The Frontstretch: Formula 1 Friday: The Latest And (Maybe) Greatest? by Andy Hollis -- Friday October 18, 2013

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Formula 1 Friday: The Latest And (Maybe) Greatest?

Andy Hollis · Friday October 18, 2013


Apologies for the column’s recent leave of absence, but we’re back with quite a few things to catch up on, chat about and ponder.

So if you’ve been missing the races as well as the column, well with the best will in the world, you’ve not missed much if you spent your time looking at the leader. Basically Vettel won. All of them. Added to that, he got booed a lot whilst on the podium. For some reason, people just can’t warm to young Seb……so let’s start with that….

As the boos continue to rain down on the Red Bull driver when he wins, Andy Hollis asks why it is that people just don’t like Sebastien Vettel?

Why don’t we like Sebastien Vettel?

Prior to his latest win at Suzuka, Red Bull boss Christian Horner admitted for the first time that the booing and all round negative attention being received has genuinely affected the normally super-confident three times champ, despite his strong protestations to the contrary.

It’s easy to forget that Vettel is a young man at 26. Equally easy is the tendency, with his almost machine-like ability to reel off win after win, to forget that he’s also a human being. But with that in mind, why does there seem to be a general dislike for this personable young man? What is it in the human condition that so dislikes an incessant winner? (Though granted, you guys over the pond are a whole lot better at celebrating this than we cynical Europeans!)

The only other multiple world champion that also engendered such universal dislike was Michael Schumacher, but he rather brought it upon himself through…..well……cheating. Ayrton Senna could be a love him/hate him figure as well, but was always massively respected by spectator and fellow driver, no matter what the personal feelings were. That incredible will to win was generally lauded. Not so with Seb. He can’t even get anything but grudging respect from his peers. It’s natural for any F1 driver to consider themselves the very best, but Vettel isn’t even secretly rated by the likes of Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton. They see him rather as lucky rather than at the type of level they see themselves as operating. This, despite the fact he’s about to become the 4 time champion, consecutively! Anybody that really believes Vettel isn’t a true racer really hasn’t been watching enough…it seems the poor boy, despite winning consistently, really cannot win.

As it happens (and I too am not really a fan) I think the metaphorically ‘poor’ young man should be given a break. Yes, his win stealing antics in Malaysia were a poor show (though were that Senna, all we would have done was nod knowingly), and of course that ‘finger-pointing’ celebration is an irritant, but as he himself says, he’s just being true to the person that he is. You can only beat what’s put in front of you, and the very best he can do is win. He may have the fastest car, but he still needs to guide that across the line first. The boy is a special driver, there really should be no doubt. Added to this, he should actually be admired and congratulated for not having that mildly neurotic need to spread his personal life, beliefs, thoughts and feelings all over Twitter and the newspapers. He’s been with the same girl since he met her at school when they were 16. You’ll not hear much about her though as Seb keeps these things private. In this age of celebrity narcissism and Scherzinger-like antics, surely we should find this refreshing?

I think the main problem that Seb and Red Bull have in terms of his image is that feeling of the “golden boy.” He seems to be so protected and mollycoddled within the Red Bull team that people kind of want to see the spoilt child lose. Up against the widely liked, rough and ready Webber, there can be no doubt that Seb gets the special treatment. When Ricciardo joins the team next year, if they really care about the image it would do them (and particularly their motorsport director, Helmut Marko) the world of good not to seemingly have “TEAM VETTEL” or “PROPERTY OF SEB” tattooed on their most private bodily parts…..

Another Dark Week For Motorsport

There was a sharp intake of breath across the world, not least from the likes of Holly Wheldon on Twitter as we watched Dario Franchitti’s car rear off the back of Takuma Sato’s slowing vehicle and launch up against the catchfencing. Fortunately Dario’s injuries, though sore, were relatively minor. However only a few days later we learnt of the sad demise of Maria de Villota , the former Marussia test driver, found dead in her hotel room in Seville. De Villota had lost an eye and had seemingly recovered from terrible head injuries received in a testing crash on the eve of last season. The police were quick to report that her death, at 33, was from natural causes (there were a number of unpleasant and untrue rumors floating around the initial reports). However it would seem there may be some credence to the words of her family, who have stated their belief that the heart attack that ended her life so tragically was brought about by a neurological incident, related to that crash. We await the coroners report.

Then on Tuesday came the desperately sad news that the leader of the Porsche Supercup series, Sean Edwards, had been killed in a crash whilst working as an instructor at a track in Australia that had been privately hired by a trackday company. The driver of the car, 20 year old Australian Will Holzheimer remains in critical condition.

Another reminder that motor racing is indeed dangerous. Perhaps we should appreciate these masters of the sport a little more whilst we still have them.

India’s next up and it seems pretty certain that Sebastian Vettel will there win his fourth consecutive championship. There’ll be a little house in Brighton, UK, were the sound of applause will be heard should he do so.

Until next time,

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Contact Andy Hollis

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NASCAR Mailbox: Past Winners Aren’t Winning …. Yet
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10/18/2013 03:54 PM

I respect Sebastian Vettel because he isn’t a cheater like Michael Schumacher. And a better driver as well.

10/18/2013 08:22 PM

It’s too bad you never saw Jim Clark. You’d probably change your mind.

Jerry Smith
10/19/2013 08:43 AM

Drawing passion from fans, even booing, is a good thing I think. I don’t remember many details from when dad brought me to the dirt track, but I do remember the dominant black #5 57 Chevy of John Whittington and the boos he drew. He won for years and they even put up a bounty for whoever could beat him. In my opinion, F1 still places sport above entertainment more so than the other major series. With true sport comes cycles of domination and we are now in a Vettel/Adrian boom. I embrace it and thank F1 for writing rules, throwing the green and letting the chips fall where they may. As for Vettel, if the boos are hurting his feelings, they aren’t hurting his results. Vettel won’t be beat by just another great driver, another car designer has to step up.