No-one with even the faintest of interest in Formula One can failed to have noticed just how far out ahead are the Red Bull-Vettel combination this season. They have completely dominated both the Constructor’s Championship and the Driver’s Championship almost from the start of the season. Quite simply, they’re streets ahead of the competition. So why is that, exactly, will it change – and why is Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber currently such a distant fifth? The answer may well lie in traction control technology which was, of course, banned in Formula One back in 2008. Traction control allows the driver to accelerate sooner when coming out of the turns – but let’s be clear here; there are no bases for believing that Red Bull have broken any rules as, of course, their cars have cleared all the F1 checks. But what is even more interesting is the possibility that Red Bull have created a brand new technology.
Very clear evidence of a difference came in Singapore when Sebastian Vettel won with an amazing 32 second lead during a race in which his car made a palpably different noise than the rest emerging from the bends. This grinding sound was similar to that made by cars before the 2008 ban on traction control technology. What’s equally fascinating is that Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber’s car didn’t make the same sound – so it could be that the same technology isn’t available to both of its drivers? And there has been a lot of speculation of an on-going feud between Webber and Vettel; so much so that team boss Christian Horner publicly denied the team was reducing Webber’s chances. He also denied rumours of the use of a traction-control technology.
It all adds up to a fascinating end to the season which may throw up some anomalous results for the shrewd gamblers amongst us. The USA and Brazilian Grand Prix odds with betfair.com, for example, show Vettel at an incredibly short price for both races.
Yet in many ways, Vettel and Red Bull have nothing to race for – and they could use the last races to tinker further with their technologies in preparation for next season; so it’s definitely worth keeping a close eye on Austin to see if there are any anomalously good odds available – particularly on the exchanges like Betfair and others – and Texas may provide the best clues in this.