Is is fair to boo Sebastian Vettel just because he's a winner?



Is it that damned crooked finger with which Sebastian Vettel always signifies yet another victory or pole position? Is it team boss Christian Horner's banal and monotonous message: "Fantastic, Seb, you've just won the Whatever Grand Prix"? Or is it perhaps what Vettel did so ruthlessly to team-mate Mark Webber in Malaysia?

Everyone has their own theory as to why the triple world champion has been getting booed after races. It happened in Melbourne (OK, Webber country); when his gearbox failed during the British GP at Silverstone; again in Belgium (possibly more against Greenpeace's protest); then in Italy and Singapore. And it may happen today at the Korea International Circuit.

Part of the answer is obvious. People like variety. Vettel has won 33 grands prix, including seven of this season's 13 races, which means he will be world champion for a fourth season running.

Adrian Newey leads the team that designs his cars, and Newey is a genius. It is no longer possible to be innovative in terms of major design breakthroughs, but while the things Newey brings to the Red Bulls might of themselves not be spectacular, they are brilliantly exe-cuted – and brilliantly effective.

"Everyone knows the Red Bull is good aerodynamically," Lewis Hamilton said after beating Vettel in Texas last year. "But it also has fantastic mechanical grip." That was never more apparent than in Singapore recently, where at times Vettel was able to pull away by as much as two seconds a lap.

Early this year Red Bull gave their engine supplier, Renault, detailed specifications for each of the five electronic set-ups (known as maps) that teams are allowed to run. Newey had come up with the things he wanted to do with the exhaust system in order to continue enhancing rear-end downforce, but he also wanted a means of limiting the engine's torque in the initial opening of the throttle.

Renault obliged. At first the optimal map was too aggressive for Pirelli's softer-compound rear tyres. But since the specification of their rubber was changed after the British GP, the harder-compound tyres have really suited that map.

It worked in Belgium and Italy, and really worked in Singapore, which has more corners than any other circuit. As others struggled with wheel-spin, Vettel's car stayed planted and off he went.

"I followed him for a little bit on Friday morning," rookie driver James Calado said here yesterday, "and I also followed the Mercedes cars. The Mercs were sliding around but the Red Bull was just on rails."

It doesn't help Vettel that he is thus perceived to have by far the best car, as if somehow that makes it unfair. But it is clear for those who appreciate such things that he is doing a superb job of squeezing everything out of his machine without making any errors.

However, part of the problem is that Red Bull, once the paddock mavericks, have become the Establishment and are therefore fair game. Many other teams believe that Red Bull are outspending them by a significant margin, and are not operating within the spirit of an agreement restricting technical resources.

Some feel that Red Bull's hugely impressive success has bred an arrogance that is unpopular, similar to McLaren in the Lauda/Prost and Senna/Prost eras, or Ferrari at the height of Michael Schumacher's triumphs.

Yesterday Vettel was waggling that finger again after taking pole position for today's Korean Grand Prix, but it was a close-run thing, as Hamilton in his sliding Merc was only 0.218sec adrift.

But if what Vettel perceives as a "travelling band" of booers is here, they will likely be doing their thing again this afternoon as the German crosses the line first once more.

Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’
tvThe Enfield Haunting, TV review
The Mattehorn stands reflected in Leisee lake near Sunnegga station on June 30, 2013 near Zermatt, Switzerland
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living