Vettel poised to add more glory

A champion with a difference, the German has the skill to rewrite all records

Vettel poised to add more glory

Sachin Tendulkar, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods, Usain Bolt, Roger Federer...

Sure, they are among the greatest sportsmen their respective sport has ever seen and there are some common traits that ensure they are, more often than not, the first names that pop up when you think of that particular sport.

They all were/ are driven, hard-working and persistent leading to one thing: dominance of their chosen sport.

It is another matter that some of these names have long since lost their former glory, but at their peak, they operated in a different zone.

 In the world of Formula One, Michael Schumacher is the name that helps people forge a connection between themselves and the sport. The seven-time world champion is statistically the greatest driver to have roamed the paddocks and is arguably the most dominant champion the world has ever seen.

 On Sunday evening, there was a sense of deja vu when Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel charged past the chequered flag to win his sixth consecutive race and his fourth successive drivers’ championship crown and the third Indian Grand Prix on the trot.

Schumacher too was that far ahead of the competition in his prime. But unlike in the case of Schumacher and several other greats who created a fan following that will remain uncontested for a long time, none of them were ‘booed’ for their dominance. None of them were sneered at for being the best in their era.

Schumacher was ‘hated’ for his ways on the track rather than disliked for his dominance. In fact, he managed to draw in the biggest crowds wherever he went despite his aloof personality.

Perhaps the ‘problem’ is that Vettel is anything but that. He is just a 26-year-old who loves driving, listening to The Beatles, hanging around the garage all night like it were his first time there, revisiting his days as a karting champion with his family and spending time understanding and remembering the history for Formula One.

“What were we dreaming about when we were young boys? When I started karting, I only wanted to know how fast I was, and after that I went to the sand and played with toy cars. We played hide and seek... it was a very nice time, to be honest. I had a lot of friends at the go-kart track, at the age of seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, when it was really about just growing up and having a hobby, you know?” Vettel, known for his immaculate knowledge of the history of the sport, said.

“Even if I wouldn’t be here in Formula One now and successful somewhere else, studying and having a normal job, I would still look back and say it was a nice time we spent together as a family and we would still talk about it every second or third dinner, because they are nice memories that we have.”

If there is one driver one could maybe compare him to in terms of style off the track, it is the legendary Ayrton Senna. While Schumacher can be categorised as more of an Alain Prost, Vettel is certainly a lot more grounded and exudes an almost anti-German trait of looking beyond the car. In that sense, Senna was the pretty much the same. 

“India has the possibility to teach you so much. The majority of people are very poor, if you compare the living standards to Europe. I think it’s within human nature that you always find something to complain about but you come here, the majority of people have a very difficult life and yet they are very happy. It’s quite frightening sometimes to see the circumstances people have to live in, but the big lesson is that they are happy,” said Vettel, sounding more and more like the Brazilian with every passing moment.

With all this knowledge, empathy, love, passion and youthful exuberance, Vettel will perhaps one day -- maybe four years from now -- win his eighth world championship title and go past Schumacher. He will still only be 30-years-old at that point. Along the way people will too probably remember that dominance is not something they disliked to begin with and rejoice in Vettel’s genius.

Four in the bag, surely Vettel has got space and hunger for more. At least three more so he can stand equal with the man he hoped to emulate when he was driving in a two-bit kart way back home.

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