Sebastian Vettel and his famous salute

Though Canal + was named the leading international Formula One broadcaster for the 2014 season, a number of other channels do a remarkable job in covering the pinnacle of motorsport, among them the UK’s Sky Sports.

The World Series by Renault was mentioned in dispatches in one of the British broadcaster’s recent programmes, and made quite an impact on social media as the secret behind Sebastian Vettel’s famous “finger celebration” was revealed .

The man telling all was Trevor Carlin, the team boss for whom Vettel drove in the 2006 Formula Renault 3.5 Series season.

While many have found the salute to be a sign of arrogance, as Carlin explained, the German driver was merely paying tribute to his team’s mechanics.

“It was his first season in Formula Renault 3.5 Series and he was massively fast,” Carlin told Sky Sports. “In a wet race at Spa he decided to take Eau Rouge flat. He had a huge accident. While he was trying to catch the accident, his front wheel came off, flew over the car and caught the top of his finger. It took the end of his finger off, so we had to take him to the hospital.”

It was a moment that will stay etched on the minds of World Series by Renault fans, with Vettel far from the only driver to go off at the top of Eau Rouge that day.

“The next day he turned up at the circuit with his big bandage on,” added Trevor. “He was still smiling even though he couldn’t race that day because of his finger. The top of it broke off and they stitched it back on.”

Vettel mechanics poked fun at him by wearing his bandages on their index fingers, prompting him to start celebrating his wins by raising his forefinger to the sky.

So there you have it. Far from being arrogant, the gesture is a tribute the sense of humour of his old mechanics and to the little scar he still bears on the digit.