The Smiling Assassin

Sebastian Vettel © James Moy Photography

Sebastian Vettel
© James Moy Photography

Yep, you guessed it. It’s another opinion on the fallout from the Malaysian Grand Prix. I’ll be honest, I didn’t want to just blast something out in the immediate aftermath. I wanted to take the flights home to think about it.

I barely slept last night. Jetlag accounted for part of that. The rest was the final ten laps in Malaysia and, in particular, the podium ceremony, press conference and interviews that followed.

It was all just such a load of self-deprecating “woe is me” crap. Wasn’t it?

Three drivers, supposedly three of the greatest in the world, all looking genuinely miserable at the thought of being ranked as the best on their day, in their arena.

For me, none of them had any reason to be ashamed of their days or their results. But for the pantomime they played out post race in front of a global television audience of hundreds of millions they should be embarrassed. For themselves and for the sport.

The only person who had any legitimate reason to be slightly upset was Mark Webber. But more on that later.

Vettel fights Webber for the lead in Malaysia © James Moy Photography

Vettel fights Webber for the lead in Malaysia
© James Moy Photography

Let’s start with the focal point of all this, Sebastian Vettel. I will say simply this: one does not become a triple world champion by being a nice guy. The smiles, the laughter, the little jokes, the knowing winks to the press… it’s a game, a façade: a beautifully played one, but a front all the same. What we saw on Sunday was the clearest indication yet that Sebastian Vettel is a cold, calculated, ruthless operator. And brilliantly so.

It’s funny isn’t it? We laud Senna. We clapped and cheered and said “Bloody right, too,” when he fired back at an inquisitorial Jackie Stewart the immortal lines, “We are competing to win. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver.”

Is this not the attitude that all the greats possess? To take advantage of every opportunity they see?

“Multi 21” was the call, turn down the engine and bring the cars home. Webber dutifully obeyed. Vettel did not. He saw his opportunity. He saw the gap. And he took it.

Cold. Calculated. Ruthless.

Why? Because winning is his nature. It is what he lives for. It is all he knows. All he can accept. Because on a day when Fernando Alonso was not scoring, he’d be damned if he was going to play the backup man and lose seven potentially crucial world championship points.

But most of all, because he sniffed blood. And like the brutal, brilliant, beautiful racing animal he is, he pounced and struck a killer blow.

In his mind, he is the number one. He does the winning. Not Mark Webber. In a 1-2 situation, Vettel saw the win as his right. In his mind he is the only one fighting for the drivers’ championship, Mark can collect the scraps for the constructors’ crown.

Christian Horner and Helmut Marko © James Moy Photography

Christian Horner and Helmut Marko
© James Moy Photography

I guess ultimately we have Helmut Marko to blame for all this. The Red Bull junior programme was established to create such a perfect monster: an unflinching, focused, machine. And in Vettel it has its perfect product.

My colleague and friend David Tremayne often recounts the story of how Helmut Marko became this way, how he became so cold and seemingly uncaring. He and his childhood counterpart Jochen Rindt would secretly take their parent’s cars out at night, racing around frozen Austrian country lanes. The rules were that if you got into trouble, if you crashed or broke down, you were on your own. Simple as that.

It is with this mindset that Marko has run the Red Bull drivers programme. And it is this mindset he has instilled in Vettel. This, coupled with the the political safety net and protection of the team and of being constantly told he is number one, can lead to only one ethos: to win at all costs. To take every weakness in a rival and exploit it. No emotion. No remorse.

Christian Horner has his share of the blame in all this too, of course. Red Bull Racing is his team, is it not? He is the General. And yet on Sunday he completely lost control of his troops. He gave an order which was ignored. When it became obvious his demand had fallen on deaf ears, did he transmit the severity of his feelings and that his orders were to be followed? No. He weakly asked his driver to stop being silly. He treated him like a naughty child.

And after this point there were still ten laps to reverse the change in position. At any point he could have made the call to Vettel to give the position back. But the call never came. Why? Because, as Horner stated afterwards, Vettel had already made his decision.

I do wonder if Mr Mateschitz is questioning whether Mr Horner is still the right man to lead his team. Afterall, if Vettel was acting like a child, then treat him as such. If you ask your child not to do something, and they continue to act up, what do you as a responsible parent do? Say, “Oh well they’ve made their decision?” or do you reinforce your point, send them to their room, to the naughty step, dock their pocket money, take away their toys, or whatever you as a parent have decided is a suitable punishment? You do the latter. Because you are their parent. You are their guide. You are in charge. You are the boss.

In this case, Horner lost control. Right now, it isn’t his team. It is Sebastian Vettel’s. Horner has to grapple that control back, if he can. Because Sunday was an embarrassment.

He now has a lead driver who is, essentially, lawless. He has a number two who will no longer be willing to trust his team-mate, nor to help him in his title assault. He has a very real division on his hands and one which will not be easy to fix.

Of course, Horner has been in this position before. Many times in fact. From Turkey 2010 to Silverstone 2011… Brazil 2012. He has managed his drivers and their conflicts before. And brought home three consecutive championships. But the very public show of discontent in Malaysia may be his sternest test yet.

And for it to happen so early in the championship season too… we’ve got 17 races to go. Vettel has drawn a very clear line in the sand. Why he chose to do so this early is anyone’s guess. Perhaps he really is off to Ferrari at the end of the year and no longer cares how things with Red Bull pan out. Whatever the case, how his team and team-mate respond to his actions will be fascinating.

Webber leads Vettel in Malaysia © James Moy Photography

Webber leads Vettel in Malaysia
© James Moy Photography

Of course, Webber could have fought back in the race. He could have turned his engine back up and said, “Sod it. If the gloves are off, they’re off.” But he didn’t. And in so doing he unwittingly reinforced his position as the number two driver in the team. Perhaps that is why he looked so glum at the end of the race. The realization that Vettel has the cold, killer instinct that creates champions, whereas he played the game to a different set of rules and lost out. Mark hadn’t just been betrayed, he’d been publically emasculated.

Webber’s disgust stemmed from the fact there had been a pre-race promise and so he had been taken by surprise by Vettel’s duplicity. A piecrust promise if you will… easily made, easily broken. That’s why people are coming down so hard on the German. If we use a boxing analogy, it isn’t as simple as Mark dropping his guard and being caught with a knock-out uppercut. What happened in Malaysia was tantamount to his rival delivering a brutal blow to the back of his head as he walked to his corner after the bell had sounded.

But do we not race from lights to flag? Is this not motor racing? Where in the rules does it say “After the final pitstops thou shalt hold position until the chequered flag?”

So had the bell sounded? Was the fight over?

You don’t get boxers going up to each other three quarters of the way through a bout and saying, “Fella I’m knackered, let’s just hug the last two rounds out.” You don’t see Brazil and Argentina playing keepie uppie for the last 10 minutes of the world cup soccer final.

If we are to now expect the last ten laps of a Grand Prix to be all about holding station, then perhaps Red Bull or whoever can give the fans 1/5 of their ticket price back.

The teams will say they have to look after the tyres and conserve fuel. I say fill the car up with more fuel and don’t design a car that’s so heavy on its tyres. The race starts at the lights and ends at the flag. If Raikkonen had been in first and Vettel in second, would Red Bull have asked him to look after the car? Hell no. I say race. Race from lights to flag.

Part of the issue in all this is that team orders are legal; the first act of an FIA President who had, in his former life, been so held to task for his application of the concept that Formula 1 was a team venture above all other purely sporting considerations, who had been so vexed by the illegality of a right he saw as natural, that it was his overriding priority to reverse it on reaching office. Team orders could never effectively be policed, but is this alternative any better? The neutering of a race and of competition between team-mates and the defiance of the core principal of the sport: that one exists to race…

Mercedes has a rivalry of its own © James Moy Photography

Mercedes has a rivalry of its own
© James Moy Photography

Of course, it isn’t just Red Bull who faced a dilemma in Malaysia. The same problems befell Mercedes. It is fair to say that Nico Rosberg had the raw pace advantage over Lewis Hamilton in the first two races of 2013, and in Malaysia probably should have been on the podium. But he dutifully played the game, he accepted the team’s orders not to pass. And in so doing, just as with Mark Webber at Red Bull, he inadvertently cast himself into the number two driver role. Had he passed Hamilton against the wishes of his team, it would have been a marker. “This is my team Lewis, you’re the newboy.”

As it is, he sat in Hamilton’s wake and accepted the team’s orders despite holding the pace advantage. And when the Englishman took to the podium and pointed to his crew below him, it wasn’t just as a means of saying thank you. It was Hamilton telling his team, and his new team-mate, that he was number one. So don’t believe the faux platitudes and the deprecation in the post race comments. Nobody was happier to be on that podium than Lewis Hamilton.

But, interestingly, nobody was more unhappy than Niki Lauda. Mercedes F1’s new bossman was furious at Ross Brawn’s orders to hold station. As old school as it gets, Niki wanted to see his drivers racing to the flag. To hell with the cars. We’re here to race.

That fight for the win, and the fact we were robbed of it, is ultimately what leaves a bitter aftertaste.

Webber unimpressed. Vettel under scrutiny. © James Moy Photography

Webber unimpressed. Vettel under scrutiny.
© James Moy Photography

It’s funny isn’t it? Mark Webber has been so downtrodden in his Red Bull career, that if the roles had been reversed and it had been Mark who had ignored team orders, kept his engine fully juiced and passed Vettel, I don’t think we’d be having this discussion. We’d be praising him for sticking two fingers up at Helmut Marko and Red Bull’s love-in with Sebastian Vettel. He’d be a hero.

For once though, the team was in his corner. And he still lost out.

What Sebastian Vettel did was not illegal. It was downright sneaky and ungallant, it was morally questionable and duplicitous, but it wasn’t the hanging offence many are making out. After all, wasn’t his decision what we all, as fans, want? To see these great talents live up to their billing not simply as drivers, but as racing drivers?

What upset me most on Sunday was the way in which Sebastian Vettel dealt with the post race reaction to his win. And it showed that in many ways, he is still a child and not yet an adult comfortable enough with the man he truly is to take responsibility for his actions.

The crocodile tears. The faux resentment. The claims he’d made a mistake, that he was sorry, that he’d “fucked up.”

Rubbish.

He knew exactly what he was doing, and I’d wager he’d do it again in a heartbeat. Because that’s what he does. That’s his nature. That’s why he is one of the greatest drivers of his or any generation.

He exists solely to race and to win.

Ironically enough, on Sunday afternoon Sebastian Vettel gave the fans what they wanted to see. He said, “To hell with team orders. You can shove them. I’m here to win, not to finish second and I’m not turning down my engine until I know I can’t be beaten.”

I only wish he’d been man enough to admit it.

