Vettel finding his mojo could take fight to Mercedes

After their ill-advised goading of Formula One rivals Ferrari, the message for Mercedes before this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix is clear: be careful what you wish for.

What began as banter, with Nico Rosberg inviting Sebastian Vettel to a Mercedes debrief in Malaysia, ended with red faces as Vettel roared to his first win for Ferrari.

Whether Ferrari can land another sucker-punch in Shanghai in far cooler conditions remains to be seen, but Vettel looks a man transformed after proving the Mercedes can be beaten.

The four-time world champion bristled at Rosberg’s claim, after an untroubled Mercedes one-two at the season-opener in Australia, that he wanted Ferrari to push Mercedes harder, and made his fellow German pay for his cockiness.

Rediscovering his mojo
Lewis Hamilton, the current champion, and Rosberg had been all but untouchable, but Vettel has breathed new life into Formula One after rediscovering his mojo to top the podium for the first time since his last win for Red Bull in 2013.

Vettel also left Bernie Ecclestone with egg on his face after the sport’s chief executive criticised him for being too low-key as world champion, and he will be determined to build on his momentum in Shanghai, where he last won in 2009.

As Vettel screamed “Fantastico, fantastico!” in Italian after his 40th race victory, Hamilton short-circuited in Malaysia, Ecclestone’s golden boy barking at his team for giving him the wrong tyres and for chattering to him through the corners.

On the podium, a champagne-soaked Rosberg shouted “Game on, Ferrari!” while Hamilton prowled in the background wearing a thunderous expression – pure theatre, and the perfect tonic to the gloom and doom after the no-contest in Australia.

‘No panic’
Having won 16 of 19 races last year, there was considerable fear that the Silver Arrows would power away again this season, until Vettel’s heroics ended Ferrari’s 34-race drought to permit cautious optimism after a prolonged period of navel-gazing.

The emotion Vettel displayed as he triumphantly waved the Ferrari flag was a welcome sight – somewhat ironically, given that his crushing dominance with Red Bull drew boos from race-goers in 2013.

Team-mate Kimi Raikkonen will also look to build on his fourth place after fighting back from an early puncture to prove that both Ferraris can be a handful.

However, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff insisted there was no cause for alarm, despite the unexpected challenge from Ferrari.

“It was a wake-up call,” he said. “Our opposition has raised its game but we have the weapons at our disposal. There is no panic.”

Youngest scorer
Hamilton, who has won three times in China, including last year, added: “Malaysia was a tough weekend. Shanghai suits my driving style so the target is to get back to the front.”

Away from the heavyweight podium battle, Max Verstappen will again be the focus of attention after the baby-faced 17-year-old became Formula One’s youngest points-scorer with his seventh-place finish for Toro Rosso in Sepang.

Meanwhile, once-mighty McLaren need to find some reliability after ex-world champions Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso – in his first race since rejoining the team from Ferrari – both retired in Malaysia, leaving them without a point this season. – AFP


De Klerk now admits apartheid was a crime against humanity

Apartheid’s last president walks back comments that definition was a Soviet plot

February 11 1990: Mandela’s media conquest

Nelson Mandela’s release from prison was also South Africa’s first ‘media event’. And, despite the NP’s, and the SABC’s, attempt to control the narrative, the force of Madiba’s personality meant that he emerged as a celebrity

Eastern Cape MEC orders graft investigation after two workers killed...

The killing of two council workers at the Amathole district municipality appears to be linked to tender fraud and corruption

Strike-off case pulls in judge

Judge Mushtak Parker is implicated in an application to strike off his former partners. He is also involved in the fight between the Western Cape high court’s judge president and his deputy

Press Releases

Response to the report of the independent assessors

VUT welcomes the publishing of the report of the independent assessors to investigate concerns of poor governance, leadership, management, corruption and fraud at the university.

NWU student receives international award

Carol-Mari Schulz received the Bachelor of Health Sciences in Occupational Hygiene Top Achiever Award.

Academic programme resumes at all campuses

Lectures, practicals, seminars and tutorials will all resume today as per specific academic timetables.

Strategic social investments are a catalyst for social progress

Barloworld Mbewu enables beneficiaries to move away from dependence on grant funding

We all have a part to play to make South Africa work

Powering societal progress demands partnerships between all stakeholders

So you want to be a social entrepreneur?

Do the research first; it will save money and time later

Social entrepreneurship means business

Enterprises with a cause at their core might be exactly what our economy desperately needs

Looking inwards

Businesses are finding tangible ways to give back – but only because consumers demand it