I’m of two, maybe three minds on this.
David Coulthard’s latest column for the Telegraph either shows just how quickly the spin machine begins for the next Formula 1 season or demonstrates that both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are, maybe, a bit above the nasty scrapings that many of us project upon them.
Or it’s in the middle. Or something else entirely.
You be the judge. Here’s excerpts from DC:
Sebastian is on cloud nine; stunned. Since taking the chequered flag in Abu Dhabi to become F1â€™s youngest world champion, his life has changed beyond all recognition. He doesnâ€™t even realise it yet. But in the midst of the madness he has also been impressively sensitive to his team-mateâ€™s feelings.
Mark, who lost out on the final day, is on the canvas at the moment and Seb is fully aware that without him he would not be where he is.
I know they spent a whole hour after the race in the driversâ€™ room on Sunday night talking it all over, which from Sebastianâ€™s perspective is quite a thing when you have just won the world championship and everyone is outside getting drunk.
In fact â€” and it might sound strange for a team which made a name for itself as the wild child of the paddock on its arrival six years ago â€” there hasnâ€™t really been a huge release of emotion yet. There was only time for a few drinks at the Yas Hotel on Sunday night before we were back at our hotels packing for the trip to Dubai airport.
I was lucky enough to be part of an intimate group â€” together with the drivers, team principal Christian Horner, chief technical officer Adrian Newey and Red Bullâ€™s marketing and PR managers â€” who flew over to Red Bullâ€™s headquarters near Salzburg together on Monday.
Rather than being raucous, the mood on the way over was one of enormous pride and satisfaction. Sebastian and Mark sat next to each other and dozed and talked. It felt really special to be a part of it.
Which brings us back to the drivers. There has been some speculation over whether Mark will stay on next season but there is no doubt in my mind. Mark has pushed Sebastian hard for two years running. He has come up short by the narrowest of margins. Who is to say he wonâ€™t come out on top next year?
A lot has been made of the fact that Mark said he felt the team do not support him emotionally in the same way as they do Sebastian.
Fine, I have said before I know where he is coming from in this regard. And there is no denying that Sebastian is the perfect fit for Red Bull.
But the fact is Mark gets equal treatment and Red Bull will take even more encouragement from their success using that strategy this year.
There are 119 days before the next season kicks off and he will go away and reflect on what worked and what didnâ€™t. He will come back stronger.
So will Sebastian. This boy has the lot but, as I alluded to before, what I like most about him is his maturity, his sincerity and his openness. Those virtues about to be tested to the max.
Those are the “exciting” bits, I think. And we have to keep in mind that DC is playing a divided game here: columnist but also RBR consultant (I think that’s the right term). So while I don’t think he’d exactly fudge things, I do expect him to put a positive spin on what he sees.
And here’s where my BS detector goes off a little: “I know they spent a whole hour after the race in the driversâ€™ room on Sunday night talking it all over, which from Sebastianâ€™s perspective is quite a thing when you have just won the world championship and everyone is outside getting drunk.”
Correct me if I’m wrong, but until the teams managed to get back to the hotel, there wasn’t any drinking. And I bet even then, given the race location, there wasn’t anyone getting drunk. (And, yes, from a Western perspective, that might be another reason not to hold a final race there — and I’m not trying to make a value judgement. Just pointing out that there is going to be a cultural strain in that moment that could be avoided.)
So I’m not 100% sure what to make of what I think is the most interesting detail in DC’s column. (Their sitting next to each other on the flight is the other interesting factoid.) I am not trying to say that there’s still this deep, burning rivalry (although given we’re talking about two F1 drivers, there’s going to be a lot of competitive drive, for sure). It’s just that the strings feel like they start to unravel there, and then I begin to think more about DC’s role with Red Bull than about his role with the Telegraph.
Does that make sense? Or has Grace trained me so hard to find the pebble of discord everywhere I look? (The F1B training sessions are extremely thorough that way.)