Vettel humbled by comparisons to all-time greats

2013 Indian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Buddh International Circuit, 2013Sebastian Vettel says he finds it difficult to comprehend the comparisons made between him and the other all-time great drivers of the sport.

Vettel’s fourth world championship title puts him in very select company: only four drivers in F1 history have managed to win so many titles.

“It?s very difficult to understand,” said Vettel after the race.

“Put it this way, I was watching TV, I was watching Formula One when Fernando [Alonso] started to win races and now I?m racing Fernando, he?s been my toughest opponent for the last couple of years.

“I think he?s extremely talented, very gifted behind the wheel, for sure. He?s Spanish, he?s very passionate, one way and the other. Now, to race people like him, race people like Lewis [Hamilton] who I think has an amazing level of natural talent, to race people like Mark [Webber] who I rate the same way, like Nico [Rosberg] who I think is underestimated. A lot of guys, you know: Kimi [Raikkonen], Jenson [Button].

“To win four titles, I don?t know, it?s just a big number, you know? Four titles. [Juan Manuel] Fangio put the number of five titles, everybody appreciated him as the best driver in the world.

Michael [Schumacher] came along a couple of years later or – couple of years, quite many years later – different time, different era of the sport. Don?t get me wrong, I?m just talking as a fan of the sport, you know? Yes, he had a very dominant car but he created that at Ferrari, you know? He was working very hard, arguably harder than everybody else.

“He had some tough challenges coming in and going out: people like [Juan Pablo] Montoya, David [Coulthard], Kimi, Fernando. It?s incredible that one guy managed to actually score more championships than this guy did.

“Unfortunately Fangio passed away but when you speak to true legends of the sport, in my opinion, like Stirling Moss, they actually have the guts to say that… fuck, this guy was better than me, he deserved to win and Stirling Moss for sure was not a… he finished twice I don?t know how many times, three/four times in the championship?

“To join people like that: Michael, Fangio, Prost is very difficult to put into perspective. I?m way too young to understand what it means. I might be sixty one day, maybe then I will understand but nobody cares any more. I care, it?s difficult to realise something that nobody can take away from you, basically.”

“They boo because they are Ferrari fans”

Nico Rosberg, Romain Grosjean, Sebastian Vettel, Buddh International Circuit, 2013Vettel’s efforts have not been appreciated by everyone this year, notably at some races where his victories have been greeted by booing from some people, most recently in Singapore.

“I had actually one guy writing a letter after Singapore,” said Vettel. “He apologised because he was in the crowd and he was booing and he apologised that he was booing, it was the wrong thing to do.”

“I think if people think about it they understand but in the heat of the moment, you know, there?s nobody really to blame. Somebody starts, some people join in, others don?t.

“We are fans of the sport and if some people have a passion for Ferrari, which they might have for good reason, they?ve been around for quite a while, they don?t like it if somebody else wins. It?s not necessarily my fault. I think I?m mature enough to understand that.”

“I don?t blame people,” Vettel added. “They boo because they are Ferrari fans.”

“At the time it hurts, as I said, not to get the reception that you expect but at the same time, I think I?m clever enough to understand why they do it. I?m not blaming them. Maybe if I would be a fan of McLaren, Ferrari, whatever, one of the traditional teams, I wouldn?t like it if the same kind of guys, same team wins again and again.”

Vettel said it matters more to him to gain the respect of his peers: “I think the most important thing for me is to get the respect from people that I know and people that I race against. I feel respected amongst the drivers.

“Sure you have to fight to get that respect when you come in but I?m not blaming the fans. It?s very difficult for the fans, to be honest, to understand what?s going on behind the scenes because they get a little of an idea of who we are but it?s impossible for everyone to introduce yourself and to explain what kind of guy you are.

“But then again, it?s nice to give a little bit back to people you meet, at the hotel, at the track, outside of the track, maybe when you?re shopping, people that recognise you. Therefore, I think it?s important that you get the respect from people that you really know. Others, I think, will always struggle, there will always be pros and cons, speaking for and against you.”

