The picture that so many Formula 1 fans have become accustomed to seeing through the years happened again this weekend at Monza; Sebastian Vettel from pole position lead the entire race (excluding a few laps where Fernando Alonso was out of synch with pit stops) and never looked like losing in any way at all. It is becoming a pattern that most fans will recognise, and many fans will despise. Vettel going from pole to the top step of the podium is not a new pattern for Sebastian Vettel; Monza was the 22nd occurrence of this happening in his fairly short career. However there is a new pattern emerging for Sebastian Vettel (especially in Europe), one where he finds himself on the podium and is royally booed by the attending crowd, much to his own dismay.
Why are so many people starting to turn against Vettel? You could comment that he was booed at Monza because he beat Alonso in the Ferrari, however why then was he booed at Spa, Silverstone, Canada and Australia? The booing of Sebastian Vettel is one of those things that cannot be ignored or dismissed with a simple explanation like this; there are greater issues at the heart of the Sebastian Vettel hate that is going around Formula 1 at the current moment.
First off let me say that Sebastian Vettel is one of the greatest Formula 1 drivers ever (three world championships, with a fourth pending), and I know that a lot of people will vehemently disagree with this but at the age of 26, Vettel is already the (tied) fourth highest most winning Formula 1 driver ever. I do think these numbers should be taken into context, because Vettel has spent the majority of his career (the past five seasons) in a car that is the best on the grid, obviously there are more races now than there was in the 60’s, reliability it at an all-time high and the chances of fatality are at an all-time low, essentially Vettel is driving in a time that allows him to set these incredible feats. However the best comparison to Vettel is Lewis Hamilton, because both started around the same time and both have mainly raced in a top car (Hamilton with a couple seasons in a top car more than Vettel), and Vettel has ten more wins. People say that Vettel can only win from the front and can’t overtake, although this is clearly not true because Vettel has won ten races after not being on pole, and at Toro Rosso (as well as at Red Bull) he showed he is excellent at overtaking. Is Vettel brilliant at taking the lead and holding onto it for an entire race? Yes, he is clearly the best at it on the grid but that doesn’t mean the man can’t overtake, because he can.
The easiest comparison that somebody could create for Sebastian Vettel is Michael Schumacher. Not only are they both German, they both upset Formula 1 fans, they are both perennial winners and they both drove in the best cars on the grid. In many ways the comparison seems lazy, but Vettel will openly tell you that he emulates Schumacher and that he is his hero. When Vettel wins he jumps onto the top step ala Schumacher, Vettel has had some (let’s say) questionable incidents ala Schumacher and Vettel dominates his opposition ala Schumacher. There are serious comparisons between the two, almost to the extent that Vettel is the second coming of Schumacher.
Sport is about competition, it is about unpredictability and it is about excitement. When one person dominates a sport, it makes it less entertaining and people are more likely to tune out than in. Would people watch the Premier League if a team won every single game they played? No, they wouldn’t. I’m not saying that Vettel wins every single race, but only once this season (British GP, retirement) has Vettel finished outside of fourth, and only once has he qualified lower than third (9th at Chinese GP); hardly exciting nail biting stuff. It is to Vettel’s credit that he is very consistent but people want to watch the front runners battle it out for first, not the middle pack battling it out for tenth, and when Vettel leads this doesn’t happen. Monza was a great example of how boring Formula 1 can be, at no point did it look like Vettel wouldn’t win, and the battles for positions up to sixth were a total non-event. Formula 1 has been a bit like this in all of Vettel’s championship winning seasons (2011 being by far the worst) and 2013 feels like just another version of this in the Sebastian Vettel book of winning world championships. So is it the way the Vettel consistently wins that makes people boo him? I honestly don’t think it helps him, but I don’t think it is the root of the problem. It is frustrating though to sit down and watch a sport only for the same result to happen at the end of the season, it isn’t Vettel’s fault (because why shouldn’t he try and win every year) but for the viewer it is not what you want to see.
