The Perils and Perks of being a Sebastian Vettel Supporter
There are a few things in life that one should avoid. You should not, for instance, stick two metal objects into the holes of a wall socket. I tried that when I was three years old. I got zapped, shat my pants and blacked out our house.
Other things on your not-to-do list should be arguing with a Russian policeman, ordering a Serbian bean soup in a Croatian restaurant or admitting to being a Sebastian Vettel supporter. I’ve tried all three and although I didn’t soil my britches in the process, none of these has fared me well.
The GAI (Russian traffic police) officer in Omsk, Siberia, bashed my teeth in before even asking my name. Okay, I perhaps shouldn’t have been beyond wasted, staggering out of a taxi and demanding of him in rather rude Russian terms that he clears a roundabout that was actually flooded, because the local river Irtysh had decided it wasn’t entirely satisfied with its normal river bed anymore.
For reasons unbeknown, he didn’t quite appreciate my excellent knowledge of Russian obscenities, though it was obvious it was not my mother tongue.. But considering that the policeman in question was not exactly sober either, we came to a tentative understanding by sharing what was left of my Samogon. Didn’t help with the roundabout, but we had a jolly good time and didn’t quite care about lots of water anymore…
The ill-fated food order in former Yugoslavia came about because – you might have guessed – I wasn’t entirely the epitome of sobriety, at the time and in good natured response a group of locals offered to apply a form of physical treatment to several of my more sensitive body regions that aren’t considered common workplace practice or even healthy in most parts of the planet.
And then there is the third offence of being stupid enough to say: “Umm, I actually think the bloke who won the last four world championships isn’t quite that bad.”
That, apparently, is the equivalent of walking into a kindergarten proclaiming that you have a habit of molesting children. Beyond uncouth. If you’re looking for some kind of achievement, you could become the most slagged-off person on TJ13 yet receiving the accolade of ‘top comment’. Affront of affronts, A relative newcomer to the site has recently started been a challenge to this position of dominance so it is time Seb started winning again.
There have been a number of controversial figures in F1. There’s the toad from Suffolk, who by comparison makes one wonder whether indeed, Al Capone was in fact a decent, law-abiding citizen of Murica.
The there’s Flavio Briatore, the hippo-shaped meat mountain from Italy, representing everything you’ve ever warned your daughter about. In conjunction with a mention of Flavio, we also recall Nelson Piquet, who simply was an idiot.
The list goes on, yet in all twenty-five years I’ve followed F1, I’ve never seen anyone fermenting as much controversy, even hatred, as a lad from Heppenheim.
There is a moron on a well-known F1 forum, who drops by after each race, hurls in a few utterly abusive posts about the German and buggers off until the next racing weekend. Okay,
Sebastian’s timing sucks. Just two years after Schumacher was finally done cleaning the fridge for half a decade, up pops another German. Vettel jumped into an F1 car with his damaged right index finger that he nearly sliced off a few weeks prior, posts the best time in Friday practice, beating all the regular players.
The, when enlisted as substitute for Robert Kubica, who had begun his rather disturbing predilection for badly denting himself in horrible shunts, the German bugger had the audacity to score a point.
It would have been better had there been a longer interlude since Schumacher’s dominance…. let the big spending regulars win a bit more…. before the next serial-winning German came by.
This appeared to hurt the F1 establishment in Blighty more than others, maybe they are still somewhat sensitive to the loss of their ‘Empire’ status.
The issue of timing was not initially noticeable, as back in the day the young German was praised by many, partly due to his youthful innocent looks, though Sebastian did look as though he was having a permanent ‘bad hair’ day. When your top mop looks as though it has been styled by an incidental encounter with a discarded Russian hand grenade, and you sport an inane grin all day long, none is likely to take you seriously.
Sebastian was fortunate, the Red Bovines contracted him whilst he still believed girls were a nuisance, so the day he ceased soiling his diaper, Vettel was stuffed into a Toro Rosso, which is a bit like a Red Bull for the poor. Although a Red Bull wasn’t really much back then either… but I digress…
Anyhow. After proving to be an idiot by clattering into Mark Webber, because he had driven his car into a position (third) it shouldn’t have been anywhere near to begin with, he followed up by coming home fourth. A position that no other STR driver has ever achieved since.
With nine points finishes to his team mate’s two he mauled his four-time CART champion team mate 35 points to 4 in 2008, giving Toro Rosso their first win before big mama Red Bull could do the same. He single-handedly outscored the mother ship by six points and while both cars were designed by Ade Newey, one would be quite brazen to insinuate that he had designed the better car for the farm team. Maybe the two old men in the mother ship were just past it.
Fancy pants Crazy D certainly was, so they called up the young hot shot from the farm team. He repaid them by being an idiot – or ‘inexperienced’ as political correctness demands we call it. He clattered into Kubica in Australia and lost the car in treacherous conditions in Malaysia. But come the third race – lo and behold! – the mother ship finally got their first win. Guess who was at the wheel.
Has there ever been a driver who gave two teams their first win? Jack Brabham probably. No idea. Make that the next Bar Exam. Anyhoo… Considering that only the 2010 points scheme change is responsible for the fact that all other STR drivers combined have actually more points than Vettel scored in 2008 alone, you’d think the boy did something right, and actually, until that time, he did. But he made a mistake – he started winning on a regular basis.
