Vettel and the mysterious origins of his one fingered salute


Sebastian Vettel’s one finger salute has been a major source of irritation for many Formula 1 fans but, love it or loathe it, it has become his trademark but the origin of the gesture has just become more confusing after his former Formula Renault boss Trevor Carlin tried to explain how it came about.

Carlin told Sky Sport, “He was massively fast and in his first season for us he decided to take Eau Rouge flat in a wet race. He had a massive accident and while he was trying to catch the accident his front wheel came off, flew over the car and caught the top of his finger – and took the top of his finger off.”

“The next day he turned up at the circuit with a big bandage on his finger – and still smiling despite not being able to race. But the top of his finger had broken off and they had to stitch it back on,” added Carlin.

But we have uncovered a photo of Vettel during his Formula BMW days dated April 2004 which clearly shows the braces wearing Vettel grinning and giving it the finger, thus casting doubt on Carlin’s theory.

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - MARCH 29:  Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Ferrari celebrates on the podium after winning the Malaysia Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang Circuit on March 29, 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)

Whatever the origins, Vettel’s one finger salute irked his rivals and certain fans, as it was a common sight in parc ferme during his dominant years between 2010 and 2013, with Red Bull, in which he racked up 38 wins, over 40 pole positions and four world titles – to celebrate each occasion up popped his finger.

Vettel himself became aware of the effect his salute had but was unrepentant and said in 2013, “We have had a little bit of a chat as some people for some reason seem to get offended. But I think the most important thing is you are who you are and stick to that.”

In 2014 Vettel endured a relatively unsuccessful season and the one finger salute was almost forgotten until it re-emerged when he took victory, his first as a Ferrari driver, in the Malaysian Grand Prix earlier this year.

This season he also went on to win in Hungary and Singapore which of course again prompted the gesture, and with Mercedes so dominant in Formula 1 in recent years, many would now welcome more regular appearances of the famous one fingered salute on the podium.