Love him or hate him there is no denying that Sebastian Vettel is a talented driver and a force to be reckoned with. So what is this latest obsession with booing the German when he stands on the podium after a Grand Prix?
One of our readers, Makeeta Shute, has penned the following opinion piece exclusively for RichardsF1.com…
One only has to look back at Sebastian Vettel’s huge list of achievements and records to see the evidence of his incredible talent.
He is the youngest triple World Champion in Formula 1 history (and will surely become the youngest four-time title holder). He is the youngest pole- and Grand Prix winner (earned at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix). He has the most pole positions in a single season (fifteen in 2011) and is joint-holder of the the most podium finishes in a season (seventeen in 2011).
The list of achievements goes on and on, and even one some may not know he also has the record for the shortest time elapsed before gaining a penalty (nine seconds into his F1 career for speeding in the pit lane during Friday practice at the 2006 Turkish GP)!
“It’s his car!” many fans and pundits claim. Of course this certainly is contributing to his great success and dominance in recent years, but even before joining Red Bull Racing in 2009 he had already shown his level of skill in far less superior equipment.
Lets not forget his brilliant drives for Toro Rosso, including his fifth-placed finish (after qualifying 18th) at the 2008 Monaco Grand Prix, or his first ever F1 victory at that year’s Italian Grand Prix, where he thrashed all comers over a wet weekend to win by 12.5 seconds.
When he went on to join Red Bull Racing in 2009 as Mark Webber’s teammate, it was Vettel who took the team’s first pole position and race win at the Chinese Grand Prix.
So why is there so much criticism and out right disrespect for a driver who has showed his worth?
Look, his career hasn’t been all roses, and there’s not doubt he has had his fair share of controversy, usually involving teammate Mark Webber.
The first incident between the two came during the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji, where Vettel – then in the early stages of his career with Toro Rosso – rammed the Australian’s Red Bull while the field was bunch behind the Safety Car. Webber, who was in contention for his first win, was furious with the teenage German.
Two years later as teammates and they were at it again, this time colliding while disputing the lead during the Turkish Grand Prix. Vettel was out in the contact, while Webber pitted for repairs and went on to finish on the podium, but the team’s management was quick to blame Webber, despite many believing that it was Vettel who was at fault.
Further fuelling the bad blood between the two was the front wing debacle during the British Grand Prix less than two months later. Vettel’s newly-designed front wing failed during final practice, and the team chose to give Webber’s sole front wing to the German, much to the Australian’s consternation when Vettel claimed pole position. Ironically, Webber went on to win the race, leading to his famous “Not bad for a number two driver” outburst.
But of course the biggest event has been the ‘Multi 21’ affair at this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix, where Vettel ignored orders to hold position and passed Webber for the lead to claim the win. Webber’s fury was clear for all to see, while Vettel’s apology was dismissed when he later admitted that he would do the same if circumstances repeated themselves.
While that attitude won’t win him many points in the ‘Nice Guy’ stakes, it’s important to remember that first and foremost that these guys are RACING DRIVERS! They all have the same instincts and are all there for the same reasons: to WIN!
The drivers or even we fans may not all want to admit it, but if the shoe was on the other foot and they were in that situation, they may very well have done the same thing. Webber has also been guilty of disobeying team orders, for example his refusal to hold station behind Vettel during the closing stages of the 2011 British Grand Prix.
Team orders have been controversial for many teams, particularly Ferrari: who badly managed a number of orchestrated finishes between Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, and then repeated the dose in 2010 with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa at the German Grand Prix.
But in those particular instances both the drivers and the team copped criticism, not just one driver, as has typically been the case with Vettel.
And to those that claim Vettel’s car is better than Webber’s, is it really? Will we ever know?
The only positive to come out of the Vettel-Webber rivalry is the attention and interest it is attracting to the sport, in the same manner that the Prost-Senna rivalry did during their time as McLaren teammates in the late 1980s.
Before fans go booing and jeering Vettel and the Red Bull Racing team every weekend, the should take a good long look at the facts and figures. If a driver does a great job, commend him for the job he has done! I just think that the poor display of sportsmanship by booing fans is becoming an absolute disgrace to our sport.