A defining moment in Vettel's career? © James Moy Photography

A defining moment in Vettel’s career?
© James Moy Photography

NB: Folks I’m loving hearing your opinions. But if you stoop to personal insults of any of the players in this I will not approve your comment. We can debate without sinking to that level.

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315 thoughts on “The Smiling Assassin

    • If anyone can explain why for the final pit stops, RB pitted Seb before Mark I would greatly appreciate it. Firstly I thought they had a policy that the lead driver pitted first and secondly, Vettel had been closing Webber down quickly in the previous laps, so they must have known that by pitting them they way they did, they were going to be that close when Webber returned.

      Also, do you think if Vettel had passed instantly when Webber came out, would it be causing as much of a fuss. Or do you think it was because he kept going after he failed on the first try. I’d also be interested in your opinion about the radio messages Vettel received. After the initial battle, Rocky’s message of “be careful Sebastian”, was somewhat different to the “negative, negative, do not pass” that Rosberg got. To me, “be careful” is don’t hit him, not don’t race him. And one final point that could be completely worthless, when Vettel was asking to them to get Mark out of the way earlier in the race and Rock said “be patient Seb, it’s only half race”, i’m fairly certain it was half race to the flag, not to the final pitstop.

      Away from the race I agree with someone else who has said that, just because on Sunday Vettel proved he was completely ruthless, doesn’t mean the sunny side of his personality doesn’t exsist. He’s been like that since he came into F1 when he was a teenager, are people seriously suggesting it’s all been an act for all these years. I think what Sunday actually proved is he’s a lot more complex person then thought, as i’ve regulary read him described as a ‘straight foward guy’ . Or he’s got an evil twin. I just don’t buy that it’s all a put on.

      • If I could place a handclap gif here I would. Bravo on a great post. Great points too, some I have been asking as well. Why tell a driver to be patient then when he finally has had enough of the waiting, he is told not to pass? He wanted to pass 1/2 a race ago and was told to be patient!!!!

        I would also like to know what penalty RBR put on Webber after the Silverstone ’11 and Brazil ’12 incidents when Mark disobeyed team orders? As far as I know, since he did not get the better of Seb, it was let go. So if Seb had attacked and not passed, he would be o.k. now, it that how it works?

      • I actually thought they did pit Vettel first for the reasons you stated, but he immediately struggled, so they worried about team points and asked Mark to stay out on better wet tires for that.

    • Or Will, in the heat of the moment Seb made an instinctive call that, from a team point of view, turned out to be a mistake. Perhaps it’s nothing more than that.

  1. Well said, apart from this: “You don’t get boxers going up to each other three quarters of the way through a bout and saying, “Fella I’m knackered, let’s just hug the last two rounds out.” You don’t see Brazil and Argentina playing keepie uppie for the last 10 minutes of the world cup soccer final.”

    They are not on the same team. It would be more apt to suggest that Pele or Maradona refused to pass the ball to anyone else, even though players were open, and yet managed to score the winning goal in the dying moments anyway. Pissed off the coach, pissed off the other players, but ultimately ended up with the result everyone expected.

      • Oh, I get what you mean. But here’s my problem with it all. If you have $150 million a year spare, and a super license, then feel free to do what you want. But at the end of the day, this is a very expensive sport, and for those paying they need those Constructor’s Championship points (and especially for Red Bull, there’s a marketing issue to address – Mateschitz doesn’t want his brand dragged through the mud like this). Vettel’s current attitude wouldn’t get him a drive at Ferrari or Mercedes (and probably McLaren, no matter what Whitmarsh says in the press).

          • I agree. Ferrari took Alonso after he threatened to destroy McLaren by saying that they stole designs from another team…so why would any of them not take him now?

          • I agree too and would argue that this is actually pretty good for Red Bull. Turkey was great for them in reality. Maybe not for Christian Horner but then that’s not really important if it sells sugary drinks is it?

        • There’s enough cases where a team does just want to take it easy. But if the other side does not play along, because they feel they can get back into it, or at least get in a goal to save their pride, then it fails to work and we have a great match.

      • Plenty of times the opponents take it easy the last part of a match, happens in every single sport, everywhere in the world. It even happens in college sports where the sport is still a ‘job’ to the athletes, just not one the athletes themselves get paid for.

        I went back and forth agreeing and disagreeing with points you made. Yes, in a perfect world professional sports (really Professional entertainment through sport) would last to the end of the match or the last lap, but this world we live in is not perfect. The combatants aren’t playing for the paying fans they are competing for the paying sponsors. Fans indirectly support the sport through the competition of the sponsors fighting for their attention and money. Our world is so imperfect that even a Utopia would soon be ruined through greed. Simply look at the ticket prices and subscription fees the fans have to pay to watch the events.

        Back to the specific point, I think Mark felt so aggrieved that he literally gave up, he found out that he really doesn’t have what it takes to be the best in the world. Maybe he didn’t want to become that person or maybe he simply couldn’t. He had a chance to run Seb off at turn 4 when Seb finally got by him but chose not to. His career was summed up in that single turn. He had the ability to hold off the world champion and send a clear message to Seb, the team, and himself, but chose to be the good boy and play the team game.

        • I agree, the analogy is somewhat flawed. You can take a knee in Amercain football to run off 40 seconds of the clock, in Basketball you have 10 seconds to naff around in the back court, additional 14 seconds to shoot, there are few sports where you have to finish (in boxing we DO see them knock about if they don’t think either side has the win) one that comes to mind is baseball. Nothing you can do to prevent the other team from having to get that final out.

      • Splitting hairs here – the larger point of the post is spot-on, I don’t think that’s a fair comparison, or even a particularly apt one. This was more akin to either an Olympic swimmer slowing down in the last lap of the semifinal because he’s 10 seconds ahead and wants to reserve energy for the final. Or a Premiership team fielding a compromise side and accepting a draw before a cup tie.

        Team orders is also something that’s always been part of the sport, both motor racing as a whole and F1 specifically. We should be used to it by now.

      • But other sports do “play out the final minutes” all the time. Football, rugby, cricket, boxing, anything where there’s a modicum of endurance involved, competitors whether teams or individuals will conserve effort when it suits them.

        If Barcelona are 10 nil up against Accrington Stanley, do they go flat out, or do they play keeps? For that matter, if they’re one nil up against Real with 5 minutes to go, do they play possession and timewasting? You bet they do. Even if their star forward is chasing the golden boot and really wants to score.

      • The sad reality is that it’s the Pirelli tyres that were supposed to spice up F1 that are making it boring. If the tyres were guaranteed to make it the 14 odd laps of the final stint, they could have raced. Ross would have let Nico chase the Bulls and the Bulls would have slugged it out.

        But not to be, Ross wasn’t sure if Nico’s tyres would last putting in fast laps and RBR wanted a safe 1-2.

        To go back to your Boxing and Football comparisons, it would be like fighting with weights hanging from their wrists, or a ball and chain on the footballers’ ankle.

        The reason they can box until the final bell is that it’s purely athletic – F1 drivers are limited by their cars, but now their cars are severely limited by their tyres.

    • And that’s EXACTLY what soccer players do, all the time, in every game!!! If their actions result in a win, they are praised for being the warriors they are. If they miss the goal and their team loses the game, their actions are bitterly criticized in the press, but in the locker room the manager tells them to keep it up, keep being the warrior. The rest of the team might be pissed off, but they still ALWAYS respect the warrior who wins. And they want to be on the same team with that warrior.

      No soccer manager has EVER told his star striker to give the ball to the other guy. Managers want to win. Just like Red Bull.

    • Good point. My analogy was that it’d be like two Brazilian strikers trying to tackle each other in order to see who’d win the Golden Boot with the match almost won but still not guaranteed. But some others have put it even better by mentioning that in team sports running down the clock is in fact not uncommon at all; what makes F1 unique obviously is that you have a fierce rivalry among drivers who also need to pull together for the whole team. Either way though I don’t feel I can commend Vettel on what he did because I did feel it was quite sneaky.

      The article is a thought-provoking one overall and I would agree on two points (others too maybe, but these are the ones I’ve picked up on). Firstly there are many who would have praised Mark Webber had it been him who disregarded the team order (I actually was pretty ok with the team order in Silverstone ’11 too but there you go) rather than vice versa. And there is an element of ‘one can’t have it both ways’.

      The second is that Vettel has generally been commended for his apology. But I also agree that he’s not really sorry; he may be sorry that Mark is upset tbf, but he’s not sorry that he’s got the 25 points in the bag. So if an apology is not sincere (or not fully sincere), is it worth making the apology at all? In the circumstances, I fail to be convinced of that.

  2. Superb analysis. The boxing analogy is perfect. Team orders and cruising in formation to the line have been integral to F1 since 1998. McLaren, Ferrari, Brawn & Red Bull have all done it with dominant cars. It’ll always happen, whether team orders are legal or not.

  3. Brilliant as usual Will! Fascinating insight into Helmut Marko and the young driver programme too.
    Agree with all things bar the Webber “unwittingly reinforced his position as the number two driver in the team” – I think you could take another angle on it and suggest that Mark was in fact clever in his actions. This is perhaps less likely, but he was fully aware what Vettel had done, and as you rightly point out, he has come out of this better than the German and the team.

    On another note it would great to hear you response to an idea of mine regarding the constructors championship. Rather than award points for both drivers, award the FIA points system (25,18..etc) to the first car across the line from each team. On Sunday for instance RedBull would’ve received 25 points and Mercedes 18 points, regardless of which driver came home first. I understand that the system would penalise dominating teams (no major advantage for a one-two finish) but would better reflect the overall performance of the team during the weekend. On a side note it would also sort out the lower order more effectively (say Marussia and Caterham last year) as the top ten teams home would score constructors points. A good or bad idea?

    • I don’t think he came out better. He’s 7 points down from where he should be, lost out on an important win, and has lost confidence which is VERY important to a driver (and why he seems to mess up almost every single start he ever has.)

        • I agree, Vettel now showed his true face, he is the “official bad guy” now, but everyone wants to see the bad guy struggle, don´t we?
          It also showed how Vettel is thinking, how he keeps his words, his promisses and how he respect his team, his chief and his teammade (not at all)
          Fact is now, as long Vettel has no contract that gives him official number1 status and that proves his teammade has to support him, he will never ever get any support by his teammate (actual and future ones) as long as he is doing motorracing.
          From this point of view, this will to win could now also be turning into a handicap for his further career.

