Sebastian Vettel has said that he is not affected by the repeated instances of booing on the podium after he wins races, but his team boss Christian Horner has denounced Vettel’s detractors as “unsporting”.
Once again, after winning the Singapore Grand Prix, Vettel was booed during his interview on the podium. This has become a pattern this season and Vettel laughingly suggested that the people booing him are on a “world tour”.
This has been a notable feature of the 2013 world championship and its origins would seem to go back to the Malaysian Grand Prix in March, where Vettel disobeyed team orders and passed Mark Webber for the win in the closing stages. Booing was noticeable in races that followed particularly where he won, like Montreal. At Monza a driver who beats Ferrari expects to be booed – Lewis Hamilton was quite shaken by it last year.
But it’s become a noticeable feature of races lately and many F1 pundits put it down to a hangover from Malaysia, rather than simply because he is winning all the time. Singapore was his seventh win in 13 races this year.
Another factor is the introduction of the podium interviews, which has given those who wish to boo Vettel a platform. These were introduced in Silverstone 2012, with mixed results, but by and large have been a success. Save for the fact that they showcase the dissenters when Vettel wins the race.
Vettel has suffered something of an image problem for several years with incidents like Turkey in 2010 where he collided with Webber and implied Webber was crazy; Silverstone where the team took Webber’s front wing and gave it to Vettel for qualifying, promoting Webber to say via radio “Not bad for a Number two driver” as he won the race the next day.
This website has consistently argued that this image problem is of the team’s own creation – the way certain people within the team have managed situations like those listed, has contributed to a negative impression of Vettel which he does not deserve and furthermore, it was unnecessary because he is good enough to win without needing to create any impression that he is protected or favoured within the team. It has been counterproductive and he is now paying the price. Mark Webber has certainly played on this and fans and many pundits have given him a lot of sympathy for that.
Vettel’s actions in Malaysia were all of his own making and were wrong, as he admitted after the race. But by then he had claimed the extra seven points so it was all rather academic.
Like Michael Schumacher being gifted the victory in Austria 2002 by Ferrari when Rubens Barrichello had the race won, another event that promoted a volley of boos on the podium, Vettel didn’t need the extra points from Malaysia, as it turns out. He has dominated the season and will clinch the title in India or Abu Dhabi in all probability, with two or three races to spare.
Red Bull Racing is the dominant team in F1 at the moment and that domination kills the excitement of the sport.
But Red Bull Racing team boss Christian Horner refused to see the funny side,
“Of course he says it doesn’t affect him and he doesn’t feel it, but he is a human being at the end of the day,” Horner said.
“When you have driven your heart out and got that reaction up there, to me it is not fair. To me, it is not sporting.
“I don’t think it is deserved in any way. He has got a broad set of shoulders but like anyone he has feelings and I don’t think it is right.”
Asked whether he thought the “Multi 21” scandal in Malaysia had triggered this response from audiences around the world, Horner said,
“I don’t know what it is, to be honest with you. I think that for sure Malaysia did not help but, as we know, Malaysia has happened.
“It’s been done, there has been an awful lot written about it and there were circumstances that were involved in that.
“There is a small collective group and it is like a pantomime, but it is so unfair because it is not sporting,” added Horner.
“The boy today has driven an unbelievable race. What you have witnessed today is one of the best drives that I have seen him produce in terms of raw pace, and I just don’t think it is sporting to see a driver who has put a performance in like that not get the reception he deserves.”
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