The assimilation of Sebastian Vettel



There is no substitute for experience.

Parents repeat over and over to their toddler, “Don’t touch the stove.” But mostly, kids learn their lessons the hard way.

And it looks as though Sebastian Vettel learned a hard lesson this week.

The post-Spa press was spiced up by an outraged Sebastian who had this to say.

Vettel was asked whether he thought his concerns were being taken seriously. He replied:

“I think it was. But what’s the answer? Same as every time, there was a cut, debris, maybe something wrong with the bodywork, the driver went wide. Bulls***. If Nico tells us that he didn’t go off the track, he didn’t go off the track. Same with me, I didn’t go off the track, it’s just out of the blue, the tire explodes. As I said if this happens earlier, then [explicit].”

and there was this:

“If this accident happens 200 meters earlier I certainly would have hit the wall”.

And this:

“It has to be said that the quality of the tyres is just appalling and we already have this issue now for years. I have no idea what we are waiting for. Pirelli’s prediction was that the tyres would last for 40 laps and we only used them for about 30 laps. Things like this mustn’t happen.”

10 days have now passed and the media briefings for now are more serene.

And Sebastian was as sanguine as any of the drivers in yesterday’s FIA press conference.

SV: “Well, first of all I think there was a lot of stuff explained or written that I think was not correct, the way it was expressed. I think it was very clear what I said. I think the most important point is that obviously we have been looking into the issue we had very clearly and Pirelli has been supportive and very open in the discussions, so I think that’s the most important thing and we need to make sure that we learn from that. Other than that we are in Monza now and, as I said, there is plenty of other stuff to look forward to.”

Aha. So poor Seb’s tirade of criticism littered with expletives was in actuality misunderstood and misreported by the F1 media.


Oh well, its important to keep one’s self image in tact and not allow yourself to believe you may have presented to the world as a petulant and spoilt child who lost a competition and resorted to a tantrum.

So what should we learn from – Seb?

That Pirelli have been supportive and very open – as you say?

That Pirelli still claim over use of the tyre was a contributing factor to it’s deflation – (not explosion by the way)

Reading between the lines. Vettel appears to be saying; Pirelli is not at fault and neither was he or Ferrari – and it so happens we are in Monza. Squirrel!

But we must question why Sebastian has completed a U-Turn greater than when the Grand Old Duke of York marched his 10,000 men up to the top of the hill and then decided it was the wrong way to go.

Seb now thinks Pirelli are “professional”,  supportive, “professional”, open to discussion and “professional”.

The reason for Vettels about-face is surely obvious.

Ferrari and FOM.

Sebastian may have learned many things while at Red Bull, there can be no doubt. He developed under the tutelage of Christian Horner, and Vettel’s response following the race in Spa was clear evidence of this.

Screw the negative PR – ‘I’m going to have my say’. (And by the way in actuality the tyre ‘explosions’ were really ‘All Renault’s fault’ – if you speak to Horner and Marko).

This kind of impulsive heart on the sleeve, selfish, petulant, childish, egocentric, venal, peevish, irritable, testy, juvenile, immature, irresponsible, infantile, self-indulgent, wan….. (Note: These terms are all in the glossary of Red Bull’s PR handbook entitled – ‘How to make friends and influence people’… behaviour is ingrained in the DNA of a certain fizzy drinks brand.

However, Ferrari is a very different brand.

Ferrari is a corporate machine on a size and scale that young Sebastian just has not experienced before.

He must learn that – Ferrari’s opinions, are his opinions, his words are Ferrari’s words and even his underpants are in actuality the property of Ferrari (given some small print clause in his oak tree worth of paper contract). And there is no doubt that guru Marchionne has explained this to Sebastian – ad nausuem – over the past few days.

Pirelli is a Ferrari partner, and not just in F1. Having the premier driver at the premier team publicly rebuking a major sponsor and partner is something that neither Ferrari, nor FOM, can allow to continue.

So Vettel was silenced.

