If you go back a few weeks before the F1 Grand Prix at Monza you would probably have expected Sebastien Vettel to be well clear at the top of the drivers’ championship right now.
His only competition seemed to be from Britain’s Lewis Hamilton, but nobody held out much hope for the Mercedes driver as he looked to wrestle top spot off of the German. Fast forward to the present day and things couldn’t be more different.
In fact, currently, Hamilton is now the odds-on favourite to win the Drivers Championship with all reputable bookmakers. This reflects how quickly fortunes and situations can change is the F1 world, and this is definitely one of the intriguing aspects of the sport.
It was the Italian Grand Prix where things began to go wrong for Vettel. The German started in top spot on the Drivers’ Championship but was 6th on the grid with Hamilton on pole. By the end of the race, Vettel had done well to move through the field to get a podium finish by placing third. Hamilton, however, had won the race and therefore taken a 3 point lead in the drivers’ standings heading to Singapore. Vettel and Ferrari had been poor throughout qualifying and there were also reports of steering issues during the race. A sign of things to come?
Everyone expected Vettel to recover at Singapore and when he qualified on pole, with Hamilton way back in 5th, he was nailed on to snatch top spot back at the first time of asking while it seemed to be very much damage limitation for Mercedes and Hamilton. The race began and immediately Max Verstappen in the Red Bull as well as Vettel’s teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, got off to a great start. Vettel saw the danger and moved to cut Verstappen off with an aggressive defensive move but this saw both Vettel and Raikkonen sort of sandwich the Red Bull between them. A coming together ensued which saw all three exit the race, with Hamilton easing to victory and further extending his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship.
Things had gone from bad to worse for Vettel and Ferrari and you could say the championship was slowly slipping from their grasp. Their resolved had been weakened considerably, especially as the Singapore defeat was avoidable and a huge blow to their chances. On to Malaysia though, where surely nothing else could go wrong for Vettel as he looked to fight his way back into the title race.
Unfortunately, it was a race where Hamilton, who finished second behind Max Verstappen, managed to extend his lead in the drivers’ standings to 35 points, after Vettel finished back in 4th. There was also post-race drama as Vettel collided with Lance Stroll during the slow down lap.
You could look at all the evidence and suggest that Vettel’s grip on the title has well and truly been released but not just by the magnificent form of Lewis Hamilton but also by the mistakes made on the track by Vettel himself. When the pressure has really been on, so far both Ferrari and their number one driver have failed to rise to it and this failure has gifted the title to Hamilton. Vettel still has a chance, although a very slim one and one which would require Hamilton’s resolve weakening and you just can’t see that happening.