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  • Jacob Sweetman: When the racers can’t even race


Jacob Sweetman: When the racers can’t even race

When it turns out that your only supporters are Boris Becker and the Sportsdesk, you know that you are in trouble. Ask Sebastian Vettel. He had the audacity to win a race by, you know, racing, and the whole sport has massed against him.

I have been starting this blog about Sebastian Vettel for the last three hours. At 8am there was a hint of an idea, a pique of interest towards a subject that could have been, if not really interesting, that at least held my attention for the 700 necessary words, and we could have all got back on happily with our lives. But I was just hitting the keys. It was Keith Moon playing the Bach Organ Concerto in A minor.


At 9am this had changed – I looked back outside, hoping that the snow had gone and that normal service had been resumed in this cold and bitter world that seemingly hates me so. But it hadn’t. I started listlessly typing words out. Something about Jimmy Hoffa riding Shergar around the track of the Malaysian Grand Prix whilst masturbating to the North Korean national anthem. Needless to say, this didn’t work out either. Past 10am I typed the words “Sebastian Vettel in Berlin” into Google with the hope that I might find something relevant to tie the whole thing together and found a video of such astonishing dullness that it formed a mass of disinterest in my gut so swollen that its own gravitational field threatened to collapse in on itself and engulf the Sportsdesk in an apathetic supernova of biblical proportions.

I urge you dear reader, do not type the words “Sebastian Vettel Berlin” into Google and watch the resulting video if you have any sense of self regard, and sense of the joy and beauty of life that you were, hopefully, born with.

This was all for a good reason, of course. I have always had a problem with Formula One racing, well at least the people who like Formula One racing, but at least in the old days it was called Formula One racing. It was, I would reassure myself on an icy Sunday with little else to do, at least a race. But now the German world champion Sebastian Vettel has pissed off the entire world by having the audacity to have actually raced his teammate mark Webber so much so that his only defenders are Boris Becker and me. With friends like that, who needs enemies, eh? Even Das Bild called him a dirtbag.

Let’s go back to the start. Vettel, who is threatening to overtake that dodgy, dull demigod Michael Schumacher in the race into the flinty hearts of Germany’s racing fans, was explicitly told not to overtake his teammate Mark Webber in the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday. It was all to do with the team plans, the acutely worked-out strategy that would give Red Bull the top two positions on the podium – Webber had apparently “powered down” (which seems like a weird enough idea in the first place), and it was all about self-preservation from this point on. Vettel didn’t give a shit. He pushed and pushed, roaring past his partner to win before knocking off an apology to the assorted TV crews of such glorious disingenuousness that it could have come from Dick Nixon himself.

It was remarkably entertaining, and was certainly good sport, even if it was somehow deemed unsporting. Then the self-righteous opprobrium rang down on him. All the way through this, though I asked myself: “But wasn’t this a race?” Nobody answered, apart from the lifeless Formula One fans whose voices I have managed over years of practice, to fuse out to the point where they now only come to me as a featureless hum remarkably reminiscent of the sound made by the sport that they constantly talk about.

The only selling point that Formula One has to people like me is in the danger of these guys throwing themselves around a track at hundreds of miles an hour trying to win. The only joy comes in the knowledge that their internal organs are being pushed up against their rib cages with unimaginable (to cowards like me) G-forces in the pursuit of one another and the glory of victory. If that is removed, then what is left?

I’ll tell you what is left. Just type the words “Sebastian Vettel in Berlin” into Google and watch the video that it shits out at you. If it’s not a race, then it’s just a parade of fast cars doing what boring, moustachioed men in headphones tell them to do.

So Sebastian, there will always be a spot here in Berlin for you. Maybe you can bring Boris Becker too. We could have a party, or a race. Wait til you see that one on Youtube.