German Sebastian Vettel is 25, which makes him a little younger than me. In 103 grand prix starts, Vettel has won 27 races and three championships, which makes him more successful than me in F1. He's also already established himself as one of the all-time grand prix greats. But Vettel was basically bred to be an F1 champion since the day he was born and is probably the luckiest son of a bitch on the grid.
Hating on Vettel is a lot like hating on Michael Schumacher. He's the number one driver at the best team, and, of course, many feel he doesn't deserve to be there or the reverence he gets. It's natural not to like the man who wins all the time. Here's why you might not.
Vettel is basically a PR robot designed by PR Gods for PR things. Vettel comes off as one of the most affable drivers on the entire grid. He's good natured, he smiles, he has a great sense of humor, and he's in on British culture and humor, which is where pretty much every F1 team is based. He knows the fan base and he seems to be tuned to appeal to them.
But something doesn't feel quite right about it. Last week we chastised Lewis Hamilton for his behavior, but at least he doesn't sound filtered. Like Raikkonen and Alonso, Hamilton speaks his mind. By all appearances, Vettel is the consummate team player and a sponsor's dream. But he's mostly harmless. He does impressions of Nigel Mansell and Kimi Raikkonen, but they're innocuous. In fact, I can't remember one instance where Vettel has said something that was close to controversial. He might have been engineered in a PR lab.
Goody two shoes.
He started racing when he was 3.5. Is that even possible? I don't think I was potty trained or walking by then. Overachiever.
How hard can it be to win with a team that is in love with you? Vettel is the golden boy at Red Bull Racing with a car designed by Adrian Newey and a team that stands totally behind him. He's now won three straight championships, and a fourth is not out of the question.
But that's shades of Michael Schumacher, who was the undisputed number one at Benetton and Ferrari with a nearly handpicked crew behind him. Schumacher from 2000 to 2004 was unstoppable. Vettel has had much the same fortune, since he had a team that constantly defended him no matter what and built the cars to his liking. Since his full-time F1 career started, Vettel has never had to play second fiddle. He was the BMW golden boy until Red Bull scooped him up and since then his shit hasn't stunk. Not once, not ever.
Here's just one example after Vettel and teammate Webber crashed during the Turkish Grand Prix in 2010, straight from Red Bull's Helmut Marko:
Mark for whatever reason was slower. He was getting lap by lap slower, and Vettel was getting faster and was coming under enormous pressure from Hamilton. So if he would have stayed behind Mark, he would have been overtaken. So he had to do something. And Mark knew that he was slower, so he should have let him past.
Marko wanted a racing driver to pull out of the way. Just pull out of the way because the driver he likes better was a little faster. Come. On.
He only wins because he has the best car. I don't personally believe this, but I've heard this over and over again. Red Bull Racing exists as a marketing exercise for the Red Bull energy drink empire. The best way to market it is to win. So Red Bull hired pretty much every great F1 person they could. That makes Vettel a decent driver in an incredibly great position. At least that's what many people think.
Adrian Newey is one of the greatest designers of all time. Vettel has only won in cars designed by Newey. I repeatedly hear that Vettel "isn't a worthy champion" and "he only won because his car is amazing." The car is amazing, but remember, someone was driving it. And most of the time it wasn't Mark Webber.
He points his finger. A lot. Apparently one of Vettel's traits, something that I've never noticed, is his tendency to point whenever he wins. The Vettel haters on the Facebook group "I hate Sebastian Vettel" can't help but hate that.
..he stands for everything bad and ugly about German people and Germany.. Arrogance, over-self confidence, insensitivity, being loud in victory, showing his stupid finger gesture, hitting #1 sign every time
Even former Arrows driver Jos "The Boss" Verstappen hates Vettel's finger:
That's really nitpicking, folks.
Team orders are all well and good, as long as they benefit him. At the last Grand Prix, Vettel was ordered to stay behind Mark Webber after the final pit stop so both cars could conserve equipment and make it to home in one piece.