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Class of the Field
Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

A toast to the four time champion // No one can get anywhere near the superb German

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I try to use this series to praise the drivers who haven’t received credit for their weekend’s work, but on the day that Sebastian Vettel joined the absolute elite, how can you lead off without mentioning the now four-time champion?

Vettel simply unbeatable

Sebastian Vettel joined the absolute elite
Credit: Gilham/Getty

Who said this man couldn’t overtake? Who said that Sebastian Vettel couldn’t win if he didn’t do it from the front? Well on Sunday, Vettel proved the nay-sayers wrong with a great drive. On Saturday I wrote about how he was the best at setting a blistering pace from the start, breaking the DRS. He had easily done that in India before he decided to pit after only the second lap, leaving him down in the midfield, needing to overtake in order to make his strategy work and beat Mark Webber.

I know that Vettel had a superior car, but the laps he put in to march up to third in the order were scintillating. He cut through the field like a hot knife through butter and just like that, he was battling for a podium position, knowing those around him, including teammate and main challenger Mark Webber, still had to pit in front of him. Anyone who doubted that Sebastian Vettel was a complete driver despite being a triple world champion need only to watch this race to realise just how good the German is. It may not be that exciting, but at some point, you just have to admire how good this guy is.

Vettel effectively nullified the threat of Webber by having such a good start to his second stint, passing cars, meaning that he wouldn’t be stuck in traffic later in the race. Webber’s cause wasn’t helped though by putting the soft tyre on in his second stint. It was the conservative (but correct) choice, meaning that a second place would have been assured, even with an inopportune safety car. Webber’s hopes were dashed anyway by a sudden alternator failure.

I thought I’d add that I was happy to see Vettel show some real emotion at the end of the race. The way these drivers are managed from a PR sense leaves them looking a little robotic, but putting on a show for the fans and showing real delight at a fourth world title was very special. Hopefully that will win Vettel some more fans back, and I doubt he’ll mind the hefty fine and reprimand imposed on him.

Pérez proves his worth

Pérez’s race was made by the laps he put in late in his first stint
Credit: VMM

There are some odd rumblings coming out of McLaren about their driver of the future, Sergio Pérez. One would expect him to be signed up for next year already but Sunday’s fifth place may have sealed the deal.

Pérez started on the medium tyres and as his rivals pitted, he jumped up the order, getting as high as second before he was caught by Vettel and made his stop. Unlike Webber, he made a soft tyre second stint work for him and came out after his second stop in tenth. From there he climbed up the field once more as the rest made their final stops, gaining fifth place as Kimi Räikkönen made his last stop with two laps to go (to Rocky’s delight).

Pérez’s race was made by the laps he put in late in his first stint, allowing him to come out in seventh and still be challenging for a high points finish.

It would have been interesting to see how Jenson Button would have worked this strategy, but it was ruined early by having to pit, which completely screwed the strategy of starting on the medium tyres as the McLarens and Alonso did. Likewise for Alonso, it was the front wing change on lap two that ultimately ended his title fight.

Grosjean continues good form

This man deserves credit. After ploughing into the back of Daniel Ricciardo in Monaco, many were calling for Romain Grosjean’s head having had a horrible weekend in the principality. But he has fought back since and was at his best once again in India, climbing up from 17th, after a disastrous qualifying that was largely the team’s fault, to third to secure yet another podium.

He even left just enough tread on the tyres to fight off a late charge from Felipe Massa

You may have to whisper it quietly, but right now he is the better Lotus driver on the grid. OK, Kimi is prone to lose interest and I can understand that as he is leaving at the end of the year, especially if he is not being paid. That being said, Grosjean’s form at the end of the year is downright impressive, he is proving to the world that he is a Räikkönen-beater on his day.

Grosjean chose a very unusual strategy path, starting on the options but run long to lap 13, despite losing a lot of time at the end of the stint and then he ran on a single set of prime tyres for the final 47 laps of the race. One thing is for sure, it worked, as he was able to plough through the field as others discarded their used rubber. He even left just enough tread on the tyres to fight off a late charge from Felipe Massa.

Grosjean is proving to the world that he is a Räikkönen-beater
Credit: Andrew Ferraro/Lotus F1 Team

Rosberg proves me wrong

I mentioned after the last race that Nico Rosberg needed to up his game if he were to avoid being in a team dominated by superstar Lewis Hamilton. So he did in India, finishing second and beating Lewis Hamilton in a straight fight on the same strategy, and beating the Brit by a hearty 23 seconds too! Though that was half a minute behind the victorious Vettel, it was still a great result for Rosberg, and one that he came up with just in time, before the critics started to fester.

These next three races could have a large impact on Rosberg’s whole career.

If he can now finish the season off in style, he will go into 2014 with the Mercedes momentum on his side of the garage. Despite the fact that there is nothing truly riding on the final few races of the year, excluding second in the constructors’ championship, these next three races could have a large impact on Rosberg’s whole career.