More jeers…a sad narrative on F1 fans

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Perhaps it’s just a “meme” (how I hate that word and everything it stands for) and something formula 1 fans feel they need to bandwagon on. Maybe it’s the attention span of a guppy or the bravery of being out of range. Then again, it could be frustration boiling over with the current state of Formula 1 or simply the odd fact that F1 fans now need someone to hate in order to enjoy the racing.

Whatever it is, no matter how daft or justifiable, it needs to stop. The incessant jeering of Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull during podium celebrations is nothing short of base behavior from the current breed of “fans”. I’d argue they aren’t true F1 fans at all if they can’t recall McLaren’s domination of the sport with Ayrton Senna (who ran his fair share of drivers off the circuit and bullied his way to victory) or Williams F1 with the respect and congratulations born from humility and appreciate for their achievements.

I here the refrain that goes like this, “not another Schumacher era with a German dominating the sport and making F1 boring!” and I have trouble understanding the sentiment as Schumacher wasn’t booed like this and I think we would all agree that he was not as personable as Vettel has been to fans and press.

Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel didn’t simply buy a F1 bot or hack that evades Punkbuster, loaded it and started winning everything. Sebastian Vettel has been driving since he was a small kid in Germany and has paid dearly for his success. Christian Horner has achieved incredible things in his 40 years including running the Arden F3000 team winning team championships. Adrian Newey has honed his craft for decades on both sides of the pond and with some of the world’s biggest motor sport teams to reach the level he has at Red Bull. Every team member has a story and has sacrificed so much to make that team what it is.

Some of the team have been there since the Stewart Ford or Jaguar days and toiled in mediocrity for years before reaching the title of World Champion—they’ve been around since 1997 and worked their tails off to get to this level! I can’t imagine how fans can be so obtuse as to not understand the sacrifice and challenge of winning in F1 while apparently cherishing their own instantaneous gratification above all else. You’ve paid a lot to the F1 gods? Let’s look at that.

How much have you actually spent on being a Formula 1 fan? Add it up. Is it a big number? Do you feel entitled? Does F1 owe you something for your dedication as a fan? What do they owe you? A vettel-less world? A villain? A world in which there is a new winner at every grand prix and no domination of the sport? Do they owe you average teams producing average results? Maybe they owe you “more passing” and the gratification of unpredictability during each grand prix weekend so you will be entertained more for your dollar? Is that Red Bull or Sebastian Vettel’s fault?

You see, Formula 1 has never been that way in its long history. There have always been moments of sheer thrill and defeat but the series has had processional racing, lack of passing, dominating players and money. It ebbs and flows over time and with change. The sport has been around a long time and has had differing levels of entertainment value, success, failure, controversy and financial struggles. That’s what it is to be a fan of F1.

Quite honestly, if you’re watching Formula 1 to be wildly entertained each race and the results are guaranteed to be Twitter-worthy fodder and prime Instagram opportunities for you, then you may want to watch another sport. Booing Sebastian Vettel under the guise of Malaysia’s team orders incident or the fear of a dominating return to a new Schumacher era is really missing the point.

People booing drivers or teams at podium ceremonies simply make F1 fans look foolish. The pinnacle of motorsport has a fan base that is incapable of understanding what it takes to achieve what Red Bull has achieved in the very sport they say they love? The action betrays the logic and it is far from edifying.

Sunday’s Singapore Grand Prix may have been processional but I don’t see it that way and I am a Ferrari fan for Pete’s sake! I saw a team and driver work so perfectly together that the entire team should be applauded for the work and effort they all put in. It was, by anyone’s measure, a superlative effort. Christian Horner was nonplussed telling AUTOSPORT:

“There is a small collective group and it is like a pantomime, but it is so unfair because it is not sporting,” said Horner.

“The boy today has driven an unbelievable race. What you have witnessed today is one of the best drives that I have seen him produce in terms of raw pace, and I just don’t think it is sporting to see a driver who has put a performance in like that not get the reception he deserves.

“He is a great kid. He has a great sense of humour. He has a big heart at the end of the day.”

If you were to say that by booing Vettel, you are merely taking your fandom to a new emotional and experiential level by making Sebastian the new villain and it adds to your excitement by booing him while gnashing your teeth over the very notion of who will actually beat him, I would say find another sport. Formula 1 doesn’t need that kind of meme and mob mentality to succeed.

People don’t have to like Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel’s domination but I’ll be damned if I can understand how they cannot show it the respect it deserves due to their personal satisfaction not being met. It’s very odd and I would say that this might not be the sport for them.

Fans asked for this remember? Fans said “I want more prolific passing and HD tires and DRS and a spiced-up show”. Color may be its own reward but passing isn’t.

Are you bored with F1? Then find another sport where booing is encouraged…oh…there aren’t many are there? Perhaps the new breed of fan is devoid of common decency, decorum and civility but I hope they find another sport to exercise those wonderful qualities in.

I recall last year, as a Kansas City Chiefs fan, that the fans were so frustrated with the team’s losing record after years of unrivaled support that they actually erupted in cheers when our own quarterback got injured during a game. It was the blackest day in Chiefs fan history and the guilt and shame was palpable. I feel the very same about this…it’s shameful behavior and simple mob hooliganism that exposes a pathetic fan base at best and a narrative on current culture and generational insensitivity at worst.

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