's where he would stay in Australia, as Vettel racked up a pole position and a win by twenty-two seconds over Lewis Hamilton's McLaren. It was a good start, but would it stay for the next round? Vettel had won in Malaysia last year, but that was no guarantee of the victory this year.
Things looked good for Sebastian in Kuala Lampur as he took yet another pole, ahead of Hamilton. Things got even better during the race, as he drove to another victory, this time ahead of Jenson Button. It was already looking to be a runaway season for the Red Bull driver.
After the first two races, Sebastian Vettel had two poles, two victories, fifty points, and a massive lead in the championship. Could Seb continue his success in China?
Shanghai was where Sebastian had taken his first race win for the Red Bull team and if he won here, it would be Red Bull's 18th.
Seb pulled another pole position out of his hat which made the young German look invincible. He lost a few positions at the start to the McLaren's but made up ground in the pit stops. He would soon have the lead but got passed by Hamilton and would finish second.
Even with the first time he hadn't been on the top step of the podium this year, Vettel still had an amazing lead in the standings.
The flyaways were done and Sebastian Vettel had sixty-eight points. At this point last year, Vettel only had thirty-seven. That proved the dominance of the Red Bull and Sebastian combined.
Up next was Istanbul and Seb was on a roll. Vettel became the first driver since Hakkinen to claim the first four poles in one single season. His challengers were probably wondering what in the world was going on. Vettel led home a Red Bull one-two and continued his string of success.
There was no stopping the World Champion. After three wins in the first four races, it looked to be as if Seb would claim yet another World Championship.
The field arrived in Spain and Vettel wanted to make it five for five poles. That was something that wasn't meant to be as Vettel's teammate started in P1. Webber didn't have the pace in the race and Vettel was happy to take advantage. He once again had the edge in the pits and took the lead. A charging Hamilton became a threat, but Lewis must not have wanted it bad enough because Seb took the win by only 0.6 seconds.
Vettel was still running away, but there were signs that his competition was catching up. There could be some great battles between Seb and both McLarens and even some Ferraris. That could make the championship a whole new ball game.
The next round on the calendar was Monaco, a Grand Prix that Vettel would love to win. He upped his chances of the victory by taking a fifth pole of the season. The race was more dramatic when Vettel's tires started to go off and Alonso and Button were right behind. If it weren't for a red flag, which allowed Vettel to change tires, Alonso could've taken the win.
Luck and talent was on Vettel's side and it was helping him a lot. but the next Grand Prix was in Montreal, a circuit that Vettel hasn't done amazingly well on.
Things must've changed since then because Sebastian took another pole position making it his sixth out of seven this season. During the race, Vettel was leading until the last lap when his Red Bull slipped wide and Jenson Button slipped through to take the win. It was only the second time that Sebastian had not won a race in the season.
It was also one of the first times he had made a mistake this season. It was quite surprising to see Vettel slip wide, but something has got to happen to each driver at some point.
Next up was Valencia and Sebastian was on a roll. He took another pole position and truly dominated the race. The win was his sixth in eight races which meant that he had won three quarters of the races so far.
It was a massive lead in the championship but things could change at the next round in Great Britain. Anything could happen.
Vettel lost out to pole position when Webber put in the fastest Qualifying lap, but Seb got the advantage at the start. It was looking good, but during his second stop, Alonso got by when there were problems at Red Bull. Seb would finish second, equalling his worst result of the year.
Vettel became the first driver to be in the top two spots in each of the first nine races. He was absolutely amazing and looked to be untouchable. Who could stop him now? Anyone could, but it would be very, very hard.
The next race on the Formula 1 calendar is the German Grand Prix. A race that takes place in a country where the young Vettel was born. Now there would be a race, a race that Sebastian has been and is dying to win.
Things didn't start out too well when Seb got his worst grid position of the year, a third. The race wasn't that great either. A snap spin and a few other mishaps left him in fourth, the first time the young German wouldn't be on the podium this year.
