At the risk of needling the churlish who so unimaginatively have condemned this season’s Formula One show as a bore, I would say: Don’t be so short-sighted.
It has been a master show of rare individual genius with Sebastian Vettel reaching and passing limits that have elevated him onto a pedestal for his brilliant one-man display. It’s been history-making.
To sit back and watch the German wonderboy annihilate gifted and equally determined opposition with unmatched panache has been one of the great joys of my long association with grand-prix racing.
And it astonishes me that those ignorant of the finer aspects of this great spectacle of sport have written off the season as mundane and lacklustre.
Sure, his runaway take-over at the top end of the grid in the all-conquering Red Bull car has rendered most of the grands prix a Vettel showcase.
But for my money, that has not meant F1 has been a dreary presentation. Far from it.
Where on earth are these moaners looking? Do they not have the nous to search deeper into the races, beyond Vettel, and see the frantic activity and challenge going on behind the leading man?
If these doubters had only taken the time to adopt a wider view and study the action further down the field, they would have seen a melee of madcap rivalry at 200-plus mph firing up the likes of Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg struggling hard for the runners-up spot with fierce endeavour. Even down among the also-rans, scrapping for scant glory and the big, big money, awarded for tenth place in the championship, the battles were as tight and as thrilling as can be.
That’s why, among the genuine aficionados and appreciators of F1, the hordes still fill the stadia as they did to record levels in the grand finale at Interlagos in Brazil last weekend.
It was as if they were content to have paid to watch two separate treats at the same time: Vettel in his record-breaking pomp, even if he was not challenged up front, and the wheel-to-wheel action of those lost in his exhaust fumes.
But we should not stop there in our admiration, and here I fully agree with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, my recent lunch companion and Vettel’s backgammon opponent, who says: “Just look at the whole set-up at Red Bull. It is phenomenal.”
He meant not only the skill of a daredevil driver, but also the professional powerbrokers who give him the transport to equate with his talent — car designer Adrian Newey and team boss Christian Horner.
“We may never see their combined like again,” said Ecclestone. “So let us all enjoy it while we can.”
And, to my mind, as usual with his F1 forecasts, he is absolutely spot on.
— The writer is a motorsport expert based in the UK.