Loved, hated and booed: Sebastian Vettel

Formula One fans of the 80’s and 90’s will not go one day without raving to you about the greatness of Senna or Schumacher. But there are also fans who will tell you otherwise about these drivers when you’d think ’Senna and Schumacher? That’s just not possible’.

Michael Schumacher was a class act. True, he was in the right team and Ferrari had all the possible resources to produce a world championship winning car. But the charisma and passion that he had made him a stand out. He was a 7 time world champion and his dominance of the sport from 2000-2004 erased the element of his brilliance and wrote the ‘over-achiever’ tagline on him, which gained him more so called ‘haters’.

Remember when Ayrton Senna won a race after another? He stamped his mark at every circuit no matter what the weather and temperature. And of course! The fierce Senna and Prost rivalries, which remain etched in every formula one fan’s mind.  Senna is now undoubtedly the greatest driver of all time, because of what he was- a great racer and a charismatic and fun loving world champion.  He was loved for his ability and talent. But his dominant years at McLaren, and his ruthless and unforgiving rivalry with Prost (whose legend still lives on), had occasionally branded him as the ‘bad boy’ of Formula One.

Today, we’re witnessing the very same treatment to one of the drivers on the gird, who incidentally also shows a bit of both, Michael and Ayrton. Ever since Sebastian Vettel joined Red Bull racing in 2009, he’s seen nothing but the way up the ladder of success. The last four years, Vettel has dominated the sport in every way Senna and Schumacher did- breaking records over records, winning 33 times just 6 years into his career, and soon will be crowned a four time world champion for his only title challenger is 60 points adrift. But nothing has come easy for him, for behind every ‘easy win’ that we spectators see, there’s massive effort gone behind the scenes to get all the elements working together.

In the Vettel timeline, the Malaysian grand prix this year has been a black mark in his career. His ruthless behavior toward his teammate and the impulse to win every possible time wasn’t appreciated by many. That was just the beginning of the season; Vettel continued to win 6 times after that incident. And just when the entire fraternity dropped the topic from going any further, the fans picked it up on a different level- an unprecedented, but yet existing method-by actively booing him.

As a repercussion of what happened earlier this year in Malaysia, fans around the world went on some sort of mission to boo every time they see Sebastian Vettel on podium. Though most of the drivers, pundits and some fans were against this, it never stopped them from displaying their emotions when it comes to seeing the same man win over and over and add to that, his unacceptable behavior. Travelling by the same “tour bus” as Sebastian called it yesterday, are anti-Vettel fans who’ve been causing this pantomime from Canada to Singapore.

Just like the earlier golden ages of F1, when dominance made a driver unpopular, this year Vettel is the victim of all those boos for an incredible job that he’s doing behind the wheel of a solid package. His dominance has made the last 4 seasons predictable and monotonous, but Vettel has nothing to blame that on. He’s happy to win, and laughs off all those unnecessary boos.

"It's ridiculous, these people don't understand what the guy is doing," Lauda told Sky Sports. "I take my hat off to his performance because the guy was leading the race from the first lap onwards, could have lapped everybody and if I could choose I would give him the world championship today for this drive. For me he was outstanding”

Being a top driver means hard work and consistency which Vettel has already reached, and has impressed almost everybody with his form. But just like they say, quite often a pantomime villain becomes a hero. The best attribute of this 26 year old, is that he never lets it get to him. He’s here to win, and he gets the job done. 

Like he says in his own words:

"I didn't give them the most exciting races but on days like this I really don't mind. As long as they keep booing, we're doing a good job."


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