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Heckling sours Vettel's moment of glory in Monza

9 September 2013

Monza wasn't the first time that Sebastian Vettel has been booed on the podium after a Grand Prix in 2013, but the Tifosi certainly managed to take it to a whole new level in Monza on Sunday.

"On Sunday the booing for the victorious Vettel carried an intensity rare even for these parts," Jonathan McEvoy wrote in the UK's Daily Mail newspaper on Monday morning.

"F1 has a new mantra: anyone but Vettel," suggested The Times' Kevin Eason. "It might be an unkind sentiment but the Monza tifosi took it to a higher and more unpleasant level as their boos tarnished the prize presentation ceremony."

But Vettel insisted that he wasn't upset or phased by the cacophony that greeted him after the Italian Grand Prix.

"It's extreme here," he said. "When you just walk around outside the track you see all the shops and all the Ferrari stuff for little boys and little girls, so straight after labour they get their Ferrari dress - it's in their genes.

"Obviously Fernando was up there and it's clear most of the Tifosi support Ferrari. I said to the guys on the in-lap the more booing we get the better we have done today, so it's obviously proof we have been very strong today."

It's somewhat ironic that Vettel should come under such attack at Monza, given that he won his first ever F1 Grand Prix here in 2008 which made him the youngest winner in the championship's history at the age of 21 years and 73 days. But that was a long time ago, and it was when Vettel was racing for an Italian squad in Scuderia Toro Rosso.

"Fortunately I had an experience in 2008 which blew me away completely when we won here in an Italian team with a Ferrari engine so the atmosphere was fantastic," he agreed. "It's normal. I don't blame the people to be honest.

"Obviously Fernando is in a great position on the podium, whereas if you're dressed in any other colour it's not the same," he added. "But still, it's a fantastic race, a fantastic podium here."

The first time there was significant booing of Vettel on the podium this season was at the Malaysian Grand Prix in March in the wake of his decision to ignore team orders and force his way past team mate Mark Webber for the win. There was also noticeable anti-Vettel sentiment among the Silverstone crowd at the British Grand Prix in June.

"I didn't understand it," Vettel told the Daily Mail about that former occasion. "I had not done anything to make them do it. I went up on to the stage later for the post-race concert and got booed again. I took my camera out and said, 'If you are going to boo me at least do it properly!' I tried to make a laugh out of it.

"But you don't like it when people boo," he admitted. "I don't think that is fair. If one starts booing, others join in. I don't think they were all wanting to boo per se - it was a chain reaction, so you shouldn't get too upset by that."

But the passionate nature of Ferrari fans took the jeering further than had seen before, with The Times' correspondent pointing out that even Webber had appeared to be uncomfortable and "disturbed by the aggressive atmosphere enveloping a young driver who cannot help being good at his day job."

"The atmosphere I was not completely a fan of, to be honest," Webber said later. "Sebastian won the race and the atmosphere is not completely correct but anyway... that's their choice."

Second-place man Fernando Alonso received suitably rapturous applause and cheers from the crowd when it was his turn to be presented to the crowd, despite the rumours swirling around about his strained relationship with the team over frustrations regarding the team's form in 2013.

But even more significantly, Webber himself received warm applause and few boos when it was his turn in front of the crowd, despite being Vettel's team mate and distinctly non-Italian.

"Maybe the people don't like to see the same team and same driver on the podium all the time," Vettel admitted. "But I enjoy [winning] and the team enjoys it and there are a lot of Red Bull fans as well. They are difficult to spot here, but if you look closely you see the Red Bull hats popping out between the red ones."

In the end, the press were divided about just how much the booing had really got to Vettel on Sunday, with The Guardian's Paul Weaver concluding that the Tifosi's heckling "could not wipe the smile from his champagne-splashed features", while the Daily Mail suggested that the hostile reception "one suspects hurts him rather more than he dared to admit."

The one thing is doesn't appear to be doing is having the slightest effect of his domination of Grand Prix races in 2013, however.

"Anybody racing a Ferrari, and beating a Ferrari, at Monza in Italy is never going to be cheered," said Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner."I don't think it surprised any of us. If anything, it fuels the motivation certainly of Sebastian to go out there and continue to improve."


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