Horner: It has been convenient for Vettel’s rivals to treat him as the bad guy
14 November, 2013
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has accused Fernando Alonso of encouraging his fans to boo world champion Sebastian Vettel on the podium this year, claiming that labeling the quadruple World Champion as a bad guy was part of the ploy to undermine his achievements.
Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz recently likened Spaniard Alonso’s tactics to those of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, saying the Ferrari driver is “the worst of all at the psychological warfare”.
Horner, the energy drink-owned team’s Formula 1 boss, has now directly accused Alonso of playing a role in the spate of post-race booing on the podiums in Belgium, Italy and Singapore this year.
He told BBC Five Live radio this week that Vettel’s portrayal as “the bad guy” was “convenient” for the his rivals.
Horner said, “It has been convenient for some of his rivals to treat him like that and they have encouraged it, whether that’s Fernando Alonso taking off his cap and throwing it in the crowd as soon as Sebastian talks on the podium to get a reaction.”
“The great thing about Sebastian is that he has not risen to it, but he has felt it and is hurt by it. Of course, there is this pantomime villain scenario with an X-Factor mentality.”
“The biggest thing about him is his strength of character. He doesn’t look at the internet or read newspapers about motorsport. So often he seems so uniformed, but he feels what is going on.”
“At 26 years of age, he’s hugely impressive with the way he carries himself and the way he has developed as a young man.”
“He is always under pressure, always under scrutiny. Of course, the more successful you are, the bigger the fall, and people are looking for that fall. But he has dealt with that outstandingly well,” added Horner.
Others, however, think Vettel brought his unpopularity on himself. Nico Rosberg was highly critical of the 26-year-old this year, when Vettel suggested that Red Bull is winning because the other teams don’t work as hard.
“It’s probably worthwhile talking to the fans to try to get their opinions [as to why they boo],” the Mercedes driver told Sport Bild this week.
“The more successful you are, the more people will let you know what their opinions are of you, which is why it’s important to focus on the positive people around you,” added Rosberg.
Many believe Vettel’s popularity took its sharpest dive in Malaysia this year, when he blatantly ignored a team order to the detriment of his teammate Mark Webber.
“I think after the race his initial reaction was correct,” Webber told the Daily Mail this week.
“I think he was shattered at what he had done, but his reaction two weeks later in China – when he said that he was not sorry at all – was probably not the best way to encourage people what to think of him,” he added. (GMM)
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