x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

A season of excellence for Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel set the tone from the outset, winning five of the first six races, and he never looked back. Six more victories followed as the young German cruised to his second straight title.

No driver could keep pace with Sebastian Vettel this season, after he won five of the first six races in 2011 to win his second drvers' world title.
No driver could keep pace with Sebastian Vettel this season, after he won five of the first six races in 2011 to win his second drvers' world title.

Sebastian Vettel set the tone from the outset, winning five of the first six races, and he never looked back. Six more victories followed as the young German cruised to his second straight title.

Australia, March 27

Sebastian Vettel began his title defence with a comfortable win in Melbourne in his Red Bull Racing car ahead of Lewis Hamilton's McLaren-Mercedes. Renault's Vitaly Petrov was the surprise of the day as his two-stop strategy saw him finish third for his first F1 podium.

Malaysia, April 10

Vettel controlled the race again from the front for his second win in a row in Sepang. Jenson Button was second in the McLaren, while Renault's Nick Heidfeld completed the podium after slight contact between Hamilton and Fernando Alonso's Ferrari dropped the pair down the order.

China, April 17

Tyre strategy made Shanghai a thriller. Button lead early on but lost time after accidentally stopping at the Red Bull garage during a pit stop. Vettel ended up in front, but Hamilton's extra tyre stop paid off as he passed the German with six laps to go for victory.

Turkey, May 8

Red Bull controlled a race dominated by pit stops, with most drivers stopping four times as the tyres degraded quickly in the Istanbul heat. Vettel lead from start to finish to win, with teammate Mark Webber getting the better of a battle with Alonso to take second.

Spain, May 22

Alonso delighted his home fans by leading early, but he was unable to keep up the pace and eventually finished a lap down in fifth. Vettel got out in front after his second pit stop but had to work hard to fight off Hamilton's late surge to claim his fourth victory of the season.

Monaco, May 29

Vettel's fifth win of the campaign was his most fortunate. A late red flag allowed him to change tyres after he was under heavy pressure from Alonso and Button. Hamilton escaped with two time penalties after being at fault for collisions with Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado.

Canada, June 12

Heavy rain caused a two-hour delay in Montreal. Button overcame collisions with Hamilton and Alonso, a drive-through penalty for pit-lane speeding and a punctured tyre to hunt down Vettel and pass him on the last lap to win. Webber beat Michael Schumacher to third.

Europe, June 26

The Valencia street circuit once again served up a processional affair despite the benefits of the new regulations meant to make passing easier. Vettel lead from the start and was never threatened, while Alonso jumped Webber at the final pit stops to prevent a Red Bull one-two.

Britain, July 10

Vettel lead early on in the wet at the new-look Silverstone Citcuit, but a slow pit stop saw him fall behind Alonso, who claimed his and Ferrari's first victory of the season. Webber ignored team orders not to push Vettel in the final laps but was unable to pass the German and had to settle for third place.

Germany, July 24

Hamilton, Alonso and Webber battled at the front throughout the afternoon at the Nurburgring, with all three spending time at the front. Hamilton emerged on top. Vettel lost ground after an early spin but finished fourth, ahead of Felipe Massa, after Red Bull beat Ferrari in a pit-stop race on the final lap.

Hungary, July 31

McLaren shone in mixed conditions at the Hungaroring. Hamilton lead for much of the race but bad tyre degradation and a penalty for an unsafe return to the track after a spin left him in eighth place. That allowed teammate Button to come through to triumph, ahead of Vettel and Alonso.

Belgium, August 28

Red Bull put concerns over tyre wear behind them after qualifying and Vettel and Webber came through for the team's second one-two of the season. Button passed Alonso late on to take third after starting in 13th, while Hamilton crashed out after misjudging a passing move on Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi.

Italy, September 11

Red Bull had struggled in the past at Monza, with its long straights, but Vettel changed that as he dominated after superbly passing Alonso early in the race. Schumacher ran as high as third, before finishing fifth, but he came in for criticism for changing his line under braking while defending against Hamilton.

Singapore, September 25

Vettel's domination gained new levels as he lead from start to finish, running a full second per lap faster than his rivals during parts of the race. Button and Webber completed the top three. Hamilton infuriated Massa after leaving the latter with a puncture in a misjudged overtaking move.

Japan, October 9

Vettel claimed his second successive drivers' championship with a third-place finish. He lead early on but was passed in the pit stops by Button, who went on to win his first race in completely dry conditions in more than two years. Alonso claimed the remaining podium spot by finishing second.

Korea, October 16

Red Bull's run of pole positions was ended by Hamilton, but normal service resumed in the race as Vettel passed the Briton on the opening lap and drove on to win. Hamilton put in a superb defensive drive to hold off Webber for second, but the result was still enough to give Red Bull the constructors' title.

India, October 30

Vettel was keen to be the first driver to win at the new Buddh International Circuit, and the German achieved that as he led from start and finished ahead of Button and Alonso. Hamilton and Massa collided again, but this time the stewards found Massa at fault and issued a drive-through penalty.

And next ... Brazil, November 27

Vettel won at Sao Paulo last year - when it was the penultimate race of the season -to put himself in position to claim the championship in Abu Dhabi. The track has been good to Red Bull; Vettel and Webber were one-two last year, and Webber took the chequered flag in 2009.