Red Bull dominated the Singapore GP. What Vettel & "Hungry Heidi (is it still named that?)" achieved there was an obliteration of his competitor's Title hopes, which not even the safety car could close down. An almost 2 seconds per lap faster, and not even Webber on similar machinery could match it.
There has been wide speculation that Red Bull have in place some sort of traction control (since Canada), but with most of the electronics being standard such a move would be easy to spot (for an engineer). Yet there is one area which seems to be Laissez-faire that people have began to look out in hopes of understanding why Newey's RB9 is still so dominant: KERS.
(You know its coming...)
Its not so much a difference in the packaging, the battery, or power of this Electrical unit, since it falls into some restrictions placed by the FIA. But what could be the difference between its main rivals is the way the electrical motors are allowed to collect energy and deliver energy.
It is theoretically easy to modulate the output torque and charging input torque to an electric motor/generator using capacitors, batteries, inductors and a feedback signal. Torque changes are instant and control is easy and legal.
Now, I'm no engineer but this sounds extremely similar to what Mercedes does with the all electric SLS, and how Chris Harris & the Merc Engineer explained that each wheel could essentially sort of counter/negative torque (14:45 mark), or some wizardry stuff like that, for a more immediate response and better traction & turn in.
If torque were to be modulated in response to the normal force of the tires against the track (in response to shock pressure for example) significant unused traction potential could be recovered during high pressure phases (upside of bumps) and initiation of full wheel spin during low pressure phases (downside of bumps) could be delayed. Yielding better turn exit acceleration, higher cornering speeds and stability. Especially on bumpy tracks like Singapore.
(...wait for it...)
If we look at how the way the lap charts (Provided by F1Fanatic) we can see how well Vettel performed compared to his main rivals during the race. Although in qualifying trim, Rosberg was able to come just shy of a tenth of a second from Vettel's lap, its widely known and has been proven in many instances, that the W04 can't preserve there tires as well as other teams.
So if such a system is in place it specially outshines the competition under tricky conditions (bumpy surfaces and changing conditions) but still highly effective for the fractions of a second that separate F1 cars. Its advantages might be diminished in the faster circuits where carrying speed is more important than the traction out of the corner. But its main advantage may also be the way it helps preserve the tires.
(...there it is, the Magic Finger! Might as well flip the bird on your opponents)
Here is a recount by Giancarlo Minardi (which I recommend to read fully here). If such system is in place even at a minimum it might help explain the uncorrected line Minardi kept seeing Vettel take.
There are some aspects (1- Vettel’s very neat way of driving; 2-Vettel’s speedup 50 m before the other drivers; 3- the abnormal sound of the RB1’s Renault engine; 4- Vetter’s more than 2 sec. advantage over the rivals ) that make me think and I would like to have some answers. All those doubts are even more serious if we consider that Webber wasn’t able to do that, since he’s a common human being….I don’t want to blame anyone , I just would like to get into the deep of the matter.
All we have left is to wait and see how Korea and the rest of the races play off.
(Unlike my Hyperbole bus (thanks for all the well thought out replies) trip from yesterday I'm actually trying to understand this electric technology. Wonder if this means a software update could turn a Prius into a sportier car?)