As the Korean Grand Prix weekend prepares to get underway, many fans are making the long distance trek, ready to boo yet another dominant performance by Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel.
Although at the beginning of 2013 everybody was hopeful of a Lotus/Raikkonen season, Vettel and his team have since found their stride and it's pretty much a foregone conclusion that they will take a fourth set of championships in a row. Only simple arithmetic means they haven't won it yet, but it's only a matter of time.
So does Vettel deserve to be booed for his performances? I'm not a particular fan of either this driver or his team, although I have the utmost respect for the achievements of Sebastian, Christian Horner, and that rather special Mr Newey. I also find it quite tedious knowing the result before the weekend even gets under way, and my GP Predictor selections are pretty much the same week-in/week-out for Pole Position, Winner and Fastest Lap categories.
That said, I'm not a fan of the booing brigade. In 2007, at Silverstone, Kimi Raikkonen took victory in his Ferrari and although the home crowd, who'd been wowed by Lewis Hamilton's Pole Position success on the Saturday, had been hoping for the brilliant young charger to get his first British win on the Sunday, everybody cheered and applauded Kimi's victory instead.
Formula One fans have usually been some of the best for celebrating the victory of any driver, no matter their nationality or team, and even during the days of the Schumacher/Hill rivalry, when the press truly played up the England v Germany story, fans still appreciated the dominance of the Schumacher/Ferrari partnership.
I always quite enjoyed Michael Schumacher's rather Dick Dastardly approach to racing, and in 2002 Bernie Ecclestone even went so far as to suggest that perhaps it should be celebrated that a driver could be so dominant. And let's not forget Ayrton Senna, who is widely heralded as the greatest driver of all time by so many, and yet was not above reproach when it came to some tricky tactics of his own.
It was in the wake of the Multi-21 saga in Malaysia, where Vettel ignored team orders and over took Mark Webber, who was set for certain victory, that F1's audience took to treating him like a pantomime villain.
The problem is, whilst statistically looking like he's going to be capable of stealing all of Schumacher's crowns and being more capable than Senna, I don't think Vettel has it in him to be a true villain. When asked about the situation in Malaysia he takes on more the look of a petulant schoolboy, searching around for his press officer as if to say, 'I thought nobody was going to ask me about this...'
Vettel and Red Bull should, therefore, not be booed on the podium. It's up to the other teams to catch them, not for them to make it easy. The real villain in the piece here is the FIA, who's regulations are now so tight that drivers are fearful of attempting to make a move in case they get penalised for daring to make a race of it, and who's technical regulations mean that the rest of the grid is struggling to find a micron of development capability in their designs to help them catch their competition.
Gone are the days of daring design and innovation. We no longer get somebody trying to put six wheels on a Formula One car or a ruddy great fan to suck it to the circuit. If you repainted a Marussia in Red Bull's livery you'd be hard-pushed to tell the cars apart. And if a designer does come up with something clever and new, the minute that car beats another one the opposition, rather than trying to come up with something clever and new themselves, simply bitch about it to the press and the FIA until it's banned. Double-diffusers, F-Ducts, McLaren's tricky twin brake pedal of 1998...
Yes, we have to have rules and, yes, budgets are more restricted these days than ever before and, with luck, the dramatic technological changes to the 2014 rules will allow the balance to tip in somebody else's favour, but let's give back some flexibility to the engineers and designers. Let's let them be a little freer to come up with something innovative. Let's not have a clever design end up being banned in a courtroom by a peevish team, upset they didn't think of it themselves.
And let's stop penalising drivers for having a go at overtaking. Let the driver being overtaken defend his line, and let the driver trying to get passed do so without fearing that he might end up with a ten-place grid penalty at the next race because he out-braked himself in the heat of the moment.
Let's, in fact, just go racing.