Sebastian Vettel headed south from Montreal to New York City where he had a walk-on with late night talk show host David Letterman on CBS. In recent times Letterman has been faring rather better than his NBC rival Jay Leno, a celebrated car fan, who used to pull in bigger audiences on a regular basis. Letterman, however, has long been a Formula 1 fan and, of course, is also a race team owner, in league with Bobby Rahal. His show is still a good way to get a message across to Middle America, where most people think “Formula 1” is some kind of hair product.
If the truth be told Letterman seemed a little too keen to show that he knows a lot about F1 (which is true), but gave the impression on a couple of occasions that he was talking over his guest. Sebastian, being a fairly sensible individual, played it well, but one sensed a certain amount of frustration when the host was talking about the workings of DRS, a subject which might not fascinate the average viewer in Busted Flush, Illinois.
Vettel illustrated the lack of knowledge about F1 in the United States by telling the story of the immigration official he met on his way to New York. What had been the purpose of his visit? The man had asked. Vettel replied that he had been at the Grand Prix. “Did you have a good seat?” asked the man from Homeland Security…
The interview got a decent amount of coverage, if only because Seb dropped the F word, while trying to stop Letterman talking about DRS and also by suggesting that testicles would be required to go racing on the New Jersey F1 track. This was not intended to be newsworthy, but in the F1 microcosm the use of such terminology is so commonplace that it is not considered to be indecent and it never entered his head that out in the night hundreds of daughters of the American Revolution were fainting with shock at such wild and unruly behaviour.
Vettel was down in New York to do a little promotion for Infiniti and for the New Jersey F1 race, which is due to join the calendar next year. He spent the day driving an Infiniti around the circuit, filming and generally making all the right promotional noises.