F1 » 29 October 2013
Indian Grand Prix: Kate Walker: The price of victory
Kate Walker looks at Sebastian Vettel's fourth F1 title success in her latest exclusive column for Crash.net
Used to keeping her eye on the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing that makes Formula One a political melodrama, here Kate Walker takes a look at Sebastian Vettel's latest F1 title success – and the price of victory...
While the start of the Indian Grand Prix weekend was marred by court cases and local government controversy, by Sunday evening at the Buddh International Circuit there was only one story worth writing home about – Sebastian Vettel's fourth consecutive world title, which followed yet another dominant performance from the young German.
Having secured the title, a relaxed and merry Vettel spoke openly with the press about his desire to travel India, experiencing more of the country's hospitality and spirituality. It was, the champion said, a country he felt he could learn a lot from.
“I would actually love to take the time out and travel India, travel around here, because I think this country has the possibility to teach you so much,” Vettel mused. Sadly, the life of an F1 driver doesn't allow for much free time. Vettel is unlikely to be buying Birkenstocks and a backpack any time soon. “I think, in the end, that India is big, lot of people here and you need more than a week or two to really get the taste of the country,” he said.
But now that the championship has been won in such commanding style, it could be in the team's interests to send their star driver (back)packing for a few races, either leaving his car sitting in the garage or handing it over to Sebastien Buemi until the end of the season.
Starting in 2013, teams' entry fees for the Formula One World Championship have been based on the number of constructors' points accrued over the course of the previous season. This year, Red Bull paid €2.5 million – a basic €500,000 charged to all teams, and then an additional €5,000 per point scored.
In 2012, Red Bull picked up 460 points. With three races remaining of 2013, the team have already scored 470, with the strong likelihood of more than 100 points yet to come. Should that come to pass, the Milton Keynes racers will be liable for a €3,350,000 bill to enter the 2014 F1 championship.
Given the high cost of competing in 2014 – what with new engines and tech to take into account, and up to 22 races to pay for – collecting further race wins at the next three grands prix will prove to be great for the Red Bull ego, but rather bad for the wallet. And one thing Vettel doesn't appear to know how to do is lose a race.
The end of the 2012 season saw Vettel in what should have been – for any other driver – two entirely hopeless situations. He was forced to start from the back of the grid in Abu Dhabi following a fuelling error; the team elected to rebuild the car and start their star driver from the pit lane instead. As the record books show, Vettel stood on the podium that evening.
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