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    40 comments on “Vettel humbled by comparisons to all-time greats”

    1. Hats off to Vettel, he deserves all the accolades and none of the negativity he has received. I’m a bigger fan of a few other drivers on the grid, but also remember how happy I was when he won his first race at Toro Rosso as an up and coming driver. I think he showed a lot of class after winning his 4th title including his doughnut celebration. It begs to be mentioned in the same breath of other champions he is being compared to that he has never done anything as controversial as Senna or Schumacher in his quest for titles. Since he is being compared to those two and other champions I think it is fair to bring up that he races hard, but clean. Cheers to Mr. Vettel!

      1. Easy COTD – couldn’t put it better myself

      2. @bullmello

        It begs to be mentioned in the same breath of other champions he is being compared to that he has never done anything as controversial as Senna or Schumacher in his quest for titles.

        That is a really good point.

        1. +1

          Nobody pointed that out before although it’s an important point. COTD :)

      3. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        27th October 2013, 18:44

        COTD – Even Malaysia was not a “dirty” move, he disobeyed an order which impeded him to do what he does best. If that got a boo, even at the heat of the moment, it’s strange.
        Vettel really deserves his 4 WDC, and as @bullmello said, he hasn’t decided any title crashing into another driver to seal the points difference.

      4. He has never done anything as controversial as Senna or Schumacher in his quest for titles.

        That’s why I say it’s never good to start saying who’s an all time great etc when we haven’t seen his career in full, besides I don’t like comparisons anyway, but he’s surely on the right path.

      5. He has never done anything as controversial as Senna or Schumacher in his quest for titles

        …or Alonso (and arguably Hamilton too)

    2. Very good quotes, makes me like his character even more. Nice to see someone with so much success being so down-to-earth and humble. Great.

    3. Nice comments from Vettel.

    4. As a fan it’s also difficult to put it into perspective. It happened so fast.

      From being a challenger for points in a Toro Rosso, to winning races in a Red Bull and fighting for the championship. And then winning 4 on the trot. Even the first one was too much to bear at the time, a very shocking surprise.

      It was a step way too big, way too early. And sometimes it’s difficult to understand the whole thing. Lewis and Villeneuve were probably the only guys before him to rocket into success so early on. But they struggled after that.

      Seb got there and stayed there. Be it the car or his own capabilities (he’s hardly put a foot wrong since 2010), it’s very impressive.

      I’m still rating 2012 as his best year in terms of the challenge that it was. And while I hope he has it tougher next year, I’m more than sure that he’s capable of beating the competition yet again.

    5. “Michael [Schumacher] came along a couple of years later or – couple of years, quite many years later – different time, different era of the sport. Don’t get me wrong, I’m just talking as a fan of the sport, you know? Yes, he had a very dominant car but he created that at Ferrari, you know? He was working very hard, arguably harder than everybody else.

      He certainly doesn’t seem to be arrogant about his success, which is a very good trait.

    6. And another f-word slipped by the FIA censor :)

    7. I think he slightly missed one point here; They dont only boo because they are Ferrari fans, because otherwise he wouldnt be getting any booing in Silverstone, but he actually had for quite some years now.

      1. @thorpedo technically he should’ve said “people who aren’t my fans”. The British in general seem to be very patriotic! Or rather against the non-underdogs.

        1. That would certainly be a better way to put it. I dont blame British fans to be patriotic, in fact they should be with their rich motorsports history. However, it seemed quite biased when there where a lot of things said after Italian GP and almost none after British. Is is not only Ferrari fans who can be mean (me being one of them), but also other teams supporters.

        2. Surely being fans of another team/driver and being deprived of their victories is a large part of it. But surely not all, and different booers have different motivations.

          And I am not going to nitpick on the perceived arrogance of implying -repeatedly- that everybody else is terminally lazy, or the double standards on TO. Nobody’s perfect after all.

          Maybe it is just me (and no, I’m not a booer) but what I mostly resent is that most of Seb’s victories seem (maybe aren’t but do seem) so effortless. I like the victories to be hard-fought on the track. To be fair, Seb has got a few of these, but just a few. Too often it looks like a Panzer fighting some guys armed with sticks and stones.

