With sports fans in Pakistan experiencing dearth of international action, Formula One’s youngest double world champion Sebastian Vettel has showered them with hopes of seeing him in action in the future.
Vettel, who, at the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi, equalled Nigel Mansell’s record of 14 pole position in a single season, has won 11 races this year including the inaugural Indian Grand Prix that marked the arrival of Formula One in the subcontinent.
With a huge following in the country – of the sport and the driver – the security situation and the infrastructure will hinder any possibilities of the sport coming to Pakistan but Vettel’s willingness may give authorities a push to get things moving.
“It is great to know that there are so many fans around the globe watching us race, especially if they don’t get a chance to see us live in action and on the track,” Vettel told The Express Tribune in Abu Dhabi.
“I hope that, one day in the future, there will be an opportunity for us to bring the sport closer to them. This will allow us to help them experience what it is all about.”
Vettel’s retirement in Abu Dhabi, his first since last year’s Korean Grand Prix over a year ago, ended his run as the only driver to finish every race in 2011.
The right rear puncture allowed on the opening lap allowed Briton Lewis Hamilton to take the lead, one that he maintained until the chequered flag to win one of his ‘best races’. Vettel’s unassailable lead in the championship, however, allowed him a smile despite such an early exit after a stunning qualifying lap that threatened another podium finish.
Massa issued warning
Meanwhile, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has issued a warning to Brazilian driver Felipe Massa to improve in the next season.
Massa has failed to finish higher than fifth this season and has seen his teammate Fernando Alonso win at Silverstone and sit third in the drivers’ rankings, just 10 behind former world champion Jenson Button.
Alonso’s 245 points are more than double Massa’s 108 and has led to speculation over the Brazilian’s future.
“Let’s hope 2012 goes well,” Montezemolo told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I have great confidence in our drivers and there seems to have been a clarification as regards the regulations.
“I’m sure we’ll have a more competitive car. We have a contract with Fernando until 2016 and he’s the best driver in the world.”
Montezemolo was not satisfied with the team’s performance in the season, terming its reluctance to take enough risks during the winter the biggest reason behind its downfall.
“I’d give the team a five on ten which I’ll raise to six considering the effort and the victory at Silverstone exactly 60 years after Ferrari’s first win in F1. But the season started badly, we didn’t interpret the regulations well and we didn’t take risks in the technology of our project.”
Vettel’s show this season
Australia - 1st
Malaysia - 1st
China – 2nd
Turkey – 1st
Spain – 1st
Monaco – 1st
Canada – 2nd
Valencia – 1st
Britain – 2nd
Germany – 4th
Hungary – 2nd
Belgium – 1st
Italy – 1st
Singapore - 1st
Japan – 3rd
Korea – 1st
India – 1st
Abu Dhabi – DNF
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2011.