Not all heroes wear capes. Some drive a Formula 1 car fast, very fast and even when they come out of the car, help in removing dirt and filth that passionate fans leave behind being totally absorbed by a Grand Prix saga. Think of a Smooth Operator in Formula 1 and you think of Carlos Sainz Jr. But think of an ecological warrior, and you have Sebastian Vettel of Heppenheim. A four-time world champion, record-breaking driver, the only man who, from the Ferrari stable- 2015 to 2020- took the fight to Sir Lewis Hamilton, and yet, a man who considers himself ordinary and simple at heart, despite all that he’s gone to achieve.
And what Sebastian Vettel has achieved in Formula 1, besides big fat paycheques and four individual world titles for being the top-most driver for as many years (consecutive), is enormous respect.
It’s hard for drivers to contend with the fact that they finish a race prematurely in the wake of a DNF (did not finish). It’s harder to maintain sanity for, at least, a few hours since their race retirement or in the event of driving a terrible Grand Prix.
Yet, Sebastian Vettel fits in the role of a hero perfectly well, for at the end of the recent controversy-plagued, action-packed British Grand Prix, the Aston Martin driver put on a face mask, changed from the bright green racing suit into a casual Aston Martin T and shorts and began cleaning litter from the Silverstone Grand stands.
Which other Formula 1 driver, would do such a thing?
This is when Vettel had endured a DNF in the race, having spun out in the mid stage, looping around and running over the grass at the side of the track, his race later compromised due to a technical malfunction of the car, which forced him to retire.
Make no mistake. This was the second back to back occasion where Sebastian Vettel didn’t finish in points. The previous race, at Austria, saw Raikkonen in his Alfa Romeo collect Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin, in an unceremonious and pitiable move that should really have seen the most experienced driver on the grid conducting himself better.
In an age where it’s simply easy and a matter of seconds within which Formula 1 drivers, much like athletes in other sports sugar coat words of wisdom, encouraging people to do something good toward the environment or the planet but themselves do little to lead by an example, Sebastian Vettel is an exception.
Well, he didn’t make a huge hue or cry about the fact that he volunteered to clean up the litter in the aftermath of the British GP, where he could simply have sat out, and gathered himself after a heartbreak in the race, drenching himself into one glass too many- so to speak- to come off it.
He didn’t even post pictures of his cleaning up act, and how would that even be possible when Sebastian Vettel neither has an official Twitter handle or a Facebook page, whilst an Insta handle does exist with perhaps Vettel not taking any interest to self-promote himself in any way.
Make no mistake. The 34-year-old hasn’t lost an iota of the zest for competing. This year alone, he brought up Aston Martin’s maiden podium, albeit in a luck-assisted manner, at Baku. That P2 would go a long way to tell critics that the man is far from over. Well, when Kimi is still hanging out and doing a decent job at 40, especially given his race starts, then Sebastian Vettel still has a lot to offer- does he not?
Moreover, since Baku, Vettel’s upped his qualifying game, outpacing a much young teammate in Lance Stroll on several occasions. Is another podium or two in the works?
Come Hungary and our thoughts will rewind to the mesmerising 2017 Hungarian GP win, which Vettel won in a clinical fashion, with his former Ferrari teammate Raikkonen claiming an important second.