VETTEL: TELL ME I'M WRONG
Harris ponders why Vettel can win races and championships but not hearts and minds
What is it that people don't like about Vettel? The obvious answer is the perceived monotony of his success, but any F1 statto can dismiss this and show that he has faced far stronger competition during his frontline career than the other German who dominated the sport a decade earlier. But monotony does breed dissatisfaction in motorsport. Which is odd because tennis fans never seem too bothered if Federer is winning everything.
The nature of the victories is perhaps more important then. I think few of us begrudged Schumacher his podium leap if he'd just out-scrapped Hakkinen. But that statement now leaves me open to the Bridgestone conspiracy theorists who state, with some validity, that MS's extra test mileage on his favourite rubber made for an entirely unfair playing field. But that's another blog entirely.
Vettel is currently suffering the same fate. In fact he has it worse in this current era of strict technical regulations and superstar car designers. Even the casual F1 observer now apportions as much credit to Red Bull's success to Adrian Newey as it does the man who is about to become a four-time world champion.
It's the tedium aspect I find interesting. Did people think Fangio's dominance was all a bit dull? I presume some did, although not to the extent that they harangued him on the podium. And Prost, what about his championships? Take away the rivalry with Senna and you could accuse the good Professor of making a less than inspirational show for the paying public.
So maybe that's the core issue here? The most successful champions, the statisticians' dreamboats, are by definition less exciting and therefore Vettel is simply a victim of his own success?
Unless your name was Ayrton Senna. Viewed according to this little deconstruction you could argue that Senna's greatest achievement was to dominate Formula 1 but never to have left people feeling his victories were tedious. Lest we should forget, Ayrton wasn't universally popular at his peak and his untimely death probably meant some of his conduct is posthumously viewed a little more kindly than it deserved. It goes without saying that he was my favourite driver of that generation.
But he gets booed on the podium. I absolutely hate that and, being an arch contrarian, find myself thinking the surest way I'll become a Vettel fan is if the podium abuse continues. But the nagging suspicion remains that Hamilton has more raw speed and somehow always makes things more exciting and that Alonso is still the best combination of speed and nous. That looks absurd written down, doesn't it? A young man is about to be crowned world champion for the fourth consecutive year and yet the majority of experts still reckon he's the second best driver.
Perhaps I'm thinking too deeply about this. Maybe it's the index finger that rouses the hatred, or some rank xenophobia,
Anyways, please tell me why I'm wrong about 'Seb'.