He read the corporate response to the matter, and memorised it reasonably well as any good employee should – though he was less fluent in his delivery than following his dissapointment in Belgium.

The fact that young Seb is the highest paid of all in Maranello matters not to the Ferrari Board of Directors. In fact, the reality is that all that money Ferrari pay Sebastian is not a reward for his genius talent alone – but the price of his lip-service too.

This is normative in ‘new corporate politics’.

Ferrari now owns Seb right through to his very soul – and this lesson is one Vettel now understands. To speak other than for Ferrari, could lead to young Seb pottering around in a HAAS car for a while.

But we are not hear to bash Vettel… well, not too much anyway.

He was’t the only one to play dumb on Thursday.

A strangely stammering and ineloquent Daniel Ricciardo bumbled his way through the following.:

“There was blistering. I don’t really know the difference in a way, the details: what’s a blister, what’s a cut?”

Wow. This is one of the world’s elite racing drivers. The Honey Badger has not yet been schooled in the ways of the ‘Red Bull’ it would seem – and that smile cuts him a lot of slack with us all – even when failing to answer the question.

Carlos Sainz was positively loquacious on the quite talkative as well.

Q: “Carlos, any cuts in your team?

CS: “No, not really. I think they’ve given us an explanation, the reasons. I hope they’ve done their job properly.”

Are, so lives are no longer in danger – we can trust the explanations now.

And Marcus, your thoughts please?

ME: “Yes, we had some issues with some cuts on some tyres but I think they came from debris on the track. That was the explanation that we got.”

Pirelli have now become the first tyre manufacturer to be considered for canonisation, as  Saint Bernie and FOM revealed in their statement immediately issued following the press conference.


“…We are entirely satisfied that Pirelli was not at fault for any tyre-related incidents during the 2015 Formula 1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix.”

So it’s settled then. But Bernie cannot praise anyone without offering a veiled threat in the next breath.

“Pirelli has offered to provide to each car a single set of tyres to last for an entire Event. While we know that they would be very capable of it, a race with no pit stops would be less exciting.”

Thank you, Pirelli, for helping us to deliver excitement to Formula One fans! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx”


Hear that people? Pirelli is awesome (cue the Lego Movie Theme tune) and are doing an awesome job in exactly the manner just as they’ve been asked to.

So you lot – shut up or Bernie will make the races boring.

The drivers are happy, Pirelli is happy, Bernie is happy – all like a room without a roof.

There is no doubt that on Friday the teams will be happy too.

So we are all happy right?



37 responses to “The assimilation of Sebastian Vettel

  1. WOW. That’s a lot of adjectives. I don’t know about “the glossary of Red Bull’s PR handbook”, but you must have a really thick and absolutely huge thesaurus.
    He’s been pretty consistent with what he’s said so far. I dunno what your problem with Sebastian Vettel is though. And all the other drivers you criticize in this piece of writing. Looks like someone spewed lots of semi-random hateful words from their big thesaurus into a web page.

    • But the judge hates no driver and he hates them all. The judge loves formula one and he hates it. It’s quite simple actually

    • It was just a decoy to post a hateful article. I don’t think the current crop of TJ13 contributors cuts the mustard. They all follow the Judge’s hateful agenda. He’s been towing the Pirelli party line in that because it gave him an excuse to pour hate on Vettel, because he needs to. Mrs. Judge is a Webber worshipper. No Vettel-hate means no sex. He apparently got his priorities right.

      Vettel was quite consistent in what he said and if you listen to the full drivers presser, you’ll see that he was okay with Pirelli being serious about it, but still got across that it’s only the beginning and that the problem is far from solved.

  2. Would’ve been interesting if someone had asked him about his continuous off track excursions during the race and the role it played in the tire failure.

    • It is interesting that there was no questioning Vettel’s short cutting Radillon just before his tire blew. Maldonado’s curb hopping induced 17G’s with 1 trip across the backside of Radillon, what kind of stress would the tires have suffered cutting across Radillon for 28 laps.