The history is well known – he finished second behind a Brawn, which lamed its way to a title by being ridiculously superior in the first half of the season and then hopeless in the second. The young Hun then won the 2010 title because the Ferrari strategists were idiots in Abu Dhabi. 2011 was like stealing candy from a baby, before 2012 was actually quite close because everybody could win who could get the comedy tyres to work on that particular weekend. 2013 was like 2011, only that the mother had abandoned the baby and nobody really bothered to put up a fight.
In came a lot of people decrying said young man as actually hopeless and claiming that he only won because of the car, and that once in a non-superior car he would be hopeless and throw his toys out of the pram.
But in fact I’ve changed my stance on that and engage in the only fun a Vettel supporter is afforded this year. The game is pretty simple. Go to an internet forum and laugh your backside off about the stuff people come up with in desperate attempts to discuss the four world titles out of the record books or to have at least an asterisk added to them as they are all voided by the fact that they were won in what was clearly the best car – unlike the titles of, let’s say, Mansell, Senna or Häkkinen.
The detractors though were in part correct.
The RB10 is – without stating the obvious – not a winning design, mostly because the not-so-loud bit in the back makes my hairdryer look overpowered. It has won twice with Danny Ricciardo at the wheel, because Mercedes inexplicably managed to self combust, though the once-dominant youngster is indeed looking somewhat hapless at present.
Yet ‘the detractors’ predicted tantrums and paddies – Mmm, no rattle has yet been recorded flying from the pram. In fact the subject of this tale has been soundly beaten by his co-worker in most of their encounters, and to the utter disappointment of the ones who wanted to see handbags flying, he actually congratulated him for it.
Vettel is now paying the price for the ridiculous lengths to which both he and Newey went to develop the exhaust blown diffusor. While the design guru and his engineering team used every gap and loophole in the rule book, Vettel spent five years perfecting a driving style that to a conventional racing driver was completely bonkers. An instinctive racer like Mark Webber could not do that and as a result was left with a car that never really worked for him – in his last season often in the literal sense.
This year the roles are reversed. With the EBD forbidden, Vettel’s meticulously developed driving style is as useless as a chocolate fire guard – despite it’s fine Swiss heritage. Meantime, ‘son of Webber’, is at home with the twitchy nature of a racing car from his time spent in the pre-2014 little bull designs.
For the ‘Honey badger’, the big Bull RB10, as no more twitchy, and does indeed feel a tad quicker.
Seb has literally taken the place of Mark Webber. Not only is he saddled with a car that doesn’t fit his driving style, his car is also the one that that breaks constantly and he’s the one who’s tactic the teams botches up occasionally or he just was rotten bad luck, like the first safety car phase in Hungary.
Vettel gets emotionally invested in his cars. He bonds with them. That is emphasized by his habit of naming them and was demonstrated by how he worshipped his machine after last year’s Indian GP. This year’s vintage and Vettel have never hit it off. While previous cars had names like Luscious Liz, Hungry Heidi or Kate’s dirty sister, he named this years rather aesthetically challenged car Suzie. Which became a typical Vettel blunder, when he remembered the forename name of Williams’s test and development driver.
It is unlikely that he will recover this year as five years of dulling his instincts to learn a counter-intuitive style of driving cannot be undone, especially since he lost a lot of track time in the first half of the season. That he has not completely forgotten how to ‘Seb’, was visible in Barcelona, Canada and Hungary when he was easily on par with Danny boy. Arguably he was en-route to win Canada, until the team’s GPS blunder released him into traffic and allowed Danny to get by, but in a way it was good that he didn’t win. With every race Daniel is gaining in reputation and when the day comes that Seb beats him fair and square, nobody can say he beat a fresh-faced rookie.
And while the gavel-wielding patron is still bitter over Mark, bored and generally miserable and declares Vettel a washout after a mere 10 less-than-stellar Grands Prix, he forgets that Fernando Alonso had almost 100 less-than-satisfying races and nobody would call him a wash-out.
So why did the fat amphibious mammal waste three perfectly usable hours of his time to write this? Simple.
Many readers here have a favourite driver, whom they would defend him/her (outing myself as someone who thinks Suzie Wolff is actually more than just a PR gimmick) with fervour – unless they do something utterly idiotic, like Vettel’s cringe-worthy handling of the aftermath of Multi 21. Up there with that Malaysian debacle is the ‘Cuz I is black’ faux pas and Fred’s lambasting of his team as ‘idiots’ over the team radio at Monza.
There has been a recent upsurge in facile comment here at TJ13, some of it relates to our “heroes” – as Horner describes them. The result has been a slip in the level of respect which is the usual standard here at TJ13. If we don’t like a driver… fine… but that’s no reason be abusive about him/her… as the level of debate spirals into the gutter.
Most drivers at times are worthy of criticism and long may the TJ13 philosophy of healthy scepticism remain.
If given the opportunity to drive an F1 car, for most of us the point where we close our eyes in terror and bail out… would be no less than 50 metres before Max Chilton even considers using the stop pedal.