It’s been the story of the year, on track, in Formula One: how has Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull been so dominant?
A viewpoint form NBC’s Formula One analyst David Hobbs, himself a former driver:
“Sebastian Vettel is an outstanding young kid, from the time he was winning go-kart championships,” Hobbs said during today’s teleconference leading up to this weekend’s United States Grand Prix in Austin (Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra).
“He was fortunate enough to be picked up by Red Bull. Then he was the youngest polesitter and youngest winner. Then he joined Red Bull and Adrian Newey.
“I’m not convinced Newey has brought Vettel up. I think Newey has used his genius and coupled it with Sebastian’s genius – somewhat like Colin Chapman, Jimmy Clark did 60 years ago. He used it to suit Sebastian’s driving style. Now he’s winning the championship by 200 points nearly.”
From Steve Matchett, fellow analyst and a former mechanic for the Benetton F1 team (now Lotus) when Michael Schumacher won the first of his two World Championships:
“The sport always throws up an incredible talent, be it a (Alain) Prost, (Juan Manuel) Fangio, Michael Schumacher again, and we now have another one,” Matchett said. “I worked with Schumacher, (Ross) Brawn at Benetton. That was 10-plus years ago. Now he’s come along in a heartbeat; now the sport’s ready for another incredible talent.
“He’s taken a lot of good advice from Michael. How to become a part of the team; become an intrinsic part. Schumacher did it with Benetton and Ferrari, and Vettel is doing exactly the same with Red Bull. The car is tailored toward his style – why wouldn’t they?”
Will Buxton, NBC’s F1 insider and pit reporter, sees Vettel on the ground at every event. He’s a humble individual out of the car, and unflinchingly focused in it.
“What makes him such a superstar? He’s humble, funny, engaging who’s enjoying every facet of life outside the car. And he’s a ruthless operator in the car,” Buxton said. “He’s likeable outside it. But he’s unflinching in his determination to obliterate the competition. He’s physically on top, mentally unchallenged, and from a driving perspective, a joy to behold week in and week out.”
Perhaps Hobbs and Matchett’s booth mate can sum it up best.
“It’s a question only Red Bull and Sebastian can answer,” NBC Sports Group lead F1 announcer Leigh Diffey surmised. “Steve used the Tiger Woods analogy. How does Sebastian put two seconds on the field after every lap? How does he win by 31 seconds? Is he that much better? The car? The team? That’s the allure and attraction, and people are in amazement.”
Vettel seeks his eighth straight win – which would be the most in a row in a single season (the all-time mark of nine, set by Alberto Ascari, was done over two seasons from 1952 to 1953) – this Sunday in Austin. It would mark his first win at the track and end Lewis Hamilton’s run of back-to-back USGP victories.
You can see him go for it starting at 1 p.m. ET on NBC on Sunday, with an hour pre-race, and lights out at 2 p.m. ET.