Letters, October 2010

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Sound advice for Vettel

Sir,

I can only concur with Nigel Roebuck’s view regarding Sebastian Vettel (August issue). The German’s comments after the British Grand Prix made it clear that he still thought Mark Webber was to blame for their coming-together in Turkey, and we can only believe, as Nigel stated, that this attitude comes from factions within the Red Bull team. Vettel has been described as the ‘new Schumacher’ and I feel this is becoming all too true, albeit for the wrong reasons.

I think it’s fair to say that all the great drivers have a ruthless streak, but the intimidatory tactics of Senna, Schumacher and increasingly Vettel have rarely been seen in other great F1 drivers and champions. There is also the arrogance – not an attractive trait – in someone who, at the end of the day, hasn’t actually achieved anything of consequence to date. Perhaps Vettel is on the way to greatness, but let us hope he ditches his current advisors and learns a little humility on the way.

There are those who may view my comments as harsh, but until Vettel proves me wrong, as Schumacher never did, I will stand by them.

Neil Davey, Ivybridge, Devon

Lowering the standards

Sir,

I’m writing a couple of days after the Hungarian Grand Prix – another race that has entertained for all the wrong reasons! A couple of observations spring to mind. Firstly, surely it is incumbent on any sportsman or woman competing at the highest level to at least be conversant with all the rules of that sport, however obscure? Especially when that person is being paid huge sums of money for their services.

Sebastian Vettel’s antics after the race, claiming that he was relying on his pitcrew to tell him what to do upon the resumption of racing following a safety car period, were ridiculous. As a driver holding an FIA superlicence he should know how to conduct himself in whatever circumstances may arise. His behaviour because he could only manage third place after starting from pole served to highlight Mark Webber’s quiet dignity and maturity throughout the season so far, despite being ‘the second driver’.

Secondly, there is a great amount of hypocrisy applied to Michael Schumacher over his aggressive driving style. Much has been made of the fact that Ayrton Senna, had he lived, would have been 50 this year. Ayrton was a remarkably gifted driver, but let us not forget that he pioneered – and thereby tacitly made acceptable – the concept of simply driving his rivals off the track in order to further his own championship ambitions. Michael displays no more aggression and acts no more unreasonably than Senna did.

If one is to condemn Michael for his driving, surely we must also remove the rose-tinted spectacles and see Ayrton for what he was – a similarly aggressive driver who would stop at nothing to win. Some may think such behaviour essential to win a World Championship, but I rather think Fangio disproved that. Five times.

Jim Shearing, Fareham, Hampshire

Compliments to the Captain

Sir,

I’ve just picked up the August issue of Motor Sport. I love the magazine because of its insight to the racing world and, of course, the interviews.

I have been an admirer of Roger Penske and his accomplishments since I began to understand both international and American auto racing. You can hardly find an in-depth interview with the Captain, therefore I have read this one twice – and before the week is over I’ll read it again!

To me he represents what being first class is all about, from his early racing career, to his many business accomplishments and his astonishing racing accolades. In all these years I have never seen the man lose his composure when addressing an infuriating episode, a poor judgment call by a driver or team member, or someone else on the grid. The Penske name represents class, ethical behaviour on and off track, and leadership through example.

I enjoyed the insight provided by Simon Taylor’s interview. In 2000 at the first Porsche Rennsport Reunion at Lime Rock, the Captain was on track, driving that fabulous Porsche 917 developed and raced by Mark Donohue. Busy as he always is, he found the time to autograph a book my son brought to him.

Great piece, guys!

Joe Machado, Miami, Florida

Letter of the month

Lost respect for Schuey

Sir,

When it was announced that Michael Schumacher was coming out of retirement I looked forward to the new season. I always thought there was much to admire about him – not only his speed and skill, but also his boundless work ethic and the obvious pleasure he took simply in the act of driving. I didn’t think he’d tarnish his image even if all he did was trundle around in the midfield. Staying well past their sell-by date hasn’t harmed our view of Denny Hulme’s or Graham Hill’s careers.

The reason I explain this is that I don’t want to be dismissed as just another anti-Schumacher nut. But what has, I think, irrevocably damaged his reputation is his treatment of Barrichello at the Hungarian GP. It wasn’t just that he tried to drive Rubens into a wall at 180mph, he also felt it necessary to disparage him afterwards. Schumacher even admitted what he did was carried out in the full knowledge of where Rubens was on the track, this to a man who sacrificed his own chances of success for Michael on numerous occasions during their years at Ferrari. And all this for 10th place.

No one, no matter how many races or titles they’ve won, is entitled to behave like that. A 10-place grid penalty is ludicrous for such a dangerous and deliberate act. He should have had his superlicence suspended, if not permanently withdrawn.

Schumacher no longer deserves anyone’s respect or admiration.

Mark Bowley, Coalville, Leicestershire

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