Returning home with thoughts of the race weekend

There is nothing like a sunny Monday in the summer when one has to drive home from a Formula 1 race, with nothing much to worry about for the whole day. Germany and Belgium are the best because one need not hassle with specific times on the Eurotunnel, or queues to get through Alpine tunnels. If it was a question of speed one might take a train directly from Cologne to Paris and be back in three hours, but that adds the cost of a hire car for the weekend to get from Cologne to the Ring. It is far nicer to drive and do what you feel like doing, meandering home, maybe with a good lunch on the way. We left the Nürburgring rather later than planned and so pottering became less of an issue as we headed south to Ulmen and then picked up the autobahn going south through the Eifel mountains (admittedly small ones) to Trier, where one can glimpse the wonderful cascading vineyards of the circuitous Moselle Valley. We might have passed a few glorious hours in Bernkastel or Piesport, but instead we went on, across the Sauer River and into Luxembourg. Rather than going down through the drab industrial towns around Thionville on the way towards Metz, we headed instead up towards Arlon and Namur, in the southern end of the Ardennes and then turned to the west and descended from the French border post into the valley of the Meuse, close to Sedan, with its giant fortress. From there it was a pleasant cruise across the plains to Reims. The roads of France are slower these days because one must always be aware of sneaky speed traps, but yesterday the gendarmes were obviously off sunning themselves elsewhere. We got to Paris in the late afternoon. The city was in summer mode, with the cafés full of sunshine and lazy afternoon folk. In the evening we picnicked with a nice chilled rosé in the park.

The weekend in Germany had been a pleasant one. There was not too much pushing and shoving in the paddock. In truth, it was rather empty, and the attention was fixed on the racing, which was good. Bernie Ecclestone raised a few eyebrows by turning up but no-one paid much attention to him beyond that. Sunday’s race was a great fight with different strategies coming together to create a grandstand finish with the top four drivers all able to say after the chequered flag that they might have won if this or that had not happened. The crowd was around 65,000, which is not bad for a circuit which has no money to promote its event.

The splendour of the region is always uplifting, particularly when the area is bathed in sunshine. This, of course, is racing country. Michael Schumacher’s home circuit. It is a little known fact that Schumacher grew up in the same town as the country’s most successful F1 driver before him, although their backgrounds were very different. Count Wolfgang Berghe von Trips, spent his adolescence in Schloß Hemmersbach, an impressive country house in Kerpen-Horrem, a couple of miles from the village where Michael lived. Von Trips won two Grands Prix and was fighting for the World Championship when he was killed at Monza, at the wheel of a Ferrari, in 1961. Today only the most dedicated F1 fans have even heard of Von Trips. There is a hideous statue in his memory at the Nürburgring but the average Schumacher fan knew nothing more about F1 than Michael.

It is odd that the fans of Germany do not warm to Sebastian Vettel as they once lauded Michael Schumacher. Michael was the son of a bricklayer, who somehow fitted the moment in the early 1990s for the German working classes. To them he was Everyman, the ordinary man placed in an extraordinary circumstance, who worked hard and made the most of his opportunities like a good German should. As such, he became a symbol of the hopes and aspirations of a generation at a time when there was much uncertainty for German blue-collar workers, with reunification, immigration and globalisation threatening the comfortable way of life that Germans had enjoyed in the 1960s and 1970s. Motor racing became as popular as soccer, reviving memories of German domination in Grand Prix racing in the 1930s. Mercedes-Benz and BMW came back to Formula 1 and today there is much German involvement in F1, but still the sport cannot attract crowds, as it used to do. To give the fans credit they cheered his win on Sunday, which was rather nicer than the folk in Britain and Canada where Sebastian was booed rather a lot. That is the hangover from what happened in Malaysia and it is unlikely that Sebastian will ever be allowed to forget that monumental error of judgement.

88 thoughts on “Returning home with thoughts of the race weekend

  1. Yay comments are back, thanks Joe!

    Just to say we DID cheer Sebastian at Silverstone . . . or at least, his gearbox!

      1. I don’t think its just what happened in Malaysia that makes him unpopular. The finger thing really doesn’t help. He needs to learn a bit of humility and grace – in victory as well as in defeat.

