Sebastian Vettel was braced for booing from the moment he beat Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso to the chequered flag in Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.
The triple Formula 1 champion is no stranger to the Monza podium and knew what was in store.
Red Bull’s 26-year-old German had won twice before at the cathedral of Italian motorsport, the ‘Pista Magica’ outside Milan where the passionate ‘tifosi’ form a red-shirted throng worshipping everything Ferrari and making sure that the rest know where they stand.
“I said on the radio on the in-lap (back to the pits after the flag) that the more booing we get, the better we have done today. It’s normal,” he said after hearing the crowd’s disapproval loud and clear from the podium.
“I don’t blame the people to be honest, I think their love of Ferrari is in their genes. It’s something very special,” added Vettel, whose first win at Monza in 2008 was met with cheers because he was triumphant for the Italian-based Toro Rosso team.
While the crowd booed Vettel, who has now won half the races this season and has a stranglehold on what will in all
likelihood be his fourth successive title, they generously cheered Alonso who finished the race in second place without ever threatening Vettel’s lead.
The Spaniard, despite media coverage suggesting rifts between him and the Maranello-based team (that both sides have denied) clearly felt the love even as he fell 53 points behind Vettel.
“Every time I leave an airport, the hotel, home, everywhere here in Italy there’s huge support, huge love from them and me to them as well and to the team,” he said.
Sunday’s race was no thriller, the fastest track on the calendar serving up one of the dullest rounds of the season, and that – as well as a feeling that Vettel is killing the championship – may have triggered more booing.
Red Bull principal Christian Horner refused to see it as any reflection on his team or driver, however.
“I think anybody racing a Ferrari and beating a Ferrari at Monza, in Italy, is never going to be cheered,” he said.
“It was inevitable that there was not going to be a big reaction for Sebastian beating Fernando Alonso in front of the tifosi that have come to cheer their car and team around. So I don’t think it surprised any of us, the reaction that there was.
“If anything it fuels the motivation certainly of Sebastian just to go out there and continue to improve.”
Red Bull’s Australian Mark Webber, making his first visit to the Monza podium as the third-placed finisher, felt the crowd could have shown a bit more respect to the winner even if he escaped their ire.
“Sebastian won the race and the atmosphere is not completely correct but anyway…that’s their choice,” he said. (Reuters)
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