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Red chasing the Bull

Once again, Ferrari and Alonso are playing catch up to Red Bull and its German driver.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013

June 13th, 2013 (F1plus/P. Godley).- A Sebastian Vettel pole. A Sebastian Vettel victory. If you had missed the race and stumbled across those two awfully familiar sounding sentences, then I'd suspect there would be folk aplenty switching off their recorded race replay or abandoning watching the late night highlights programmes in fear of suffering a bad case of déjà vu.

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t's something we've seen many times, and something we'll undoubtedly see repeated many more times in future races and seasons. His 39th pole position, secured by mastering the ever-changing conditions on a murky, damp Saturday in Montreal, once again demonstrated how good he is over one lap. Not just any old lap, but the key lap. The pole lap. His main rivals struggled, with closest challenger Fernando Alonso starting 6th.

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Again, it's something we've all become accustomed to but something that doesn't seem to reported or talked about as much as maybe it should. That eerie way in which he can build a lead - a substantial lead at that - right from the outset. And it's not just once or twice, it's every time. You nor I may be his biggest fan, but each and every time he does this and has this kind of weekend, my admiration of his talent increases that extra bit. He can push from the very start in a way that very few others can. It's almost video game-esque.

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Bar missing turn 2 and kissing the barrier on the exit of turn 4, the Canadian Grand Prix was the perfect weekend for Vettel. Or was it? That may sound odd... a pole and a win not being perfect, but the German has a thing about records and statistics, particularly when it comes to setting fastest lap.

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It's something you'd suspect many others don't think about, or at least don't lose sleep over. After all, there are no points for setting fastest lap, so why bother? Vettel is bothered. He wants that fastest lap; and he'll push right until the very last lap to ensure his name is next to that quickest come the end of Sunday. It may worry his team, it may lead to Christian Horner's foot to tap like no other foot can tap, it may even irk some fans, but for Sebastian it's all about being the quickest.

I've seen people say it's all about and all for his ego. Of course it is, he's a Formula 1 driver. You need one to succeed. You need to be ruthless. You need to be dominant. You need to be quick. You want to be remembered.

In a piece I wrote following the Malaysian Grand Prix I stated the following:

"There's no 'I' in team, but there is one in machine. Apologies, that's dreadful. But it works. You breed and nurture a machine to win; in this case a Red Bull machine. He's programmed to win. He wants to win. He does win."

The same can be applied to fastest laps. It's in his very nature. It may well cost him a race or two down the line, but for now, I say keep going. In an era of Formula 1 where we often bemoan the lack of racing, it's great to see someone pushing right until the end. You may argue that he should listen to the team, that no one is bigger than the team - not even the youngest triple World Champion in history - but you'd be hard pushed to say that this tactic hasn't yielded its rewards. It's a risky strategy, but without risks isn't life - or racing - boring?

So what of the 'Red' chasing the 'Bull'? It was a typical Fernando Alonso performance. Driving to the highest of standards, overtaking when and where he could, battling fairly with his competitors and arguably most impressively of all, fighting back once again after a disappointing weekend in Monaco. His battle with Lewis Hamilton was great to watch. A tactical battle that was so tactical it took DRS tactics to a new level. Watch this: Hamilton vs. Alonso.

Another great day for the Spaniard yes, but he still loses a further 7 points to Vettel. It was a great recovery from 6th to 2nd, but there in is the problem. It was yet another recovery. Alonso has started behind Vettel in all but one race this season (that one coming when the Red Bull driver didn't set a Q3 time), and thus has always been at a disadvantage.

The Ferrari is very good in race trim, but the Red Bull isn't too shabby either, is it? Vettel has so far finished no lower than 4th, yet in the first 7 races Fernando hasn't been able to put back-to-back podiums together. A 36 point lead after 7 races may seem a lot, and it is, but we've seen bigger gaps closed down with fewer races remaining. Putting a string of good results together can swing a Championship around quicker than you can blink (if you blink once a month...). 4 wins in 4 races for Vettel last season didn't do him any harm did it?
Will Ferrari chase down Red Bull? Or with the Bull simply prance away from the pranching horse?

All of this though pales into insignificance, as we mourn the loss of one of motorsports unsung heroes. A tragic incident in which a Marshal lost his life left many shocked, saddened and with a heavy heart. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues. Without Marshal's, motor racing would simply not take place. All the work they do is for their love of and the good of the sport.

Safety is paramount, for everyone involved. Motorsport is dangerous, something we must never forget.

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