For some strange reason, people have gotten it in their mind that Vettel’s race was aided by safety cars and crashes. Somehow forgetting that the first safety car put him back 10 places and messed up his tire strategy.
Lap 31: p2 (Alonso, Maldonado, Webber, Button, Perez pit)
Lap 36: p4 (pitstop lets Alonso and Button pass)
Lap 38: SAFETY CAR (Vettel gains 10 seconds to Button)
Lap 44: SAFETY CAR in
Lap 52: overtake on Button
So while it may seem to some like Vettel’s race today was aided by safety cars and other drivers tumbling over each other, most of that actually happened behind him. Having to pit, ruining your tire strategy and fall back 8 places with the first safety car can hardly be considered luck, and by the time of the second safety car, he had already made his second pit stop and was in 4th place.
I think I saw Ricciardo also gift him a place, in the hairpin before the first long straight. So out of the competitive teams, he only overtook Grosjean, Schumacher (though I did not see that overtake – in fact I hardly saw Schumacher at all the whole race, but that’s besides the point) and Senna a few times. That in itself is not a tremendous achievement. I think Vettel’s drive today was similar to Button’s in Canada in 2011: both were very good, but the rise through the field was not down to overtaking many competitive cars, but rather to not losing any time behind slow cars, and putting in fast laps when cars around were busy pitting.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to bash Vettel or say he can’t race (which in my opinion he can), but it would have been more testing if he would have had to pass the Force Indias, Saubers etc. on track.