    • Would also be interesting if someone asks Hembry about the Pirelli engineer who said the prime was good for 40 laps. Has anyone asked Charlie why track limits were not enforced? Vettel was only one among many who took that route out of Eau Rouge/Radillion.

      • Whiting told drivers in the briefing that off-track excursions would only be punished if they resulted in a clear advantage. Basically FIA encouraged drivers to cut corners. Would you fault a kid eating sweets in a candy shop if you told it ‘it’s all yours’?

        Only Kvyat got a warning because he gained time several times by cutting Radillon.

        • But shouldn’t you then blame the stewards instead of Pirelli? The guys who also didn’t clean the track properly…

    • Has anything been said about the diamond cut surface across the grid at Spa? I did wonder if this had a bearing as I have lost a tyre or two in those circumstances.

  3. By the way, why did Pirelli change their setup parameters (camber, pressure etc) for this weekend if there was no fault with their tyres…

  4. Could somebody asked Vettel why he says that the tire exploded? It didn’t. The slomo shows rapid defaltion and delamination, not an explosion. The shreds of tire are flying away, but by pure rotational force, not extra fast because of an explosion.

  5. Given a choice between Seb working blue & shooting off his mouth post-race and him mumbling the approved corporate line, I’ll take the former thanks. It certainly seems he’s been given a lesson in the correct use of the kneepads that came with his Ferrari induction pack.

  6. …I don’t really know the difference in a way, the details: what’s a blister, what’s a cut?”

    Does he shave with a cigarette lighter, then ?

      • I shall yearn with you, brother dobs, for a better F1 formulae until the sun doth not shine and the moon doth not glow… but not on MotoGP weekends, of course.


  7. I think if you believe Vettel has been saying anything considerably different this weekend than Spa because he was given a warning by FIA or something, you should criticize FIA for pressurizing drivers and getting in the way of them expressing whatever they feel or think. Not that I think he said anything conflicting. I didn’t expect him to be “frothing at the mouth” for the lack of better words two weeks after the incident.

    • A warning by the FIA is a laughable offense theses days, after all, they are only the holder of the rules. A rebuke by FOM, the holder of the money however…

      And all kidding aside, if you don’t think Sebastian was given “a stern talking to” after that outburst, I am afraid you are pretty naive in the ways of corporate politics. And if you didn’t see a noticeable difference in Vettel’s attitude and demeanor, then you must not have watched the same press conference as me.

      • Why wouldn’t his attitude be any different? It’s been 2 weeks since what happened. That’s what I’m saying. They had lots of things happening in the meantime. Pirelli and Ferrari having meetings and investigations into what really happened, and if what I heard is true, Vettel also had another daughter too. I heard they also had a lunch with Bernie, Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton, Rosberg, Arrivabene, Wolff, Horner and so on. Even if FIA, FOM, Bernie, Arrivabene, Marchionne or someone said anything to Vettel about his attitude or choice of words or anything else, he didn’t say anything contrary to what he had said in Spa. So there is nothing to talk about it really. Even if there are corporate politics and pressuring drivers into saying certain things, we should be asking why it is so easily acceptable and apparently it is drivers who get to be criticized by fans and bosses in any case…

  8. It’s a shame the teams and F1 itself are hostage to the Pirelli-FOM incestuous affair. And yet again it seems Todt is happy to do nothing, say nothing and never be seen.

  9. Not surprised that Vettel has changed his tune. To be simplistic in my wording, having a hissy fit will put all the attention on him rather than his point. If he wanted to say something about the tyres he needs to do it in a calm way, otherwise you end up just debating all the toys that are no longer in the basket.

    As it was he had his moan and left himself open to being taken up on it. Comments about not leaving the track at all when he left it every lap become a debating point, rather than debating a tyre deflating.

    Maybe he’s just come to accept that these things happen in motorsport. Considering the forces and speed going through the tyre it let go in a fairly gentle manner….

