By Robbie Blakeley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel secured the 2010 F1 title with successive victories in Brazil and Abu Dhabi to become the youngest ever champion at just 23 years, four months and eleven days. As well as Vettel picking up the driver’s title, Red Bull won the constructor’s crown with Vettel’s victory in São Paulo on November 7th.
Vettel had not previously been on top of the leader chart before Sunday’s final race, but led from pole for the entire race. Spanish driver Fernando Alonso will be left to rue missing out on his third title, after starting the day first on the leader board and in control of his fate.
A first or second placed finish would have been enough to secure the title for Alonso, or a top five position in the event of a Vettel victory. But the Spaniard never recovered from an early tire change, finishing the race in seventh place, and with the below par performance went any chance of snatching glory.
Vettel simply carried on his winners form from practice the previous day, and in most eyes never looked like surrendering the first position throughout the race. Lewis Hamilton, Alonso and Jensen Button applied early pressure to the young German, but after a collision between veteran Michael Schumacher and Vitantonio Liuzzi, Vettel was able to pull away and put daylight between himself and his rivals.
While some of his opponents hesitated to choose which tires would best suit the challenging Abu Dhabi track, Vettel accumulated a vast 28 second lead at the front, giving him ample time to change his worn tires and retake the lead when other drivers were forced to do the same.
Indeed, Vettel’s dominated to the point that he could afford to slow down towards the end of the race to avoid further damage to his car. The victory was his fifth of the season, and sparked huge scenes of celebrations in the Red Bull garage.
Meanwhile, it has been a disappointing season for Brazil’s Felipe Massa. Forced to play second fiddle to Ferrari team mate Fernando Alonso, the São Paulo born driver has vowed to step out of the shadows next year.
“I know what I am able to do, and I know I’m able to fight for the championship,” he remarked. “I’m sure if I fix the big problem I’ve had this year I’ll be back in the fight, and that’s what I’m looking for.”
The problem Massa is referring to is his repeated failure to perform well in qualifying, which has led to severe disadvantages during the Grand Prix races. Massa finished a whopping 106 points behind Alonso in the final table.
“There was a big change from last year’s tires to this year’s tires, and that was the worst thing for me,” Massa explained. “If you cannot do what you are able to do in qualifying, you are not going to start first.”