        1. What’s wrong with the finger thing? Other people do a thumbs up. Or a jump. Or throw their fist up in the air. Or put their hands up in the air. It is simply a visible expression of the great amount of pride a driver feels after victory. Whats he supposed to do? Just stand there? How incredibly lame. When I win a kart race I spend the next few minutes feeling immense pride and that typically manifests as enthusiastic gestures. This is typical of just about everyone.

          I could see people being sick of him winning all the time. But saying it is “the finger thing” is absurd.

          1. Thumbs up, a pumped fist crossing the line and even the Schumacher leap means you are happy, the finger means ‘I’m number 1’. A subtle difference, but body language is all about subtleties. Rightly or wrongly, it clearly conveys arrogance to many.

            I can’t think of a better word than the one used above – ‘humility’ is the key

            1. And arrogance is certainly the right word to describe how Vettel’s finger gesture is perceived – whether or not that is his intention. It is, after all, only slightly different to the internationally recognised sign for “f*** you”.

    1. I was excited to see the Red Bull slowing at Silverstone – not out of personal dislike for SV (who is by all accounts as likable an F1 driver as you’ll find), but because it kept both the race and the championship close and exciting.

  2. Very nice story Joe, maybe if you ever give up F1, you may have a go at travel agent

  3. How do you think Vettels popularity sits with RedBull? First and foremost they are a drinks company and they are in F1 to promote that. Having what seems to be a universally unpopular driver cannot be good for their brand and image.

    You mentioned the other week about Audi and the law of diminishing returns. I would say with Redbull having Vettel they are are getting very little return, less than Audi. At least Audi can utilise what they have to sell cars and they seem very good at linking their Le Mans success with their road cars. What can Reb Bull utilise Vettel for?

    I think Vettels image and reputation has been irreparably damaged after Malaysia.

    Looking forward to seeing Webber in the WEC, he comes across as a thoroughly decent chap. Would be nice if Ferrari mounted a prototype factory entry assault on the Le Mans and the WEC.
    o

    1. Respectfully disagree, James. Stating that Vettel is universally unpopular is a stretch. He has brought home 3 constructor championships for Red Bull and appears to be leading them to a 4th. I am sure that Herr Mateschitz appreciates the funding

      I, and others, thought Vettel’s drive in Malaysia was superb and well deserved. You and Mr. Saward disagree. Reasonable folks can differ especially on something as unimportant as a sporting event.

      I find Mark Webber’s behavior boorish. I also find Sebastian charming. But then I am a crude Irish-American who holds no love for the Commonwealth.

      1. Although I like Webber, I remain amazed that so many seem to give Mark a free pass for Silverstone 2011 (ignored team orders) and Brazil last year (where he certainly make Seb work to get by). Not that I think Mark should be castigated for those, but to single out Seb makes no sense to me.

        1. allan – to be fair there was a lot of constructive debate on these exact moments in time, as well as the inevitable resultant dichotomy of views that were exposed post-malay 2013 on this blog, including some helpful including clips. you may want to revisit through the search function for some interesting views that were expressed at the time!

          cheers

    2. I agree. Its the same principle with Red Bull and Audi running away with it. Just as Joe said Le Mans made little impact around the world how many people on the streets could name a single brand associated with Red Bull Racing? Excepting Red Bull itself of course:) THAT has got to be the best way to tell if it is working.

  4. Joe: A lovely blog with your description of the drive back to Paris allowing me to almost feel the sunshine on my face and to enjoy the backroads of that part of Europe! Good race week-end for all concerned, I do believe and I felt an “energy” during the broadcast that, while not Schumacher-esque, as you describe, showed a good amount of enthusiasm! What a lovely view the helicopter kept showing of the small gathering on top of the castle off in the distance from the circuit!

    Lawrence

    1. I agree about the view from the helicopter. There were some great pre race views of the forest & surrounds to add to the atmosphere and to promote the region.
      The French are great at doing this when they show the Tour de France.

      Cheers Joe!

      Julian

  5. Ah, the lovely Moselle valley! I have been there many times, often before or after a race at Nurburgring or Spa.

    We returned there two years ago, on the way to the Spa Classic meeting, after several years away, and having become used to French wine, the local Mosel Schwartz Katz was a bit of a shock. We battled bravely on though.

    Anyone out there interested in Classic meetings might like to consider a trip to the Spa Classic in September, tickets are much cheaper than the Silverstone Classic and well, it’s Spa isn’t it.