I don’t think that his perceived boring driving style or his domination of the sport over the past four years help Sebastian Vettel in people’s minds, but I also don’t think that they are enough for people to boo him. In my opinion the reason Vettel jumps from disliked to booed is his treatment of the drivers around him and his general arrogance. There is no doubt that Vettel thinks that he is the best driver on the grid (which is highly questionable) and I am sure that this rubs a lot of people up the wrong way. When Vettel throws up his one finger salute, you can almost hear the entire Formula 1 audience cringe. Even the drivers have made derogatory comments about the Vettel salute (in particular Jenson Button).
It is however Vettel’s disregard for his fellow drivers that makes people hate Sebastian Vettel. There are two examples that best exemplify this to me, and they both include Vettel’s fellow Red Bull teammate Mark Webber (the man who has been most at the brunt of Vettel’s selfishness). The first example of this was in Turkey in 2010 when both Webber and Vettel were battling for the World Championship. Webber was just in front of Vettel (and a number of others) in a tight race, where the team told both drivers to not do anything stupid. Vettel obliged by attempting to overtake Webber, getting half his car in front before inexplicably turning into Webber’s car and causing the two of them to crash (forcing Vettel to retire). Not only did it cost Webber the race (finished 3rd) but it was more Vettel’s reaction after the race where he thoroughly blamed Webber for an incident that was clearly his fault. However the greatest moment of them all, the moment where it became apparent that Sebastian Vettel was a total dick and only cared about number one (also the very moment that I myself began to dislike him) was this year (2013) in Malaysia. With Webber in first after a nice race and Vettel sitting in second, Red Bull told both drivers to turn their engines down and stay in formation. Webber obliged because he is a good team man, whereas Vettel decided that he was above the team orders and with total disregard for his teammate forcefully passed him despite being told over the radio that he had to stop doing what he was doing. It is made even worse when you consider that Mercedes forced Nico Rosberg to sit behind Lewis Hamilton despite being faster, for the entire race, showing not all Germans don’t listen to team commands. Surely after the race Red Bull would punish Vettel, however not unsurprisingly nothing happened. It is at this very moment that I think the Formula 1 universe turned against Sebastian Vettel, and it is the reason that so many people are now booing him.
For all the people that say that Vettel is the superior driver to Webber, don’t forget that Vettel gets all the upgrades before Webber, he gets the preferential treatment from the team and he gets preferential treatment in regards to race day tactics. I’m not saying that Vettel isn’t the better driver, because he is but the gap isn’t as big as the point’s differential would show because of the reasons above. If you watched the pre-podium footage at Monza you can clearly see how strained (being nice) the relationship between Webber and Vettel is. Webber deliberately stood with his back towards Vettel, excluding him from the conversation he was having with Alonso. This is Mark Webber, one of the nicest guys in Formula 1, yet Vettel has pushed him so far that he is blatantly excluding him from a conversation.
Monza was just the first of many, and you have to wonder how he is going to be received outside of Europe where it is more likely he will receive generous welcomes. However the question of the post was is Sebastian Vettel bad for Formula 1? I have to say yes, because of his arrogance, his unsportsmanlike conduct and his domination for the sport. The first two are just part of his personality and will likely never change, and in many ways sport is at its best when there is someone that you can root against. It is however his (and Red Bull’s) dominance that is ruining Formula 1. It isn’t fun tuning in to watch the same man win a race or win a championship every time, for a sport to be great it needs parity, and currently Formula 1 doesn’t have parity. Things don’t look like they are getting better either with Mark Webber retiring (most likely because of how he has been treated throughout by Red Bull in regards to Vettel) and is being replaced by the fairly inexperienced Daniel Ricciardo (who will very much play second fiddle to Vettel). Teams likes Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes are going to have to step it up because it seems just now that Red Bull are well ahead of each team when it comes to developing a car that can win a championship. I am certain that Vettel will win his fourth Formula 1 World Championship this season, but for the good of Formula win he can’t win a fifth one in 2014.
What do you think of Sebastian Vettel? Do you disagree that he is bad for Formula 1? How do you think the rest of the season will go, and do you think someone could catch him? Let me know and leave a comment. Also you can like BM23reviews Facebook page or follow BM23reviews on Twitter by clicking on the links. Thanks for reading.