  10. Sebastian spoke out and touched a nerve and he needed to. Pirelli still hasn’t learned from the 2013 British Grand Prix at Silverstone where there were the tire blow outs. Bernie is just backing Pirelli’s song and dance because he needs Pirelli’s track side advertising.

    The issue is ultimately about driver safety. If a tire explodes and bits of it hit the driver, it could be fatal. Open wheel racing has seen the deaths of Jules Bianchi and Justin Wilson this year. Motorsport will always be dangerous.

    If Pirelli make a product for use in Formula 1 that is so fragile that there is a possibility that the tire might explode if the drivers go over the kerbs, then the safety of the product needs to be re-evaluated. Do strong inter liners that help keep the tires from failing but don’t effect the degradation need to be put inside of them?

    The drivers should be going over the kerbs as much as they currently are but, in cases where it can’t be avoided, they shouldn’t have to then worry about the possibility of an exploding tire which could pose a hazard to all of the drivers.

    If the criticism of Pirelli is silenced, it eliminates an important check and balance that would help keep Pirelli from taking any shortcuts in the quality, construction, etc. of the tires that they provide Formula 1.

    There are times when following the company line is needed. There are times when speaking out and going against the company line is needed when do so would bring attention to a safety matter that has not been adequately addressed and could end up costing someone their life.

    When Sebastian Vettel voiced his criticism and concern over an issue with Pirelli’s tires, it started a renewed dialogue about the safety of the product. Many options-both positive and negative-were voiced. It’s important that the praise and criticism of Pirelli’s product continue openly and not behind closed doors.

    Sometimes the most important and truthful opinion is an unpopular. Sebastian needed to say what he did about the tires. Life is not a popularity contest. Opinions and open dialogue should be welcomed in Formula 1 not suppressed especially with the safety issues. The silencing of the critics by Bernie and team principals means that there is truth to what is being said.

    I know what Maurizio Arrivabene and Sergio Marchionne are concerned about given that Pirelli are a Ferrari partner. In this case, Sabastian and the other drivers open criticism should be allowed because the safety issues have not been satisfactorily rectified. The criticism needs to be heard because Pirelli has a lot of work and testing on their test bench to do.

    Bernie has a enough blood on his hands to provide a feast for Dracula. Hopefully, more blood doesn’t end up on his hands because his more worried about a company’s image than driver safety.

  11. What a storm in a bl00dy teacup.
    In MotoGP we occasionally see guys fired off bikes at up to 200mph (ask Marquez). Riders take a lot of injuries and it isn’t entirely unknown for riders to get killed in that series either.
    Meanwhile this sort of angels-on-a-pinhead squabbling about the emotional states of drivers post-race and corporate PR bullshit about whose daddy can beat up whose daddy is what we have to make do with instead of interesting racing.
    Really, my patience with F1 – after >50 years – is all but exhausted. I’m sick to death of these grotesquely overpaid prima donnas either griping or crowing about their terms of employment.

  12. It’s not about his intention to provide entertainment, it’s obviously about money somehow as everything in the public media needs to be ‘nice and polite’ We’ve seen dangerous stuff in F1 before, and it take a real tragedy to bring about a change, Vettel came close but not close enough to make it matter. This issue will probably arise again, in more tragic circumstances. Business is business and that’s what the Formula 1 sport has become

  13. “It’s not about his intention to provide entertainment, it’s obviously about money somehow as everything in the public media needs to be ‘nice and polite’ We’ve seen dangerous stuff in F1 before, and it take a real tragedy to bring about a change, Vettel came close but not close enough to make it matter. This issue will probably arise again, in more tragic circumstances. Business is business and that’s what the Formula 1 sport has become.”

    I complete agree. A driver or drivers will get seriously hurt or killed because of the deliberate silencing of Sebastian Vettel and his fellow drivers. It may not happen but at some point it will happen because there is not a public check and balance system to hold Pirelli accountable to fix problems properly if everything is done behind closed doors.

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