A schoolboy error or deceptively competent?

Brought to you by Adam Macdonald

We will all be able to relate to the either being, or knowing the naughty kid at school.  The child who constantly pushed the limits of what was allowed, knowing fully well that what they did was beyond the boundary of acceptability, but they carried on anyway.  Each time they broke a rule they learnt more of what they could get away with; over time building up a reputation which would allow them wiggle room for the future.

 photo DarthVettel_zpsa3987713.jpg

It’s this reputation that Sebastian Vettel had before the Sepang GP earlier in the season.  People have said that Vettel is no longer the kid that he made himself out to be, and that he had shown his ruthless side.  There were some who branded it the ‘dark side’ of Sebastian Vettel; one mainstream publication, F1 Racing magazine May edition, helping to bring this view to light (no pun intended).

Social media went into overdrive, with everybody deciding to add their 10 pence worth into the debate.  Scottish racing driver, and younger brother of Dario, Marino Franchitti chipped in with this tweet below.

Let’s not forget this isn’t the first time the Red Bull Racing setup has had a Star Wars association.  At the 2005 Monaco GP, to coincide with the new film, the cars were themed for the weekend.  This was also the first year that the RB Energy Station pulled into the Monaco harbour – and they wondered why people thought they were just a party team at first! And are those Michelin tyres on that car?

Star Wars and Sports

Back to Sebastian

However, if we analyse his actions, then it becomes immediately obvious that the man from Heppenheim is actually following the schoolboy mentality. Not only does he continually push the boundaries on the circuit, as we witnessed in Montreal little over a week ago; but he also does so whilst not behind the wheel of his Red Bull.

On the basis of the Canadian GP, he is still a kid who just wants to drive as fast as he can all the time. Of course there was the incident in the Malaysian GP, where those in the senior Red Bull management team failed to control or even properly sanction him. It’s only human nature to keep pushing and get away with what you can, so how culpable is Christian Horner?

It certainly is not a fun place that Horner finds himself in, between a rock and a hard place. If Vettel was in full knowledge of what he was doing then he would be showing how deceptively competent he really is. Some would call it an arrogance, but at the very least extreme confidence that he was and still is untouchable.

Horner even seemed to encourage Vettel in the video below – although obviously it’s a much less serious situation.

Vettel still being the schoolboy as first thought is a good thing for the sport.  Someone with personality will attract new fans to the sport and show us that they (the racing drivers) are human as well.

Until somebody hones Vettel in he will do as he likes, and whilst he is still winning GPs can anybody really argue with him?  Is Vettel in fact very devious and a lot more computing of his actions than it would first seem?  The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is similar in the way he seems to be blithering in his speeches and movements, but in truth is extremely intelligent and more calculating than would first seem.

Boris Johnson

There is then the question of whether changing a winning philosophy will be positive. If he had moved to Ferrari after the mid-season rumours last year, or to a team like McLaren, he would have been turned into a media robot where his freedom of expression would be so much less, it would be of a much lesser entertainment value.

Personally, I feel that Vettel is actually a very wily man, who knows just how to get people on the right side for him, and can use them for what he likes. One day, when chasing that final lap fastest lap Sebastian will cost himself – whether it be position or points –  but until then it is hard to criticise him.

Whatever your opinion of the man, he is a triple WDC, so it would seem that what he is doing right now, is working well. As the popular saying goes: if it’s not broken, don’t fix it! An example of the Vettel charisma and cheek is below, at the 2011 Autosport awards.

11 responses to “A schoolboy error or deceptively competent?

  1. As a Vettel fan, I can safely say he would not be in the position he is in without his charisma. If he were a McLaren driver then he would have developed differently, so maybe they need to examine their policies as a team.

  2. I’m a big fan of Vettel. I like his style; he’s not arrogant, he’s just very good at what he does and confident in his ability. He’s very good in front of the camera, and will always bring a bit of drama into an F1 race if he’s overtaking his way up to the front. I definitely wouldn’t say he is making schoolboy errors. He is, however, a young driver, so some of his decisions on and off the track are maybe not so wise, but otherwise he is a very good driver and seems to be a really nice guy.

    • We are talking about the same Vettel? Have I moved to a parallel universe?

    • He is a great driver/racer but ruthless, which you have to be. I’m not a fan but I was a Schumacher fan and there is no difference. Highly successful, applied and drive to succeed.

      Compare Hamilton to him and you have a driver with immense talent but a driver that is not sure where he wants to be in life. He is not as focused as Vettel (by a long shot), he is focused on why Vettel is better and cites the car etc. but fail to see the dedication of Vettel.

  3. As a team boss you’d have to take Vettel ahead of Hamilton – both may be equally quick but Vettel is driven/focused and Hamilton is giving the impression he’s got a lot of angst/distractions going on.

    My only gripe with Sebastian this year is he got involved in moaning about the tyres, and that will change nothing other than people’s perception of him.

    He clearly is a top driver in a car that looks to be again better than all the rest.

    Enjoyable read and thought provoking Adam. Great as always

  4. There is the want to win and then there is ruthlessness; Vettlel is clearly in the latter category. It is interesting to note none that his fans are people who are ignorant of the fact – and, therefore, the sport – that Vettel won exactly ZERO open wheel championships on his way to F1! It is a distinct and singular achievement NOT shared by any actual great F1 driver.

    So, the obvious conclusion is that Vettel is clearly the product of Adrian Newey’s ability to skirt F1’s rules, not his own acumen as a driver.

    Additionally, do none of you find it odd that while chasing this 4th title, Mark Webber’s cars were NEVER as good as Vettel’s? But as soon as Vettel all but wrapped up the championship Webber’s cars suddenly were/are as fast as Vettel’s!

    • So the two Red Bull drivers have similar abilities, but the results are different because the cars are different…

      That is provocative! Are you able to share some information as to why you hold that belief?

      • The “common belief” in the F1 press is that Adrian Newey and Vettel succeed because of their long relationship. However, Newey cars have been fantastic and fantastic quickly at his every stop except for one season — 1994.

        As far as “tires” are concerned, Webber has been given differing race strategies than Vettel. But to say Newey can’t balance the car to suit Webber but can do so for Vettel means Newey is not worth the money he’s being paid.

        Additionally, the excuse for Vettel not winning previous to F1 is — tires?!?

        For me, it comes down to the perceptions of the men who drive on the same tracks as Vettel, who have come through the ranks in and around Vettel. NONE of them say Vettel is the best at any component of driving. And we know who are the “big three,” according to their peers – Hamilton, Alonso and Raikkonen. Of those three Kimi say next to nothing about the qualities of other drivers, Hamilton is more generous with his praise, while Alonso, of those who talk, is most grudging when handing out praise. Alonso says hamilton is the best today and says “everything must be perfect for Vettel to win…” One need only to listen to Vettel’s whining after Monaco this year to understand Alonso’s words.

        • If you write an article DK I will get it published. Although beware, you may get Danilo chipping in with a comment or two. Fancy writing one and I can post it after the Brazilian GP?

    • I think it has more to do with the fact that Vettel’s driving style suits the counter intuitive style that the Newey design needs. Webber struggles to control his tyres…..which is one of Vettel’s great strengths. Who knows how the German wonderkid would have done in the early 2000s with the bulletproof bridgestone rubber….

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