Vettel a safe bet after tire gamble
Updated: 2011-08-30 07:52
Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany celebrates on the podium after winning the Belgian F1 Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps, on Sunday. Francois Lenoir / Reuters
Defending champion can claim another title without winning again
Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel was revealed as a lover of bookmakers' slang on Sunday after a Belgian Grand Prix victory that made him more of a racing certainty for the title than ever.
As he took the chequered flag for his seventh win in 12 races, extending his championship lead to 92 points with only a maximum 175 still on the table, the 24-year-old whooped his delight.
Team principal Christian Horner congratulated him over the team radio on leading a one-two with Australian Mark Webber, adding enigmatically: "Double Carpet".
"It was just a joke," the Briton explained somewhat bashfully to reporters later.
"Sebastian has got very into Tic-tac speak. He's fascinated by Anglicisms...if you ask him 11-2 he'll probably be able to give it to you."
In Tic-tac, a complex sign language employed by track bookmakers in horse and dog racing, double carpet signifies odds of 33-1.
It would be a foolhardy bookmaker who offered such odds against Vettel winning a second successive title, with all bets now focusing on where and when he is likely to take it rather than whether.
Vettel, who does not need to win again to be champion, started on pole position and ended the afternoon 3.741 seconds ahead of Webber.
Both he and the team did take a gamble on Sunday. What ended up as one of the their best ever results could easily have turned into a nightmare before the start.
Horner said, after the champagne had been sprayed and the trophies collected, that Red Bull had given serious consideration to starting both drivers from the pitlane because of safety concerns about the tires.
He told reporters that the front tires on both cars had suffered noticeable blistering in qualifying due to the set-up of the cars.
However, any changes to the set-up between qualifying and the race would be a breach of the rules and force the drivers to start from the back of the grid or pit lane.
"We had a lot of very good and open dialogue with (tire provider) Pirelli and with (FIA race director) Charlie (Whiting) and a decision was taken," Horner said.
"We felt the tyres were safe to start the race and that's exactly what we did.
"We erred on the side of caution, hence the first stint being very short for both the drivers. The blistering was in a position of the tire that to us looked quite nasty, right on the shoulder."
Horner said the whole team was "glued to the monitors", looking at the tires for any signs of excessive and dangerous wear in the opening laps.
"The drivers were giving us the feedback of what they could see. The first pitstop enabled us to have a closer inspection of the tire and that built our confidence for the next stint," he said, although the worries did not disappear entirely.
Team technical head Adrian Newey was emotional on the podium collecting the trophy and Horner said his colleague had been "pretty stressed" about the tire safety and his responsibilities to the drivers.
"For us to get a one-two here...is a massive result for the team," added Horner.
Vettel agreed the team had taken a gamble, with nobody really sure of what might happen at one of the fastest circuits on the calendar.
"We took quite a lot of risk," he said. "We had reason to be confident that it should be fine, but you never really know and there is no-one walking up and down the paddock giving you a guarantee."
(China Daily 08/30/2011 page23)