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Vettel and Hamilton fight for an impossible title for the third most awarded

Vettel and Hamilton fight for an impossible title for the third most awarded

The German Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) -leader of the Formula One World Championship- and the Englishman Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) -second, seven points away- are competing this year for a title totally impossible to imagine for the third most successful driver on the track, the Spanish Fernando Alonso, who suffers a third season for oblivion aboard a McLaren-Honda.

Vettel, quadruple world champion and whose titles Hamilton wants to equal, felt at Spa-Francorchamps the pressure of his English rival, who ’embroidered’ his 200th F1 Grand Prix achieving his fifth victory of the year, one more than the recently renewed captain from Ferrari; at the same time that Alonso, double world champion, with an engine light years away from being competitive, dropped out for the sixth time in a course in which he has only scored twice.

Hamilton, 32, equaled one of the historical records, that of ‘poles’ of the seven-time German world champion Michael Schumacher, a true record man of the premier class of the motoring, still convalescing from the serious skiing accident he suffered in December 2013 in Meribel, in the French Alps.

And, after going out for the sixty-eighth time first, on Sunday he improved to 58 his own second all-time winning mark; still far from the 91 celebrated by the ‘Kaiser’, honored on Sunday by his son Mick in Spa, where no one equals his six victories. That double those of Lewis.

Vettel, 30, who led Red Bull’s glorious four-year term (between 2010 and 2013), is the driver with the most titles of all those who race in F1, occupying the third place of all time, with one less than the Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio and equaled the French Alain Prost. ‘Seb’ will enter the praise of crowds at Monza, ‘Ferrari territory’, where he was booed when he won in 2013 with the ‘energetic’ team at a track where the ‘Scuderia’ celebrated their last triumph in 2010. Thanks, precisely, to Alonso .

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The Asturian double world champion (2005 and 2006, with Renault) won Monza in the first of his five seasons with the Maranello team. With which he signed eleven victories and four ‘poles’. Booty that seems meager, being the most awarded team in history, with 16 constructors ‘titles and 15 drivers’ World Cups.

The last of them, that of the recently renovated Kimi Raikkonen, dates back ten years, during the Finn’s first red tour. And if Alonso, 36, squeezed what he could – including three runners-up – from a historic team, then surpassed by the brilliance of Englishman Adrian Newey (aerodynamic guru and designer of Red Bull’s triumphant ship); nothing seems to be able to get out of a McLaren with a Honda engine that has slowed down its sporting career even more.

Alonso, whose 97 podiums is only surpassed by Hamilton (111) -Vettel still has two fewer than him-, is the third with the most victories (32) of the entire grid; and his 22 ‘poles’ are only improved, likewise, by the first two of a World Cup in which, in the last three years, only one of his statistics has increased: that of fastest laps, raised to 23 in Hungary. Where, being sixth, he achieved his best position of 2017.

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Spa-Francorchamps has brought McLaren back to reality. From the naked maja has gone, again, to black paintings. And the Honda engine continues to cause real headaches that turn the performances of the best active driver into nightmares.

Alonso has gone from leading a partial classification, the fastest lap, before vacation; to close it right behind them: Vettel scored (at 41) that of Spa, by covering his 7,004 meters in one minute, 46 seconds and 557 thousandths, 26 less than the best (35) of Hamilton. In this relationship, facilitated by F1, the Oviedo figure last, stopping the clock at 1: 51.720: more than five seconds behind Vettel. Whose average speed was 236.583 kilometers per hour, compared to the 225.692 reached by the Spanish.

At top speeds, by sectors, Mexican Sergio Pérez (Force India) – seventh in the World Cup, with 56 points, and retired in Belgium – led the first, with 355.1 kilometers per hour, much more than the 319.8 Alonso, eighteenth in that area. Vettel – world leader, with 220 – reached the top speed in the following sectors of the longest track of the championship. Seb reached 208.6 in the second, compared to the 196.9 of the Asturian -prepenultimate-; and 229.2 in the third, where Fernando reached 219.3 and was fourth from the tail.

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In the best of the comparisons, that of times by sectors, Alonso reached the sixteenth in the second: 49 seconds and 344 thousandths. Far from the 46,694 of Hamilton. With 30,524, ‘Checo’ led the first sector, in which Fernando’s McLaren-Honda entered the penultimate (31,898). The same as in the third, in which his 29,863 were also very distant from the 28,709 of Seb.

And by the trap point or speed sensor, the McLaren-Honda of the Asturian double world champion entered seventeenth, at 309.2 kilometers per hour. ‘Checo’, the fastest by that point, went to 324.3.

So Alonso does not have excessive reasons for the illusion four days before filming begins at Monza, the temple of speed, where he also won ten years ago… with a McLaren. That it had, yes, another engine: a Mercedes.

Vettel will enter Monza seven points ahead of Hamilton and 41 over his teammate, the Finn Valtteri Bottas, fifth in Belgium, behind his compatriot Kimi. Australian Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull), third in Francorchamps, is fourth in the contest, with 132 points.

Sainz, son of the double Spanish world champion of the same name, reinforced his dominant position in the Toro Rosso team, for which he has achieved ninety percent of his points so far this year. EFE

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