          As an example, I was very disappointed at Singapore, not because Seb won, but because he didn’t have to race anyone for it. Fernando/Ferrari took some risks with an early pitstop during the last SC, while Seb and the rest of the guys in front didn’t pit. I thought, “Great, there’s no way Seb can get enough of a lead before he has to pit, then he will get back on track behind Fernando with fresher tyres and we’ll see a good fight for the win, a la Singapore 2010”. It would have been perfectly OK for me if Seb had won that fight. Instead, there wasn’t any, Seb (helped maybe by NR aero trouble) pulled away 2.5-3″ per lap and built a gap large enough to came out of the pits in P1. Well, I was not amused.

          Well, maybe Seb will win with a Gran Chelem every single race in the next 12 years and build a 10″ gap per lap whenever he feels like it. And I’ll congratulate him and say he’s the best ever, but I will not be amused.

          1. exactly, hear hear . we want some what of an actual race between drivers not with KERS issues

          2. Yet, when Webber won his race arguably the same way in Hungary 2010, it was hailed as a fantastic performance, even though Red Bull was dominant that they as well. What’s the difference? I’d agree if you say a race like Korea wasn’t hard fought, but I think he really needed to push in Singapore to get that gap, and although he was aided, it was a gamble.

      2. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        27th October 2013, 18:46

        @thorpedo I guess that will irritate Ferrari fans more, but anybody can deny the core of the boos came mostly wearing red.

        1. All the people wearing red in places like Canada or Great Britain. Sure. Could you be a bit more reasonable? Like Max?

          1. nah, it’s only Fernando Alonso, in disguise and hidden among the crowd, the only one who boos Seb, but his voice is sooooo loud it sounds like thousands.

          2. Not sure if they booed more or less than the rest of the fans, but usually you can see a lot of red in Montreal, remembrez Gilles!!

            Also if you go to Monza you can feel Gilles is among the most beloved by the tiffosi, a lot more than many who did win titles for Ferrari.

    8. i really dont understand why there are people who hate this guy so much. he seems to be really down-to-earth in his interviews. he gives accolades to his rivals, he races clean and he doesn’t speak too much of himself but rather always giving credit to his team. people saying something like he can’t overtake cars, hell, he was way down the grid and climbed up to the pole in this race alone. i guess Seb can’t please anybody but the true fans of the sports should give credit to where credit is due! i am just lucky to witness how great this guy is. i am fortunate enough to be witnessing history right now. well done Seb! stay grounded!

      1. He is down-to-earth and he gives credit to his rivals and so on. But the true Seb will only be witnessed when he will lose (if it will ever happen). Often people are positive and more friendly when they are winning, the problem becomes when they are squeezed , when they lose. Only then they show their real face. Remember that he can be quite outspoken and rude when things are not going the way he wants, which he showed us on rare occasions when he didnt win in the last few years. Believe me, he is far worse loser than Alonso and Hamilton. Plus, now a lot of fans are lucky to witness history in making. I wonder what they were witnessing at the beggining of 2000s when they were complaining, because one team and driver won over and over again.

        1. Believe me, he is far worse loser than Alonso and Hamilton.

          Any proof of that or it is the usual I will bash Vettel because I don’t like him winning?

          1. There is proof; Istanbul 2010, Hungary 2010, Malaysia 2012, Valencia 2012, Monza 2012, constant complaining about tyres until the eventually changed them in 2013. Brazil 2012 comment about Sennas grave after the race didnt make me change my opinion either. Those are few that first popped up on my mind.

            1. Ah, yes, just the usual anti Vettel bashing.

            2. Hmm, so stuff that is no worse or different than the complaining you get from drivers throughout the field then.

              And it wasn’t only Vettel complaining about the tyres in 2013.

          2. @oletros Is that all you can say after challenging me and receiving my answer?

            @david-a So Mentioning Sennas grave is no worse that other complaining. I would just suggest you to count how many times Vettel behaved childish compared to Alonso and Hamilton. Regarding the tyres, I believe Vettel and RBR were the ones who criticized them most. (Un)fortunately I dont want to get into another weeks long discussion with you about who is right and who is wrong as we clearly cannot agree on any point.

