There’s something strange going on when you find yourself questioning the abilities of a four-time world champion.
But that is exactly what is happening as Sebastian Vettel still seemingly struggles to adapt to the ‘new’ F1 after three races of 2014.
I have always been of the sort to praise the German for his ability saying that while the car was great he was the man who got the best out of it.
Certainly there is no doubting his credentials when starting at the front of the grid and with a superior car, but once again the thing that makes a good driver great, and a great driver a legend appears to be missing.
The ability to get a result when the car is not 100 per cent how a driver wants it is often how a driver is ranked, it’s why Fernando Alonso is often named the best on the grid, he is able to score consistently better results than perhaps his Ferrari is worth, but faced with the same scenario this year Vettel has been unable to do so.
After taking away his blown diffuser and a bit of downforce as well as giving him an inferior power unit the man who went on one of the hottest streaks in F1 history towards the end of last year is now looking rather mortal.
Even his ability to dominate his teammate has gone with Daniel Ricciardo beating him twice in qualifying and only the Aussie’s exclusion from Melbourne seeing him behind Vettel in the championship.
Ricciardo has even done what few thought likely and overtake Vettel wheel-to-wheel on the track at the start in Malaysia and towards the end in Bahrain.
Some are left questioning who is the top dog at Red Bull right now, it’s almost laughable given where Vettel was just a few months ago.
There is no doubt Vettel has had much more than his share of reliability niggles during the season so far, certainly more than he had with Webber in the team, cue conspiracy theories, but apart from a largely unchallenged run to third in Malaysia, when the car was clearly second to Mercedes, Vettel hasn’t looked comfortable.
Questions over Seb the ‘racer’ have always been raised given crashes with Jenson Button and Mark Webber in 2010, the last time he didn’t have a vastly superior car.
He has pulled off some great moves namely on Alonso at Monza in 2011 and had some great fights through the field late in 2012 en route to his third title but he has never been known for his ability to pass people.
Naturally with his Renault power unit seemingly the least powerful on the grid the chances to overtake are going to be fewer, but for the four-time world champion much of his title charge, which there will be as the gap between Red Bull and Mercedes continues to close, will first have to see him re-establish himself as number one within his own team.
Ricciardo is on a roll and the last thing Seb wants is to have to battle his own team-mate, after all in times gone past that hasn’t gone too well. He needs to start adjusting to the new demands and start getting the most from the RB10 otherwise his growing tag of an all-time great could start changing to an all-time great fluke.
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