FOL­LOW­ING MICHAEL

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

Soon af­ter Michael Schu­macher re­tired in 2006, a new home tal­ent stepped into the very big shoes Michael had just va­cated. In 2008, Se­bas­tian Vet­tel’s tal­ent was vis­i­ble to ev­ery­one. Later, his four ti­tles con­firmed it.

The sit­u­a­tion re­minded me of our neigh­bour­ing coun­try. Jochen Rindt brought Aus­tria to F1 promi­nence in 1970. Af­ter Rindt was killed, be­com­ing the only post­hu­mous cham­pion in F1 history, Niki Lauda fol­lowed in his foot­steps. Aus­tria em­braced their new star. How­ever, Ger­many still hasn’t fallen in love with Vet­tel. Out­side of Ger­many this causes sur­prise. Vet­tel is a more easy-go­ing per­son than Michael. More emo­tional. More open to talk about his pro­fes­sion. But less will­ing to talk about his pri­vate life. Hence he is not fea­tured on our TV chan­nel RTL, nor in the coun­try’s big­gest tabloid. Vet­tel has his sup­port­ers among hard­core fans, but not within the wider F1-watch­ing com­mu­nity.

Schu­macher had the ad­van­tage of be­ing first. There has to be two gen­er­a­tions in be­tween, then peo­ple would ac­cept a ‘new Schu­macher’. Schu­macher di­vided the fans into peo­ple who loved or hated him, not by what he said, but by what he did. He was ei­ther out­stand­ingly good or out­stand­ingly rude on the cir­cuit. Vet­tel is, in many ways, too clean. He re­ceived most re­spect when he proved he could be as tough as Michael. When he said that team-mate Mark Web­ber did not de­serve to win in the ‘Multi-21’ af­fair in Malaysia 2013, Vet­tel got the credit. “That’s what Schu­macher would have done.” Michael Sch­midt, chief For­mula 1 cor­re­spon­dent for Auto Mo­tor und Sport rapid changes. But soon the Ges­tione Sportiva was launched into a re­cov­ery plan by Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and oth­ers, who had played a key role in Michael’s two driv­ers’ ti­tles with Benet­ton. This gave Michael the strength and condence to plug through ve years of wait­ing, be­fore clinch­ing the rst of his ve cham­pi­onships with Fer­rari in 2000.

Schu­macher knew things would get bet­ter. Vet­tel doesn’t have that lux­ury as Fer­rari’s 2015 tech­ni­cal line-up is all-new to him – with no fa­mil­iar faces from Red Bull. This makes Vet­tel’s abil­ity to gel with the tech­ni­cal staff even more im­pres­sive, cre­at­ing a work­ing rap­port that has been ab­sent for a while at Maranello.

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