          • Could be…… Who really knows how much “control” over a car the crew has from pit lane. Did Seb truly piss off the wrongs guys (read team) ? Will there be some kind of retribution paid by Seb? I still strongly believe Watson’s suggestion of making Seb sit one out would be an apropos punishment. I would however, make Seb show up….not just leave him home. It would far more hard on the lad, and rightfully so, to be there and not be able to “have in the fun” . Seb must be brought back in line and made to made to understand, truly understand, that the name on the building and on his paycheck reads Reb Bull and NOT “Team Vettel”

      • I like this idea too. It could be a chance for the reserve driver to score points for the team and gain experience. However, this is probably too expensive/risky economically to consider. :-)

    • Completely agree about Webber. Then popular consensus about Mark is that he never backs down, fights to the very end. So, why didn’t he? I have a vague recollection of Ant Davidson on Sky showing a clip of how Mark could have closed the door on Seb. Yes, part of the reason was probably playing the team game but I’m nearly sure a large part of it was he knew Seb would get absolutely
      roasted over this. Seb passed him, and everyone and their dog has an opinion on whether it was right or wrong but Mark is as good at playing the PR game as anyone.

    • Been thinking similar James but came to conclusion that only way to fix is get rid of the WCC. I thought of your idea too James and thought it would work great. But then realized if the cars were in same order as Malaysia, team would still tell them to hold station. If they are going to get 25 points, regardless of who finishes first, they will not let them race for fear of taking each other out and losing the points. Unfortunately, the situation cant be fixed unless there is no WCC from what I can see. I’d like to be proven wrong tho! Vic

  4. Great blog….my personal viewpoint……as Herm Edwards (former football coach) said, “we play to win the game.” If I am a car owner….there is no one I would rather have behind the wheel than Sebastian Vettal….ruthless or not…..He will win. He is not a dirty driver, he simply is very very good. And to the point that we all know it is he that will be competing for the championship (not Webber) and Alonso is sitting on the sideline with 0 points….then it is a max points day. Webber has had his shot to prove he should be treated the same way…same car for the last 3 years….he is not #1. I wish him the best, but he is not #1.

    Finally, I have thought that if teams really want to take this out of the driver’s hands….then with the level of sophistication in these cars….create software that can change the engine mapping remotely (while the race is on) and lock the driver out from changing it. Do that…then let them go race.

      • Not to mention it would be a serious safety risk for the car to be controlled (albeit minimally) by a person not actually “driving” it.

    • He may have had the same car, but it certainly was never the same opportunity from the team. The car, tyres and Webber were a better package (than Vettel) in 2010 . . . that was Webbers championship but somehow RBR managed to swing it in Vettel’s favour. They never put Vet into the no. 2 role, even when it was quite evident if they’d got behind Webber 100% he’s most likely have won. And that decision nearly cost them the championship (had they not lucked into Ferrari’s day of incompetence in Abu Dhabi)

      • Marks problem is his starts, even with the same car, it’s like he’s in park when the lights go out. How many times have I screamed at my tele, “GAS IT MARK”!?
        I wish he would try some drag racing instead of surfing on holiday.

    • I don’t get the “Alonso’s not scoring” argument, and I’ve read it in multiple opinions already, sometimes as a main one. If Alonso was third in Malaysia, wouldn’t everyone be saying that for Vettel it had been crucial to score +10 rather than +3 to Alonso’s 15 points? I mean, I get it, it’s psycholgical. But the argument is supposed to be made on pure, cold calculation – so aren’t 7 points those 7 points anyway? Cheers.

  5. Great article, and completely how I feel. Thank you for not taking the easy journalistic out and simply demonizing Vettel.

  6. One of the best takes on this weekends race I have read yet. Well done Will. I think in a world of “everybody wins” we need a reality check and Seb was that check. Love it or hate it, that is the difference between a champion and the rest of the world.

  7. Thank you. This is the closest report of what I felt. I think though that Vettel might have been trying to placate all around him which also failed. To those seeking his head, don’t watch if racing is not what you want to see….I feel very sorry for Rosberg but he too made his choice. Bring back racing!

  8. > I only wish he’d been man enough to admit it.
    Exactly this!

    If we are honest it has never been about Mark Webber winning the race for Red Bull. It has always been about 43 points. In this situation unfortunately, I don’t see Webber as a victim , with the RedBull politics he’s merely a casualty of Mr Horner’s failure to ensure that his employees do what they are told to. And If the team employs team orders, they better make sure they work as intended.

    But unlike Vettel, back in Silverstone, Mark Webber had balls to admit he was racing for a position and that he “of course” ignored team orders.

    Has Vettel lost my respect for for not obeying team orders and taking the win? No, on the contrary. He lost all of my respect long before that, when asking the team to get Mark out of his way. Double standards?

    • So Vettel lost your respect for a team order call?
      I wonder if you think the same about Kimi (Bahrain 2012 comes to mind), or Alonso? I guess for them its ok? But not for Vettel because you don’t like him?
      Thats double standards then.

      • He expected the team orders to work in his favour, while denying Mark the opportunity to make use of the same team orders. But I also think that his request to move Mark out of his way was part of overall team plan for the race, because at that part Mercedes looked really strong and Lewis was fast enough to almost catch Sebastian.
        What was wrong with Kimi in Bahrain? “Leave me alone?” Those are completely different things.
        And this awkward moment when I neither like Alonso nor Kimi. I love a good character in F1: DC, Jenson, Mark. Not the winniest winners ever (apart from JB, obviously).

      • I recall Alonso being able to give Hamilton the world championship title if he did finish a couple of places lower but there were no team orders. I thought that was also a bit bad-team-mate-like. Anyways, Hamilton has also been on the losing side of team mate rivalry.

        • Whether McLaren’s approach to team orders and equal treatment of their drivers is effective and efficient is rather questionable. In 2007 Kimi didn’t win the WDC – McLaren have lost it. (I can already hear all the offended Kimi fans. :)) It’s a shame, but despite this, or maybe even because of this McLaren are the only team I support, not as driver combination, but as a team. No matter whether they win or lose. It might sound a bit nerdy but they have some kind of a noble atmosphere around the team. And I love it. Furthermore, emotionally it gives you so much more, when win is not an expectation, but a hard fought gift for the team, and then hearing God Save the Queen makes you smile wider. But it is purely a matter of taste, everyone is obviously free to decide what and who to like and for what reasons.

  9. His contriteness is all bout the PR image and maintaining the bouncy smiley bullshit. The reaction has been so severe and, I think, unexpected that I think you’re wrong in that he’d do it again in a heartbeat – if he’s in that situation again in Shanghai I’d wager there’s not a chance he’d do it again.

    3 key points for me on Sunday :-
    1. “Mark is too slow – get him out of the way” – the disdain in Vettel’s statement is to me, the true indicator of his “respect” fro Mark ie there is none.
    2. “c’mon Seb, this is silly” – Horner has no control of him.
    3. Horner talks about “drivers” (plural) in post race interviews, as if there is a shred of blame to place at Mark’s feet? Again – Horner afraid to single out Vettel.

    your piece makes it clear you’re a huge Vettel fan, but I think you’ve ignored one pivotal point – the honour, and by ignoring that you’ve done Mark and injustice by saying he was totally emasculated.

    You also say that he lost out even with the team behind him? In what way were they behind him? If they were behind him they’d have publically admonished Vettel and ordered him (again) to take second. Mateschitz and Horner appeared fearful of upsetting Vettel in the post race interviews, rather than giving him a public dressing down. They most certainly were not in hos corner.

    Vettel only won because Webber didn’t take the “to hell with team orders” attitude that you appear to approve of – had Webber done so, Vettel wouldn’t have won.

    I’ve never been a fan of Senna or Schumacher and to me they were never greats – their records are too tainted by their lack of honourable conduct; when presented with the choice they invariably chose the self serving, dishonourable option. For that, they’ll never be great and the sad part is they probably could have done it without that conduct.

    • Lindsay, great post. Thank you. I’m as much a Mark fan as I am a Seb fan. I have no favourites. The radio call to move Mark was interesting. Mark Hughes’ column on Autosport.com has a great angle on that.

      I’m no fan of team orders. All I wanted was to see a fair fight. We didn’t get that and that’s a shame. Seb took advantage of Mark’s decency and honour. Does that make Seb dishonourable? It’s an interesting argument.

    • Good points made. What I also would like to add to what You said, is the way Mark behaved after the race. He obviously was furious but he managed to carefully choose most of his words in the interviews. Apart from maybe “he will get his protection, as usual” – but we all know it is true.

      • Apart from maybe “he will get his protection, as usual”…
        Seb already got his protection, at least in this blog…

    • Lindsey, I could not agree more to everything you said. And I have absoluteley felt the same about Senna and Schuhmacher. It was them two, who threw being fair and honourable out of F1!

  10. The thick end of this wedge is we could end up with another Senna who was so focused on winning he deliberately drove Prost off the track.

    You are right, Horner has proved himself a namby-pamby leader who is unlikely to get his authority back – if he ever had it.

    • I’ll start by saying that Senna is my favourite all-time driver, exactly because he was a driver’s driver. This doesn’t mean I condone his actions in 1990, in any way, shape or form – but I think having “another Senna” wouldn’t be a bad thing, at all. On the contrary. Senna’s motivations back then could be understood (not condoned), I think. He seemed to carry perceived injustices around for a long time, and was eager to “get even”.

      There are some likenesses – I think Senna was impossible to control by the team, as well. He went into Mclaren, and made it his team. It seems that Vettel is doing the same. The difference is, in the Senna-Prost era, there were two world champions battling it out. In the case of Vettel-Webber, it’s not the same.

      Considering last season, and the small margin by which Vettel won the Championship last year, I can understand his mentality – when Alonso is not on the track, he should collect as many points as possible. I think the main error lies with the team, for not assessing it this way. Webber is a good driver, but he’s not a World champion, Vettel is. If team orders are enforced THIS early in the season, they should benefit the driver who is the main contender for the Driver’s Championship.

      I would have preferred Vettel communicating on the radio “to hell with it, let’s race” or something like that – to make it a fair fight. But he looked pretty angry after the race too, and I can understand that point of view as well.

      Problem is (completely personal opinion, always open to opposing ones), Horner made a bad call – Vettel (rightfully) ignored it, and Webber is the one who suffered the consequences.

  11. Well said Will. I remember being in the crowd at Silverstone in 20122 – we were excited by a great battle between Webber and vettle for 2nd/3rd in the closing laps. But listening to the 5live feed we heard the news – ‘hold station Mark, hold station’. We started booing. Those around us without 5live asked why when there was a great battle. When told them, they booed too. We’d paid to see a motor race. Not keepyuppy.

    Mark admitted after the race he ignored the order (we got the radio message delayed, so we couldn’t really see he was ignoring it). He was fighting. He got pretty alongside Vettel at one point if memory serves. So Mr Webber is not opposed to pulling the same trick Vettel did on Sunday. One difference. Vettel made it stick.

    After Webber made it clear he’d ignored team orders he was lionised by British race fans. He’s no mug. No yes-man for the team. He’s his own man. Pure Aussie Grit. A fighter. A racer. These are the same fans now making Vettel out to be F1′s greatest villain for doing exactly the same.

