Verstappen, Vettel

Reader Rights: Advocates for Safety? Or Hysterical Fans?

Verstappen, Vettel

I’ll take my chances and ask the question: Where are all of the people who for the past two weeks have been accusing Vettel of being a homicidal maniac for banging wheels at 30 mph on a straight behind the safety car at Baku?

They are all here cheering for a race where numerous drivers did the same and worse at racing speeds with multiple instances of running each other off the track thrown in, that’s where they are. What we had this week was auto racing that was close and competitive, and we all loved it.

Differences? Distinctions? Of course. The action Vettel was penalized for was intentional and clearly the result of a loss of temper. How much of what took place at Silverstone was intentional? A lot of it, obviously. Sure, there were some innocent victims, but some of them became the perpetrators in the following corner.

But what Vettel was penalized for at Baku was dangerous driving. Is banging wheels at race speeds in corners any less dangerous than banging wheels at 30 mph on a straight behind the safety car? No, it isn’t. It’s definitely more dangerous. Did we see multiple injuries and medivac helicopters this week at Silverstone? We did not.

Personally, I’m all in favor of the racing we saw this week at Silverstone. Should there have been a lot more penalties handed out and the race ruined because everyone and his brother served 10-second stop-and-goes? I don’t think so, It certainly would have completely changed the character of a race that turned out to be a bit of a masterpiece.

Let’s get back to Vettel in Baku. Was his penalty justified? Of course it was. What he did was intentional and childish, and it perfectly matched the intent of the regulation the FIA applied. What I am questioning is the hysteria that ensued from Vettel’s action.

They said Vettel had anger issues that needed to be sanctioned with a race ban in order to save lives.

They said we needed to get this maniac off the track before he killed someone.

They spoke as if two world champions banging wheels at 30 mph might have resulted in smashed carbon fiber tubs and fatal injuries.

They said that what F1 drivers do on the track will be modeled by drivers on the road and that F1 drivers should set a good example for impressionable drivers.

Where are those people this week?

They’re over the moon about a fantastic race. It was “rubbin’ and racin'” and wasn’t it great? This is what Formula One racing is all about, right? All of that hysteria about safe driving is conspicuous by its absence following this race at Silverstone. It’s clear that most of the outrage expressed about the “dangerous” incident at Baku was partisan and contrived, to say the least.

Here’s hoping that the rest of the races this season will be as close and competitive and hard fought as this one at Silverstone.

Reader Rights Opinion by Ray Wilson