It may only be a week since he won his fourth consecutive Formula One World Championship crown, but it has done nothing to quench the competitive thirst of World Champion Sebastian Vettel. The German star crushed his rivals with a win in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to extend his unbeaten run to an astonishing seven straight races.
Though Vettel was beaten to pole by teammate Mark Webber, he passed the Australian to seize the initiative, echoing what happened in Japan just a week earlier.
Vettel’s flying start was mimicked by Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg and Lotus driver Romain Grosjean, who became embroiled in a race-long battle for third place on the podium behind the rampant Red Bull duo, Webber soon regained the advantage over the slower Rosberg.
“Today’s race was unbelievable - close to perfect," said a beaming Sebastian Vettel post-race.
While Vettel streaked clear to an eventual thirty second margin of victory, the fight behind him was, as always, thoroughly absorbing. Tactical play was at the forefront of many a battle throughout the desert dusk, but a series of hair raising on-track passing maneuvers added extra spice to a race whose victor was never in doubt.
Kimi Raikkonen, who threatened to withdraw from the event earlier in the week over contract disputes with his team Lotus, was forced to start from the back of the grid following a qualifying infringement. Raikkonen's luck didn’t get any better as the Finn’s car was terminally damaged when he clouted the back of Giedo van der Garde’s Caterham at the first corner.
Fernando Alonso survived a scrape with Toro Rosso driver Jean Eric Vergne to go on and pass British drivers Lewis Hamilton and Paul Di Resta in the closing laps for an eventual fifth place, while outgoing teammate Felipe Massa raced excellently to secure eighth. Along the way, he rekindled the rivalry with his 2008 title opponent Hamilton and pulled off a superb double overtake that carried him past the Brit as well as Nico Hulkenberg who was later bundled out of contention with a drive-through penalty for an unsafe release from the pits.
Sergio Perez and Adrian Sutil rounded out the top ten positions.
“The car was absolutely brilliant," said a beaming Vettel post-race. "Not much more to say. Massive gaps, big surprise.”
The World Championship may be settled, but make no mistake: racing action is guaranteed as they’re out to stop Sebastian Vettel in Texas.
"We knew that the car would be very fast in the race, as we’ve been targeting that since Saturday and there you had it,"Vettel continued. "The setup was just awesome and that gave us the chance to control the race from the front from lap one.”
With Vettel at the top of his ever-improving game, Austin braces itself for the arrival of the Formula One circus. The World Championship may be settled, but make no mistake: racing action is guaranteed as they set out to stop Vettel in Texas.
This year’s U.S. Grand Prix will kick off with a media day on Thursday and on-track action beginning Friday with double practice sessions. Free Practice One will commence at 9am, followed by Free Practice Two at 1pm. Saturday will see the final practice session —again at 9am — ahead of qualifying at 12pm. Sunday brings the all-important race at 1pm. If you are at the Circuit of the Americas for the duration of the weekend, expect there to be plenty of support race action from the Ferrari Challenge category across the weekend.
The 2013 US Grand Prix will take place November 14-17.