Sunday Afternoon Club rarely sits down to write anything hoping to be shouted down firmly, swiftly and conclusively, but today it does. We want to talk about Sebastian Vettel: and we’d be very surprised if he isn’t leading the World Championship by breakfast time on Sunday.
It’s funny, but it doesn’t seem like there’s a huge amount of love out there for the very lovable German at the moment. Not as much, for example, as there was for Michael Schumacher last week. Is it really just easier to love a loser than a winner?
To un-pack that a bit, we are talking about Michael’s second career here now. We’ll come to his first in a bit. Even by his own admission, Michael has not lived up to expectations. Seb, meanwhile, continues to excel; another pole, another fastest lap, another win last weekend, and who would bet against the same this? Nobody has ever clocked them up at the speed the current back-to-back World Champion has. We think he is on his way to his third title, we truly do.
So that will be three world championships some time before his 26th birthday. Michael Schumacher had just the one.
Back then of course, there wasn’t much love for Michael either (although, for the record, no social media with which to propagate it at the time). The problem was simply that Michael and his team were ruthless about winning, and Michael also came across as aloof. Yet there’s no doubting Red Bull’s commitment to winning, although it manifests itself somewhat differently to how it did at Michael’s Benetton team…
But Sebastian Vettel, aloof? We don’t think so. Here he is being excellent on Top Gear. And Google him on David Letterman. It’s hard to imagine any world-class sportsman with fewer airs. And it’s the same on the race track. Any doubt about his ability to race hard was sunk at Monza last year, and arguably this year too. Sure, he likes to command a race from the front, but every driver does. Fact is, Vettel can be as spectacular as he needs to be. And all those poles say one thing only; fast, very fast.
So why do we get the feeling that everyone will be a little deflated if Vettel does win and overtake Alonso this weekend? It can’t be championship fatigue, not after this season; it’s never been so competitive, so our champ will have had to have really won it.
So here’s our thought before you give us yours. Maybe Vettel is just too darn happy, playful, sweet? Maybe we look for our racing heroes to have a bit of an edge, like Kimi or if you’re looking for the middle ground, Jenson. Ponder that. List some of your own heroes from other sports. Bet there’s not one of them would draw an arrow on Jake Humphrey’s shirt pointing to his crotch with the word ‘love’ appended…