An Open Letter To Sebastian Vettel, Post-2017 Season.

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Dear Sebastian,

You’re unbelievable, you know that?

Honestly, I don’t think I like you very much right now.

Where do I even begin? So you started the season with a win in Australia, and officially broke Ferrari’s drought. That made me hope, so much. The kind of hope that is beautiful, yet dangerous; because while it can move mountains, it can also lead to monumental heartbreak.

Was this the year, finally? Part of me was scared, but you looked so sure, so confident. Gina, your car, was in her element. You took another win in Bahrain and steadily racked up points and podium finishes.

Monaco was weird. I was happy you won but also felt uncomfortable because Kimi somehow felt played by the team. My heart was so confused. But then again, judging from your behavior, It was clear that you had nothing to do with what happened, so I gave you a pass and moved on.

Let’s get it out of the way and talk about Baku and THAT incident. What on earth went through that brain of yours to make you pull that move? I was bemused, and aghast, and so deeply disappointed. It was an opportunity to win that blew up in smoke because of a lapse of judgment in your part. You lost your cool, and things got ugly. I couldn’t even defend you on social media after that. You were in the wrong, and there was no way for me to rationalize that. If I could turn back time, I’d do everything in my power to stop that moment of madness from happening. Sigh.

We all make mistakes, and thankfully, you were not punished harshly, but of course it became a giant blot of stain in your title charge. As early as that point, critics were already questioning whether you deserve the title at all after that…infamous nudge.

Then there was that minor disaster in Silverstone. The Mercs slaughtered the Ferraris in qualifying. And of course you and Kimi just had to get nearly identical tire punctures in the last lap. I wanted to kick things and flip tables but miraculously, you both managed to pit and get back to the track to take the checquered flag. Sure, finishing 7th wasn’t ideal, but every single point counted now that Lewis was making a charge of his own.

History was on your side. Records show that you have not yet lost a title battle that you’ve led. I wanted that record to stand, and although you snatched that win in Hungaroring again from Kimi, I held on to the thought that so far, only the Michael Schumacher has managed to win the Hungarian GP and the Driver’s Title in the same year, and if any other driver can duplicate that rather strange record, then it’s you.

Things seemed to be going smoothly, until Monza, when you first lost the WDC lead. You couldn’t fight for the win that weekend but I couldn’t take it against you. Strangely enough, I wasn’t that worried yet then, I was pretty sure you’d snatch back the lead soon enough. And when you preached to the Tifosi on the podium in Italian, no less? My heart melted in a puddle of emotions. You are truly one of us. You are the driver Ferrari deserves.

But then, the Asian leg happened. So much potential, so much promise. But only heartaches ensued. That Singapore pole was spectacular, I yelled so loudly when you snatched it. You said on team radio that you wanted that one badly, and it showed. You went all in, and it paid off.

It still pains me to think about that Night Race weekend, the weekend where what happened on that track forced me to feel and face all the pain from real life. I was so sad but could not even cry. It was the type of sadness that was beyond tears. Tears could not properly express the desolation that washed over me. It got so bad that I took a break from social media, I could not bear to look at anything F1-related.

Things marginally got better in my life enough for me to regain some calmness and catch the Malaysian GP, but of course there was another disaster in Qualifying that sent you to the back of the grid. The wolves were already salivating at the thought of your title charge starting to crumble, but in my heart, I knew that you’re up to the challenge. And we did indeed see Sebastian The Road Runner that raceday. A charge from the back all the way to P4 that was a sight to behold. It was clear you were not going down without a proper fight, like the Champion that you are.

I had to miss the Japanese GP due to an appointment, but when I checked my phone a few hours after the race and was greeted with various iterations of “Nooooo!!” and expletives, I knew another disaster had befallen on you.

By the end of the Suzuka weekend, my (external and internal) tears have run out. A strange calm took over me and I decided to let fate be. Que sera, sera.

It pained me so much to see how sad you were after Austin. For the first time this season, I sensed your despair. The title was slipping away, and staying in contention was proving to be a Herculean task.

However, you weren’t quite ready to throw in the towel. You pulled an astonishing pole position in Mexico. That fightback in the race? It was so worth staying up until 4:41am for. Unfortunately, finishing P4 was not enough and the Driver’s Championship was decided there. Still, I was so proud of you for the effort you put in. Seeing you so dejected after the race was difficult, but you had enough grace and class to congratulate your opponent and to focus on the positives.

And then you gave us that Interlagos win. Ferrari’s first win there since 2008. I was imploring all gods that will listen for them to let you hang on to the win. You need it. I need it. The Tifosi need it. My stomach was churning, my legs were doing the jiggles, but I could not take my eyes off from the tv. And you did it.

Abu Dhabi was, for lack of a better term, an anticlimax. Both Championships have been decided and the Mercs dominated a nondescript race yet again. I stayed mainly to see you on the podium, and to see the new logo of F1 unveiled.

After all of that, came the…emptiness. the realization that it is finally over.

I had to say goodbye to the 2017 season. I had to say goodbye to Gina, the loveliest and feistiest Ferrari I’ve seen in ages.
I had to say goodbye to your title charge.

I had to look at you and assess just how I really feel.

So yes, I don’t like you very much right now because “like” is not the appropriate term to describe how I feel about you. I don’t like you as a racing driver–I love you, actually. I love you as a racing driver. And I mean that in the most platonic, respectful way possible. It’s a kind of love fueled by gratitude, and admiration, not just for your talent but for you as a whole, as a person.

I love that you’re passionate about what you do, that you put in 100% of yourself, criticisms be damned.
I love that you respect and protect the team. I love that you foster a family atmosphere.
I love that you don’t blame anybody else when the car fails.
I love that you stay away from mind games and unnecessary politicking.
I even love how you’re still such a big kid and that you are, by and large, a monumental dork.
I love that you’re imperfect and that you both own and own up to your flaws.
I love that while you remind me of Schumi, you are very much your own person, too.

Throughout the year, your title challenge with Ferrari was a bright spot in my oftentimes dismal and challenging life. You represented a form of escape, something to look forward to when things aren’t going right. Every emotion–good or bad–was heightened because I wanted it so much for you. We wanted it so much for you.

Let me be clear: I’m in no way, shape, or form, angry at you. How could I be when I know in my heart that you did your absolute best? I never expected you to be perfect or be some kind of Ferrari Messiah, I wanted you to be yourself. You are enough.

You may not have a tangible trophy to hold aloft this season, but there’s plenty of invaluable lessons learned. Setbacks are only prologues to bouncebacks. And you’re pretty damn good at that.

As I’ve said on Twitter: Sometimes in life, you have to go through the 1996-1999 Schumi in order to get to the 2000-2004 Schumi. You will get to it, and soon. I trust you to not give up, because we, your supporters, will never give up on you.

Just be you, Sebastian. We wouldn’t change you for the world. I know I wouldn’t.

Rest up and recharge. We will go again next year. And you know what? I have all the faith in the world that you will win that title with Ferrari. Get ready for it.

Sincerely,

Marj.

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Grazie, Seb.