    Martin

    1. I suspect that he would have copped a smattering of ‘boos’ from the drunken V8 bogans left hanging around after their mid-day race! I think Melbourne (any Australian event) booing would more have been directed to the politician handing out the award.

  6. Joe,

    I think one of the most significant events of the week-end was the potentially very nasty accident to Paul Allen in the pit lane from Mark Webber’s detached wheel. Very luckily he seems to got away with relatively minor injuries.

    Given how many sensors there are already on a modern racing car, it would not seem to me to be too difficult to design one which could detect whether a wheel was properly seated on its peg drive plate and torqued down. It is many years since I was involved in racing car design but I can immediately think of at least one simple sensor that would work (a strongly spring loaded but very short travel plunger on the peg drive plate). Then unless all four sensors were fully depressed, signalling via the telemetry that all wheels were properly seated and torqued down, the release light would not go green or maybe a red light could show in the driver’s sight line. I am sure the clever designers of today could come up with something much better than this as well.

    It is far from the first time that his has happened and I see that Garry Anderson is suggesting limiting the number of mechanics working on the car at one time, to force a slow down in the stops, allowing more time to detect a mistake. If nothing is done, the next time (and there will be a next time), someone may well be seriously injured or worse.

    Wilson

    1. I would like to see something similar to the Le Mans 24 type stops where only a limited number at a time can touch the car also, however I believe the powers that be would argue its not the fastest way so it probably wouldnt happen.

      I thought some of the guns had torque sensors in them anyway so the lollipop man (whatever he is called now we have lights) can see when each wheel is completed as the hand in the air system is too slow now? Either way its a serious problem that we are extremely lucky hasn’t happened sooner and it needs fixing now.

    2. Bernie has apparently unilaterally, and somewhat hastily, declared that from now on, all photographers and cameramen will be restricted to the pit wall and not allowed on the ground in the pits. Good luck with that!
      There have been many suggestions that everyone in the pits must wear protective gear, though I doubt it would have made any difference to Mr Allen unless it included body armour eg as in Batman or Ironman, the regular “stop a bullet” type is far too flexible. Anyway of course its the FIA that makes the regs not Bernie.

      Re your “wheel on and locked” sensor, that seems sensible but another four signals to be transmitted and read.

    3. Hello Wilson,

      I thought, from some of Christian Horner’s remarks in the BBC interview afterwards, that a sensor existed on the wheels.

      However, I wasn’t paying it my full attention.

      At the risk of incurring the wrath of the Bolters, I think Gary Anderson’s suggestion is worth examining.

      I used to really enjoy the superfast stops, but now they have beome so fast that they leave no time to appreciate the efforts of the teams.

      1. I think Richard mentioned on the post above about a torque sensor on the air wrench is what Christian Horner may have been referring to (who knows!). Whereas this would tell the wheel gun man that the wheel was not done up, in this case he already knew and had signalled but the lollipop man or traffic lights man did not see him and apparently gave the release signal.

        I was trying to come up with something that eliminated one of the human factors in the process. My guess is that a mechanical/electronic system would make fewer errors as they are not subject to the heat of battle emotions that these mechanics must suffer, during a very stressful few seconds.

        I know from my own experience with peg drive/centre nut retained wheels on single seat cars, it is only too easy to put a wheel on and torque the nut up, only to find when you rotate the wheel, that it has not fully settled square on the drive pegs and flush to the hub plate. The drive pegs are necessarily a pretty tight fit in the peg holes of the wheels to prevent them working in the wheels. This failure to seat be due to something as simple as a bit of dirt, metal swarf or damaged peg hole.

        Wilson

    4. There’s more at work here (as is usually the case) than simply installing a functioning wheel nut sensor. I’ve noticed that there are fewer instances of the wheel guys holding up their hand as has been traditional to indicate that everything is done and ready to go. Watching the replay, one can see that there was no positive physical indication given that the wheel guy was finished and satisfied. The lollipop man or whoever makes the decision to release the car was likely going more on instinct, reaction, or assumption, under pressure to release the car as quickly as possible.

      Additionally, the cameraman was facing away from the action, which doesn’t help in terms of situational awareness. I’m not blaming him, but for a person to be in the pits during an active event is obviously dangerous, and such awareness is crucial. He looked to be alone, with his back to the action. Perhaps more awareness education is required, maybe working in pairs is better, or perhaps some co-ordination with team pit crews to provide guidance and a second pair of eyes for camera or media personnel directly in the pits/pitlane.

