Editor's note: CNN's The Circuit will screen a half-hour special on Sebastian Vettel at 1400 and 2130 Saturday Dec 7, 1030 Sunday Dec 8 and 0430 Monday Dec 9 (all times GMT).
I admit it, I was wrong.
I was one of those who didn’t like Sebastian Vettel, hadn’t really warmed to him. Yes, I admired his achievements - but the finger-pointing rankled, his standoffish approach to the media frustrated, and then of course there was the “Multi 21” incident when the German ignored team orders to overtake Mark Webber at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
I viewed it as arrogance.
Maybe the success had gone to his head? I was most definitely camped in the Webber side of the Red Bull garage. But after a few weeks on the trail of the four-time Formula One world champion for this weekend's Circuit special, I’ve changed my tune.
It's not cool to say it anymore, but you have to give Vettel and Red Bull credit. It's their job to win races and they do it very well.—
Don Riddell (@donriddellCNN) November 17, 2013
There aren’t many four-time Formula One world champions to speak of. In terms of scarcity they’re up there with hen’s teeth, tires that last a whole race and single-dollar bills in Bernie Ecclestone’s wallet.
Of the hundreds of drivers who have pitted their wits in one of the world’s top motorsport divisions since 1950, only four have sealed a quadruple of titles: Juan Manuel Fangio, Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost and Sebastian Vettel.
Vettel entered this elite club with his win in India on Sunday and, for once, topped the podium to cheers rather than the boos that have become all too regular for the young German this season.
Speaking to reporters after the race the man from Heppenheim said: "It's very difficult for me personally, to receive boos, even though you haven't done anything wrong.
The hoardings are up, circuit lines freshly painted and the desert dust wiped off the greenery and grandstands.
The Buddh International Circuit in the outskirts of New Delhi is all set for the third Indian Grand Prix this weekend when the country will play host to a flashy mix of marketing glitz, technological wizardry and glamor.
But this year, the excitement is being eclipsed by speculation this could be the last grand prix in India, at least for now.
It’s a difficult task, to pin down the criteria that need to combine for a sporting figure to be deemed a "character," a figure whose personality helps to popularise their field of competition in a transformative way.
Ingredients such as daring in the face of danger and desire to rise to the challenge are prerequisites. A romantic backstory of overcoming the odds makes compelling viewing to all dreamers out there, while the facing down of a nemesis provides drama and justice to devotees.
But it’s not just the conquering of the seemingly impossible that makes a sporting "character," maybe most important of all is the ability to connect with an audience on an emotional level. To force the viewer to empathise with your test and triumph as if they were personally involved in the victory. So they win with you.
Is there a driver on today’s grid who matches up? FULL POST
Kimi Raikkonen has always been box office, even before he re-signed for Formula One’s most iconic team, Ferrari.
The 2007 world champion is a fan favorite and arguably the most popular driver on the grid.
Wherever F1 goes, from Monza to Melbourne, Shanghai to Singapore, there are always enthusiastic, banner-waving Raikkonen fans in the stands and, in the virtual realm of social media, he is the subject of plenty of ardent chatter.
But just what is it about the laid back Finn that has sparked this global cult of Kimi? FULL POST
Five talking points for the second half of the Formula One season
1. Will the tire talk stop?
If Formula One’s tire manufacturer was a football manager surely they’d have been sacked by Christmas? It really is last chance saloon for Pirelli, having cashed in their chips before the mid-season break.
F1’s up-and-down relationship with its tire manufacturer is nothing new, but it reached a new low in the first half of this season.
You wondered whether Pirelli would have been better off sticking to calendars. FULL POST
The 2012 Formula One season may yet have delivered the new drivers' champion, but even before the world's fastest racing cars finish their cylinder-driven samba around the Interlagos Circuit in Sao Paulo next week we can be certain of one fact ... the new champion will be crowned an all-time great along with this year's best.
Both Germany's Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso of Spain are used to superlatives from motor racing commentators: they are both exceptionally talented and boast back-to-back double-champion pedigree.
And as the two sole pilots left in the hunt to finish top of this year's grid, they also both stand on the edge of joining an elite members' club. FULL POST