Red Bull Renault’s 24 year old superstar, Sebastian Vettel, has taken his second F1 title in as many years by finishing third in Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix. Vettel grabbed the final podium spot in a mostly uneventful race, finishing behind winner Jenson Button (McLaren Mercedes) and second place finisher Fernando Alonso (Ferrari). Still up for grabs is the constructor’s championship; while Red Bull Renault is currently in the lead, McLaren Mercedes isn’t out of contention just yet. That title will be decided over the season’s closing four races.
Heading into the Japanese Grand Prix, Vettel needed only a tenth place or better finish to grab the championship title from second place driver Jenson Button. While still in contention for the title up until the end of the race, Button would have needed a victory in all the remaining races, with Vettel scoring no points for the rest of the season. While mathematically possible, it was as likely as Bernie Ecclestone taking a vow of poverty and donating his fortune to charity.
While Vettel’s utter domination of the field in 2011 didn’t always make for exciting races, I’m glad to see the young German driver grab the title for a second time. Vettel’s earned it, consistently out-performing the best drivers in the world and making it look easy in the process. Like truly great F1 champions of the past (Senna and Stewart, to name two), Vettel has the ability to overcome a car’s flaws, and understands that preserving a race car is as important as the lap times you deliver. Vettel is a humble, unassuming guy off the track, too, something not often associated with F1 stars in recent years.
Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel on a job well done.