Four-time Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel believes that World Rally Championship drivers don’t get the limelight that they deserve.
Vettel is taking part in this year’s Race of Champions event, which takes place on snow and ice in Sweden, and given the conditions the driving style required will be closer to rallying than circuit racing.
Speaking ahead of the competition, Vettel highlighted that fact but also added that he has a great admiration for rallying and that it should be more popular than it currently is.
“I have a huge admiration for rally drivers. I think it’s an incredible skill,” said Vettel.
“This is a tiny glimpse of what it might feel to do a rally but it feels like I arrive with a screwdriver and a hammer, like two tools whereas they arrive to Turn 1 with the whole toolbox set, equipped with whatever might happen, they have the right fitting tool.
“So yeah, I think it’s a great sport. There is the racing element and the skill, but it’s very different in many ways.
“[Rally] a great sport, a great skill. I think the drivers are great.
“They don’t get the limelight they deserve.
“F1 as I said earlier is very popular, rallying is popular, but maybe more in the Nordic countries, but it deserves to be very popular around the world because the skill is incredible.
“The discipline as well is very different as a sport.”
Vettel went on to say that although he doesn’t watch every single stage, he does follow every rally of the WRC, and admires the commitment it takes to drive the cars to the limit without any of the track limits he is used to.
“Yeah, I always did a little bit,” was Vettel’s response when asked if he watched the WRC.
“Not every sector split, but usually the rallies and the stages, and there’s been a lot of young kids coming up.
“And yeah, I remember the days, sorry Petter [Solberg, who was sat next to him] when Petter was winning and competing.
“So it’s not like I grew up with rallying, but somehow I always did and just admired that you go so fast without kerbs and track limits and just whatever is next to you doesn’t matter sort of thing. So whatever the terrain, whatever the conditions. Yeah a huge fascination.”
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville is also taking part in the ROC event this weekend, and Friday morning was the first time he got the opportunity to meet Vettel in person.
And upon meeting him, Neuville too was impressed with Vettel’s knowledge of the WRC.
“Yeah, I was surprised!” was Neuville’s response when asked if he knew Vettel followed the WRC.
“He knew everything actually and I had a long chat with his father as well who loves rallying as well.
“Yeah, it’s just great to see.
“Everybody loves Formula 1, but rallying is still popular, it’s a spectacular sport and people are still enjoying to watch, even if it’s I guess one of the most difficult motorsports to follow for a whole weekend.
“It lasts four days and it’s very difficult to broadcast as well. But it’s still one of the very spectacular motorsports.”