5 Reasons Sebastian Vettel Will Not Win the 2013 Belgian Grand Prix
There are very few occasions in modern-day Formula One where you'll have chance to argue why triple world champion Sebastian Vettel will not win the next Grand Prix.
But there's very much the possibility that this weekend's race in Belgium will be beyond him.
Make no mistake, the Red Bull is quick enough. Only a fool would suggest otherwise.
In the interest of a wide title race, though, the neutral would surely prefer a Lewis Hamilton or Kimi Raikkonen win. Right?
If you fall into that category, then good news: There's more than one reason why Vettel will not be tasting the victory champagne this Sunday.
5. Pesky Pirellis
In among excessive Pirelli grumbles, it's easy for Red Bull detractors to forget that Sebastian Vettel won in Malaysia, Bahrain and Canada.
So the suggestion is that the previous construction was to the Milton Keynes-outfit's detriment.
Yes, Sebastian Vettel won in Germany. But he didn't in Hungary. And he might not have in Britain, if even he had not retired (remember, Lewis Hamilton was stretching out an early lead before his own dramas).
So the fact remains that the Pirellis are still a tricky tyre to get working and remain in their narrow operating window.
The Red Bull's aerodynamic brilliance means it has a less-peaky window than others, so this remains the least-likely factor to stop a Vettel triumph at Spa.
But it's another factor nonetheless, and when you consider the others on the list, it's something Red Bull must minimise the doubt regarding.
4. Raikkonen's Spa Delights
Kimi Raikkonen's affection for the Belgian Grand Prix is plain to see.
He's four times a victor around Spa-Francorchamps, which places him joint-third in the all-time list and four times as successful as any of the current crop.
So, by default, that includes Sebastian Vettel.
Of course, the Finn's victories came twice with McLaren and twice with Ferrari, and not with Lotus, though he did qualify and finish third last year.
With his current mount even more competitive—especially in race trim—than last season, it would be an unexpected turn of events to see the Finn fighting for a fifth win this year, a victory that would move him alongside Ayrton Senna in the rankings.
The one thing that could count against him is the cooler climate around the Ardennes, which might restrict him to a less-spectacular qualifying performance.
If he can be in among the top five in qualifying, expect the Finn to give Vettel plenty to think about.
3. Statistical Significance
Sebastian Vettel has only won once in Belgium.
That was Red Bull's only success at Spa as well.
The team struggled in qualifying last year, with Vettel missing out on making Q3 and Webber starting 12th with a gearbox change.
Vettel's also lost places at the start in five of the six races he's started.
What do these stats mean? Very possibly not a lot. After all, much was made of Vettel's inability to win his home race. And what did he do two Grands Prix ago?
However, allied to factors such as Kimi Raikkonen's Belgium brilliance, the talent of his rivals and F1's close nature in 2013, these stats do hold greater significance.
He can't count on his nor Red Bull's dominance. Spa's not his happiest hunting ground for victories, but for podiums both he and the team have been more fruitful.
Expect that trend to continue this weekend, even if victory eludes him.
2. The Rise of Lewis Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton wins in Hungary.
That was an unexpected phrase, especially after the Brit's despondence on Friday, and even after qualifying on pole on Saturday.
But Mercedes is loving the new Pirellis, or rather is finally getting to grips with managing its tyres.
The car has blistering one-lap pace and has shown several times this year that when it can look after its rear tyres, it's a huge factor in the races.
Now Hamilton has the maiden victory off his back, he can focus on doing what he does best: utilising his fantastic talent.
1. F1's Melting Pot
It's not just the obvious threat of Spa expert Kimi Raikkonen or Hungarian Grand Prix victor Lewis Hamilton that Vettel will need to keep his eye on.
2013 is becoming wonderfully more open as the season progresses.
A determined Mark Webber—who despite the best efforts of conspiracy theorists does have access to the best car—will be more focused than ever to return to winning ways ahead of his sports car switch in 2014.
You've then got Nico Rosberg, twice a winner so far this season, to factor in as well.
The German's come of age this year alongside Hamilton and is exceeding many people's expectations. Don't count him out of the pole or win battle this weekend.
It'd also be foolish to write off Fernando Alonso, despite the Spaniard's summertime troubles with Ferrari. Then there's Romain Grosjean, who has been knocking on the door of his first win in the last two races.
Jenson Button could also be a factor. The McLaren is not on a par with the other cars, but the Briton loves the circuit, having won there in 2012, and the team is improving its understanding even if development has stopped.
What that means is we have a perfect melting pot for F1 to resume in.
Sebastian Vettel's only victory at Spa came in his all-conquering 2011 season. He will not have it so easy this time around.