I have been away for a few days and it's amazing what can happen in motorsport in such a short period of time.
Sebastian Vettel won the 2013 world championship of drivers, of course, and his fourth consecutive title, by winning Sunday's Grand Prix of India. And Jeff Gordon won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville, Va., Sunday. This has really tightened up the Chase for the Championship points race.
But first . . .
It is to be hoped that the fools who have taken to booing Sebastian Vettel this year during his fourth Championship Season will come to their senses at some point in time and accept the fact that once every generation a driver comes along who is just so much better than everyone else and this time around it's him.
Yes, he has the best car and the best team and probably the best sponsor but even with all that he still has to do the driving and he still has to beat everybody else.
And when you are in Formula One, that is no easy task. Just ask Jackie Stewart, or Emerson Fittipaldi, or Nelson Piquet, or Nigel Mansell.
But Vettel made it look easy Sunday when he won the race, the Grand Prix of India, and his fourth straight world championship. He started on soft tires (was the team toying with the opposition?) and had to come in for a change after two laps, which put him back in 18th place.
But he just methodically picked his way through the pack (yes, even I have wondered sometimes how good a driver he is if he's always in front) and he made it look easy. And soon, he was where he looks most comfortable: out front.
Nico Rosberg finished second at India in a Mercedes, with Romain Grosjean third for Lotus - for the third consecutive race. Felipe Massa was fourth for Ferrari, with Sergio Perez fifth (McLaren-Mercedes), Lewis Hamilton sixth (Mercedes), Kimi Raikkonen seventh (Lotus), Paul Di Resta eighth (Force India-Mercedes), Adrian Sutil ninth (Force India) and Daniel Ricciardo tenth (Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari). Fernando Alonso was 11th for Ferrari, and out of the points, after breaking a wing when he ran into the back of RBR's Mark Webber just after the start. He had to pit to fix that and never recovered.
Vettel, who's only human, broke the rules at the end of the race by doing donuts on the main straight (thank you, Alessando Zanardi) and climbing up the fence (thank you, Helio Castroneves) to throw his gloves into the crowd. For this bit of naughty behaviour, the stewards - each and every one of whom obviously had a carrot stuck up his or her butt - gave him a reprimand and fined the team 35,000 euros. Those people are no fun.
Vettel undoubtedly is being booed for refusing earlier this season to go along with team orders in Malaysia and let his teammate, Webber, win. Told to hold station, Vettel passed Webber for the victory and everybody was angry afterward, particularly Webber and team principal Christian Horner.
But the order itself was the most stupid request made in the history of F1 racing. Here was Red Bull asking a three-time world champion, in the second race of the season, to let his teammate win. What was Horner and the rest of the Red Bull brain trust thinking? You don't do that in the second race. The 15th race, maybe. But not the second race.
And Vettel had just won three world championships by being cocksure and aggressive and they had the nerve to ask him to lose? I still shake my head about that. It was completely nuts.
Vettel is now officially among the greats. He has a way to go to beat Michael Schumacher's records, but he's on the way. And while Schumacher oozed arrogance, Vettel is really quite down to earth. He is great with the fans and wonderful with the media. He seems to be a genuinely nice guy.
Yes, he has a bit of attitude - but you can't be a four-times world champion and not be a little bit cheeky, can you?
One last thing before leaving F1 for a week - they are at Abu Dhabi next weekend - but I am getting a great kick out of Lotus boss Eric Boullier suggesting he plans "to talk" to Kimi Raikkonen before the next race because he doesn't like the Finn's attitude.
Lotus wanted Kimi to move over and let Grosjean past because the French driver's tires were in better shape and he could go faster. Kimi was not happy and told the team via the radio to stop yelling at him, particularly when he was in the middle of fast corners.
The fact of the matter is that Raikkonen has not been paid this season and is not happy about it. That is a main reason he is going to Ferrari in 2014 and if Lotus wants him to finish the season then they had better leave him alone. And they'd better stop talking down to, and about, him or else Kimi will sue them.
The team doesn't have any money now. They could have even less, once the Kimster gets through with them.
- Jigger Sirois never made the field for the Indy 500 - but he came close.
