Recovering as only a champion of his calibre can after finishing third in Hungary, Sebastian Vettel overcame the competition once more in Belgium to extend his lead in the drivers’ standings to 46 points this Sunday.
The German star has already proven his quality over the last three years, winning every World Championship since 2010. He is seemingly in good shape to add a fourth this coming November.
With the distance currently separating Vettel and fellow giants Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen, the 26-year-old has as good as a two-race cushion between him and his nearest opponent. Considering he’s finished outside the top three in just three races this season, one of which he retired in, the odds are looking good.
Commenting on his performance in Spa, Vettel said, per BBC Sport’s Andrew Benson:
It was a fantastic race for us. From start to finish really, very good tactics - it helped the first lap to have the tow off Lewis into Eau Rouge. Once I passed him I had incredible pace and could control the race.
Of course, the advantage of having Red Bull behind him helps the driver to no extent, but Vettel’s defence after taking over Lewis Hamilton in the opening laps was something to be commended.
Jonathan Legard highlighted this sense of dominance on Twitter, saying:
At one point, Alonso looked as though he might be able to overcome the German after moving up from ninth place and into second, but the leader’s dominant form meant that the Spaniard had to concentrate on maintaining a position that high rather than really being able to contemplate further overtaking.
It was the challenge of Eau Rouge that proved to be Hamilton’s undoing—the briefest of pauses at the turn allowing Vettel to expose the gap and assume a spot that he wouldn’t relinquish for the remainder of the race.
Next on Vettel’s calendar comes the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, where the likes of Alonso and Hamilton will look to cling onto whatever chances they still have of overturning the substantial lead developed by the three-time champion so far.
It was another German, Michael Schumacher, who was last to win four World Drivers’ Championships in a row. He eventually went on to grasp five between 2000 and 2004.
Having evidently learned well from his compatriot about just how to withstand the mental demands of being looked upon as a constant favourite, Vettel has announced himself to the world once more, and it doesn’t look positive for the rest of the field.