Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 31st 2013 Contents A65
Thursday, October 31, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
World champion Sebastian Vettel is so utterly
dominating Formula One that few will bet against
him winning a seventh straight race and 11th this
year at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend.
Vettel clinched his fourth straight world title at
the Indian GP last weekend to enhance his standing
as one of the F1 greats.
The German has won an incredible ten of 16 races
so far, and has shaded second-placed Ferrari driver
Fernando Alonso almost to irrelevancy with just three
But that won t quell Vettel s desire for more suc-
His consistency has been such that he has secured
either pole position or second place on the grid in
the past eight races, and only once has qualified
lower than third all season --- a ninth at the Chinese
GP in April.
That rare setback is a distant memory and, given
his phenomenal consistency in qualifying and on
race day, there appears little to stop Vettel from with
another win at the Yas Marina circuit, where he
clinched his first world title in 2010.
While Vettel s first was a fraught, hard-fought
affair on a tense day, his fourth has been a breeze.
After a mediocre start, Vettel pulled away in August
with a superb win at the Belgian GP --- responding
to Lewis Hamilton s brilliant drive at the Hungarian
GP before the summer break --- and he has not looked
He leads two-time former champion Alonso by
115 points and 2007 champ Kimi Raikkonen by 139
--- massive leads, even by Vettel s standards.
Touted to be Vettel s main contender after his
impressive win from pole in Budapest, Hamilton
trails by 153 and has managed only one podium ---
a third --- since his victory in the searing heat of the
"For some people it may have looked easier than
maybe any of the previous titles, because we had an
SHANGHAI---Phil Mickelson was
hard at work yesterday morning on
the practice range at Sheshan Inter-
national, and not just on his golf
swing. He was trying to learn a Chi-
nese phrase, and he rehearsed it over
and over to make sure he got the
pronunciation just right.
The phrase: "After the round."
For all the autographs he gives,
Mickelson never signs during his
round, even if it s a practice round
when the course is closed to the pub-
lic. He was looking for a way to
explain that to the Chinese gallery
without coming across as aloof. The
first option was "Not now, later,"
except he figured "later" might trans-
late to five minutes.
Mickelson is just as popular in
China as he is at home. He engages
the crowd. He has fun with the staged
photo calls, such as Tuesday night
on Shanghai s historic Bund when
he dressed in a traditional Chinese
robe and acted the part of a war hero
One year, he was sitting across
from Tiger Woods in a game of Chi-
nese checkers. The idea was to pho-
tograph golf s two biggest stars, and
the best rivalry of their generation.
But at the last minute, Mickelson
spontaneously threw both arms in
the air to make it look as though he
As for the robe, the sword and a
dance routine he tried (with limited
success) to follow?
"Part of my enjoyment for par-
ticipating in this tournament is some
of the cultural experiences we ve had,
from Tai Chi two years ago to Chinese
checkers, where I beat Tiger in that
game," Mickelson said as the room
erupted in laughter.
The golf hasn t been too bad,
Mickelson is a two-time winner
of the HSBC, including 2009 when
it was the first year with World Golf
Championship status. He played in
the final group with Tiger Woods
that year and put him away early.
The HSBC is full-fledged WGC
for the first time this year, attracting
one of its stronger fields. Though it
is missing Nos. 1 and 2 in the world
--- Tiger Woods is doing corporate
outings in the region, Adam Scott is
resting up for the hero s welcome he
is sure to receive in Australia with
his green jacket from the Masters ---
it has 40 of the top 50 players in the
For Mickelson, it s the end of a
long and fruitful year.
He started at No. 17 in the world
and has a chance this week to go to
No. 2 if he were to win. He added
the third leg of the career Grand Slam
with his popular win at Muirfield in
the British Open. He came within a
fraction of an inch of 59 in the
Phoenix Open, which he won. He
added another international title at
the Scottish Open.
"I would love to finish strong,"
Last week in Malaysia, he would
love to have known where the ball
was going. Mickelson said he rarely
felt as hopeless as he did at Kuala
Lumpur, coping with a two-way miss
and realizing that his swing hasn t
been reliable for some time. A few
days later, optimism returned.
"The last two days, my game start-
ed to come around," he said. "And
as I enter this tournament, I enter
with a lot more confidence than I ve
had in a while. Sheshan is a golf
course that I feel very comfortable
on. I feel like I know how to play this
course successfully, and I m looking
forward to the week."
The field includes Rory McIlroy,
defending champion Ian Poulter, Lee
Westwood and Sergio Garcia, four
prominent players from Europe s
winning Ryder Cup team, all of them
still looking for their first win of the
year. McIlroy gets the most attention
because he started the year at No. 1
in the world and has fallen to No. 6.
He is starting to swing the club beau-
tifully though, and he beat Woods in
their exhibition match on China s
Hainan Island Monday for the second
advance," Vettel said. "For us there was never the
luxury of leaning back just because we might know
how to win a title."
The talk of who could challenge Vettel quickly dis-
sipated, replaced with predictions of how far Vettel
can go in his already remarkable career in a dominant
Red Bull team that also clinched the constructors
title last weekend for the fourth straight year.
"Everyone works for each other within the team
with a common vision and one desire: To keep win-
ning," team principal Christian Horner said. "The
success that we have is a result of having tasted
success before. It s almost like a drug."
Having matched Alain Prost s total of four F1 titles,
only Juan Manuel Fangio, with five, and Vettel s coun-
tryman Michael Schumacher, the record holder with
seven who also won five straight from 2000-2004,
remain ahead of him.
"It is very hard to realize all of this," Vettel said.
"At the same time you are very glad that no one can
take this away from you again."
At 26, Vettel has time and the most reliable car
on his side.
"I m not that old yet and to achieve that in such
a short amount of time is very difficult to grasp,"
Vettel said. "To win four titles, I don t know, it s just
a big number, you know?"
The only drawback of Vettel s season has been
some jeering he s received on the podium, notably
at last month s Italian GP where he was heckled by
"Unfortunately nowadays the world is ticking so
quickly that people are not always listening exactly
to what I m saying or what I m trying to say," Vettel
said. "I don t blame the people that booed, you know.
If I go to the football stadium, for example, I cheer
for the home team."
The Abu Dhabi GP is the only race of the year that
starts in the late afternoon and ends in the evening,
providing the drivers and teams with a unique chal-
lenge and the audience with a breathtaking specta-
"Especially during twilight when you get some
really nice footage and pictures," Sauber driver Nico
Hulkenberg said. "The track is pretty tricky and tech-
nical, especially the last sector which has a lot of
twisty, 90-degree corners."
The temperature range the Pirelli tires will expe-
rience is very different, as unlike most other races
track temperature falls as the race goes on, rather
"Teams are able to do longer runs even on the
softer compound later in the race," Pirelli motorsport
director Paul Hembery said. "It s often possible to
try something different, which might well pay off."
Mickelson hopes to
finish his year in style
Phil Mickelson of the United States, left, and an amateur player celebrate at
the fifth hole during the Pro-Am event of the HSBC Champions golf
tournament, which begins today, at the Sheshan International Golf Club in
Shanghai, China. AP PHOTO
Vettel goes for
seven in Abu Dhabi
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, is
sprayed with champagne by compatriot and second
placed Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg after winning
the Indian Formula One Grand Prix and his fourth
straight F1 world drivers championship at the Buddh
International Circuit in Noida, India, Sunday. AP PHOTO
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