Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton simply put into words what a good number of Formula One fans probably are feeling about Sebastian Vettel's dominance of the sport: It's boring.
After Vettel won his fourth consecutive race last weekend in South Korea, putting the Red Bull driver on a likely path to his fourth consecutive Formula One championship, Hamilton was quoted as saying "I feel for the fans."
Hamilton -- himself the 2008 Formula One champion who now drives for Mercedes -- then went on Twitter this week to "clarify" his remarks. He said Vettel was deserving of his success and a "great human being."
But it's a familiar story in motor racing that when one driver dominates for successive years, inevitably some decry the achievement for making the sport less exciting.
Hamilton, in fact, mentioned Michael Schumacher, the record seven-time Formula One champion who won the title five consecutive years from 2000 to 2004.
But NASCAR's Jimmie Johnson heard the same criticism when he was winning the Sprint Cup Series title for five consecutive years from 2006 to 2010.
And NASCAR racing has a long history of extended dominance. Richard Petty won the title in four of five years from 1971 to 1975, and Cale Yarborough was champion the next three years in a row.
The late Dale Earnhardt was champion in four of five years from 1990 to 1994, and Jeff Gordon then won the title in three of the next four years.
Vettel, who holds a comfortable 77-point lead over Ferrari's Fernando Alonso (a two-time champion) in this year's standings, will try to win his fifth consecutive race Sunday at the Japanese Grand Prix.
The German driver is only 26, so those who find Vettel's performance to be boring had better be patient.
But success in Formula One also can disappear in a hurry. Just ask Hamilton. After he won the championship in 2008 at age 23, the British driver has not won another.
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