TORONTO - Winning a Formula 1 world championship should not leave a sour taste in your mouth, but apparently it did for Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
In the immediate aftermath of the Brazilian Grand Prix at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace Circuit, where his sixth place finish gave him the championship over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, Vettel complained he was he victim of “dirty tricks” by unnamed forces in F-1 this season.
The 25-year-old German would not be more specific in his charge, but nonetheless, planted the seed that his third consecutive championship was not a popular one amongst his peers.
He said he did not want to discuss it any further.
“We have to focus on what we have, what is in our hands and not get excited about what others are doing ... what’s the point?” Vettel said. “It only carries you away and distracts you and you lose your focus.
“You can’t focus on achieving your optimum, which is the only way that really helps you as much as you can to be in the position that you want to be after 20 races.”
He could have been referring, of course, to Ferrari’s ploy at the U.S. Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas the week previous when the team deliberately broke the FIA seal on Felipe Massa’s gearbox knowing the resulting grid penalty would allow Alonso to move up to a more advantageous spot to start the race, or the team ordering Massa to move over during the final laps on Sunday in Brazil, handing Alonso a second-place finish.
Neither action kept Vettel from winning the championship, but collectively they did make the final race that much more dramatic.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner said that Vettel was not a sore winner but was, in fact, just lamenting of the power of politics in F-1.
“It’s been a tough competition,” Horner told autosport.com. “Formula 1 is a tough business and you’re up against some tough opponents.
“The fastest way to become unpopular is to have repeated success. We’ve ignored what other teams are doing and have just focused on ourselves.”
Just weeks after getting Ontario Municipal Board approval to build a one-mile race track in Fort Erie, the Canadian Motor Speedway project has hit another snag.
A local media outlet in the Niagara region reported this week that two parcels of land needed for the proposed track have not yet been purchased.
And the two landowners have halted negotiations with the track developer after a Nov. 12 closing date passed without a deal.
CMS boss Azhar Mohammed said the missed deadline was just a misunderstanding, and that the land purchase should be done within a week.
Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon was part of the team contracted by the track developers to design the oval but he told The Toronto Sun three weeks ago that funding for the $400-million track was still being put together.
Canada’s James Hinchcliffe may not have won in his first full year in the IZOD IndyCar Series but he did win among fans, being voted Most Popular Driver. Hinchcliffe collected 10.61% of the vote ahead of Simona de Silvestro who garnered 9.45%. Others in contention were Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and Rubens Barrichello ... Former F-1 and IndyCar driver Max Papis will join Canadian-based AIM Autosport With Ferrari team for the 2013 Rolex Series GT championship in a Ferrari 458 Italia. Jeff Segal, who won the 2012 title in the team’s No. 69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD With Ferrari entry, will co-drive with Papis ... Hendrick Motorsports has signed a deal with Great Clips to be the primary sponsor of Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chevrolet team. The hair salon company has previously backed Kahne in the Nationwide Series ... There is another Earnhardt making waves in the stock car racing world. Karsyn Elledge, the 12-year-old daughter of Kelley Earnhardt-Miller and granddaughter of Dale Earnhardt won her first Mini Outlaw title last week in Box Stock division at Millbridge Speedway in Salisbury, N.C. ... Japanese F-1 driver Kamui Kobayashi has raised more than $800,000 after appealing to fans for funds to continue his racing career. Kobayashi was let go by the Sauber team after the Brazil GP because his sponsorship had run out.
SCHUMACHER NOT DONE WITH RACING ENTIRELY
Seven-time Formula 1 world champion Michael Schumacher is looking forward to spending more time with his family, but will not cut all his racing ties just yet.
“Lots more time will be dedicated to the family, and if there is some time left over afterwards then we’ll see,” he said this week.
Schumacher ended his second F-1 stint at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday, but said he is in negotiations with Mercedes for an office job.
“Obviously I will be in discussions with Mercedes to see what we’re going to do together,” Schumacher said.
“There are good ideas and good options. I’m pretty sure my calendar will easily be filled up.”
The 43-year-old Schumacher said that unlike his first retirement, this time he is looking forward to a life away from the race track.
“I’ve certainly been counting down the days to the life I have next to Formula 1, and I look forward to this life,” he said.
“I don’t have concrete future plans. I obviously have partners I’ve been working with during the F-1 time and I’ll keep on working with them in the time after.”
Besides his record seven world championships, Schumacher has amassed 91 victories, 64 podium finishes and 68 pole positions with four teams — Jordan, Benetton, Ferrari and Mercedes — in 307 starts.