Leon Duray (Jigger) Sirois has been accepted for induction into the U.S. National Midget Auto Racing Hall of Fame. I was at Indy that memorable day in 1969 when Sirois would have won the pole for the 500 if his car owner hadn't waved off his run at the last second of the last lap. The remaining qualifications were rained out and he would have been the fastest on the first day and thus been on the pole. As a result, the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association created the Jigger Award that has been presented each year to the driver judged to have had the worst luck at Indianapolis during the month of May. I saw Sirois at the AARWBA breakfast at Indy in May this year and, long retired, he does charity work to help children who suffer from stuttering. In his heyday, he was a terrific racing driver. In 1961, he won the United Auto Racing Association midget title, which included four track championships. He also won a 100-mile race on the Milwaukee Mile and an open-competition midget championship at Daytona Beach, Fla. Way to go, Jigger.
NASCAR has decided to take head injuries seriously and, starting next year, will force all drivers in its major divisions to take pre-season baseline testing of healthy brains in order to determine treatment and whether/when to allow a driver to return to competition following concussions. Although they haven't said it, they are doing this to avoid the mess the NFL is in over concussions. I suggest Brad Keselowski be given one of the first tests. Keselowski says doctors have no business in NASCAR. “Doctors don’t understand our sport,” Keselowski told the Sporting News last week. “They never have. Doctors aren’t risk takers. We are. That’s what makes our sport what it is. When you get doctors involved, you water down our sport. . . . This is not the field for doctors. Let them play in their arena and I’ll play in mine.” Somebody should tell Keselowski about Lee Roy Yarborough, a champion NASCAR star in the 1960s who also drove in the Indy 500 several times. He eventually died after spending years in a mental health facility suffering from a form of dementia that was a direct result of driving into too many walls. It happens and that's why NASCAR is trying to minimize the damage to drivers' heads.
In NASCAR racing, Jeff Gordon won the short track race at Martinsville over Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson. It was Gordon's first win of the 2013 season (he was added to the Chase as a result of all the nonsense that went on at the last race of the regular season at Richmond in September) and tightened up the Chase for the Championship considerably.
Kenseth and Johnson are now tied atop the leaderboard with 2,294 points apiece. Gordon is up to third with 2, 267, one point ahead of Kevin Harvick. Kyle Busch is fifth in the Chase with 2,258 points.
It's going to get interesting.
NASCAR, at long last, is thinking about changing its qualifying procedures except at Daytona and Talladega speedways. When the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series raced at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Labour Day weekend, they sent the trucks out in packs of six for qualifying instead of the stupifyingly boring single-car qualifying that is carried out at NASCAR oval tracks in front of completely empty grandstands. Now, NASCAR will never (I don't think) ever adopt qualifying similar to F1 or IndyCar. where a session starts and everybody is on the track and eventually only 10 (in F1) and six in (IndyCar) are left to fight for the pole. But the fact that they are considering change is a major plus.
Speaking about NASCAR and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, it was announced late last week that the Camping World Truck Series will be returning for Labour Day weekend 2014 and the race once again will be sponsored by General Motors and be known as the Chevrolet Silverado 250. The inaugural event this year exceeded just about everybody's expectations and track managements and sponsors are hoping to make it even bigger and better next Labour Day. The first race was won by Chase Elliott, son of NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, who "moved" Ty Dillon out of the way at the last corner and went on to record the win. And you'll recall that the girlfriend of one of the other drivers hauled off and slapped Max Papis across the face after the race and to this day I consider Papis one of the classiest people in all of motorsport for not retaliating. For tickets, call the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Hotline at 1-800-866-1072 (Monday to Friday from 9 am to 5 pm ET), visit online at www.canadiantiremotorsportpark.com, or email [email protected]. For more information about the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series visit online at www.nascar.com/trucks.
- The new (second) road course at Old Mosport will look like this.
And speaking of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, you will recall that the Mosport Speedway oval was razed at the end of July to allow for construction of a new (second) road course. Here is a diagram of what the new circuit will look like. In a release, Old Mosport said that what it's calling a new Driver Development Centre is a 1.8 mile (2.88 km) road course built to FIA standards that will be used for car racing, motorcycle racing, driving schools, motorcycle schools, car clubs, manufacturer events, lapping days and many other activities. The new track is equipped with an extensive pit lane and state-of-the-art race control building that will include classrooms and hospitality space. The facility will also include a 1,000’ x 150’ skid pad complete with a large power circle. The new track will continue to be home to the Bridgestone Racing Academy.
It was close but no cigar for a Canadian racer at the annual Formula Ford Festival held at the weekend at the Brands Hatch circuit in England. The title was won by young Irishman Niall Murray followed by Englishman Wayne Boyd. Another Englishman, Oliver White, took third ahead of Team Canada's Scott Hargrove of Vancouver, winner of this year's Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda and one of two Team Canada scholarships.