Sebastian Vettel was pretty close to a race ban when he allowed his temper to get the better of him and deliberately drove into the side of Lewis Hamilton at the 2017 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
But that dangerous start at Singapore was completely unprofessional, aggressive and unnecessary. It wasn’t that long ago that Roman Grosjean received a race ban for being a complete idiot on the track at the start of the Spa GP, and after receiving support for his snappy temper, the Frenchman is now a much cooler customer behind the wheel. It leaves many fans of the sport wondering why Vettel has been allowed to get away with causing collisions.
So how did he manage to get away without a race ban? Jos Verstappen thinks it was all down to politics and you’d have to agree.
Simply, Vettel escaped a ban because a ban would have made sure Hamilton begame the 2017 World Champion, and that would make the rest of the season pretty boring. Neither the rights holders, the FiA or the fans want that.
Vettel escaped a ban because a ban would have made sure Hamilton begame the 2017 World Champion”
Like most great sportspeople, Vettel hates to lose he’s not very good at it. Most F1 fans know from experience that he’ll do the dirty on a teammate for the sake of winning. Remember Multi-21 when he was supposed to yield to former teammate Mark Webber? It’s no surprise that he took out Kimi Räikkönen in Singapore, apparently without a thought for him or the team; and at the same time probably deleted all hope of Ferrari and Vettel winning the 2017 drivers or constructors championship.
Vettel is a great ambassador for Formula One off the track, but his temper often gets the better of him when he’s in the car. Anyone who follows the sport will have noticed the increased incidents of shouting, swearing and generally aggressive behavior. He’s not taking the pressure very well at all, and it may be pressure that he’s applied to himself as he tries to emulated his hero Michael Schumacher. Schumacher was arguably worse, but Vettel is in danger of receiving a similar label from the non-German fans. It seems that as soon as something happens which he is unable to control, his temper gets the better of him. The ‘red mist’ descends and he does something silly (or dangerous). He loses it.
There’s no doubt that Sebastian Vettel is one of the greatest drivers of modern F1 history but he must learn to control his temper or his risks receiving a race ban and being unable to achieve World Champion status in 2018. Ferrari need to reign their driver in or they risk losing all the progress they have made over the past few years. He may need to see a sports psychologist; or perhaps he needs a financial penalty from the team.
Whatever the answer, something needs to happen quickly at Ferrari to appease fans of the team and the shareholders. Even Vettel isn’t bigger than the team.