Red Bull’s double world champion Sebastian Vettel can end Formula One’s unprecedented streak of seven different winners in the first seven races by extending his own winning run in Valencia this weekend.
The 24-year-old German, winner of the European Grand Prix in 2010 and 2011, is gunning for a hat-trick on the streets of the Spanish Mediterranean port city to become the first repeat winner of a season that has turned into one of the most unpredictable on record.
If predictability is to return to the championship, then Valencia is the right place for it.
The driver starting on pole position has won three out of the four races there on a tight and twisty circuit that has acquired a reputation for serving up few thrills and little overtaking.
“People are always asking me to predict what will happen at the next race and I always tell them it’s really difficult to make an accurate prediction”
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton
Vettel has finished off the podium in his last three races, the first time that has happened in the last three years, but reckons the tide has turned.
“We have learned more and will make a step forward in Valencia,” he said after finishing fourth in Montreal this month.
McLaren have yet to win in Valencia but championship leader Lewis Hamilton, winner in Canada, is the British bookmakers’ favourite.
Whether he will convert that into two successive victories is anyone’s guess, with all the teams struggling to understand the tyres fully.
“People are always asking me to predict what will happen at the next race and I always tell them it’s really difficult to make an accurate prediction,” said the 2008 world champion who leads Ferrari’s local hero Fernando Alonso by two points.
“But I’ll be heading to Valencia feeling super-motivated to get another strong result and maintain my momentum before we head into Silverstone and the British Grand Prix.”
New Ferrari pairing?
The unpredictable season which has knocked Vettel from his pedestal, and off the podium top spot, has fuelled rumours he may be plotting a move to Ferrari.
Ferrari principal Stefano Domenicali has said Vettel and Fernando Alonso could “easily co-exist together” as team mates, a comment likely to send the Formula One rumour mill into overdrive.
Media reports last month suggested Red Bull’s double champion Vettel had signed a pre-contract agreement with Ferrari, the sport’s most successful and glamorous team, with a move likely in 2014.
Alonso, also a double world champion, has a contract with the Italian team until the end of 2016 and is very much the
number one in the current line-up with under-performing Brazilian Felipe Massa.
“I think they are both intelligent guys and they could easily co-exist together”
Ferrari principal Stefano Domenicali
Ferrari’s official website published on Wednesday an interview of Domenicali and Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone by two German reporters who asked both men about Vettel.
Presented with a photo-montage of Vettel as he might look in Ferrari overalls, Domenicali smiled and said “in life one should never say never.”
“I think they are both intelligent guys and they could easily co-exist together,” he said when asked whether he felt Vettel could only move to Ferrari once Alonso was no longer at Maranello.
Alonso had a stormy time at McLaren when paired with Britain’s Lewis Hamilton, who ended his extraordinary debut 2007 season level with the Spaniard on points but ahead in the standings as runner-up.
The Spaniard had eclipsed previous team mates and none of his subsequent partners have troubled him either. Massa has not been on the podium since 2010 and is out of contract at the end of the season.
Ecclestone, who is close to 24-year-old Vettel, said he would not advise him to move while still so young but recognised it was a possibility.
“Usually, a driver ends his career at Ferrari, therefore it could happen one day,” said the 81-year-old Briton, who also
played down the obstacles to an Alonso-Vettel pairing.
“That wouldn’t be a problem: both are drivers who are always looking for a new challenge and to be in the same team would be a new and big challenge,” he said.