Man, not a machine

The Red Bull driver, Sebastian Vettel,walks towards the grandstand after performing a perfect donut in his RB9 at the Buddh International Circuit.-AP

Numbers reflect Sebastian Vettel’s achievements. But the 26-year-old German’s sense of gratitude to his fans came to the fore in his action and choice of words soon after becoming the youngest to win four consecutive World titles.

In what was “just a gesture of saying thank you” to his fans, Vettel stopped his car at the start-finish area, did some perfect donuts — with the tyres leaving behind some tell-tale marks — acknowledged the cheers by climbing atop the nose of the car and then tossed his gloves into the crowd in the grandstand.

After receiving the trophy for his 10th title of the season, drunk on success and champagne, Vettel walked into the press conference room and candidly shared his joy. Vettel’s answers reflected his sound upbringing, sensitivity and above all, confirmed his feet were firmly on the ground.

Acknowledging the Red Bull Racing team, Vettel said, “You could argue that I have an important job when I’m out there driving the car. No doubt, I’m aware of that but I’m not selfish, I’m not taking all the credit myself. I’m very thankful for what these guys are doing. If you look at their paycheck at the end of the month, you’d be surprised if you could do the amount of hours that they do. I think it’s better to work at McDonalds than to do what they do! ”

He valued the “feeling” racing gives him. “This morning, I looked at it (his car) and it’s a small piece of kit. But imagine the speed this car can travel with you behind the wheel. It’s amazing. I just appreciate that fact. Whether you finish first, second, 15th or last, it doesn’t really matter, but I think it’s something unique, that we get to feel, we get to enjoy. I appreciate that and hopefully this kind of feeling never changes.”

Another aspect that brought out his human side was his impression of India. “I think this country has the possibility to teach you so much. I think it’s within human nature that you always find something to complain about. Being German, maybe, it’s in my roots to find something to complain about but you come here, the majority of people have a very difficult life you would say, but they are very happy.

Obviously we don’t get to see much because it’s an isolated world. We are here in the paddock so if you get to see a little bit of the surroundings, it’s quite frightening sometimes to see the circumstances people have to live in, but the big lesson is that they are happy.”

This champion drives a machine, loves the machine but is far from being one.

Rakesh Rao