  7. I reckon that Seb will not see it as a mistake if it becomes the decisive point haul for a 2013 WDC. From his and my point of view it was simply tit for tat.

    1. Be that as it may… Every action that he ever takes in F1 will now be scrutinised in a different way because he has shown himself to be unethical. That is what will happen.

      1. But wouldn’t this put him in great company? It makes me think of drivers that are lying to the race stewards for a miserable point more, blackmailing the team in order to receive #1 treatment, crashing into fellow competitors on purpose. Do you think such behaviour is ethical? Still Hamilton, Alonso, Schumacher (the elder), Senna and Prost are regarded as great drivers. Why shouldn’t the same be true for Vettel? Btw I still think breaking team orders is less criminal than lying, blackmailing or deliberate crashing. And didn’t Vettel’s conduct serve us with an excellent race finish compared to what might have been a staged result at the first four places? How dull would that have been? I applauded Reuteman’s behaviour in Brazil ’81, Webber’s behaviour in Silverstone ’11 and for the sake of being consistent I hape to applaud Vettel’s behaviour in Malaysia as well. Even though I preferred Webber to win there. But I don’t want anybody to win on team orders alone. And I’m quite sure Webber feels the same. Remember how pathetic were the race results in Austria ’02 and Germany ’10?

          1. Sorry, I probably didn’t express myself clear enough. What I meant is that most of the top drivers have done questionable things in the past, I don’t think being nasty is restricted to Vettel only.

          2. … yes and also, I don’t think that Senna and Vettel can be mentioned in the same breath surely!?

  8. That so called monumental error in judgment may win him a fourth title. If I were to place a bet, it would be on Vettel preferring that title than the adulation of the Commonwealth fans.

  9. hope you remembered to fill the tank in luxembourg joe
    or do F1 correspondents make so much money that they don’t worry about saving a few euros

    1. There probably wasn’t any room on the forecourts because of Dutch tourists filling up!

  10. Joe, there have now been two races since Infinity Racing acquired a sizable share of Lotus. I’ve been looking but I can’t see any sign of their presence on the car.

    Have I just not been looking closely enough, or are they not going to have any visibility?

  11. Hi Joe,

    Great piece, you said at the recent audience with, in London that you don’t have time to work on any new books because of the number of races these days, I’m sure just compiling your diary would make an interesting book, be it describing some of your mundane tasks, the very stressful or the above, a relaxing journey home. Enjoy the sunshine

    Neil

      1. it would also no doubt help the layman’s understanding of the unethical nuances that separate the “greats statistical winners” from gentlemen, ethical racers in between, and how the more enjoyable parts of life that you share with us through your blog can reconcile better, forming a more complete, balanced world view and somewhat saner lifestyle than simply win win win. i wonder how fulfilling this all is in the when one can no longer do anything but.

  12. Hi Joe,

    very entertaining and honestly written article. Thanks for that.

    As for Vettel vs Schumacher, could it be that Michael was the fan’s favourite because he drove for Ferrari while Vettel drives for a team with very little motorsport history, at least when compared to Ferrari’s racing legacy?

    As for the German drivers, to me the most appealing seems to be Nico 2, the so called Hulk, very grounded and good looking (at least much better than Vettel, Alonso or Hamilton, or Schumi for that matter, I know this is personal bias, though). I would like to see him drive for a top team, I still don’t understand why McLaren chose Perez over Hülkenberg, to me Hülkenberg appears much more relaxed and sympathetic than the hot headed Perez (again personal bias here). I heard whispers that Nico 2 might get Kimi’s seat, if Kimi moves to RBR, what he should do. Unfortunately I read on autosport that the Lotus management tries to convince Kimi to stay put, in which case there would not be an opening for the Hulk at Lotus, because Grosjean seems to be the team’s loved son for some reason and as he has proved he will move over for the team’s #1 anytime, they would probably be clever to keep him for the sake of team harmony. But where would this possible scenario leave Hülkenberg? I hope he doesn’t move to Ferrari to take Massa’s #2 role, he’s too good for that.

    Again thanks very much for your nice blog.

  13. Hi Joe, There is also a von Trips Museum near Horrem. Only open Weekends May to October. It nearly shut a year ago but they have managed to get support to keep it going. Worth a visit if only for the motosport library.

