x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Vettel's triple delight

The Red Bull driver is on song claiming pole, the fastest lap and the win at the final British GP at Silverstone.

Sebastien Vettel drives towards the pit-wall where his team cheer him to victory at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Sebastien Vettel drives towards the pit-wall where his team cheer him to victory at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

SILVERSTONE // A fluttering banner read SOS, referring to Save our Silverstone yesterday. But as time was called on the historic circuit as host of the British Grand Prix after 22 years, the sign was also perfectly apt as Sebastian on Song. Pole position, fastest lap and victory, it was the triple crown for Vettel as the Red Bull-Renault driver cruised to his second win of the season and sparked some life back into a championship race that many thought was over.

He is now 25 points behind Jenson Button, who finished sixth in his Brawn car, and hopes to mount a title challenge. "I had a fantastic car and I was able to push more and more," said Vettel. "It all came together. The whole team worked perfectly fine and we were quite dominant. I wouldn't mind if we could continue like this. "Jenson was very strong in all the races so far and he deserves to be in his position. He has a comfortable lead, but we will use every single opportunity we have.

"We were close to being perfect here, which is very difficult to achieve. But that's the target always and we will try to improve, even from where we are now." This was only Vettel's second appearance at Silverstone, which will lose the race to Donington Park for the next 17 years unless there are problems with the new venue.Last year, racing for Toro Rosso, he went off at the first lap when he was clipped by David Coulthard.

This year's opening could not have gone any better. He smoothly got away from Rubens Barrichello at the start and never looked back, making it a Red Bull one-two with Mark Webber, who leapfrogged Barrichello's Brawn at the first pit-stop. Composed, controlled and quick, the German showed why he has been tipped to emulate the legendary Michael Schumacher. While Vettel was driving majestically at the front, it was a different story for Button as he finished off the podium for the first time this season.

All eyes were on the Briton as he looked to match the feat of Schumacher back in 2004 when the seven-time former world champion won seven of the first eight races. But a terrible start, as he was held up by Jarno Trulli's Toyota, proved costly, sliding from sixth to ninth place. Valiantly, and thanks to a change in strategy with a long stint in the middle of the race, Button was able to gain three points.

"Hopefully this will be the worst race of the year," he said. "And after struggling so hard to get three points, in a way this might be an important three points." His Brawn GP teammate Barrichello came third and is 23 points behind in the championship. He said: "At every race this year, let's say Jenson has birdied the first holes and I hope he bogeys the next ones. I hope there is a turnaround."

Ferrari's Felipe Massa gained an impressive fourth in his Ferrari after starting 11th Nico Rosberg held on for fifth in his Williams, while Jarno Trulli took seventh, just ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari. Fernando Alonso was 14th in his Renault and Lewis Hamilton, the world champion, two places further back in his McLaren. akhan@thenational.ae