So just how good is he?
Sunday’s emphatic win by Sebastian Vettel in his Red Bull rocketship was certainly impressive; but as predictable as the post race hyperbole was, many Formula 1 insiders still question just how good the young German is.
Throughout the sport’s history each generation sees the emergence of great drivers, and the domination that follows is accepted as the way it should be. Right now, though, we seem to be in something of a legend-free zone.
Sure we’ve got our stars and world champions, but when judged against the Fangios, Clarks, Stewarts, Prosts and Sennas of the past, no-one really seems to be stepping up to the plate.
Considering the press and public’s desire to hail the arrival of the new king, it’s entirely understandable that Vettel is receiving such praise – but nagging doubts remain.
As impressive as Vettel’s wins were in Shanghai and Silverstone this year (and Monza in 2008), they have to be taken in context with his GP2-like mishaps in Malaysia, Monaco and Turkey. And the sooner he realises there are no points for the quickest lap on a Sunday afternoon, the better.
In a year where car performance is paramount, the weekend’s climatic conditions and the nature of the Silverstone circuit certainly took their toll on the performance of the Brawn cars; but with a run of races coming up whose layouts and ambients will suit the BGP 001s, Sebastian was wise to make the most of his car’s potentially brief superiority.
As the debate continues as to his abilities inside the car, one cannot dispute Seb’s fantastic nature outside it. He’s still young enough to be honest, speaks eloquently, and unlike some of his more robotic peers he doesn’t dodge difficult non-racing questions.
A few garages along the pitlane, the BMW hierarchy must be wondering just what planet they were on when hiring out their long-nurtured protégé. For while well-connected sources in the paddock are adamant that Vettel’s contractual links with BMW remain unsevered, the Hinwil-based team are employing just about the most unPR-able driver pairing in the paddock.
However the season pans out, Sebastian can remain happy in the knowledge that the only BMW he’ll be driving any time soon is a roadgoing one!