    The charge at Red Bull is often that Vettel is prefered because he is German-speaking in an Austrian team (hard to argue against that view in fairness!). Maybe some in the British motor racing community need to ask if they favour Mark Webber for the same shared language/history reasons.

  12. First, there is no evidence that Webber turned down his engine. Reportedly the team informed him about the situation when he was coming out of the pit box and you don’t set personal best lap time (only two tenths off from your teammate who was helped by DRS) with turned-down engine mode.
    Second, why Vettel’s off-track personality must be a facade? There are lots of successful people who turn into completely different type of persona when they are absorbed in their profession. You can be kind and witty out of the car but at the same time ruthless and calculated in the car. It sounds more than plausible to me.
    Third, why we didn’t see all these outrageous reactions, when Webber ignored team orders over and over again? Where were all these people insisting RB should bench him for a race? Why did they criticize Vettel and RB’s alleged favoritism but not Webber, when the roles were reversed? Why nobody asked Webber on Sunday how it was different from what he did at Silverstone ’11(where he tried but couldn’t executed the move) and Sao Paolo ’12(where he almost cost his teammate the championship title – even Horner particularly mentioned this race on Sunday as an example)? Maybe Vettel didn’t take the order too seriously because he knew Webber got away with it without any heavy criticism. Hypocrisy at its worst.
    Forth, exactly at what point was Horner letting their drivers race each other? Read all the pit wall to car team radio messages. The team never were and Vettel wasn’t the slower of the two on the day either.

    • My thoughts exactly. My problem with your article Will is that you admit the double standards with which people would judge the opposite situation, and then you go ahead and apply them yourself. Unless you called MW cold, calculated and ruthless after Silverstone 2011, in which case I take this back. But, somehow, I doubt it.

  13. Well said, Will. I’ve been a Webber fan since the Jaguar days and I was just gutted to see his would-be victory pulled out from underneath. Mark’s in the twilight of his career – perhaps his final year in F1. If nothing else, I hope this move finally triggers what I hope will be his own ‘take no prisoners’ attitude. I think we’ll see a new MW going forward. He obviously knows now (too late, of course) that he won’t get support from Seb under any conditions and I hope he’s fired up enough to drive the hell out of his car from now on – beginning with his starts. Good comment too about Horner losing control of the team. I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but spot on.

  14. Before the race Red Bull told Mark it was his race he would win. ” How the hell can they do that ?, easy answer it’s scripted BS !!!!” The sport lost me as a fan on Sunday morning.

  15. Totally agree that the race should be ran from lights to flag. Also agree that Vettel should have manned up & said “I race to win…PERIOD!” However, I dont really see the possible repercussions of Webber not helping Seb achieve another title. I don’t really see where Webber has ever really been a good team mate or supported Seb. Just look at how he ran Seb in Brazil last year when Webber had nothing to gain and Seb everything to lose. This fact may be a little of what was going through Sebs mind as he gunned pass Webber. Fact is, Seb is not paid to be the Wingman at Red Bull, Seb is paid to do what he does – WIN and thats what he did.

  16. You make it sound like Vettel pressed a button that Webber, valiantly, obediently, did not touch, is there any proof whatsoever that Webber did not turn his own engine back up again once he realised Seb was disobeying orders ? The fight went on for several laps, it is not exactly like SV took MW by surprise now is it ?

    Fact is, Webber lost, as he almost always does. The rest really is just whining, he tried to ram SV off the line and hand a WDC to their enemy Alonso 4 months ago, he tried to swerve into SV at the finish line, he is just a sore looser trying to justify his self appointed tough guy image.

    I am disgusted with Vettel, for apologising, nothing else, MW will never be WDC, despite having the best car for many years running, he is a number 2 driver simply because he lacks the 24/7/365 speed and overtaking abilities of the very best, not due to some team restrictions… But for the sake of his own Ego, and posturing to his fans, acts like the people who pay his wages, RBR are sticking the knife in his back. Zero respect for Webber, I hope Kovalainen replaces his from the next race on.

  17. Killer instincts and breed of champions stuff is quite after the fact here. Vettel put himself above everyone else, while Mark played nice. Had Webber too ignored team orders and raced Vettel and anyone of them acted stupidly, it would’ve been over for both of them. He chose to play by the book and got punished for that. That Vettel ignored direct team orders in the 2nd race of the season and put the hard work of the entire team at risk is what is bothering. Killer instincts or not, that’s unpardonable.

  18. I recognized a lot of the same we saw with Alonso in 2006-2007. It was clear that Vettel demanded the team to let him be first middle race, did the strategy to do it himself when they would not change over and then went for it when it was at his grasp.

    Fully agree that the one really in trouble is Horner, as I just cannot imagine a team operating with a boss not in charge. Just compare the way Ross told Nico not to, and the “don’t be silly” comment. Christian lost out on it there, maybe that was what Marko meant when he said things got out of control.

  19. Did Webber turn his engine mapping back up when SV’s assault began? If so, when? Otherwise, getting the jump on and “racing to the flag” against a teamate’s team induced crippled car is not racing

  20. Great post Will.

    Personally, I’m of the opinion that this sport should always be a race, but when a team subscribes to administering ‘Team Orders’, they should be adhered to by all. For that reason, Vettel was out of order. He made a hash of all post-race interviews stating he’d made a mistake. The only mistake he made was not to man-up and tell it as it is. He spotted an opportunity, and he went for it. Sod the consequences. Sod everyone else.

    I feel for Mark, but relish what the future might bring between these two. Hopefully, ‘Team Orders’ will be scrapped and all racing drivers will go toe-to-toe. If that happens, it’s us, the fans, that will benefit.

    • So you were also disgusted with Mark in Silverstone 2011 when he did the same thing and could’ve caused an accident? Or were you cheering him on and saying to hell with Team Orders?

  21. “I only wish he’d been man enough to admit it.” That was my biggest problem with all of this too, just friggin own it. Followed closely by Webber not taking the fight back to him for the last 10 laps when the call to return the position never came. I am less annoyed by Mercedes. A 3-4 finish is a good result for them given the last 3 years with just 1 win and what, 4 podiums(?), they needed it and didn’t need their cars in the gravel.

  22. Well said Will, although I have to add that Mark’s anger was probably directed at himself. I am sure he’s angry for being duped, for following the rules. I’ve been in that situation and you feel like a fool. I think it’s a generational thing as well. Some of us were brought up to toe the line and obey the authorities. It seems the youth these days don’t have the same respect for their authority figures. I’d be curious to see the ages of the commentators compared to whose side they champion. I’m an old lady and side with Mark.

  23. Sometimes in life it is better to wait – than be first. Excellent piece.

    I agree totally that this was pre-planned by Vettel. He was stewing from the moment he made the wrong decision to go for dry tyres and handed Webber the advantage.

    The team then made him hold station 3s behind Webber and he saw his chance with the final pit stop ‘rule’ previously employed. Check out his lap time and how much of the lead Webber lost during that final stop.

    He’d calculated this scenario all afternoon. So don’t lie to us Seb….

  24. Will, that is the best darn piece I have read on the entire affair so far. Brilliant! Beautifully written too. I have been saying some of the same things on my blog and have received my share of flak for it. I also wish that Vettel had just said, “I was on a different strategy, I had the pace to win and I went for it. The interteam relations will be dealt with behind closed doors. Thank you.”

    I don’t know if Horner has lost that much control of his team, though. What I personally think went on with Horner is that when Vettel had taken the lead, he probably thought that “ok, the damage is done and this really is the optimal result for both championships. No point in rocking the boat further and try to force Vettel to drop back to 2nd.” But that’s just what I think, looking at the teams history as a whole.

  25. I totally disagree with your simplistic analysis. You totally ignore the facts. Is it so old fashioned to believe that doing the right thing is more important than looking after number one? Why should we be impressed by that? Vettel is part of a team and he has a responsibility to the team (and that means all the mechanics etc). There was a good reason why both drivers where told to hold station and that was for the good of the team to make max points. Vettel has shown he cares for nobody but himself. All those trite remarks thanking everybody in the factory etc are now seen to be so much lip service. Why should anybody at RedBull think that he is working for them? He will rue the day.

  26. I can’t disagree with anything written, but I am left to wonder how this will play out for the team. As quick as you are, you cannot win without the team, the guys changing tyres, prepping the car. Vetted clearly told them “to hell with the team, this is about me”. What will be their motivation going forward?

    Vettel’s ruthless nature reminds me of Schumacher, and Schumacher is the reason I stopped watching the sport for a time. Yes, these guys are here to win, but if you don’t beat the guy in a heads up fight, was it truly a victory?

    • He beat Webber in a straight up fight many times before. Even in an inferior car. He had KERS problems in Silverstone 2011 and still managed to fight him off. The fact that this time he might not have (no way to know if Mark actually turned his engine up or down) to me is not that important in the big scheme of things. He said himself it it didn’t feel like a victory, but the points are in the bag.

  27. Mr. Buxton I believe you are wrong. Had Webber turned up his engine to defend his position , he would have been in the right. But if he did it and repassed Vettle he would have been chastised by the world for having the audacity to dare take his position back from world champion. ‘Doesn’t he know his rightful position ?!?’ would be shouted from the roof tops. First place was his rightful position for that day and it was stolen by a rogue driver who thinks he is the most important person on that team. While I understand and admire desire to win at all costs he has put the TEAM in a bad situation. If Mr. Horner does nothing to reaffirm that he is in control it will send a clear message to Mark that the gloves are off and all is fair. With that in mind I believe he will do ‘whatever’ it takes to make sure Seb is not the champion again. This could be very dangerous.
    I would imagine that as Team Principle your job is to make sure the team wins, much like Ross did with Mercedes. My suggestion to Christian would be to take a look at how long the Team takes on Master Vettles’ pit stops in the next race. The driver can only control so much of a Team sport …..

  28. Finally, a sane analysis of what happened on Sunday! Thanks, Will! There are so many people whingeing about it, saying it’s a team sport so he should have been ‘sporting’, I can only imagine these people have never competed themselves. In a team sport you use your best player to win the game. If you know you’re the best player then you do what you need to do to win for the team. It’s not being spoilt, it’s having confidence in your abilities. Sorry, Mark, if you can’t accept being number two then join a team where you’re number one, ’cause I can only see one world champion at Red Bull. He might need all the points he can get to win again so he should take them every time.

    • This comment. I so agree with this comment. In my opinion, RBR should be focused on winning the constructors’, but also the drivers’ championship. History has shown that Mark will likely not be the individual to win the drivers championship. Certainly, for the constructors”, the team would have had the same number of points, but I think Sebastian did what he needed to. I want to see racing. I want to see teams letting their drivers fight. I don’t think Red Bull was in a position where they were going to lose the 1-2 (and clearly, they didn’t…). I think that Sebastian is rightfully the number one player in this team. And I don’t think team orders are okay. I know that Mark and Sebastian don’t have he best reputations for fighting clean, per se, against one another. I know there were risks. And I am, admittedly, a Vettel fan who thinks that Mark Webber often has a not-so-desirable attitude. I also think that Webber is a good driver, but not champion material.

