BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Mercedes may have taken home all the glory from the Spanish Grand Prix, but Sebastian Vettel's driving display went a long way toward repairing the four-time champion's reputation after his struggles this season.
Problems with his car's wiring and transmission plagued Vettel through practice and qualifying in Montmelo. Yet once Red Bull's mechanics provided Vettel with a reliable car, the German showed few can match his skill behind the wheel.
Vettel wove his way up from a 15th-place start to finish fourth just behind new teammate Daniel Ricciardo, livening up an otherwise dull contest until Lewis Hamilton held off Mercedes partner Nico Rosberg at the end. Red Bull team boss Christian Horner described it as a "fantastic comeback drive."
And did Vettel ever need it.
After winning 13 of 19 races in 2013 to claim his fourth straight title, Vettel has only reached the podium once this season and has finished the last three races behind Ricciardo. Sunday's display of passing technique, combined with a smart team strategy and smooth pit stops, indicated that he is still a force to be reckoned with when his car holds up.
Vettel has benefited from driving cars designed by Red Bull's Adrian Newey, widely considered Formula One's best, for a team that has dominated the circuit for the previous four seasons.
While no one doubts Vettel's expertise, the question has always lingered to what degree Vettel's success has depended on being paired with Newey and a team with the financial resources to build a winning car year after year.
The 26-year-old Vettel showed his laurels are well deserved on Sunday when he used some audacious driving to steer by 11 rivals after starting way down the grid because a faulty gearbox left him stranded during qualifying and earned him a five-place penalty. Among the group of drivers Vettel managed to overtake were three former champions: Ferrari's troubled twosome of Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button of McLaren.
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