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Yeah, About That…

Okay, so approximately once each decade or so, the planets align themselves unfavorably and I end up being mistaken about something. And, every once in a great while, I’m actually kind of happy about that.

So it might just be crushed-under-the-heel-of-his-bright-blue-Puma domination, after all.

Actually, no, maybe I shouldn’t even commit those words to the intertubes. It might not be good luck. As I’ve mentioned, I control the fate of Chicago sports teams simply by virtue of which shirt I choose to wear during a game, and I’ve been known to inadvertently ruin Red Bull’s races by eating turkey sandwiches. Think it’s easy wielding that sort of power? Think again.  But as long as I stay away from turkey sandwiches next weekend, it probably won’t matter what I say about Vettel’s domination. It will still be there. And he will, sometime in the next five races,  succeed in scoring the one point necessary to win his second straight championship. Call it a hunch.

As it turns out, those rumors of Red Bull’s domination being “over” were greatly exaggerated (by the BBC, of all news outlets — imagine!). In fact, that domination seems to have steamed along rather impressively, even at two circuits where everyone expected the RB7 to have trouble. What can we make of that? How could this have happened? Why are the F1 gods seemingly deaf to the anguished cries of those who love close competition and who yearn for different, non-Vettel dudes to win races?

I think the reason is fairly clear. There is one driver who has pleased the F1 gods above all others by being exemplary in every respect. I don’t think I need to say his name. You know — that guy. If only he would begin a lucrative pop music career, right? Or start crashing into more people. Or not stay late with his engineers on a regular basis, working hard to get every last ounce of speed from his car, correct every minor mistake or difficulty, anticipate every possible problem. If only he’d give those superhuman, (sometimes literally) blistering pole laps a rest. If only he’d stop driving each lap of each race with the entire race and every minute aspect of it in mind. If only he’d stop being so damn curious about everything all the time, being the only driver to accept Pirelli’s invitation to visit their HQ and learn about the new tires over the winter break, doing little things like walking around  pouring water on the curbs the Thursday night before a race to test grip levels.

But these are things he will not do, and it’s this that makes the F1 gods smile benevolently and bestow great favor and rich rewards.

Perhaps if he would be so good as to keep his eyes firmly on his astronomical points total and stop driving every race as though it were the first of the season, with everything left for everyone to play for, then someone else might have a fighting chance. Back in July, he had this to say about whether he knew how many points in the lead he was over the next guy:

“No, I don’t know so please don’t tell me!

“I don’t care. The thing is as soon as they start mentioning points I skip that bit!

“What does it help? What is the gain, what do I learn from it? Obviously I know we are in the lead – you keep telling me – but it doesn’t really matter if it is one point or 100.

“What do I learn from it?” On the basis of everything I’ve read, this is one of the qualities that sets Vettel apart and will likely continue to set him apart: he’s a world champion, about to be one twice over, but he’s never going to stop trying to learn how to be better. He’s never going to just sit back, breathe a sigh of relief, and believe he has it all sufficiently figured out.

People are starting to talk about Vettel differently now. I’m not talking about people “in the paddock,” obviously (how would I know?); I’m talking about the fans in online forums — the only F1 people I have contact with. Over the past two race weekends, I’ve noticed a thirty percent decrease in outright anti-Vettel hostility alongside a thirty-five percent increase in pro-Vettel admiration (some of which is grudging in nature, but what can you do?). Let’s see how those numbers I just made up pan out by the end of the season. Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember there are still five races left, and so many things can happen.

Sebastian Vettel is a guy who just seems to be doing everything right at the moment. Of course, it’s impossible for a mere human to go on doing absolutely everything right forever. To expect as much would be a bit unfair. But if someone had a gun to my head and told me I had to bet on one guy doing it longer than everyone else, I know who I’d put my money on.


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