      So in all, I agree with what was said before. Horner might have lost control of Vettel. He may just need a change — a jump away from Red Bull as Hamilton may have needed this year from McLaren. But the reality is that Red Bull needs Sebastian Vettel, in my opinion. The things he can do with a phenomenal car means he can do great things in an under-par car, too. So, while Sebastian should practice some self-control, too. Red Bull probably shouldn’t bite the hand that’s feeding them, either.

  29. Ideally, drivers would race from lights to flag, regardless of position or team. Sadly, this is not the case and likely never will be. But this is already the case in many other sports:
    - when a football team has a comfortable lead towards the end of a game, backups are put in, and a series of running plays are called to run the clock out.
    - in baseball, you’re breaking the unwritten rules of the game if you attempt to steal a base if your team already has a big lead.

  30. In my humble opinion, team should be here to provide drivers the best possible environment, machine and precise status during the race, but the rest should be left to single individual that has all his senses focused on actual driving. Otherwise, they better switch to remote control….

  31. A thoroughly insiteful analysis that I really enjoyed reading. I wish Sky would get you on their team, it would spice up the otherwise pc punditry. More power to you, mate!

  32. Excellent blog post Will! Also, many of the comments here are spot on as well. To me, the problem isn’t that Vettel made a racing move and then lied to us all with the PR BS – the real problem exists with the team orders. However, F1 will always have some form of team orders as long as there are 2 drivers (3 of Montezemolo ever gets his dream) within a team.

    I am a cyclist, and this has also played out in the cycling world. A grand, classic example of this dilemma happened between Greg LeMond and Bernard Hinault in the 1980′s. Hinault was the team leader and Greg was his top domestique. Greg saw that Hinault struggled mightily. This struggle would not only affect Hinault, but also the team if allowed to continue. Greg against team orders and Hinault himself attacked and thus made history.

    What is anyone to do? Nothing – just accept that as part of the sport. So if we can’t take the team orders out of the equation, then we must look at the PR BS that the teams and drivers served to us after the race.

    Going back to the cycling example, the difference between the LeMond/Hinault example and what we saw over the weekend lied in how it played out afterward. LeMond was unapologetic in his actions and defended his actions with what was best for the team.

    What is Vettel had been honest? What if Vettel had said that he could go faster than Webber, and he knew that the Mercedes were closing in? What if Vettel had said it’s not in my nature to sit back and coast to the end, and I know that it isn’t in Hamilton’s or Rosberg’s nature either? That honesty wouldn’t have made Webber any happier, but it would have made some F1 fans happier at the very least because of the honesty displayed. Most people love to forgive indiscretions as long as the offending party is honest about it – Vettel has not been honest with us.

    It goes beyond that though . . .

    Vettel should not be blamed for doing exactly what he was developed and trained to do. Webber could do the same thing as he has been trained, albeit by different people, to do the same thing. Webber, though, chose not to on the “orders” of the team. That was his choice knowing the true big picture. No one can tell me he doesn’t know how cold, calculating, and ruthless Vettel really is; no one can tell me he didn’t know that the Mercedes couldn’t close the gap and just how ruthless and calculating Hamilton could be. Webber must accept the consequences of his decisions and decide what to do next time this happens as well as after that.

    Webber needs to seriously consider his future and what he’s willing to accept. He is in arguably the best designed car on the grid with an incredible team (for the record, I say this as I have always bled corsa rossa). He could do quite well for himself if he is willing to be relegated to a true #2 slot within the team. However, if he truly wants to win whilst Seb is on the track and competitive, the Webber either needs to become more aggressive or he needs to switch teams. The real question then is where does he go and who will have him?

    Bottom line – stop the BS PR; let the drivers be drivers and more importantly true to their own selves; and, let’s see some real competition.

    Again, I think this is an excellent blog post Will with excellent comments from all. I thought you did a fab job over the weekend with what I saw on NBCSN.

  33. I agree with everything you have said, especially the part about if Webber had overtaken Vettel everyone would be praising him. I find it quite hypocritical that majority of the F1 media are casting Vettel as the devil when after Silverstone 2001 they cast Webber as the saviour of racing and sticking it to red bull. As much as i agree that Webber has a right to be pissed off, he definitely knows how to play the underdog card.

    • But then again, there is a reason why people feel Webber was “allowed” to ignore the orders. After the “fuelsaving” in Turkey that Vettel tried to use to his advantage, and still Webber getting all the flak from the team. And that Webber looked like he got surprisingly little support from the team during his championship fight in 2010. It’s more a case of Webber showing his displeasure about his treatment in 2011.

      • I’m sorry, but Webber himself lost the championship in 2010, not the team, not RBR and not Vettel. He had the chance, he was ahead of Vettel in points, but he blew it!

        Even putting that aside, pointing out the 3% of the examples where they are different, doesn’t discredit the 97% they are exactly the same. He was told by the team that Vettel is much slower due to problems and to hold station, he ignored 4 or 5 radio calls and attacked anyway. After that he can hardly blame Vettel for being the better racer and making it stick in Malaysia 2013 where he couldn’t in SIlverstone 2011.

  34. Your football analogy is interesting, but flawed. Red Bull telling their drivers to hold station in 1 & 2 is exactly the same as a manager telling his team at half time to just keep the ball away from the opposition because you’re 1-0 ahead. Vettel ignoring the order and going for the win is exactly the same as one or two of the football players saying “sod it, lets go for 2-0″. If they pull it off then great, but they’ve disobeyed an order from the boss, and put the team in an unnecessarily risky situation. After the match the players won’t stand in front of the media and say “sorry, we scored by accident” like Seb did.

    Ultimately disobeying the order is for the team to deal with, and it’s entirely their problem. The problem I have with the whole situation is what Seb did after the race (the forced apology).

  35. Will,

    It seems to me that there is a bigger problem that exists beyond the simple issue of team orders, or even a team hierarchy that brings the fans to the doldrums of the last 10 – 20 laps of a race like the 2013 MAL GP. I find it easy to talk about turning down the engine and cruising home in a 1, 2 situation and then smacking the offending (or not offending) driver when they disobey the orders of the team to do so and pass for the better position. This isn’t fair to the fans of the sport who would like to see a good fight on the track no matter how or who is involved in the fight. In my opinion,the problem is the FIA and the unrelenting regulations that they have placed on the teams in an effort for fairness. The cars are so regulated and similar that it seems too easy for the dominant teams to stand pat and cruise the track and call for team orders to be followed rather than be forced to race their way to the finish line. The engines, the wings, the exhaust, the fuel…., I could go on with the regulations….., have made the playing field so level within the teams that the FIA have had to come up with gimmicks in order to introduce random variables into racing situations. Don’t get me wrong, I like KERS, DRS, and the variability of the tires (sorry, I know you only know what tyres are….excuse my American spelling), and I think that they have made for better racing than what we would have had if none of these were introduced, but it seems to me that there is a huge innovation vacuum at the team level that has been replaced by the overlords at the FIA. And next year we get the new V-6 hybrids…..

    While it seems I am off point from your blog, let me bring it back around. If there were variability and the need for innovation from the teams (not just new little wing bits that fall off on the first lap of the race), the teams would be forced to use their number 2 driver as a test case during the weekend and the race rather than strictly using tire (tyre….) strategy as their only competitive advantage. While Webber’s now famous comment about “not bad for a number 2 driver” when he won at Silverstone with the older aero package may be more often heard when the innovation actually improves the competition, it should, at least theoretically, provide the fans with the best racing experience, and give the middle and bottom teams an even fairer shot at competing. I realize that cost is an important factor in the deliberation of regulations and control, but this is still Formula 1 Racing, the most expensive and prestigious racing in the world. Like the old adage about buying a yacht goes, if you have to ask how much the fuel costs, you can’t afford to buy the boat. If Tony Fernandes couldn’t afford to fund a team like Caterham (of course, I suppose HRT is a better example) then we wouldn’t have to watch the competitive teams drive past them on the track. (For the record, I am a big fan of Caterham and I think that loosened regulations would afford them the opportunity to become more competitive at an increasing rate.)

    So I don’t blame Vettel for attacking or Webber for being pissed that he followed the boss’ orders in this situation, I blame the FIA for forcing the competition to stay away from the cutting edge and putting the teams into this type of situation. Imagine if Alonso hadn’t mucked up his wing on lap one….we potentially would be discussing Red Bull, Mercedes, AND Ferrari in the team orders/down turned engine discussion. And nobody has mentioned that Lotus ran together as well.

    At this point, they might as well have one car teams.

  36. Pingback: Some very valid points by Will Buxton in the wake of the Malaysian Grand Prix | F1 SuperSwede

  37. Nicely said. I like Webber and as you said I would have rooted for him if he raced instead of following team orders… What do you think it’ll happen at the end of the year? Will be move somewhere else?

  38. Great Blog Will. The point that most people miss though is that the TEAM wanted to preserve the car. They had the telemetry in front of them, not Vettel. What would we be saying about Vettel if the engine had blown up with 2 laps to go, or did not have enough fuel for FIA inspection? As there are only 8 engines for the entire year, what would happened if this engine blows up 5 laps into another race. Will everyone point their finger back to Malaysia and say, Vettel should have held position and not pushed? Racing against another team is one thing, but against yourself is another. That is the difference between this sport and boxing or football. Using the football analogy, it would be like one team member all set to take a shot on an empty goal and a team mate comes up, kicks the ball away and scores himself. Is that what the fans want to see?

  39. Will, I agree with you on most points.

    First of all I think that the main culprit in all this, the person that could have avoided the situation and did not, it’s Christian Horner. You could have made all this go away if you wanted to. The big question is did he want to?

    If he knows that Seb is #1, Then why did he even come on the radio with his silly silly message?

    If he expects that drivers will obey the orders that he gives over the pit wall, then why did he not stop Sebastian from finishing first? As an aside compare that to Ross Brawn or Frank Williams. Does anybody in the world believe that Sebastian would still be driving for the team if he had disobeyed the orders of those two guys?

    I slightly disagree with your point about not running flat-out. For the longest time Formula One has been designed to not runflat out whether by aerodynamic changes or by other regulations. We can all imagine the turbos and the big ass wings and slicks and everything else but that we would be back at 1994.

    Managing the gap at the end of the races is as part and parcel of Formula One as not running up the score in any other sport.

    So now there’s Sebastian to deal with. He is ruthless, but not forgetting that he was the one that broke down in tears after colliding with Webber a few years ago so she is not a robot either.

    What you should’ve done is admit that he is a racing driver and be a man about it. He should’ve said I am here to win and whatever problem Mark has he has to discuss with Christian Horner and Marco.

