It didn’t rain cats and dogs at Spa-Francorchamps this time around, unlike what one saw in 2021. But what added to the warm sunshine of the Ardennes wasn’t just the fierce battle that ensued over Saturday’s quali and Sunday’s grand prix. Sebastian Vettel’s valiant effort that saw him gather a P8 in the end having originally qualifying sixteenth on the grid.
The German, who was once a four time world champion, and has, of late been a champion of great movements both on and off the track (remember the Saudi Arabia karting event to promote women in motorsport) was perhaps the best thing about Belgium.
He didn’t get a podium. Moreover, he didn’t set the fastest lap of the race either.
But in a sport so obsessed with top speed and the final three in a race, Sebastian Vettel reminded us about the value of that one driver who scores points, yet again, when the other in the team just doesn’t.
Lest it is forgotten, Lance Stroll began the 44-lap run at Spa Francorchamps from fourteenth on the grid; the Canadian reached Q2 whilst Vettel, P16, got knocked out.
Yet, in the end, it took some brilliant driving and hard-as-nails racing from Sebastian Vettel to collect four valuable points at the picturesque venue that fans simply can’t get enough of. The talented Stroll’s race, regardless of his grid position post qualifying, couldn’t reach the level Vettel’s did with pure focus and grit.
That’s when at 35, the Heppenheim-born Sebastian Vettel is at the twilight of his career and is nowhere near as young as his 23-year-old teammate.
Though what could be forgotten soon enough as under-appreciated efforts always run that risk is the simple fact that Sebastian Vettel’s eighth in the end was also his best race result since the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
At Baku, the former Ferrari driver collected a fighting sixth, still his best performance in 2022, which is unfortunately his final year in Motorsport’s top flight.
But at Spa, we saw traces of the Vettel that were seen in Ferrari and before that, in Red Bull, the latter most famous for presenting the world ‘peak Sebastian Vettel!’
At one point in the recent Belgian Grand Prix, Vettel ran inside the top five on the grid but his pleasure would be short lived as he’d be pushed further back to eighth.
However, this would be a position he’d defend with all his might, bringing to focus the racer he’s been all his life.
That’s when what the multiple world champion had at his disposal was a car that pretty much resembles an insipid road car that seems unwilling to go fast and his happy being towed away.
In some ways, what Vettel’s experienced this year has been pretty much Kimi Raikkonen things. How’s that?
Much like his good friend Kimi who never had a fast car during his final Formula 1 stint, which came with Alfa Romeo, Vettel’s Aston Martin machines have, at best, been mediocre.
What’s strange and funny at the same time is that both former Ferrari teammates have had to miss races in their final season owing to COVID.
Last year around, Kimi sat out of Zandvoort and Monza and this time around, Vettel began the 2022 F1 season after missing Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s action packed contests.
What remains now are no more than eight Formula 1 races post which the sport will bid adieu to an all time great of the grid. May Sebastian Vettel’s exit be as fascinating as his coming of age; picture the 2007 US Grand Prix!
It’s fascinating to say the least that fifteen years back when he arrived in Formula 1, Vettel scored exactly that which he managed this last Sunday.