Sebastian Vettel to retire from F1 at end of season
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Sebastian Vettel has been named ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen as the driver to have made the best start to a Formula One campaign since the current points system was first introduced back in 2010. Verstappen currently leads the Drivers’ Championship standings by a healthy margin of 80 points after 13 races and looks to be firmly on course for a second individual title in as many years.
The Dutchman endured a slow start to proceedings but has since established himself as the dominant force on the grid once again, having beaten the likes of Charles Leclerc, Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez for the vast majority of the season. Verstappen remains some way off the level of Vettel, though, who enjoyed the strongest first half of a campaign in the last 12 years back in 2011.
Research from MyBettingSites has shown that Vettel led the best start to an F1 season that year, with the German driver racking up a total of 284 points from the opening 13 races. He was 112 points ahead of second-placed Jenson Button and went on to finish the job by rubber-stamping his second Drivers’ Championship title at the end of the season.
Lewis Hamilton was not far behind Vettel’s best points total just two years ago, with the Mercedes man having scored 282 points from 13 races on his way to the end-of-season honours. He also had an impressive lead after the same number of Grands Prix in 2015, 2018 and 2019 at the peak of Mercedes’ dominance at the front of the grid.
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Verstappen, meanwhile, currently sits on 258 points at the summit of the Drivers’ Championship standings and will be desperate to convert his advantage into another title-winning result over the next 10 races. However, it remains to be seen whether Ferrari will be able to mount a late recovery if they can iron out their mistakes and improve their strategic decisions in the not-too-distant future.
Red Bull and Ferrari have rarely been troubled by Mercedes over the course of this year, with the Silver Arrows having struggled to match the superior pace of their title rivals since pre-season testing. They managed to secure five successive podium finishes before the summer break, though, and Verstappen has already insisted that he is glad to see the German team finally making improvements after a difficult campaign to date.
“No, it’s good that they are competitive because then they can steal more points off Ferrari,” said Verstappen after winning last month’s Hungarian Grand Prix. “So I’m very happy. They’re doing very well.”
However, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is refusing to get carried away in spite of Verstappen’s massive advantage over his Drivers’ Championship rivals at the top of the standings.
“There is still a lot of racing to go,” said Horner. “Ferrari are quick, Mercedes are coming back into the game. There’s still a long, long way to go in this championship, plus a sprint race.
“We don’t take anything for granted. There’s still a lot of racing to do, and they’re very different venues.”
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