    He is a child, however, because of this: . It is different to sit inside the garage and agree to plan and then take your ball and leave in the middle of the game.

    So, like a child, he’s saying sorry just to get out of trouble.

    I am sad to say that in a few years, with Sebastian has secured his seventh or eighth or ninth world title in a row, we will all have forgotten this incident.

    @harryagapidis

  40. beautiful, for some reason it reminded me of a world cup match between england and Argentina where the five foot nothing (or similar) Diego Maradonna out jumped a six foot plus england goalkeeper and punched the ball into the net, England were gallant losers and moral victors, Argentina simply were world cup winners and Maradonna was a footballing genius (really he was)

  41. Excellent piece, finally someone taking a reasonable view of the situation.

    I was disappointed no journalists asked Webber about Silverstone 2011 or Brazil 2012 immediately after the race (correct me if I’m wrong), someone should have reminded him of what he said back in 2011.

    “Of course I ignore the team as I want to get another place”

    That easily applies to Vettel in Malaysia, and like you I wish Vettel had said as much.

    On another note, this article from The Daily Mash made me chuckle. A reminder to us fans of how baffling our sport can seem to outsiders…

    “You could clearly see Vettel trying to accelerate past another car in order to make his car go over the finish line first.

    “According to the twisted logic of the bizarre quasi-sport that I love for no apparent reason, this is quite unacceptable.”

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/sport/formula-one-launches-race-unfixing-probe-2013032663802

  42. Sadly Mark Webber is the last in a long line of number twos – the guys who are fast and good enough to win races regularly, but are not consistent or ruthless enough to win enough races to achieve a championship. Previous examples include Massa, Barrichello, Coulthard, Berger and Patrese. In other words, the nice guys. The ethical drivers. The drivers we admire as people. But Vettel wants to be the next Schumacher. There’s no room for ethics in pursuing that path…

  43. At the end of the day, the team got max points, and no car was trashed. The driving was fair, even if the intent behind it wasn’t. It’s Schumi and Barrichello all over again, (or Alonso and Massa, for that matter). It will be interesting to see what happens if we get to the last race with the Constructor’s title won, and Seb needs help from Webber to take the driver’s championship.

    • Same thing as in Brazil 2012? It’s funny that people forget how Vettel never actually got any help from Webber anyway. He gets the exact opposite. The only difference is that Webber admits this openly and gets away with it, while Vettel is being crucified and made to apologise.

  44. There are Schumachers and Barichellos, Vettels and Webbers, Hamiltons and Rosbergs.
    Count the championships between them.
    If you get your feelings hurt easily, maybe you should stick to “competitions” where everybody get’s a trophy and a pat on the back.
    F1 surely is not that kind of sport.

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  46. Great article Will.

    I personally am always dissapointed when team orders are brought into play because essentially, from that moment on, it’s not really a race any more.

    If all drivers ignored team orders, as Seb did, F1 would be so much more entertaining. After all, what could the teams do? Trouble is, there will always be drivers around who are happy to be told what to do and take all the money thank you very much.

    It’s pretty hard to argue that the Senna/Prost era wasn’t the best time we’ve ever experienced in F1. Let’s face it everyone, if Mark had tried to re-pass Vettel and Rosberg had raced Hamilton to the flag, we’d all have enjoyed the race so much more!

    Agree very strongly that Vettel was wrong to apologise. Does he really think we’so stupid to expect us to believe that such a clever and talented human being (as he undoubtedly is) was not fully aware of everything that was happening within the team?

  47. Through his F1 career at RBR, I wonder how many times Vettel has ignored/defied Christian, his engineer, or other Red Bull personell in his ear during the race weekend. We fans aren’t privy to much on the world feed, but for sure Sebastian has blown past pit entrance on multiple occasions instead of bringing the car in, for instance, or has just gone on track and done HIS thing.

    Last season (I believe in Monza), I remember none too happy radio call from pit wall to Vettel asking and ordering him “What are you doing?! Shut the car down, shut the car down, we need to save the engine”, which he dutifully complied with at some point. It’s a little snippet and may not mean anything but we do get glimpses of how Helmut Marko helped craft RBR around Vettel, perhaps rightfully so, and how sometimes that sort of over-support of a driver can turn on the team. In one sense it’s refreshing and fun to watch Vettel go about his business and flout the guys on the pit wall – and that’s fun for us. The petulant child and bully comes out from time to time which is neither charming or enjoyable but that’s racing and at RBR and Vettel gets fantastic results. I’m curious as to where dietrich mateschitz stands in all of this.

  48. Will,

    I respectfully disagree and think you are making a crucial error in your analysis. The way you frame your arguement, Vettel and Webber are the only two people fighting for the championship at Red Bull, and that’s simply incorrect.

    Unlike boxers, F1 drivers not fight with their own pair of fists alone. You are completely forgetting the dozens and dozens of people who are fighting alongside them at every moment – the engineers, the mechanics, the aerodynamasists, the physio therapists, and on and on and on. These people live their lives with military-like precision, following the orders of their leaders and working together as a team, because Formula One is WAR and it takes a hell of a lot more than ONE extremely talented person to win. It takes an ARMY. It takes a braintrust. PERIOD.

    A soldier that deserts his army is not a hero, he is a lone wolf, a deserter. At the very best, he will lose his fellow teammates respect, which in the long run will cost him more than 7 points.

    At worst…well, let’s pray they don’t go there. Big egos mixed with resentment & anger can create a deadly cocktail. It’s nothing more than the politics of human nature.

    • You and I are on the same page. I never said this would work out well for Seb. The military terminology was used for good reason. There is a chain of command. Seb broke it. What happens next will be fascinating.

      • Will,
        I can’t see how it won’t end up badly for SEB — here’s why:

        He may have the power of being #1 at Red Bull, but that’s because the team has given him that power — and that which can be given can also be taken away.

        Furthermore, he demonstrated he has no inner strength — no moral core, no honor. He lied 2x to his team — before the race & after. And please, SEB is no latter-day Ayrton Senna, not by a long shot. Yes, Senna was a ruthless competitor, but he was never dishonest about being so. Senna had the balls to make it clear that he was going for the jugular; he wasn’t hiding anything. He didn’t care if you agreed with him or not, because Senna raced from his moral core & people respect him for it to this day.

        But SEB has shown he had no moral core. He lied FLAT OUT twice to the people who put him in power at Red Bull. And I have to believe that the people who work in F1, with it’s insane physical & emotional demands, have to have a good deal of personal inner strength — and the difference here is just that; a person’s inner strength belongs to him or her ALONE, because it comes from within — and for that reason, unlike power, it cannot be so easily taken away.

        My prediction: SEB loses. Like I said, F1 is WAR, and in war the most valuable friends are the ones who you can trust to always have your back. People you cannot trust are a threat to your very survival & therefore become the enemy, no matter whose uniform they wear. And when a group of strong people unite against a common enemy, great power can be quickly weakened…

  49. It seems to me that tires have a role here… the mounting frustration of the drivers to slow down, preserve the fragile (less than 30 miles!) Pirellis… all this leads to driver annoyance and if Sebastian felt his tires were good, why should be stop racing just because Mark’s were shot? Look at the Parc Ferme video, compare the tires.
    Yes F1 is a team sport (but only for the money)…. but it is a driver’s sport first and foremost. Horner screwed up even asking, if you do not know your drivers, get out of the game.
    What is worrying is “Remember Monza?” and “I’ll remember…” from Mark. No matter what people say, the Istanbul incident was Vettel being aggressive but it was Mark who moved onto Vettel and caused the crash. He’s an Aussie, they are, by nature, bullish. I remember Graham Hill remarking that “You never want to go wheel to wheel with Jack” (Brabham) for the same reason.

    • You’re right. The “I’ll remember…” from Webber is worrying. But if he crashes out Vettel for revenge…..well if Red Bull doesn’t get rid of the clear number 2 driver for sabotaging THEIR number 1 driver in the world, then they really don’t deserve Vettel or anyone of his caliber. Webber should thank Vettel. Without him Mark’s on a good team. Not on a multi-world championship-winning team and all the remuneration that goes with that. The Vettel’s of the racing world earn their “protection” as Webber put it. Mark’s feelings are hurt. Man up and just race to the flag next time. Who knows…..he just might win one. Stranger things have happened and he would be respected for the effort.

      • I disagree, the 2010 Championship was almost Mark’s – he had four wins by the mid-way mark where Seb had only two. Some rotten luck in Abu Dhabi was the difference for Mark winning or losing the championship. Had he finished 2nd in Abu it would have been a tie and Seb would have won from having one more race win. Hardly sounds like the situation you’re describing.

        • I’m sorry, but I don’t agree. You can’t use the “luck” card when it was all in Webbers hands. He screwed the pooch royally at the start and never recovered after that. It was in HIS hands and he couldn’t do it, while Vettel could.

  50. Spot on Will. As a Brazilian fanatic for this sport – I do wake-up 3 or 5am thanks to my father directions in the early 90′s, to watch Senna race and hear the “Victory Theme” in our local television broadcaster. I would deeply regret Senna obeying such an order. Nowdays (just as the old ones) – they are fighting for a Championship! It’s a race, where every point is important – (Yes, I shouted Massa as winner in 2008 – and he lost by a single point! What if 2013 something happens in the Brazil last corner again?).

    Blame on the teams that conservatively turns down the emotion with such rules and please don’t forget why F1 looses every year some of its fans.

    Fortunately – I think ourselves in this forum will support the sport with our lives until the end (otherwise we would not engage such conversation), but surely is a little sad having chequered flags waived by the team orders and not the race director.

  51. Do you really think Red Bull would for one second think of sitting Vettel down for the next race? A 2-time consecutive World Champion who has virtually won their constructor’s championships for them? How many races has Webber won in the last 2 years??? 2? 3? maybe 4. But really, I can only think of Japan and Monte Carlo. Seriously, let them race. Is Red Bull so unsure of their car that they think they have to run the fuel so thin that they might lose over something so ridiculous? Really? With Sebastian Vettel driving? When did they completely lose their senses? Sit him down if you want to make your point. He of course will leave you flat and move to Ferrari or anywhere he chooses. You know it and so does he. Personally, I’m pulling for Alonso this year and hope he wins it all. But I’m realistic. Vettel will eventually eclipse Schumacher. We all know it. Sooner rather than later most likely. He is a champion. Take your team rules and shove them onto drivers like Webber, etc. Drivers who will never win a championship without divine intervention. Team rules do not apply to drivers like Vettel, Alonso or Michael in his day. They win races for you. Isn’t that the point? Like you said Will,…. Lights to flag. Let ‘em race!

    • @graciegere – Webber’s had 9 wins, Vettel is a 3-time consecutive champion not just a 2-time.

