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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Thoughts as we head to Spa

It seems like an age ago that there was an F1 weekend, and this year the races have come and gone thick and fast while having to compete for headlines with the Olympics and the European Championships. Truth be told, the recent break at times, has felt far too long. But, there is a positive, it has given me reason to pause and contemplate something I believe a lot of of us F1 had taken for granted, that we are in the middle of what could potentially be a magical year.

Who would have thought in March that Fernando Alonso would be sat on top of the championship come the half-way point? What odds would you have given for there being 7 different winners in the first half of the year, with the promise of maybe more to add to that list? And as we turn in to the final 7 races of the series there are at least 5 drivers who have a possibility of the title.

There are 7 more rounds to go, 2 more in Europe before the long haul races wrap up the season. Writing this sounds like we are in to the final throws of the championship, but in reality that’s nearly 3 months away so much is yet to happen.

What the title contenders must do is leap-frog Ferrari and in particular the amazing Fernando Alonso. The contenders have to as a group, force Alonso off the top 3 places in the majority of the races to come. To use a cycling analogy: they have to form a high speed leading peloton that puts Alonso out of contention for the big points, and that must start this weekend in Belgium.

Lotus will be bringing their DDRS, McLaren will be hoping that Lewis Hamilton’s return to form in the Hungarian Grand Prix is there to stay for the remaining 8 races and Red Bull with the super team of Vettel-Webber-Newey will be able to find consistent race pace to put them back at the front.

So many questions left to be answered, so many more thrills and spills, incidents and accidents before we crown surely the most deserving world champion in what has been a golden era of F1.

Thank you summer break, for rekindling my love of F1 again!