It wasn’t until his wheels-on-grass outside pass on Fernando Alonso at the 2011 Italian Grand Prix, which paved the way to his 18th victory, that people kind of shut up about Sebastian Vettel’s lack of overtaking abilities. In Melbourne, at the 2012 season’s first race, he provided further proof that he’s not a one-trick, win-everything-from-pole racer when he demolished Nico Rosberg in the opening laps.
Starting from sixth (sixth!) on the grid, Vettel was up into fifth as he began chasing down Rosberg’s trick Mercedes in the second lap of the race. He slipstreamed him in the sweeping, right-hand Turn 8. On the straight between Turn 8 and the Turn 9-10 complex, Rosberg made a move to the right to cover the inside line and Vettel followed him for a fraction of a second before swinging back on the outside to take the racing line. It was too late for Rosberg. Despite being in a car that’s faster in a straight line, the time he lost in defense allowed Vettel to pass him on the outside, and he was leading by the time the cars got to Turn 10. It was a beautiful, elegant, lightning-quick feint.
There were times in his dominant 2011 season when it appeared that Vettel is not entirely comfortable when he’s not thirty seconds up front, like when he spent some 20 laps Donald Ducking behind Felipe Massa’s Ferrari at the 2011 German Grand Prix, passing him only in the pits. But if this is what he can do with a car which will not allow him to dominate like he did last year, we’re looking at one amazing season ahead.