Sebastian Vettel has many faces. In the press interactions you see a relaxed man whose body language oozes a sort of cool confidence that only comes with success.
If on the paddock you’re lucky enough to see the German as he exits the team building and heads to the pit garage, you see the will behind the skill. His face is a picture of unshakeable concentration, the walk is measured, the length of each stride follows a set pattern.
There’s no waving for the camera, no talking, no posing for pictures. The one part of his anatomy that capture that unwavering pre-race attention are the glistening sapphire eyes that almost seemingly don’t blink. They call him boring? What do they know!
If you were there at the BIC on Sunday as the German sealed a historic fourth straight drivers’ title the magnitude of the accomplishment won’t be forgotten in a hurry. Nor will you forget the derring-do that earned him a 25,000-euro fine from the FIA, and enamored him to more than twice that number of people who were present at the hour of his crowning glory.
The gloves are off
After crossing the chequered flag at the end of 60 laps, Vettel, as is the norm, was expected to park his ride at the Parc Ferme. Instead, he chose to entertain the main grandstand with a series of ‘donut’ spins that left behind a trail of burned rubber on the tarmac and engulfed the car and surroundings in a cloud of smoke.
As the smoke settled and he emerged from his cockpit, Vettel kneeled and paid his respects to the Red Bull car that made it all possible — Hungry Heidi, the successor to Kate, Kate’s Dirty Little Sister, Randy Mandy, Luscious Liz, Kinky Kylie and, most recently, Abbey.
He climbed up the fence separating him from the main grandstand, removed his gloves and hurled them into the crowd. He jumped over the pit wall, running frantically towards the Red Bull garage.
At the garage was father Norbert Vettel wearing a customised t-shirt playing on the roman number IV and the family name that read “IV-ettel”. Before the race, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner had stated that if celebratory t-shirts were shipped to the country for this champagne-on-ice race, he wasn’t aware of it. Wonder when he found out they were in storage?
One for the road
As the podium ceremony ended Vettel began swigging the Mumm champagne he got atop the top step. By the time, he entered for the post-race press conference he was more than a little tipsy.
He was also visibly overawed by the magnitude of the accomplishment. Just to put a little perspective, only Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio have won five straight drivers’ titles. Still not convinced about the greatness of the man? Well, before his 27th birthday he’s won four world title. Alain Prost, one of the sport’s all-time greats and a four-time world champion, hadn’t won a single race till he turned 27!
There were long pauses and intense glares. And guzzles of champagne . The German dropped the F-bomb. He talked in an Indian accent that would have bordered of racism if all present hadn’t known he was inebriated. He talked about being booed by fans and how it hurt him.
He talked about all the drivers on the grid he respects. He talked about the happiness of the poor people he’d seen in India. Swilled some more of that bubbly.
He said stuff like, “If you look at their pay check (of his race engineers and mechanics) at the end of the month, you’d be surprised if you could do the amount of hours that they do. I think it’s better to work at McDonalds than to do what they do!”
The FIA communications head was shaking his head in disbelief. Was he hyperbolic? For sure. A phrase he uses frequently when validating answers, a peccadillo of German’s English. But, he wasn’t just hyperbolic. He was as overawed as he was overjoyed.
He was high on the wine, he was higher on the win!