Commentary legend Murray Walker has said that he feels sorry for three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel as the German driver faces a backlash from the fans after dominating Formula One in recent times.
Vettel’s success has widely been attributed to the pace of the Red Bull car, although teammate Mark Webber has failed to match the form of his teammate over the past three seasons. At the Canadian, Italian and Singapore Grands Prix, Vettel was greeted with boos and jeers upon taking to the top step of the podium, but Walker believes that he deserves better.
“I feel sorry for Vettel,” Walker explained to The Times of London. “He’s not getting the credit he deserves on account that he is in the best car. The less intelligent observers say anyone could do it in that car, but Mark Webber has not and he’s very good.
“Vettel is one of the greatest of all time.”
Vettel is set to clinch his fourth world championship at next weekend’s Indian Grand Prix, requiring a top-five finish at the race to secure an unassailable lead over closest-rival Fernando Alonso.
Walker is an icon in Formula One media, having commentated on the sport for over twenty-five years before retiring in 2001. However, he has remained a popular figure in the paddock ever since, celebrating his ninetieth birthday last week.
Brendon Hartley’s hopes of a points finish on his Formula 1 debut took a hit on Friday after the FIA confirmed the Toro Rosso driver will start the United States Grand Prix from the back of the grid due to an engine penalty.
Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Hartley was drafted in by Toro Rosso as a surprise replacement for Pierre Gasly in Austin, with the Frenchman tied up with Super Formula duties at Suzuka this weekend.
Hartley took to the track in an official grand prix session for the first time on Friday in Austin, marking his first run-out in an F1 car since a test with Mercedes in 20120.
However, FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer confirmed in his pre-race report that changes had been made to the power unit on Hartley’s Toro Rosso car since the last race in Japan, triggering a grid penalty.
Toro Rosso elected to take a new internal combustion engine, MGU-H, energy store and control electronics on Hartley’s Renault power unit, totaling a 25-place grid drop that will be applied after qualifying. Confirmation of the penalty is set to follow later today.
The penalty comes as a setback for Hartley, but was necessary as Toro Rosso found itself short on engine elements to get to the end of the season.
Hartley is not the only driver to have a penalty confirmed, with Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Stoffel Vandoorne also taking new engine elements, also confirmed in Bauer’s report.
A new ICE, turbocharger and MGU-H for Hulkenberg will see him drop 20 places on the grid, while an eighth ICE of the year for Vandoorne will trigger a five-place drop.