      Sitting him out for one year ONLY hurts Vettel, with that fast of a car they’d still stand a chance of getting constructor’s points and they’d remind everyone that Horner runs the team, not Vettel. Horner has been quoted as saying ” “He knew what the com­munca­tion was. He had the com­mu­ni­ca­tion. He chose to ignore it. He put his inter­est beyond what the team’s inter­est was.”

      A one race suspension would not be extraordinary.

      What it all boils down to for me is, team rules in the 2nd race of the season is utterly ridiculous. Much better not to have them at all, let it stand with the drivers. If one needs P1 in the last race of the season to stand their best chance of winning and they have only their teammate ahead of them in P1 who is mathematically eliminated, the TEAMMATE can move aside. As long as the team is getting 1/2 they shouldn’t care and of course as long as the drivers don’t take each other out (VETTEL, looking at you).

    • @graciegere – I agree with your thought that RBR will not punish Vettel. In my opinion he is the number 1 driver at RBR regardless of what the team says and they won’t want to damage the chance for a 4th straight driver and constructors world title (and I should point out that I am an RBR and Vettel fan). However I disagree with your point that team rules don’t apply to Alonso. In my opinion they do apply to him, it’s just that he is the benefactor from the team orders, not the #2 who is restricted by the orders (and that may at least somewhat be what you meant).

  52. And maybe another thought about when I hear all the teams waxing on about “the bigger picture” or “long term plans”. How big of a picture is it to have a pre-ordered outcome of the race? When spectators lose interest in F1 cause of this, the whole sport goes down the drain, as happened before.

    • It’s a very good point. This is the first F1 race I’ve seen for a few years. I got bored with the politics, the rules and the lack of overtaking and switched to MotoGP and WSB, where at least there seems to be some real racing happening (and no radios).

      And after watching Malaysia I can’t believe what’s become of the ‘sport’ of Moss, Hill, Hunt, Villeneuve, Senna and more. Since when did teammates follow each other meekly across the line? Since when did KERS, DRS, mandatory pit stops, engine limits and other incomprehensible regulations trump the sport and the spectacle?

      Awful. I can’t see how F1 can possibly hold its audience or ever gain a new, younger one if it’s so dull and controlled. It’s about as gladiatorial as flower arranging.

  53. Interesting stuff, I like some of the angles, and the background given, especially with Helmut Marko.

    The team should have handled it right away – if nothing else, make him go through the pit stop, show who is boss. There was a gap to the Mercs, let him overtake a bit if needed. Now they really have a problem on their hands.

    Main point of disagreement:
    though I agree with the idea of racing lights to flag, I can’t fully support it with the current rules. You have 8 engines per year. You do not want them to blow up, and to lose places at the end of the year, and with it the championship. I have similar views about the fuel – it just goes with the current situation, you do not want to waste tenths per lap.

  54. There’s a lot to be said for your perspective, Will, enough that you’ve made me conflicted about this.

    As a counterexample to the ruthlessness of Senna or Schumacher, consider Sir Frank Williams (as a team owner), or Rubens Barrichello. I always felt that these guys played everything morally straight and above-board, and I think the sport is better off because of people like them.

    I’m afraid that an attitude of “win at all costs”, and “it’s only illegal if you get caught breaking the rules” is a big part of why NASCAR cup racing is such a cess pool. Sometimes it seems as if they’re just one step above professional wrestling.

    The ruthless approach is short sighted for the sport. Theater today, and a championship this season, may be one thing. But the reason I’m interested in F1 isn’t over who wins. I’m interested in the technical excellence, both in precise driving on the edge, and pushing the extremes of engineering creativity. This soap opera only interferes with that.

  55. Great points although it is always alot easier to play monday morning quaterback. No matter what sport, or the result when you step off the field of play at the end your emotions run high. I think we may be giving those guys a lot more credit then they are due. What we all saw was raw emotions. A pissed off Weber, embarrased Vettel and a humble Hamilton. While I may not be a repetitive world champion at the sports I particpate in the emotions of the competition always flow freely.

  56. First time I read your blog, Will. Nice stuff.
    I absolutely agree with most of your words, but I like to point out these:
    “one does not become a triple world champion by being a nice guy.”

    Many fans of any sport including F1 love to see the humanity of the sport itself. That’s why the greatness of a sportsman is relative. Senna, Prost, Schumacher, Vettel, no one doubts their skill and achievement. But in the end, like and dislike towards them are almost equal.

    While we enjoy Raikkonen’s phlegmatic personality, Alonso’s determinaton and aggresivity, or “those ruthless champions”, we do need good character in sports, as it influences people, as it inspires people to create better world.

    Champion and Gentleman. in the end, they are different matter. If one could achieve those, your greatness would be undeniable.

    Thanks a lot, Will, for your writing.
    @adityafakhri

  57. Well said, sir!

    And may I add that I’ve always been put off with the double standard and hypocrisy with regards to Vettel. The people are just feasting on this one big blunder they’ve all been waiting for. If Mark was the one who disobeyed he’ll be lauded as a hero. Jeez, just say you hate Vettel with or without this Multi21 scandal.

  58. one does not become a triple world champion by being a nice guy.

    I know of at least multi world champion that everybody thought of as a nice guy. Juan Manuel Fangio. May be not on track, but certainly off the track. And he won one of his world champions because of another nice guy, Peter Collins, who gave him his car when Fangio’s broke down.

  59. You have to admit it made for extremely exciting racing but I also thought to myself that Vettel might be the only driver in history to be hated for not following team orders, other than Pironi of course. Rightfully so for all the reasons you stated above.

    With so much money riding on the success of drivers and teams, why are the rules made to allow 2 cars in the first place? Would’nt the costs be lower if only 1 car were allowed to compete per team for the constructors like in A1 gp? Reduction in costs would also bring in more teams dont you think?

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  62. Vettel suckerpunched Webber. If Vettel said on the radio “Forget the orders, tell Mark I’m coming for him!” then I would be fine with it. This isn’t war, it’s a sport. To me it seemed like a timeout and Vettel should have said timein rather than just going for it. That would have made it a fair race.

  63. F1, like most motorsports, is a team sport. The driver may be the most public face of the team, but even the best driver will go nowhere without a team behind him/her. And it’s not just the principal (Horner) or designer (Newey) or even money (Mateschitz), it’s all the anonymous crew in the factory and the pits. By ignoring the team, thereby putting his personal interests ahead of the team’s, I believe Vettel dis-respected all of them. So while they might all celebrate the victory, somewhere in the recesses of their minds, they have experienced a bad taste which can poison the dynamic of what has to date been a remarkably successful team.

    There are no bonus points for margin of victory. As others have pointed out, in many sports, with a lead in hand, you alter strategy to reduce the chances of injury or manage fatigue or to otherwise avoid bad outcomes. These considerations apply to F1. For example, with a limited supply of engines for the season, minimizing stress to lower the chance that an engine will fail prematurely is a intelligent strategic decision for a team that has a season long goal in mind. Yes, Vettel wound up with maximum 25 points, but what if the cost is an over quota engine later in the season. Like marathoners – who are obviously racing, but who do not start the race by sprinting off the line – being able to meter your efforts is a critical aspect of being the best. And was there anyone on the RBR pit wall that wasn’t flashing back to 2010 Turkey?

    As much as I think Webber wants to win, I suspect what makes him especially valuable to the team is his understanding, albeit grudgingly, of his role. I recall someone on the SPEED broadcast team commenting how Massa seemed to be a different driver after 2010 Germany. While Ferrari got the result it wanted in that race, if it indeed precipitated the slump in Massa’s performance, it may ultimately have cost Ferrari much more. Conversely, Webber – notwithstanding the occasional public jabs, like 2010 British – seems to have understood and accepted, and continued to score good points for RBR. If this was Webber’s 2010 Germany moment, the cost to RBR could similarly be much more than anything gained at this one race.

    By the way, I agree that Horner may be at fault. Those times Vettel set fast lap at the end of a race he was leading handily, after being told to slow down, appear to have resulted in a “ha, ha, boys will be boys” type response rather than any admonition. If “bad” behavior has no consequence, it will continue and potentially escalate.

    • Great points about Webber and the parallel with Massa. It will be very interesting to see how this shakes out over the course of the season, and whether Vettel’s actions and Webber’s reaction impact Vettel’s chance for the WDC and RBR’s quest for the WCC.

    • Well that’s the problem. He doesn’t accept the role. With Vettel being close to a 3rd championship in Brazil 2012 he openly admitted to favouring Alonso and tried his best to spoil Vettels chances. Let me ask you, why would Vettel then do anything else then what he did in Malaysia 2013? The biggest mistake I think was RBR signing him for another year. He should’ve gone to Ferrari to experience what it really feels like being a number two driver.

  64. If he wants to be level with Senna and Schumacher, he will remind Red Bull that he has the number 1 on his car, and he will continue to go for every win to keep it there. If they don’t like it, he won’t be unemployed long. The number 1 will look good on a red car next year.

  65. First, it is a great article and there is technically nothing to add – it’s spot on!
    What ruffles my feathers a little is the fact that people over state the term “Team” and “Team Player”. Yes, by definition Sebastian is part of a team but that’s about it; in essence he is a single fighter on the front line, he is the one throwing himself into a dangerous environment, he controls the car, he has situational awareness and has to come up with instant make or break decisions. If anyone expects a race car driver not to be egoistic then you only fool yourselves. With the exemption of sharing a car like in the 24 hour of LeMans, every driver is very much cut from a similar template – Team player when needed but selfish behind the wheel.
    If we dissect the Team aspect then things probably become more obvious; how many contributing “teams” are there? McLaren Electronics for the ECU, Pirelli for the tires, Renault for engine and gearbox and all the other manufacturer that enable Red Bull to build a winning chassis. And that is exactly where I would draw the line on the team aspect – and then there are the drivers. Hired guns, easy to replace when needed or whenever something bad happened (Senna or Ratzenberger ring a bell?). The “team” will move on, they’ll continue business as usual and probably just get another driver. At the end, it will always be a single driver winning the race and questioning his/her decisions how he got there, that is silly indeed.

    What Seb did to Mark was simply showing all these “get in line here, shut up and wait your turn” people in Formula 1 the caliber he is really made off. He has shown to the audience and fans how it should be done – wheel to wheel racing from start to finish. He stirred up this traveling circus and send a wake up call to the political players of F1 who think they can control their drivers just because they want a photo finish and parade to strike their ego.The day Sebastian passed Mark against so called “team orders”, he became a Villeneuve, Senna and Rindt by doing what everyone expected of him – push the envelope and go racing!
    My only regret is Sebastian not standing up and following through after the race, but that will change over time and with more experience, he will call their bluffs and BS.

