A picture into Sebastian Vettel
What his one-finger salute reveals about the F1 World Champion...
By Pete Gill
Last Updated: 02/10/13 3:45pm
With a little stretch of the imagination, you might suggest it reveals precisely what he thinks about the abuse he has been being subjected to by F1 fans in recent months, whether it actually unduly bothers him, and, with a further stretch, where his F1 career might be heading next.
The pictures are from Singapore last weekend, and could have been captured on either Saturday or Sunday. The trademark one-finger salute was on display after Vettel claimed pole position and it was there again twenty-four hours later after his crushing victory. No matter that the fans don't like it, no matter that the one-fingered victory salute has become a magnet for scorn from his critics. No matter, because, distilled to specifics, Vettel just doesn't care.
Make no mistake, Sebastian, knows about the heckles and brickbats, knows how his victory salute is perceived, and knows what's coming. He even arrived in Singapore, judging by its studied repetition, with a pre-prepared riposte about his critics being on "a world tour". And now we know, from Vettel's emphatic refusal to change is victory routine, that the booing really doesn't bother him. He might not like the abuse, but, by the looks of thing, he just doesn't care about it.
Message received loud and clear: the one-fingered salute is not only his victory routine, but also a two-fingered response to his critics.
There is something particularly impressive about Vettel's refusal to be cowed into change (his trademark victory salute dates back to his career in junior formula). Scratch a little deeper and there's also plenty that is revealing: he has a bloody-mindedness and self-assurance that few of us could even imagine, let alone replicate.
Stop and stare at Vettel's one-fingered salute because it's the definitive image of a winner's mentality.
And now let's have a final, more speculative glance at Vettel's riposte.
One of the most familiar criticisms levelled at Vettel by his detractors is that he is yet to win a title either when alongside another A-List driver or in a non-Newey car. In other words, his critics contend that Vettel has it too easy. It's a classic no-win bind: The more victories he attains, the more respect he loses in their eyes.
Now look again at Vettel as he raises his one-finger victory salute/two-fingered response. Is that the look of a driver who gives a hoot about what people think about the value of his victories? Is that the look of a driver who would contemplate stepping down a level to prove he can triumph against adversity? No, that's just a F1 driver, implacably driven by a winner's mentality, wholly devoted to the act of winning - and then winning again, and then making sure he will winning again.
It could be at Red Bull, it could be at Ferrari, or it could be at Mercedes. But it boils down to the same place. Without a care for his perception, Vettel's future is only destined for one place: a winning environment.