“Meet Sebastian Vettel” review

Review

Meet Sebastian Vettel

Meet Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel is one of six world champions on the grid this year. Sadly, neither he nor his fellow champions are well-served by English-language biographies.

You can forget about reading up on Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen for starters. There are a few, mostly fawning, books on Michael Schumacher, though James Allen’s Michael Schumacher: The Edge of Greatness is an exception.

Inevitably it’s the British drivers who have the most English-language books written on them but even here the pickings are slim.

Take Lewis Hamilton, for example: when he burst onto the F1 scene in 2007, biographers were quick to take advantage of the popular but little-known new star.

As that championship drew to a close a succession of around half-a-dozen Hamilton biographies appeared and while a couple may have been worthy of your time the majority were flimsy, uninteresting cash-ins – not least of which the dreary authorised Hamilton biography.

Vettel made his F1 debut the same year as Hamilton. But while there have been a handful of books on him for the German market this is the first English-language biography of Vettel I’ve come across.

Even so the glossy, 142-page book has the unmistakeable feel of a cash-in. Much of the space in the book is given over to images and the large typeface used leaves you with very little reading to do.

The text is translated from the work of Italian journalists Andrea Cremonesi and Marco Degl’Innocenti, who published Sebastian Vettel: La storia e la carriera del piu giovane vincitore di un Gran Premio del Formula Uno last year. In places the leaden prose makes it very clear you are reading a book that’s been translated.

But this is far from the worst thing about this book.

The organisation of the opening chapters is a baffling affair, making the book rather difficult to get into in the first place. It begins with a much-vaunted “exclusive” interview with Vettel, in which we get to learn all about what music he likes and what he thinks of the layout change made at Silverstone two years ago – less than riveting stuff.

The book then jumps around between ordinary prose and Q&As with other people. The disorientating feel is not helped by the vast swathes of images which break up the text for 20 pages at a time in places.

We learn little about Vettel that could not have been gleaned from headlines. In the chapter titled “from karts to F1″ his junior racing career is covered in less than four paragraphs, and by the end of the first page he’s reached Formula 1 with BMW.

You might expect matters to improve when we reach the more familiar territory of Vettel’s F1 career. But no, it continues to regurgitate stories we’ve heard plenty of times before, and offers no new analysis, no insight, no revelations, not even any interesting new quotes.

What few details there are manage to get repeated: twice we are told who was the last driver to win a race in an Italian car other than a Ferrari, prior to Vettel’s breakthrough victory at Monza in 2008.

There seems little need to belabour the point: I was not at all impressed with Meet Sebastian Vettel. It reads more like a poorly-written forum post than a book with a ??15 retail price.

Aged just 24, Sebastian Vettel has the motor racing world at his feet, has won the world championship twice and is in the process of demolishing every record in the book.

This book somehow manages to make his story boring, and completely fails to do justice to one of the foremost talents of our generation. Avoid it.

Meet Sebastian Vettel: rating

Rating one out of five

Buy Meet Sebastian Vettel (UK)

Buy Meet Sebastian Vettel (USA)

Meet Sebastian Vettel: The Story of Formula One’s Youngest Champion
Andrea Cremonesi and Marco Degl’Innocenti
Published by Souvenir Press
ISBN: 9780285640856

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50 comments on “Meet Sebastian Vettel” review

  1. Mahir C said on 26th February 2012, 23:56

    I don’t think boring books like this are the result of bland driver personalities only. Such driver biographies made sense some 15-20 years ago; the racing life of a champion, how he rose up the ranks would make a good if not a very interesting read back then. At least you had somebody who had gone through the trouble of digging and collecting difficult to find information for you. Now with the vast amount of information on the net totally unnecessary. Go and read their wiki page and you’ll learn 80% of what the book is about, actually it is better than the book because it will never go out of date.

  2. bearforce1 said on 27th February 2012, 6:00

    Surely there might be a good version in German. A good translation might be the ticket if someone was smart enough.

  3. coefficient (@coefficient) said on 27th February 2012, 11:06

    You didn’t like then?

  4. Dave In NZL (now Aus). said on 27th February 2012, 22:23

    I have met Sebastian Vettel – as I’m sure many of you have – and he was very enjoyable to talk with. In 2007 at the Melbourne GP he was doing publicity work for BMW at a mall during the race weekend and had plenty of time to talk with the fans, albeit in hilarious, short Germanglish sentences. No funny stories, but opinions of cars and racetracks etc.

    I have the odd day dream about telling him to watch out for Webber at Fuji and that we would win in the rain at Monza in the next year.

  5. celeste (@celeste) said on 27th February 2012, 22:39

    I think that Vettel is very interesting as a driver and as a personality. His interviews are a funny by any standard, he seem to have a rich life on and out the racetrack (he is interesting enough to be Kimi´s friend).

    But the same as he is interesting he is also very private, never taking his girlfriend on tracks, his family almost never speak to the press, he is not a party-celebrity type of person… so I guess that beside what Vettel tell for himself, he has allowed his friends and family to speak about or Red Bull give us we are not gonna get any more new information…

  6. Chelseano161997 (@chelseano161997) said on 22nd May 2012, 22:00

    I’m glad I noticed your review of this book as I saw it reviewed on a Vettel Forum and they gave it a better review. I was considering buying it to learn more about Seb.

    If I buy a biography then I want to read about things I wouldn’t learn from Google etc. I read quite a lot of biographies but never of a motorsport nature. I’ve only really piqued my interest in F1 in the last couple of years so I’m still a newbie.

    I was always critical of Seb when I first started watching the odd bits of races but since seeing him win the 2WC’s and his apperance on Top Gear I have begun to see him a new light. He seems a funny guy and it would be interesting to know how someone so young managed to achieve such an amazing feet but in his own words from a first person perspective and not someone rehashing web stories.

    Maybe I should ask Red Bull if I could write his official biography when I go to Silverstone this year! I wouldn’t mind travelling around a few tracks for a while to get some exclusive access! If they say yes I will of course be asking my fellow F1 Fanatics if there is anything in particular they would like to know! I’ll keep you posted!

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