x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Sebastian Vettel needs to take one for the team

I am not a fan of team tactics but that could be the best route for Red Bull-Renault to take in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

Sebastian Vettel, the Red Bull-Renault driver, is 15 points behind championship leader Fernando Alonso.
Sebastian Vettel, the Red Bull-Renault driver, is 15 points behind championship leader Fernando Alonso.

I am not a fan of team tactics but that could be the best route for Red Bull-Renault to take in Abu Dhabi on Sunday to ensure they clinch the drivers' championship.

Mark Webber has the best chance of beating Fernando Alonso to the title and Sebastian Vettel can help him by being a team player.

When I signed a contract with a team during my Formula One career I became part of that team.

My aim was to do the best I could for myself and the team. It is never nice to be on the receiving end of instructions that do not favour you. It is not a great scenario for Vettel, but it is part of the sport.

It would not be the ideal way to see the championship decided if Vettel was to let Webber overtake him to take the title.

But if the scenario does arise I am sure that Vettel will be a team player to ensure that Red Bull complete a momentous double.

I think it is a credit to how Red Bull have run their team that we have got to the final round with both their drivers having a chance of becoming champion.

They could have made things easier for themselves by deciding to favour one driver earlier, but they have not, and while that may have helped allow Alonso to take the championship lead, they have been able to stay close to the Spaniard.

Webber's title bid has not been helped by Vettel being allowed to take points off him in recent races, but on the other hand you could rightly argue that without his mistake in Korea, when he crashed out of the race, he would have the championship lead going to Abu Dhabi.

But Webber has the more realistic chance of taking the title for Red Bull, being only eight points adrift of Alonso, compared to Vettel's 15-point deficit, and I do not think the team can afford to be clever about how they try toclaim the crown.

All signs point to the Red Bulls having the advantage on Sunday.

Their cars have traditionally shone at all the Hermann Tilke-designed circuits, and Yas Marina Circuit was no different last year with Vettel and Webber claiming a one-two.

I have no doubt they will be the package to beat in both qualifying and the race this weekend, but a one-two finish still may not be enough to clinch the title if Alonso's Ferrari is third.

Webber can do it if he leads Vettel home, but Vettel seems to be able to just get a little more out of the car of late as he has had the better of his teammate.

Vettel won here last year and if it was a normal race he would be my strong favourite to do that again.

But winning is not enough for him, as he needs Alonso to be outside the top four and given the Spaniard has been on the podium in the last five races, that does not look likely.

Red Bull should have won the title last year but missed out, and this year they have won eight races and taken 14 pole positions which has helped them already claim the constructors' title for the first time, which is a fantastic achievement.

But I think it would be terrible for them if one of their drivers does not take the drivers' title, and there is no guarantee, given the way the sport changes so quickly with car development and designs, that they will be contenders next year.

I think that Lewis Hamilton's hopes are slim at best. He has a 24-point deficit to make up on Alonso and his McLaren-Mercedes car is simply not quick enough to be able to take on and beat the Red Bulls and Ferraris in a straight fight.

 

Johnny Herbert is a former F1 driver who won three races. His column is written with the assistance of staff writer Graham Caygill

 

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