While Sebastian Vettel edges closer to his 4th consecutive Formula 1 World Championship*, there is still a general unrest in the sport among some fans.
As both Red Bull and Vettel continue their fine form, they have been met not with resounding cheers, but with booing and jeering from the stands. Is someone with such natural ability worthy of the sneers?
To actively boo something in sport is probably more of a theatrical gesture, usually emphasising the pantomime element of sport. But with Vettel, there seems a darker spirit behind the jeering.
Michael Schumacher, whom Vettel is so often compared and contrasted against, said the only way his compatriot will win the love of most F1 fans is to join Ferrari. But to put it bluntly, why would he switch to a team struggling under the weight of expectation?
Ferrari may have the hugely illustrious history that few others have, but in recent years their cars have simply been sub-par in comparison to the competition. Red Bull, McLaren, Mercedes and the one-season-wonders of Brawn have all worked tirelessly to develop their cars and use every ounce of their potential. By contrast, Ferrari have tried numerous attempts to innovate and failed.
It’s simply not Vettel’s fault that no driver has been consistent enough to challenge him or that no team has managed to match the Red Bull for sheer speed and grip.
Vettel himself has said it doesn’t faze him, and that Schumacher’s 5 consecutive titles were far more boring for the sport than his own success. Rather than be riled or concerned with his popularity, Vettel has taken it as compliment that his own performances, backed by Red Bull, have been so successful and consistent. Both Lewis Hamilton and Sir Stirling Moss have defended him and said that his success doesn’t merit the response it has generated at times.
The best sportsmen and women are noted for their economy and ruthless desire to win, and F1 drivers are no different. The controversy surrounding Vettel ignoring team orders to pass Mark Webber isn’t the first time it has been done, nor will it probably be the last (Webber had himself previously done so).
Whether it bothers him or not, booing drivers for simply being good at their job is a sad part of a fantastic sport. Sebastian Vettel is worthy of the respect he deserves for simply being the best.
*This article was written before Vettel was confirmed as the eventual winner.