x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Sebastian Vettel and Adrian Newey are Red Bull's dream pairing

Fernando Alonso impressed by the work of Red Bull Racing team's technical director.

Sebastian Vettel starts on pole in India.
Sebastian Vettel starts on pole in India.

GREATER NOIDA, INDIA // One is the poster boy of Formula One, the other is a balding boffin who carries around a 2B pencil. Put them both together and the 2012 Formula One World Championship appears to be on its way to being wrapped up.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing's 25 year old German, secured pole position for today's Indian Grand Prix, but title rival Fernando Alonso emerged from his car at Buddh International Circuit asserting the fight is now as much between Ferrari and Adrian Newey as it is between a pair of two-time world champions.

"At the moment we are not fighting against Sebastian only," the Spaniard, who finished fifth-fastest in qualifying, said.

"We are also fighting against Newey, let's say, because [the team] has finished first or second in the last three races."

Newey is undoubtedly the genius behind Red Bull's recent dominance, which sees them almost certain to claim a third successive constructors' championship in Abu Dhabi next weekend.

The Englishman, armed with a pencil and a first-class degree in aeronautics, has been designing championship-winning cars since 1992.

After successful spells with Williams and McLaren, where he won championships with both teams, he became chief technical officer at Red Bull and has added seventh and eighth constructors' titles to his resume.

With Vettel and Mark Webber locking out the front row here yesterday for the third consecutive race, title number nine has never looked more likely.

"He always comes up with ideas," Webber said. "Whenever Adrian is around, it just brings everyone up; all the engineering guys, mechanics.

"He is such a beacon of our team; such a beacon for us in terms of sticking to our guns when it gets a bit smelly. And when it's going well, you never notice its going well with him.

"We finished first and second in Korea and the debrief was no different. That is just such a quality of Adrian and that is why it is great to have him."

In Korea, it was Newey who accompanied the Red Bull drivers to the podium and, true to form, the 53 year old proved himself ahead of the game once again, brandishing a pair of mechanics goggles shortly before getting soaked on the podium by his jubilant drivers.

"Who said geniuses have no common sense, eh?" remarked Webber, with a grin.

While Vettel has now secured 35 pole positions in his short career, few have appeared as inevitable as yesterday's did on this dusty circuit near to Delhi.

The two-time world champion, winner at India's inaugural contest last season, led every free practice session and would have been quickest in all three parts of qualifying had Pastor Maldonado not beaten his fastest time in qualifying part one on the soft Pirelli tyres - Vettel had set his time on the harder compound.

"All in all, it has been a great weekend so far and no problems with the car," Vettel, who is hunting a fourth successive race victory, said. "But we have to keep pushing. We have four races to go - important races - but the best chance of doing well is to focus on every single step.

"This was qualifying and we got a very good result. Now we look forward to the race."

Following his victories in Japan and Korea, Vettel has been pictured climbing out of his car in parc ferme and stroking Newey's creation with adoration.

His action was likened by Indian media to a jockey caressing his prize horse, but the quick-witted German noted a difference.

"With the car sometimes you might lose oil or fuel, but I think the smell is nicer than what a horse drops," he said, laughing.

"There is obviously a special relationship because when you're out on track, it's between you and the car, but also the car is what connects you to your crew. I'm working with the car on the track and the crew is working with the car in the garage. We all share a passion and try to achieve a common goal."

The common goal will edge closer this afternoon if Vettel can convert pole into a 26th career win and Alonso, who trails by six points in the standings, knows it as well as anyone.

"If they can start well, go away and have an easy race, that's the worst news for us," the Ferrari driver said.

Newey will have his podium goggles at the ready.

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae

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