June 12th, 2013 (F1plus/J. Arias).- Every era of a sport is regularly remembered by a team or personality who excelled over the rest of the competition. Formula One is no exception to this reality. Since the fifties with Fangio, the sixties with Clark, the seventies with Stewart and Lauda and so on, there’s been a driver who stands over the rest for his driving style and characteristics not just in the racetrack but also out of it.
Schumacher era for example, is remembered for not having a list of drivers who could match the german’s ability behind the wheel. When one is assessing Michael’s career, the favorite argument to diminish the german’s achievements is the fact that he didn’t face such a fierce competition as Senna did in his years or Fangio did in the fifties.
Right now we’re living one of the ‘golden eras’ of Formula One in terms of drivers and their skills. Since the fall of Schumacher of the F1 pinnacle in 2005, the sport hasn’t had a dominating figure in terms of performance. Fernando Alonso was supposed to be the new reigning figure of Formula One after he took control of F1 championship for two seasons. But a series of bad decisions made him go unnoticed for a couple of years.
Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are the other drivers that took the prestigious F1 championship with them in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively. But none of them have been able to match the performance and consistency that made Senna, Prost or Schumacher dominate their eras.
That was the story until the 2000 years. In this new decade of Formula One, there is a name which is redefining the record books. Sebastian Vettel has hopped on the top spot of F1 from 2010 to 2012, becoming only the third driver, after Fangio and Schumacher, to win three consecutive World Championships. But Vettel’s achievements go beyond the statistics and record books.
The young german is dominating a sport full of important figures that have been there way before him, much more experienced. The era where Alonso, Raikkönen, Button, Hamilton (and Schumacher until 2012) are racing is being monopolized by the Red Bull driver, who is not happy with other thing than victory. Vettel is performing in such a fashion that of the other four world champions of the grid, only Alonso has more victories than the german and with more 100 Grand Prix more than Sebastian.
It is true that Sebastian has had the best piece of machinery in these last three years. And in this discipline, the machine factor is more important than human one. But in the era of Senna, Clark, Schumacher to name a few, it was the same case. Vettel has done what he’s been paid to and beyond. He has delivered great performances and shattered the precociousness records previously set by Alonso and Hamilton.
After three consecutive championships, with a very good car to achieve the fourth and with the experience and his skills at his best, Sebastian is building his legend at the age were many drivers hasn’t even get to F1.
It might be easier to evaluate who gets the most out of the car than who is the better driver in terms of pure skills. The last season of Alonso is what put many of us in doubt. The Spaniard was able to get his uncompetitive F2012 to the second place of the championship, against a much better RB8 of Sebastian. Alonso excelled in race performance last year and only the accidents of Spa and Suzuka avoided the Spanish from achieving his awaited third title.
Whether is difficult to assess in terms of driver skills if Vettel is better than Alonso or Hamilton, the results put the german in a place where neither driver is been at such a young age. This is definitely the era of Sebastian.