British press fear nothing can stop fourth Sebastian Vettel title now after big Spa win
Newspapers can't now see how rivals can topple the World Champion
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 26/08/13 1:43pm
Having entered the summer break optimistic that the second half of the season was poised to witness a Championship fightback by Lewis Hamilton after the Mercedes driver's impressive win in the heat of Hungary, Vettel's fifth win of the year at Spa and particularly his 17-second winning margin - the largest of the season so far - now makes grim reading for the German's challengers.
Under the headline of 'Sebastian Vettel blows away Lewis Hamilton's title challenge inside 30 seconds', the Independent's David Tremayne suggested the moment Vettel breezed past polesitter Hamilton on the run to Les Combes on the opening lap was symbolic of the way the title race was now headed.
'Any thoughts that Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso had of reducing Sebastian Vettel's advantage in the race for the world championship lasted less than 30 seconds here at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday,' he wrote.
'That was roughly the time it took for Hamilton to lead the field down to the famed Eau Rouge corner. But on the exit Vettel simply drove past him as if the Mercedes was nailed to the fence.'
The Times was even blunter about the challenge now facing Vettel's would-be challengers, suggesting only uncharacteristic mistakes from the German himself over the final eight races could possibly provide a sting in the tail for the sport's benchmark driver.
'Vettel has a ruthless streak. There was no mercy for his opponents, who had been given the briefest whiff of salvation from the Red Bull dominance that has choked their ambitions for more than three seasons,' Kevin Eason wrote.
'Vettel not only beat Spa, he destroyed it, finishing almost 17 seconds ahead of Fernando Alonso, his nearest challenger - a country mile by the standards of a sport that measures success and failures by a tenth of a second.
'Vettel is 46 points ahead of Alonso in the standings, the equivalent of almost two race wins, Raikkonen has fallen away and Hamilton has an outside chance as remote as Spa's great outdoors. F1 needs Vettel to fail if he is to be prevented from taking a fourth successive title.'
Simon Cass concurred in the Daily Mail - 'precious little looks like stopping Vettel bringing home a fourth successive drivers' crown' - while the Daily Telegraph admitted that while the World Champion's new bleach-blond hairdo may have raised a playful laugh or two over the weekend in the paddock, no one was certainly laughing at him on the track.
'It was Vettel's 31st career victory, drawing him level with Nigel Mansell in the all-time list at just 26 years of age, and took him one step closer to what will surely now be a fourth consecutive world title, a sequence as bright as the highlights in his hair which were the object of so much derision over the weekend,' Tom Cary reported.
'Vettel is likely to have the last laugh. Certainly Lewis Hamilton, who could only finish third here despite starting from pole, was not mocking his rival.'
As well as acknowledgment that Vettel, now more than ever, appears to be on inexorable course to further cementing his place in F1's history books, there was also disappointment that all the excitement created by Saturday's frenetic qualifying session had fallen somewhat flat come race day.
'After one of the most dramatic qualifying days for years this race had promised much. But the rain that shook up the field on Saturday failed to materialise as promised,' the Daily Mirror's Byron Young reflected.
'And it was pretty mundane fare thereafter.'
Not that the dominant race winner would have seen it quite that way, of course.
'The way Vettel got stuck into the podium champagne - unusually for him - he felt he had tied up his fourth title on the spin,' was the Guardian correspondent Paul Weaver's sobering verdict for Sebastian's increasingly distant rivals.