            1. @thorpedo
              Hamilton and Alonso have had many poor moments too- LH telling his team he can’t drive any slower, the infamous Monaco race, FA complaining about Massa before team orders were issued, or the numerous times (though they’ve changed their tune recently), those two have belittled SV’s success.

              I don’t want a long discussion with you either, but you clearly took the “grave” comments out of context- he was smiling and kidding when he said that about Bruno’s driving. That has nothing to do with him being a worse loser than anyone.

            2. Is that all you can say after challenging me and receiving my answer?

              I have not received any answer, what you have posted is what most of the dricvers have done and do right now.

              As I said, just the usual anti Vettel bashing. When someone other does that it is not a problem, when he does it he is the worst offender.

            3. @david-a Of course they had some poor moments but you have to imagine that those are guys that are losing at the moment. The real Sebastian will only be seen when he will be losing for some years like Alonso and Hamilton do. Anyone who has ever been in any competitive sport (individual) knows what I am talking about-it happens to anyone.

              The “grave” comment, in my country, is not something you can expect from someone who is at least decently clever. We had a case of a football player few years ago, who made very similar satement after a game, and was harshly accused for making such inappropriate statement. But maybe it is just me who finds difficulties to understand English humour?!

              @oletros Can you give me some examples? I, for instance, havent seen anyone showing gestures like Seb did after accidents, neither did I see anyone throwing gloves in a camera and telling the team to get his teammate out of the way when he is actually faster. I can give you a lot more examples but that probably wouldnt prove anything to you.

    9. Would it be fair to say that Red Bull’s best years are behind? This past 5 years it’s been very consistent with the same drivers, stable regulations, technical people.

      But next year starts a new era, not only for the sport but for the team as well, Daniel coming in, and key people in the aero department going out (and Newey already thinking about moving on as well), RBR will win more titles it’s guaranteed, but 4 championships in a row, I feel that’s is going to be the highlight for many years to come. And for Vettel, the highlight of his career.

      1. i hope you are right, but it sounds like wishful thinking

    10. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      28th October 2013, 0:58

      Congratulations Sebastian! Truly a worthy winner if there ever was one.

      Although I still think he’s missing the point as to why people were booing him. I dunno, maybe I’m missing the point, but I think he was getting booed because people think he’s only winning because of the car (which is rubbish).

    11. I think you hit the nail on the head with that theory, especially after Singapore with the 2.5 second per lap domination now people take that margin and apply to the whole the season which is incorrect

    12. I cheered when I was at Silverstone and his care failed, and I’m not a Ferrari fan.

      1. @sgt-pepper
        That’s quite different, though. During a race, if a driver you don’t like (or one who wins a lot and who you’re bored with seeing win all the time) is leading the race and then his car fails, and you think ‘Yes! Now something more exciting might happen!’ or ‘Yes! Now the guy I prefer could win the race!’ then perhaps you’ll cheer. While there’s an argument to be made that it’s not very sporting of you, it’s a reasonably natural response.
        But after a race where someone has driven exceptionally well and beaten the rest of the field fairly and emphatically, to stand and boo them while they receive their trophy is nothing but bitterness and spite.

        I realise that the point you’re making is more that it’s not just Ferrari fans who dislike Vettel (and you’re right), but I just think it’s worth pointing out that there’s a significant difference between being happy when his car fails and being massively disrespectful when he wins.

        1. There is also the underdog thing, lots of people love see winning a underdog. From there to booing an “overdog” who wins -and is perceived to steal the underdog’s victory- there’s not a huge distance. It’s just too simplistic to blame the tiffosi.

    13. I think Vettel has fundamentally misjudged the reason why he is unpopular in certain circles. It’s not because the people booing are Ferrari fans – I think it is because of the way people perceive the way his success has come about. People believe that the team is built around him, and that his success has come at the expense of other drivers. Whether or not this actually the case is beside the point – the fact that people believe it at all should be cause for concern, because this idea did not simply come out of the aether. Somewhere along the line, something happened that gave people this idea that the team unfairly favour Vettel. It seems like a huge PR mis-step for the team to claim they are doing nothing wrong and see no reason to address it.

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