Sebastian Vettel is the F1 2010 World Champion, against-the-odds, breaking all records and to the delirium of German motor racing fans in search of a new superstar – but did the right man ultimately clinch the crown following last weekend's nail-biting Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale?
If you take Lewis Hamilton – the very longest of long shots – out-of-the-equation, Vettel was inarguably the outsider heading into the Middle Eastern showdown, yet just as Kimi Raikkonen defied predictions to triumph for Ferrari three years ago, so the Red Bull Racing ace successfully turned the tables on his two chief rivals at Yas Marina, executing a perfect weekend in which his supremacy was never truly threatened.
If Vettel 'did a Raikkonen' and produced the indisputable drive of a world champion in the UAE, then Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber could almost be accused of 'doing a Carlos Reutemann', with a lacklustre performance just as the stakes were at their very highest seeing the popular Australian miss out on the laurels that many believed – with the fastest car in the field at his disposal – were his for the taking. The 34-year-old's eighth place at the chequered flag fell some way short of making the grade.
Much the same could be said for double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, whose bid to make it three titles in six years foundered on a misguided knee-jerk pit strategy from Ferrari in response to Webber's early stop, and an afternoon spent staring inertly at the gearbox of Vitaly Petrov's Renault, earning himself little respect post-race when he angrily shook his fist at the Russian rookie, ostensibly in the conviction that his quarry should simply have moved aside for him in 'After you, Claude' fashion.
As to Hamilton, finally, the Briton did everything that could have been asked of him by harrying Vettel for all he was worth early on in what was almost certainly an inferior car, but his pre-race deficit ultimately counted against the McLaren-Mercedes star, and a characteristically gutsy and valiant effort was in the end good enough for only fourth in the standings.
But who do you
think should have lifted the trophy? Do Vettel's stunning tally of ten pole positions and status as indubitably the fastest driver of the campaign make him a worthy title-winner, or do moments of immaturity such as that witnessed in Istanbul tarnish his achievements, do you feel? Was Alonso in fact more deserving of the crown, given the Spaniard's impressively consistent late run of podium finishes, or did the events of Hockenheim lose him your support?
How about Webber? Did the doughty Aussie merit the sport's greatest prize by virtue of being the only one of the four contenders to be doggedly fighting a war on two fronts – both outside and within his own team – or was his costly Korean mistake the kind of lapse that separates the great from the merely very good? And finally Hamilton – never giving up, but at times pushing over-the-limit in his efforts to keep up, did his brilliant victories in Turkey, Canada and Belgium outweigh calamitous errors in Italy, Singapore and Japan as desperation snuck in..?