Vettel the Villain

Sebastian Vettel’s dominant win at the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday was a masterful drive. He dominated both qualifying and the race, putting all the rest to shame, giving him an almost unassailable points lead and puts him well on course for his 4th consecutive championship.

However, despite his stunning drive, the now standard pantomime booing of Vettel while on the podium once again emphasizes a nasty habit that F1 fans seem to have developed this year.

The Malaysian Grand Prix and the ‘Mult-21’ situation between Webber and Vettel 6 months ago was undeniably the catalyst for the ‘boo boys’ and despite plenty of clean racing since then, F1 race fans are still labelling Vettel as the F1 Villain.

I believe it’s a combination of factors, not just the Red Bull team orders row from the Malaysia Grand Prix. I believe the booing fans are actually making a bigger statement, that they are finally bored of Vettel’s dominance of F1 over the last 4 years.

Let’s be 100% clear, if this is true, it has nothing to do with Sebastian Vettel. The fault here lays with the other team in not doing a job as well as Red Bull team and Vettel.

Hypothetically I ask the question, if Vettel was currently 3rd in this years’ championship and behind say, Alonso and Hamilton in the championship and he picked up say, his second win of the year in Singapore, would there be the same reaction to a Vettel win? Unlikely I say.

So what can the German do about it?

I noticed both Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle and Ted Kravitz supporting Vettel over the weekend, with Kravitz saying in his Notepad summary s that he felt it was for Vettel to show what a likable and nice character he was and that he isn’t as evil as the crowd make out. I find this view interesting, not least because it is essentially blaming Vettel again: His fault – he needs to change. This is a rather odd opinion if you assume he is actually guilty of the above charges in the first place.

Why isn’t it for the FIA, Teams, Drivers and Circuits to educate those race day fans who are booing him to stop? Help shape the culture and behaviours that we expect from the F1 community while at the race trace, but ultimately the blame lies with those who are the booing and it is them that need to change their reaction to him.

While Vettel is winning races and closing out the championship, the fans perspective of him will not change and no charm offensive from Vettel will nip this in the bud.

Vettel is no Villain! Nothing he has done on the race track in his career comes close to what Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher did on the track to win championships. In fact he is largely impeccable most of the time, on and off the track.

Time will tell if the F1 fans are aware of how poor it sounds to the global public when the winner of a Grand Prix is greeted with a chorus of boos. I wonder what the sponsors of Red Bull or prospective sponsors to the sport make of it? Is it worth the negative press on live global TV?

I have a feeling the F1 public will only be happy when Vettel leaves Red Bull and joins a lesser team to take that new challenge F1 fans seem to demand of multiple champions, before they finally seem to accept the greatness of a top driver.

People seem to forget though, Vettel won in a Torro Rosso and has contributed hugely to the success of Red Bull, who had never won a race before he joined the team.

Vettel the villain – Vettel the legend more like!

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2 Responses to Vettel the Villain

  1. I saw it slightly differently. The fans at the circuit have spent hundreds of pounds to be there only to see a procession and they are giving their feedback to the powers that be. After all, what other means do they and we have? There are no official forums on Formula1.com, There is no one responding to tweets @F1. There are no email address displayed on Formula1.com. Unless we give FOM/FOTA/FIA our feedback during the race weekend using the tv pictures what choice do we have?

    I think that the race on Sunday shows that the sport has learnt nothing from the Schumacher era. Due to the high percentage of casual vs hardcore fans, F1 has to provide a good “show” each race if it wants to be in demand by the TV stations. Unfortunately due to the high entry requirements to being an F1 fan in 2013, this is becoming an uphill challenge. As Sky are finding the demand for F1 is not there, as the hardcore fan base is not large enough.

    By winning by 30+ seconds Vettel has pretty much written the rest of the year off. I appreciate the skill of driver and design team but the regulations should not have allowed this type of domination to be possible. As GP2 proved this weekend, the same tyres and track can provide good racing, so the solution is not impossible. I’d think the best solution for casual fans and the hardcore would be a spec aero package with engine development, which would reduce shocking windtunnel costs, close the grid up and bring engine manufactures back to the sport. Not that it will happen.

  2. sparetomato says:

    I wouldn’t go as far as to call Vettel a legend yet. Yes he is good, one of the best, but until he can win a championship in a different team, in a car that isn’t the class of the field, I’d hesitate to call him a legend.

    Regarding the booing, yes it probably is symptomatic of one driver winning every race, but also (as some people have already said) it is possibly because with the podium interviews, fans have an opportunity to have their voices heard around the world. In the past the drivers would be whisked backstage after the podium ceremony into a closed room with journalists.

    From what I’ve heard so far fans are not booing during the anthems or champagne (or maybe that’s because we can’t hear it).

    It’s also worth baring in mind that despite Vettel’s suggestion that the booing fans are following him around the world, the vast majority of F1 fans are only able to attend one or two races a year. For those in Singapore, this is the first time they have had the opportunity to voice their displeasure over the Multi-21 fiasco. With Vettel surging way ahead in the championship his defence of “what if I was to lose the championship by those few points?” is looking less credible.

    As a personality, I have liked Vettel in the past, he’s always been a good sport at the Silverstone post-f1 party, but I have lost a bit of respect for him after Malaysia, and particularly his attitude in China. Unfortunately he does come across as a bit arrogant, and having another arrogant German dominating F1 means that fans fear that we are in for a repeat of the mid ’00s.

    Here’s hoping that the big shake up of regulations next year will produce a more even playing field.

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