Sebastian Vettel says he finds it difficult to comprehend the comparisons made between him and the other all-time great drivers of the sport.
Vettel’s fourth world championship title puts him in very select company: only four drivers in F1 history have managed to win so many titles.
“It?óÔé¼Ôäós very difficult to understand,” said Vettel after the race.
“Put it this way, I was watching TV, I was watching Formula One when Fernando [Alonso] started to win races and now I?óÔé¼Ôäóm racing Fernando, he?óÔé¼Ôäós been my toughest opponent for the last couple of years.
“I think he?óÔé¼Ôäós extremely talented, very gifted behind the wheel, for sure. He?óÔé¼Ôäós Spanish, he?óÔé¼Ôäós very passionate, one way and the other. Now, to race people like him, race people like Lewis [Hamilton] who I think has an amazing level of natural talent, to race people like Mark [Webber] who I rate the same way, like Nico [Rosberg] who I think is underestimated. A lot of guys, you know: Kimi [Raikkonen], Jenson [Button].
“To win four titles, I don?óÔé¼Ôäót know, it?óÔé¼Ôäós just a big number, you know? Four titles. [Juan Manuel] Fangio put the number of five titles, everybody appreciated him as the best driver in the world.
“Michael [Schumacher] came along a couple of years later or – couple of years, quite many years later – different time, different era of the sport. Don?óÔé¼Ôäót get me wrong, I?óÔé¼Ôäóm just talking as a fan of the sport, you know? Yes, he had a very dominant car but he created that at Ferrari, you know? He was working very hard, arguably harder than everybody else.
“He had some tough challenges coming in and going out: people like [Juan Pablo] Montoya, David [Coulthard], Kimi, Fernando. It?óÔé¼Ôäós incredible that one guy managed to actually score more championships than this guy did.
“Unfortunately Fangio passed away but when you speak to true legends of the sport, in my opinion, like Stirling Moss, they actually have the guts to say that… fuck, this guy was better than me, he deserved to win and Stirling Moss for sure was not a… he finished twice I don?óÔé¼Ôäót know how many times, three/four times in the championship?
“To join people like that: Michael, Fangio, Prost is very difficult to put into perspective. I?óÔé¼Ôäóm way too young to understand what it means. I might be sixty one day, maybe then I will understand but nobody cares any more. I care, it?óÔé¼Ôäós difficult to realise something that nobody can take away from you, basically.”
“They boo because they are Ferrari fans”
“I had actually one guy writing a letter after Singapore,” said Vettel. “He apologised because he was in the crowd and he was booing and he apologised that he was booing, it was the wrong thing to do.”
“I think if people think about it they understand but in the heat of the moment, you know, there?óÔé¼Ôäós nobody really to blame. Somebody starts, some people join in, others don?óÔé¼Ôäót.
“We are fans of the sport and if some people have a passion for Ferrari, which they might have for good reason, they?óÔé¼Ôäóve been around for quite a while, they don?óÔé¼Ôäót like it if somebody else wins. It?óÔé¼Ôäós not necessarily my fault. I think I?óÔé¼Ôäóm mature enough to understand that.”
“I don?óÔé¼Ôäót blame people,” Vettel added. “They boo because they are Ferrari fans.”
“At the time it hurts, as I said, not to get the reception that you expect but at the same time, I think I?óÔé¼Ôäóm clever enough to understand why they do it. I?óÔé¼Ôäóm not blaming them. Maybe if I would be a fan of McLaren, Ferrari, whatever, one of the traditional teams, I wouldn?óÔé¼Ôäót like it if the same kind of guys, same team wins again and again.”
Vettel said it matters more to him to gain the respect of his peers: “I think the most important thing for me is to get the respect from people that I know and people that I race against. I feel respected amongst the drivers.
“Sure you have to fight to get that respect when you come in but I?óÔé¼Ôäóm not blaming the fans. It?óÔé¼Ôäós very difficult for the fans, to be honest, to understand what?óÔé¼Ôäós going on behind the scenes because they get a little of an idea of who we are but it?óÔé¼Ôäós impossible for everyone to introduce yourself and to explain what kind of guy you are.
“But then again, it?óÔé¼Ôäós nice to give a little bit back to people you meet, at the hotel, at the track, outside of the track, maybe when you?óÔé¼Ôäóre shopping, people that recognise you. Therefore, I think it?óÔé¼Ôäós important that you get the respect from people that you really know. Others, I think, will always struggle, there will always be pros and cons, speaking for and against you.”
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Images ?é?® Red Bull/Getty