Was the performance dropping off in the RB-7? Were Sebastian's chances of retaining his championship dying? What would happen at the next race? Could Seb gain redemption?
It was all back in Hungary. All back where Seb could claim it all back. What could Sebastian do?
The Hungarian Grand Prix didn't have too great of memories for Sebastian. 2010's Hungary race was what Vettel described as "the most devastating race that I had finshed". Anyways, Seb took pole and led at the start. He was no match for the McLarens though as the Brits squeezed by. Hamilton struggled which allowed Vettel to finish second.
Sebastian was without a race win since Europe and was 0 for 3 in July. It was the first month in the 2011 season that Sebastian Vettel hadn't won a race. The summer break approached and Vettel would need some serious work to get back on track.
Getting back on track is exactly what Sebastian Vettel did in the Belgian Grand Prix. Pole position was a good way to forget about last year's fifteenth place finish.The race went well too. Vettel lost out to Rosberg at the start, but easily got P1 back. That would be where he would stay. Sebastian was back on the title track.
It was time for Seb to go on a winning streak. He would need to pull out the gap and clinch the title as soon as possible.
The next race was full of good memories for Sebastian Vettel. Monza was the place where young Vettel won his first race. It was the place where the champion was born.
Things went well in Qualifying for Sebastian as he claimed his tenth pole position of the year. It was a relief because the Red Bull usually wasn't good on high speed circuits. Then came the race, where Seb dropped behind Fernando Alonso at the start. He pulled off an amazing move to take the lead and would go on to take the race victory, three years on from his first. It was an emotional scene on the Monza podium.
It was about time. Sebastian could clinch the World Championship at the very next race. If all things went right in Singapore, we would have our newest double World Champion. Could he do it?
Singapore could be where Vettel claims a crown. Singapore could also be where Seb finally gets a win under the lights in the Marina. If everything goes as planned, there could be massive celebrations in Singapore.
Vettel positioned it to be that way with yet another pole. He also got a great start and soon pulled out a twenty second lead. That lead shrunk when the safety car came out. But it made the race that much more interesting and Seb was forced to fight to the end with Button on his tail.
He would not become the World Champion but he was one point away so he would almost positively win the 2011 title in Suzuka. He got another pole position just a few thousandths ahead of Jenson Button but Red Bull was ecstatic. This could mean the difference between winning and losing. Seb won at the start as he forced Button onto the grass, but lost out in the stops to the McLaren driver and Alonso. Third place wasn't what he wanted but it was enough to win the title and that is always something to smile about.
The pressure was off but that didn't mean Vettel would rest. The next Grand Prix was Korea and after a retirement there last year, Sebastian wanted the win.
But Vettel didn't get pole. Hamilton did. It was the first time that a Red Bull wasn't on the pole this season. Vettel started the race well and took the lead from Hamilton on the second lap at the second corner. He would stay in P1 for the rest of the race to win race #10.
The win helped Red Bull clinch the Constructors Title and the celebrations were even bigger than before.
The next was a new race for everyone. It was new for Sebastian but that didn't mean that he wouldn't fight all weekend long. He took pole at the inaugural Indian race and led at the start. The race was a dream for Sebastian as he led every single lap of the race. It was pure domination for the Red Bull driver and it was Vettel's first grand slam in his career. It could be Sebastian's best win ever, Seb thought so.
Vettel just keeps getting better and better and soon he could become the greatest of all time. He just keeps on winning and now could fight for records and have his name written up with the big names like Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna.
Next up was Abu Dhabi. It was the place where the champion was born. It was the place where young Seb won the 2010 World Championship. Things got better for Sebastian when he took pole in Yas Marina.
Things got bad right after that because on the first lap, Vettel spun off with a puncture. It was his first retirement since Korea 2010. It was a bummer, but Seb will come back strong in Brazil the weekend.