  14. as far as vettels popularity compared to schumachers goes, i think it has to be remembered that schumacher had an enormous marketing machine behind him. willy weber got rich by marketing schumacher to the masses. vettel in contrast is managing himself and doesn’t seem to be too interested in maximizing his marketing potential or fame. in addition, schumacher was the first german to win a world championship in formula 1 and went on to dominate the sport for over a decade. i think vettels success came too soon after schumacher. a german winning a world championship was nothing to get excited about at that point. had there been a ten year drought for german f1 fans, things might have been different. just look at tennis, wimbleton became a big thing again this year, and i’m sure had lisiki won, she would have become extremely popular.

    generally, motorsport is seen as a bit vulgar in germany. the consensus is that it must be boring because “it’s only a bunch of idiots driving in circles for two hours”, and to make matters even worse, they are creating a lot of noise and needlesly pollute the environment. hence i think without a gread deal of marketing, the masses won’t catch on anytime soon.

  15. Nice to be back Joe. Paul Theroux was my old favourite for his train travelogues and I am still reading the Michael Palin texts on his website. Paul Merton on the other hand always finds something completely different and off beat, far from the tourist trail.

    The Von Tripp story sounds like it would have expanded nicely into a GP+ piece. The great class divide, it could almost be British.

    1. In addition to the GP+ piece, also try “The Limit: Life and Death in Formula One’s Most Dangerous Era” by Michael Cannell. The writing is a little tedious in its “please give me a film deal!!” tone, but the story shines through and is absolutely absorbing.

      1. I have ever encountered anyone in F1 called Michael Cannell, but if he has written a good book then good for him.

      2. Thanks, John, for helping me remember the name of this book. Your use of the word tedious is accurate; maybe even a bit charitable. I read it a couple of years ago and couldn’t recommend it to anyone other than a massive F1-head. But with that proviso, it’s always interesting to read about the nature of the sport in different times. And the author’s take on Enzo Ferrari was pretty interesting.

        Plus, the Wolfgang von Tripps vs. Phil Hill rivalry was that era’s version of Prost/Senna; Prost/Mansell (can’t that guy get along with anyone?); and Hunt/Lauda. I’d love to go to the museum.

  16. I don’t think the booing is necessarily 100% related to Malaysia alone; although that is a factor.
    It’s also due to his recent domination, which is unpopular, and the somewhat inevitable and Schumacher-like luck that he carries meaning he’s always in the right place at the right time.
    Finally, it’s due to his general petulance when things don’t go his way.

  17. Thanks Joe. Nothing like a road trip to unwind and relax. I enjoy these type of stories as much as the pure F1 news and commentary. Keep up the great work!

  18. The wheel guns have indicators to show when the wheel is torqued up and the mechanics working on that wheel knew it wasn’t on but the lollipop man misunderstood their signals and sent the car.

    Why was von Trips called “Taffy von Trips” or am I imagining that?

    1. at the time it was said that mike hawthorn nicknamed him that because he thought he looked welsh

  19. Thanks for returning the comments section.
    Although I rarely post a comment, I always enjoy reading them. The quality of the comments are usually very high, knowledgeable and informative. I am sure that many comments never reach the site and are filtered out, but that just makes this section better, I don’t have to trawl through hundreds of posts which are nonsense or repetitive.
    I love the banter you have with some of the regular posters. I feel that within F1 circles that you opinion is highly rated.
    Don’t be put off by the occasional idiot who thinks they know everything because they own a T-shirt!
    Keep up the good work

  20. Nice travelog! Readers may like to know of the hotel within the fortress at Sedan, quite a privileged setting. When we were last there, at the end of the day, we toured the inside of fortress with no one around – prepare yourself for much climbing, and descending, of stairs!

    I’m glad you’ve revised your policy re Comments. I was surprised it took you so long to ‘weed out’ the ne’re-do-wells, and have said so before. Too good natured that’s what you are! For what’s it’s worth, I think the Comments section gives you your USP – well done.

  21. Joe, Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries! Erm, sorry, got a bit carried away there. Envy is such a tiresome emotion innit! Your meander home from the Eifel mountains sounds wonderful. Thank you for sharing it.

    You mention poor von Trips. I well recall hearing the news of his fearful crash in September 1961 and, a few days later, mournfully reading the race report in motoring News.

