Study in red

I think I am slowly coming to terms with Sebastian being a Ferrari driver from the next year on. At first I hated the thought of it, but the more I think about it, the more I think that I will be able to accept it.

Apparently Sebastian has engineered an amazing deal for himself with 25m a year plus bonuses (according to Sport Bild), furthermore Ferrari have always been fine with the personal sponsorship deals (which years ago lured Michael to them at the first place), and it is a lot of money, even compared to his 22m contract with Red Bull. I don’t actually think that there is something bad about choosing a better paying company.

Apparently his condition was that Alonso had to go, which is not surprising at all. And this point I find totally understandable, he doesn’t seem like a person who would be happy to play the mind games that Fernando excels at. Except he seems to have lost this round to Seb. According to the Sport Bild, Fernando was fairly pissed after his talk with Mattiacci on Thursday, the day before Seb told he was leaving Red Bull. So basically Sebastian has left Fernando with very limited bargaining power: he can’t stay at Ferrari, he is not going to Red Bull, Mercedes have two very good drivers, and Alonso seems to be the last person you would hire to improve the relationships inside the team. He is left with McLaren.

Ferrari has a mythos around it, this mythos is valid. They have been there forever, they used to be synonymous with F1 for so many years, they have the highest amount of trophies to their name. Ferrari have history, and being so much in love with the history of motorsport, Sebastian wants to write his own. I remember that interview done by Spiegel.tv. “Ich bin kein Schumacher, ich bin ein Vettel” (I am not a Schumacher, I am a Vettel) said the 12 year old Sebastian. Now he has four titles to his name, the experience and confidence that he can do what Schumacher once did. If Seb pulls it off he is a legend.

One may think that leaving Red Bull now is a betrayal, that Seb’s jumping ship. And to be honest to some extent he is. Red Bull has been on the top of the cycle for four years, and now they are inevitably going down. With less involvement from Newey, with the Renault motors they are stuck with, they will need at least a couple of years to regroup if they are to be on the very top to challenge Mercedes. It’s the same time Ferrari needs to build themselves up with the new people and the new hopes. Sebastian now did what Lewis did two years ago, he has left the team that has brought him up for the new challenge. He actually uses the same rhetorics Lewis used back then. Lewis made the right choice, and I hope that Sebastian made a right bet as well. I want him to manage what Alonso failed at.

I don’t know how I will manage my negative feelings towards Ferrari and my adoration towards Seb, but I somehow managed it with Lewis and Mercedes, it’s just going to be the round two. After all it takes 22 to tango, after all F1 is one big family quarreling about the estate.

I will still love Red Bull, they have something very special, and I want them to do well through the much tougher times that they have been having this year. I want them to keep pushing, and I am sure they will. Daniel has proven that he can do the job, he has pretty much outpaced the four times world champion. I am not sure about Kvyat, though. It is a gamble, it’s a huge gamble. But I am very happy that Red Bull went with their programme, that they didn’t go shopping for someone with a name to pay for. Next year they will have at least 20 more million to put into the car and one proven driver. It will be tough for the marketing department, though. It’s going to be hard to sell a Russian in Europe, or in fact anywhere in the world but Russia. Daniil though is as much a Russian as Nico Rosberg is a German. And in general I think that nationality is fairly irrelevant in F1. I just hope he does well and doesn’t cause too much of a fluctuation in the team, that he can build the sort of relationships with the guys that Sebastian and Daniel have built over the years. That he feels at home in the team and that the team feels good about him. Open mindedness gained through years of international experience may help him with this.

I think Christian is not entirely honest, saying that he was taken aback by Seb’s decision. People must have known before, I am not sure that Kenny leaving, or being let go, is a coincidence. And Seb has told them as soon as his deal with Ferrari was done, I don’t think that the timing of the announcement was bad. And Red Bull must have given a thought to what they do if Seb leaves. They had a plan, and PR wise they have handled the situation fairly well, announcing the driver line up, not to give a ground to any speculations. Christian seemed hurt, though, on more than just professional level. As did Dr. Marko. Sebastian reportedly was in tears, when he told his team in the morning, and that tweet from Stu is heartbreaking. Sebastian is obviously leaving a very happy place, and people who are dear to him. But he moves on, and the only thing left is to wish him to succeed at what he does.

Unicorns and eagles or a National question

After the chequered flag falls and the winner is established, a national anthem is played to honour his success and the success of his team. Every time I hear a national anthem on the podium I ask myself whether it is actually appropriate. Every time a national anthem is played I ask myself whether Formula One is a sports where the nationality matters.

The general bias towards own countrymen in the media is probably not even worth mentioning: British Sky or BBC obviously have their affections towards Hamilton, Button, or di Riesta; RTL puts Vettel, Rosberg or Hülkenberg to the centre of their coverage. To some not negligible extent Formula One has been perceived by many as a playground for a British-German(-Italian) motor racing rivalry, and it probably not that far from the reality. But the more people and me myself are talking about the national element in Formula One the more I ask myself whether there actually is any logical reason to pay so much attention to the nationality in racing. (more…)

Red Bull in controversy or How to do it wrong

It is not even funny any more, the whole Red Bull thing. I was naïve enough to hope that it was gone, after the statement was issued by the team, stating they will deal with it internally. I obviously was wrong, and now, with the Chinese GP under way, the whole Red Bull drama is getting bigger and bigger. They even manage to beat Pirelli on their share of pre-race commentary, and that’s big!

Sebastian Vettel spoke to the media yesterday providing an example of how to do it in a wrong way.

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