Sebastian Vettel: Public Enemy Number One

It’s been a rather stressful day in Singapore. Not only is Sebastian Vettel cementing his 4th championship by the minute, but he is criticized for doing so! I don’t know everyone’s opinion of Sebastian Vettel, and I won’t claim to either, but it is a sad day when “fans” attend an even they paid good money for only to boo the driver who won, just because they’re tired of seeing him on the top step so often.

Vettel should, and will, be rewarded for his efforts. I am far from his biggest fan, but I am certainly mature enough to recognize his other-worldly talent. It’s staggering, especially when all the talk of Formula One is centered around how closely matched the cars are. If someone can make everyone else in the field look like lost sheep compared to his own performance on track, he should be applauded and, frankly, worshipped for his monumental achievement.

Every one of Sebastian’s actions to day is praiseworthy, yet, at the first opportunity, those attending the event belittled them and reduced them to something to be ashamed of. Sebastian was a picture of supreme composure as he talked to Martin Brundle during the podium interview. The barrage of boos would have thrown off anyone else, frankly, and that is a sad thing, as it is a testament to how often Sebastian has had to endure it.

No one should have to get USED to being booed. It is a misfortune no one is deserving of.

So why did we once again hear booing during the podium ceremony? Our personal preferences got in the way of decency and humility. I won’t try to tell anyone to not have an opinion about a driver or team; lord knows I don’t try to hold back. But I do question the purpose and loathe hypocrisy of the booing,

It is fairly obvious that most of the podium onlookers were fans of Fernando and Kimi. That was clear. Yet, those two drivers, arguably, are the most humble of all the drivers on the grid. They put on Herculean performances themselves, yet they let Sebastian bask in what little glory was given to him. If the so-called fans of Fernando and Kimi, and indeed the sport as a whole, can watch a race in awe of those two humble drivers, admiring their skill on the track and their attitudes in defeat, how can they sit back and boo the very driver their heroes  congratulate? This type of hypocrisy is tainting the reputation of the sport every time that young champion steps onto the podium.

I think we all know Sebastian is going to be champion this year; I welcome any opportunity for myself to be convinced otherwise. But what will happen in Abu Dhabi or Austin?  Judging by the gap in the standings right now, the championship is hardly likely to go down to the wire. When Sebastian is finally crowned the 2013 champion, will there be more boos? I wouldn’t be too surprised if there were, to be honest. And knowing that is a hard pill to swallow.

The problem Sebastian, and perhaps Red Bull itself, faces is that he is and is not a part of the true culture of Formula One. He is a young guy leading a team that is upsetting the natural order of the sport. Formula One is pretty conservative. The switch to more green technology is a few years overdue, and any change to the sport is nigh on impossible to execute. Just look at the cost-cutting measures in place. Oh wait, you can’t. Because they haven’t happened yet.

Because Sebastian is a part of a team that is upsetting the natural order of the sport, people are going to not like him. There are two distinct Formula One audiences: the ones who have been watching for years and don’t want change to ruin what they’ve considered the status quo, and then there are newer fans who are more open to change, more open to the fact that a new guy in a new team is shaking up the order. This doesn’t sit well with a lot of Formula One fans.

You may trace the roots of the booing to the “Multi-21” scandal back in Malaysia. Sebastian was pretty selfish during that race. While, he would have probably gotten past Mark for the lead eventually, nothing can deny the truth of the matter; he disobeyed team orders. That is the number one no no of the sport. Sebastian learned his lesson from that. I don’t think he had a responsibility to apologize to anyone but the team. It would have done wonders for his reputation if he apologized to Mark, but he didn’t have to. It wasn’t Mark who told Sebastian not to pass him, it was the team.

You may see this as the source of the booing, but it really isn’t. Sebastian has been public enemy number one since he won his first title back in 2010. He took it from two other equally deserving men in Mark and Fernando, two drivers who were easily held in higher regard than Sebastian at the time. Whether that flicked a switch in the psyches of half the watching world is hard to tell, but it certainly set the tone for the next three years.

You may not like Sebastian one bit. Your opinion is totally up to you, and I will never try and tell people to like a certain driver and hate others on this blog. But there is a certain amount of decency and respect we all should express toward the drivers we all hold in such high esteem. You may not like Sebastian, but he sure deserves your respect.



One thought on “Sebastian Vettel: Public Enemy Number One

  1. Disobeying team order is the core reason he is boo-ed in Singapore, it happened in Malaysia, so to many attendees last nite the incident is fresh + memorable (in a negative way). Asian culture values loyalty + respect more deeply than perhaps Vettel so it’s not because he is winning all the races, micheal schu did not get boo-ed when he was winning consecutively @ his peak.

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