    Some years ago, I learnt of the von Trips Museum Near Kerpen. I gather it is a modest display but nicely run and contains some interesting memorabilia. It’s on my (long) list of places to visit. Really digging into the memory banks, did not Wolfgang import a couple of strange things called go-karts from the USA in the late 50’s and did he not establish a track upon which to race them in Kerpen? I even recall that Herr Schumacher the elder managed (?) the track at some stage and that his two lads raced karts there.

    A bit of a stretch this, but if my recollection is even roughly right, may we say that Wolfgang von Trips played a significant role in bringing motor racing to so many aspiring young racers around the world?

    1. So von Trips established the Kerpen kart track that Schumacher grew up on – brilliant! Thanks, Penn – if it’s true it’s absolute gold dust

  22. I was wondering what you had been filling your time with without the comments section to eat up spare hours. Apparently quite a lot and it makes for a lovely read.

    If you ever decide you’re too old for chasing the circus around the world, do take up travel writing. You’re obviously very good at it.

    Thanks Joe.

  23. I think Bernd Rosemeyer was The best German driver. Of course he was not in the current GP series which started in 1950. Maybe not fair to compare him with von Trips and current drivers.

    On another topic, can you identify the replica Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic coupe in GP+ ? The two originals are not seen driving on roads, the black one of Ralph Lauren and the blue one formerly owned by Peter Williamson now in the Mullin museum.

    Thanks for a great blog.

    1. Wasn’t Rudi Carratsch German as well? He appears to be the best pre WW2 driver, he won the European Championship three times, while the next best driver (including Rosemayer, Nuvolari, Varzi, Lang etc.) won only once. Also Rudi won the GP at the Northschleife countless times, probably 6 times, I think, certainly more often than any other driver.

  24. “It is odd that the fans of Germany do not warm to Sebastian Vettel”

    I don’t think so.
    Malaysia only highlighted what a lot of fans, particularly Webber fans, have known and put up with for several years.

  25. Slightly surprising that the conspiracy theorists haven’t been elaborating baroque scenarios around the fact that Mark’s wheel-nut problem happened after he had aced the start, and was running a brisk second to Vettel, who had run into traffic on his outlap and looked like losing the lead, at the German GP.

  26. Yes!! Comments again 🙂

    It’s strange that people would hold Malaysia against Vettel. Maybe it’s because it’s fresh in memory, but Schumacher did lots of things in his career that were questionable (perhaps not ignoring team orders, but plenty of other unsportsmanship like things). Perhaps it’ll come in time, when people maybe have forgotten about the whole Malaysia thing.

  27. I’m glad the comments are back, and even more glad that most people are using (what seems to be) their real names!
    Cheers to that Joe!

  28. Nice to see you have allowed comments, but it was not necessary because I think most of your followers would still read your blog for the truthful information and thoughts from a veteran F1 journalist.
    Keep up the good work.

  29. Joe,

    I keep asking St. Nick, for this new book by Joe Saward on his travels around the global Grand prix circuits. The partner is even asking when the Korean GP is on, as she has never laughed so loud on reading about your beer drinking and hotel accommodation experiences, so I do welcome the read about your travels to and from a race. They are as much fun as your race reports.

    Have the “Great Moustache’s of Stuttgart”, on seeing their team perform so far this year, do they feel they are getting value for money on the hiring of Lewis, as the “other” driver, has a couple of wins this year under his belt, and one would think at a cheaper rate per win, than what Lewis has cost them, so far. One could go as to say that given his new “personal” problems, which maybe this year are looking very suspect. (Going on pass performances)

  30. Schumacher drove for Ferrari, Vettel drives for Red Bull.

    If and when Vettel starts winning titles for Ferrari, he will suddenly become a lot more popular. That’s especially the case if the long drought under Alonso continues.

  31. I love the description of the road trip home! Sometimes one of the best parts of the post race blog are the descriptions of the places, whether it is Germany, Japan, or Korea. Keep it up I really enjoy reading them.

  32. Have to agree with others here in that i don’t think Vettel’s conduct in Malaysia has much if anything to do with the recent negative receptions he has been getting. Mainly because team orders themselves are not exactly popular, and anyone disobeying them would surely be more popular? By the logic implied, if Seb is booed because of Malaysia then surely those obeying team orders should be getting a round of applause – but you only have to look at Alonso/Massa in 2010 or the Barrichello/Schumacher farce to see that fans don’t like drivers meekly obeying team orders.

