Sebastian Vettel’s radio messages and the subsequent outcry as a result of them have done a lot to reveal plenty about Formula One and the hypocrisy surrounding some of its following.
Vettel called Red Bull driver Max Verstappen a “c***” and told race director Charlie Whiting to “**** off” in the final laps following the Dutchman’s refusal to move over despite cutting the chicane at turn two.
Importantly, and what plenty who have stuck the knife into the four-time World Champion are keen to ignore, he apologised to Whiting straight after the race. Before he climbed onto the podium. Which he was stripped of following a penalty for moving under breaking when defending from Daniel Ricciardo.
Had he not done that he would have faced an FIA tribunal and possibly been fined or even suspended.
They didn’t take such measures at the Belgian Grand Prix of 2002 when Juan Pablo Montoya described Kimi Raikkonen in unflattering terms, nor was it an issue when Ricciardo called Nico Rosberg the same thing as Vettel did Verstappen in the US Grand Prix…last week.
For heaven’s sake Ayrton Senna punched Eddie Irvine in the face at the 1993 Japanese Grand Prix and Michael Schumacher was quite prepared to do the same to David Coulthard at the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix. Even the best lose their rag.
This is one example of some irate messages from an array of drivers including Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen and more that have been X-rated both in this and previous season.
His critics, and there have been plenty regarding his expressions of displeasure, appear to have decided that Vettel’s expletives are the biggest crisis since Spygate in 2007.
Let’s be clear. I’m not saying it’s right that Vettel should choose to voice his angst like this, and that Vettel’s choice of words towards Whiting especially was poor. He should not kick off at the Race Director like that and it is also right that he shall be contacting Verstappen to make an apology to him.
But it is being blown out of proportion.
A majority of those who claim to abhor Vettel’s anger are happy to use such language on a day-to-day basis at work. Except that they aren’t doing their job in front of millions worldwide and aren’t travelling at 200mph.
Instead, a good proportion would say far worse things about people they don’t know for a perceived annoying manoeuvre at 27mph in their local suburban avenue.
So how can they expect someone who’s travelling at over eight times that figure to be rational when he feels someone is acting dangerously?
Furthermore, he was bleeped out by Formula One Management when they broadcast those messages, so those of a young age wouldn’t have known what was being said. Those old enough to know what was being said are going to be aware that they can’t turn around to their elder and use similar words.
As for those saying it’s damaging to Formula One, well, doesn’t the sport have bigger problems? Such as the falling crowds, less TV viewers, the still astronomical costs to run a team and the extreme unfairness of the prize money payments between those at the top and bottom of F1.
Not to mention the fact that everyone these days are delighted to have the possibility of having to pick a winner from three drivers instead of two. Though that’s only for special weekends.
The Formula One public are experts at making a mountain from a molehill and this latest furore is exhibit A.
The really tragic thing is that all of this uproar has overshadowed what was an exciting end to a Grand Prix between three of the world’s best drivers in which no quarter was asked or given.
Let’s cut the bulls*** and start focussing on the real issues that Formula One has at this present moment.
(Image Courtesy of Pirelli F1 Media)