Published: Monday, October 28, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 28, 2013 21:10
So it happened again. Sebastian Vettel has won his fourth straight Formula One World Championship, and I could not be happier for him. Not because he’s my favorite driver, because I find him to be a wimp on the track—especially when it comes to team orders—but because he gives it his all every week.
Vettel also has to be the funniest man in the Formula One paddock, because he actually knows how to laugh about things, and in this world of prima donna racing drivers, that is a very good thing.
When Vettel talks, he reminds me of Christoph Waltz’s characters in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” and “Inglourious Basterds,” right down to his inflection. Vettel gets amped about a victory, screaming and thanking his team over the in-car radio and then leaping up and down like a giddy schoolgirl on the podium. Compared to his Teutonic predecessor, seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher, Vettel is as hilarious as Mitch Hedberg.
But obviously this free expression isn’t allowed in the “money rules all” world of Formula One, as Vettel has been punished €25,000 and given a 10-spot qualifying penalty for doing donuts to celebrate his World Championship. Yes, you read that right. Someone was punished for celebrating an achievement.
To me, this is not fair at all. If soccer player Mario Balotelli can take his shirt off after he scores one of his amazing goals, or a guy can leap around the bases after he hits a home run, Vettel should be allowed to do donuts.
And without degrading Formula One too much, if NASCAR drivers can do donuts and drive backwards around the track to celebrate a victory, why can’t everyone? Is the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile, the ruling body of Formula One, that stuck-up? I guess so…
A couple weeks ago, I wrote an editorial saying that us students here at Delaware should remove the sticks from our bottoms and just be kids again. The FIA should heed my advice, because even though I don’t always like Vettel, I do appreciate the fact that he enjoys victory each and every time.
Now, you’re probably saying, “Jack, doesn’t every driver enjoy victory?” Yes, that is true, but so few of them allow their inhibitions to take over on the podium. The late, great Ayrton Senna used to wave a Brazilian flag when he won certain races, but he always seemed so stoic on the podium, like he had been sentenced to death, not grabbed one of his 41 wins.
Over the years, I have seen celebrations of victories in Formula One, but my all-time favorite was Rubens Barrichello’s when he won the 2000 German Grand Prix. The tears streamed down the Brazillian’s smiling face as he stood on the podium celebrating his first win. Even now, thinking about his beaming face, wet with tears on an already gray day, brings a lump to my throat.
That rigidness of victory continues on to the post-race interviews for some. “Oh, yes, I’d like to thank my team for helping me win today” is a common sound on most podiums. Actually, unless the driver is Vettel or Kimi Raikkonen, that’s pretty much the answer they give.
So, I would just like to conclude by saying that in this ultra high-tech, squeaky-clean sport, Sebastian Vettel letting out his inner punk rocker and doing donuts on track has to be the best thing I have seen in a while. Vettel should not be punished for his actions. He should be celebrated in Formula One for being the one thing his fellow drivers worry about the most: himself.
Jack Cobourn is the sports editor of The Review. Please send any questions, comments to email@example.com.