    For some casual fans they’ll love Seb because he always wins (my 7 year old son is a Red Bull fan). For other casual fans and I think even some less casual fans there are several reasons for his unpopularity. Based on my girlfriend’s ranting during rare races she watches Seb is:

    – incredibly annoying with the finger, the “Yes boys!” and Crazy Frog impersonations (I suspect the accent might come into this, not in a xenophobic way(!) he just has an irritating tone of voice)

    – coming across as a petulent kid who has lucked into a championship car (anyone with any knowledge of motorsport can tell this isn’t quite the case)

    – during interviews often giving what seem like glib, immature answers that seem to be a mix of PR and arrogance (I do agree with this one)

    – frankly he’s always winning, and that’s boring. There’s no chippy underdog tropes or drama or unpredictability about Sebastian Vettel, simply 50-60% races lately are basically Seb starting in front or rapidly getting there and staying there for 300km, or rather it seems like that.

    – in comparison to other drivers on the grid there’s just not as much there to like. people can relate to Lewis or Jensen or Di Resta or Webber or Ricciardo or Massa. There’s something almost legendary or idol like about Alonso. Kimi brings mystery, intrigue and “cool”. Hulkenburg and Jensen and Ricciardo are genuinely funny guys. Vettel isn’t any of the above, although perhaps perceptions are different on the continent.

    If Vettel had a bad year, or even a reasonably bad shunt or something, then it would honestly do wonders for his popularity – although I’m not a Vettel hater so I hope he carries on winning until he links as teammates with Alonso, Lewis or Kimi so we can see some real fireworks (at RB or elsewhere).

    1. Ps thanks for reopening comments Joe, often they are almost as entertaining as the (very entertaining) posts themselves. Personally I think this is the most good-natured place to discuss F1.

      Pps I really do love the little travel logs you drop in sometimes – I’d dearly love to take a European roadtrip sometime, and there’s actually tons of great ideas on this blog for someone like me who hasn’t travelled much!

    2. Spot on.

      His predicament reminds me a little of Mika Hakkinen and, to a smaller extent, Schumacher himself.

      Hakkinen dominated for the two years in which he was WDC but during his final year, struggled a little. It was this year that we saw a more human and humble side to him.
      Vettel doesn’t have that. It’s like he’s sat up in bed one day and said out loud
      “Hang on, I’m triple world champion. It’s about time that more people realised I’m a bit of a big deal”

      Schumacher was legendarily unpopular due to domination, but when he returned and moved to Mercedes, this was metered out a little due to his struggles. He was never humble, but was perhaps rooted for a little more in his swansong.

  33. It’s quite simple really – there is nothing to *love* about Sebastian Vettel.

    On paper he’s gold but in reality…it’s an odd package.

    He won a race in a Torro Rosso, has won the last three world championships and yet people still question his abilities.

    Perhaps it’s because he’s never been a victim?

  34. In all the debate about Sebastian Vettel ( who comes across to me as an intelligent, witty, but ultimately a supremely ambitious professional who isn’t interested in taking any prisoners ) as far as I’m concerned, the only relevance
    is the effect his taking a fourth consecutive world title would have on F1. And the Schumacher years show vividly just how disastrous a long dominance of the sport can be. Some team needs to wipe out Red Bull’s massive power
    advantage, and damn soon. And I don’t care who it is, or how it’s done.

    1. Some team needs to wipe out Red Bull’s massive power
      advantage, and damn soon. And I don’t care who it is, or how it’s done.

      Agree with this; let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later? Can’t say I’m optimistic though?

  35. I’m glad you mentioned Wolfgang von Trips – so often overlooked these days.
    Indeed a visit to the museum dedicated to him in the Schloss Hemersbach is well worhwhile when anyone is in the area.
    So little has been written about von Trips (in English anyway) apart from Michael Cannell’s book The Limit which received varied reviews although I for one enjoyed it despite some of its technical inaccuracies.
    What do you think?
    Pete

  36. thanks for sharing your thoughts Joe. it makes great reading. well done.
    what was the WDC called before 1979?
    in my personal library it is clear that there was a time when it was simply a driver’s championship of F1 drivers until the FOCA and FOTA wrestling match began between B.E. and J-M. B. of the FIA.
    thanks for your time and efforts at clarifying what no one else seems to be able to do so far.
    be well people.

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