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Cheers and Jeers for Vettel

2013-09-25 08:18

SHOULD VETTEL SLOW DOWN? Should Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel end his successive run in F1 to appease fans who would rather see another driver win? Image: AP


LONDON, England - To boo or not to boo? That was the question facing F1 fans after Sebastian Vettel's runaway 2013 Singapore GP victory was greeted with jeers as well as cheers.

For the third race weekend in a row Red Bull's triple F1 champion heard rejection as well as acclaim as he stood sweaty and triumphant on the podium ready to spray the winner's Champagne.

Why the fans were booing, and whether they should be condoned or condemned for doing so, triggered debate after the race but paddock insiders agreed the Vettel was not being given his due.


Singapore showed the World a champion and a team at their most dominant, working as one and to the best of their ability in a sport that has always mixed fierce rivalry with mutual respect.

Former GP driver Martin Brundle, who carried out the post-race podium interviews and turned to the crowd to quieten them when he heard the booing, felt Vettel had suffered an injustice.

Brundle said: "I was really amazed to hear some of that booing going on. It's become the default (setting) and it's wrong because the guy has just put in a stunning sporting performance."

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, who has suffered boos and racist abuse in the past, agreed: "He's on his way to his fourth championship and he needs all the credit he deserves."

Vettel and team principal Christian Horner blamed Ferrari fans who also booed Vettel when he was on the Monza podium and had wanted to see the Fernando Alonso in first place.

That may have been the case but there were other explanations. Brundle said: "Different people have different issues but the feedback I'm getting is they don't like seeing one driver dominate. They see ;Michael Schumacher II' going on.


"What can you do? He's just absolutely in a groove, in a class of his own. We should be celebrating that brilliance and hoping somebody else can start to match it.

"It's about excellence and delivering something of the highest level in sport. That's why people travel across the world to come and see this race... they're looking for excellence and he's giving that to us. What he's not getting is any competition."

Vettel won the previous three F1 championships and, though still only 26, looks certain to become the youngest driver to win four - probably as early as November (2013).

His dominance, in a car that is the pick of the field, has been total since the end of the European summer break and he has won seven of the 13 races so far.

For some it is too much, a return to the days when seven- times champion Schumacher set record after record and racked up five titles in a row for Ferrari from 2000 to 2004.


Schumacher was also subjected to booing during his career, most notably in Austria in 2002 and Indianapolis in 2005, but on both those occasions the fans felt cheated of a real race thanks to team orders or a mass (in the US) boycott over tyres by the drivers.

There may be those who cannot forgive Vettel for ignoring team orders in Malaysia and depriving Australian team mate Mark Webber of what might well have been his last F1 victory.

It could equally be that, at new destinations lacking an established motor racing culture, F1 is drawing a crowd more familiar with football and its tribal allegiances.

Ferrari, the most glamorous and successful team down the decades, inevitably draw strong support - particularly in cultures where red was the colour of good luck, but F1 - a sport in which drivers risk their lives even if none has been killed since 1994 - prides itself on having a more sophisticated audience.


Triple champion Niki Lauda, now non-executive chairman of Mercedes, said: "These people don't understand what this sport is about. You have to have respect for what he is doing.

Ex-Williams chairman Adam Parr said on Twitter: "It is quite wrong to jeer an athlete for winning unless it has been proven that he or she was cheating. The other teams have to do better."

Horner also criticised the crowd and said it was particularly unfair on a driver who had led from start to finish.

Horner said: "Of course he (Vettel) says it doesn't affect him and he doesn't feel it but he is human. When you drive your heart out and get that reaction, to me it is not fair, not sporting. I don't think it is deserved in any way. He has broad shoulders but, like anybody, he has feelings and I don't think it is right."

Read more on:    red bull  |  sebastian vettel  |  singapore  |  f1  |  motorsport

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