Who can beat Vettel?

Although I don’t personally mind if Sebastian Vettel would win his second Driver’s Championship, it would be nice if someone could at least give him and Red Bull Racing a run for their money. At this rate Vettel will win the championship before the last race of the season which is seriously hampering on the excitement level of the season. But perhaps more importantly, on a race-to-race perspective, is the fact that no-one seems to be able to challenge him on track, whether it’s his team-mate or a driver from a competing team.

Let’s look at the people who Vettel has to face.

Jenson Button – Vettel’s arch-rival from the 2009 season when Button took the championship easily. Button has been the most consistent driver so far which is why he’s still second on points. He’s also the only other driver this season to have won a race besides Vettel and Hamilton. If Button can keep up his consistency, there is a slight chance he could catch up to Vettel on points later in the season, but that would really require Vettel to make some bad mistakes or for the Red Bull team to suffer some major bad luck. Both of which seem extremely unlikely not only since the Red Bull car has been so reliable but also since Vettel hasn’t fallen victim to nearly as many driving mistakes as last year or the year before.

Mark Webber – Currently tied with Button on championship points, Webber has also drive a consistent season. Despite problems he’s been on points every race this season. However, the fact that he can’t seem to keep up or even catch up to his team-mate is rather disheartening. Webber was still in the running for the championship at the latter half of the season last year and even fought back when he thought he was getting screwed by his team. There’s still some fight left in Webber but I can’t understand why he can’t catch up to his own team-mate, driving the exact same car as him.

Lewis Hamilton – On pure driving skill, I’d say Hamilton would be the only one to be able to go toe-to-toe with Vettel at this point.  However, his over-aggressive behavior (both on- and off-track) and his inability to make the most out of admittedly good qualifying results (top-5 in every start of the season) seem to be his biggest weaknesses at this point. If he can keep his cool during the race, drive a solid qualifying and pull off a great opening lap, Hamilton could have at chance of beating Vettel. The Chinese Grand Prix was proof of that.

Fernando Alonso – Though I don’t like Alonso at all, it’s a little surprising to me that Ferrari are having as many problems with their reliability as they have had. Though he’s been consistently on points, he’s only been on the podium twice this year. And though there’s a lot of evil talk going around the pit lane about his team-mate, the truth is that Massa’s standing in the series is only one step down from Alonso. If this is simply another weak year for Ferrari then there’s nothing Alonso can do, but he’s been in the top-5 in the qualifying before, so I really have to wonder why he (as well as Hamilton) can’t seem to get past the Red Bulls.