    On a final note, I also believe that the term “Grand Prix” is so diminished in the current Formula 1 that is actually a bit of a disgrace to call it that. Sure, there are many contributing factors and there are many to blame, inclusive the FIA, for creating such an environment but just imagine this: if Mark and Seb would really drive for their paychecks, does anyone honestly think it would have come to a situation like Malaysia? Or Rosberg making a fool of himself by waiting in line and begging the “team” to let him pass? Not a chance!
    Call me old school but I still believe that an incentive or award based on pure racing performance is the way to go, probably backed by a reasonable salary. So there are many other things that could or should be brought into consideration along these lines, or whenever people think a driver is stepping out of line by doing what he does best – winning a race!

  66. This was a great write. As an F1 fan I WANT to see the racing to the end. As an American F1 fan I have to ask this, and I do so without trying to point a finger, but in a legit, honest question – does Vettel being a German have some influence on why he is being vilified by so many British writers in so many of the British papers?

    • It’s a great question Bill. I think a lot of British people are terrified that we might have another Schumi on our hands and that he will dominate the sport where the English have such a strong root and history. With every win and WDC there fears are realised so they are looking and dissecting every move he does so they can let him have it.

      They are thinking, ze Germans might have beaten us constantly in Football, but at least we have more F1 champs then they have. :) It’s all quite amusing actually.

      BTW, this is all IMHO, no hating intended. :)

      BTW, this is all in IMHO.

      • Thanks for answering. This is just one more of the great dynamics of F1 that, sadly, most of my fellow American rubes don’t understand. They’d more content to see the two use fisticuffs to settle the argument, ala NASCRAP racing (loosely used). I always had a sneaking suspicion that politics might just creep into this a bit. Then again, I am of German descent but am a diehard McLaren fan, so what the hell do I know.

    • As a German, I think I can respond to that – simply, the answer is Yes! But we don’t take that too seriously, just watch some “Monty Phyton” or an episode (The Germans) from “Fawlty Towers” and you’ll understand the typical British sarcasm. And the British main stream media usually picks up along these lines just to create friction…..it’s all a game for them to see if they can get a rise out of us because by their definition, Germans have no sense of humor ;-)

      • Haha :)) thanks Thomas. At least your beer is better. The politics of F1 are as equally interesting to me as the racing.

  67. I love sport… It has created a fantastic debate which will last weeks if not years after the event.

    Anyway, I am not a Vettel fan by any means… But taking a comparison away from sport, I can imagine that within political parties there is a rather large amount of backstabbing to get to the top and get to be Prime Minister. Vettel wants to be World Champion, if it is at the cost of Mark Webber winning a race he doesn’t care. In fact he may even be delighted because it stunts his team-mates efforts at taking the championship away from him.

    But on the contrary. In any ordinary job if direct orders are ignored there would be a meeting with the boss and you would potentially be handed your P45. The thing I find most interesting about this is that we all heard Ross Brawn give clear and direct orders to Nico Rosberg, something that we didn’t hear from Christian Horner.

    It is a close one, but I have to end with… It was a quality couple of laps when they were side by side wasn’t it? :-)

  68. Thanks Will -great article !
    Interesting that you chastise Horner for treating Vettel like a child and then say that Vettel should be treated like a (nasty) child.

    I don’t believe Webber turned down his engine- if he had (and Vettel didn’t) he wouldn’t have been able to fight to hold Vettel off. Maybe they both had turned down their engines or maybe Webber turned his back up.
    I think Webber looks for someone to blame instead of taking it himself. Vettel not admitting he went for the win to get the points is kind of the same thing. Wonder where they learned that behavior.

  69. Will, you make the Red Bull young driver programme sound like the Cobra Kai dojo and its a simple fact of life that we (especially the British) will always root for Danial-san!

  70. I have 2 thoughts. 1) Webber is a “company man” and knows to obey orders. 2) Webber is a company man because he is apprehensive about leaving RBR for another team and losing the technical performance of Adrain Newey. I think it would be a true middle finger salute to Vettel and RBR to leave for another team and then succeed at that team.

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  72. Will,
    Agree in parts to your article. I’d like to pick one aspect of F1 that I’m not sure you’ve addressed. (If you have, well, I still want to make a point :) )

    We have both WDC and WCC concurrently. So its not a “Let’s go racing” alone. Drivers are competing for themselves and the teams. The teams are competing for themselves and the drivers. One does not exist in a vacuum without the other. Even a football analogy doesn’t work here since the coach doesn’t put in his own money but plays for the same goal – win the tournament. Anyway, my point is, you cannot expect the team to not play it safe when they can ease off and get a good result. The driver isn’t driving for his own championship alone is he? There is the team behind him which has put in millions of dollars into getting him in a position to compete at the sharp end. His decision, if it ruins their chances in the WCC, also puts at risk the jobs of everyone at the team. Not so in a football team, except perhaps the coach who might get sacked. But the coach plays for the same goal and doesn’t compete for a separate Coach of the tournament trophy does he?

    In that light, a ruthless, win at any cost attitude smacks of being a man after his own goal without taking into account the team. He is a part and if he ignores or forgets that, his own team, other teams (who might be future employers) and the fans might not think of him in good light. Why is Schumacher, an F1 champion with more titles than any other, held in such poor light as a sportsman when Federer is held to be a model champion? If your win leaves a bad taste in the mouth of even your supporters or neutral fans what does that say about your actions. Sportsmanship might be an ideal or even a word without relevance in these days of win at any cost and bottomlines but to a lot of people being a gentleman is worth a lot more than being a self-entitled little …

  73. When did RB send the code to the drivers? Weber came out of the pits literally wheel to wheel with Vettel. The point is they where engaged immediately and fighting for the victory. They were racing and Vettel passed him within two laps.

    • It was agreed on before the race. And seeing that when Vettel pitted he was 5 sec behind Webber, and Webber didn’t do any mistakes on his lap before he pitted. I will guess he had already been given a new delta as Vettel had pitted.

  74. Even though I wish all drivers would race to the end, I understand the longer outlook of it all. Red Bull will be playing for all the marbles at every race, and winning seems to be in their blood. Even though I don’t like Sebastian for what he did, I understand why he did it. Perhaps he is damning all the rest because he’s done at Red Bull after this year. But Mark’s not the person to lay down without a fight. Perhaps there’s something bigger at play here?

    I don’t think it’s easy to say one single Formula One race is equal to a boxing match, or a soccer game. The entire season is a championship bought; the individual races are just the rounds, quarters, periods, or what have you. You have to play to win each round, but you also have to think long term strategy. Multi 21, turning down the engines, is just part of that long term strategy. Maybe Webber is playing for that. Maybe the team decided it was time for Mark to win if he’s in that position. Either way, Vettel should be lauded and hated for what he did. It could come back to bite him in the long run.

    At best, the drama that unfolded makes for good television, not good racing. So, maybe Bernie’s calling the shots?

  75. Agree with your analysis, but it has always seemed to me that Seb has received preferential treatment from Bernie, Helmut, Dieter, et. al and those in positions of power within F1.

    It’s Vettels’ duplicitous nature that makes me despise him and actively root against him.

    To my mind he has always been that smarmy kid in primary school that knew he could get away with things that others could not. Sooner or later, he will overstep bounds for which even his advocates cannot cover. When his comeuppance comes, and I’m sure it will come, I will be celebrating along with millions worldwide.

    • Why? Because all he’s in that car for is to win? Feel the same away about Michael? Who drove for Ferrari the same way?

      • Drivers have often been backed preferentially, in the feeder series, if somebody believed that they were destined to be great. Johnny Herbert told the story from the Japanese F3000 series in 1991 or 1992 when a certain MIchael Schumacher and his backers bought him a drive with Herbert’s team for a weekend. Not only did Schumacher take over the #1 car, relegating Herbert to the backup chassis, but they also turned up with a development Mugen engine, which Herbert and the team would never see again…Sebastian Vettel started out as the favored son of Red Bull’s driver program, and so far, he is the only reason that Helmut Marko still has a job. All of the other Red Bull driver program members have either washed out of F1 or been dumped in short order. Vettel knows that he is the only reason that Marko still has a job, and he is smart enough to play that for all it is worth, to the extent that Christian Horner is reduced to being a nodding dog when it comes to team orders in the races. (As has been noted, Ross Brawn’s demeanour when instructing Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton was unmistakeably “I am in charge, do as I tell you”).

  76. Nicely done!

    I have a solution for the team. RBR should appeal to the other teams and drivers to support a reallocation of driver points, as if Mark had won and Seb had taken second. That way, Vettel can keep his shameful ‘win’, but without penalizing his team mate in the championship. I think this could be pushed as an intra-team penalty.

    One other troubled driver duo – Felipe and Fernando. Is Alonso struggling to achieve his form from last year? I think these championship near-misses are taking their toll on him.

  77. You put into words what all TRUE race fans were thinking. The only team order should be “don’t wreck eachother”!
    Brilliant work, Will.

  78. Consider the fact that Vettel repeatedly asked the team to move Webber aside. If Vettel was the better driver, he should have been able to beat him fair and square. He should have said “Webber, I’m going to race you, and I don’t want any favours from you or the team.”

    But he didn’t.

    He asked the team to get Webber to move. In other words, Vettel asked for more team orders, not fewer team orders. Vettel loves team orders when it suits him. There is no way that Vettel can claim to be standing up for man-on-man racing.

    • Exactly. The team response to “move him out of the way” should have been “YOU pass him, and if you crash, you might want to park it out there and walk in really slowly”.

  79. Excellent blog Will! But it Begs the question, isn’t it time we spilt teams in formula one and only had individuals? They could share the same resources but not race data and drivers would have no reason to help each other. Each would have their own boss, Let’s face it all the teams are guilty of this (Though at least Ferrari are up front when they do it) We even have a situation where Ref Bull effectively have four drivers on the grid as the 2 Toro Rossos let them pass at will. This would create more racing than ever. As long as the current situation goes on, and coded messages determine race wins, the fans are being conned

  80. That was beautifully explained. You had me nodding in agreement the whole time. I’m a RBR fan and seeing them race each other almost gave me a heart attack (and brought memories of Istanbul 2010) but it was awesome. Totally worth it waking up at 5am to see.

    What I found amazing was that I heard the same person saying that Vettel was wrong, but that Nico should have disobeyed team orders. How does that work? How can one situation be wrong, but right when the players are different?

  81. Great blog, but you don’t mention the reasons WHY nobody except Vettel will ignore team orders. Had the situation been reversed Webber would have at best guaranteed his contract would not be renewed at the end of the season, and at worst would have been out of the car by China. Either way, trying to ‘steal’ 7 points would have cost him any championship aspirations – guaranteed.

    Likewise, had Nico ignored Ross he would have been immediately handing the team on a plate to Lewis.

    The ONLY driver who is bigger than his team is Vettel. Stand by for a team about to implode…

  82. Either we have team orders or we don’t. If we do then the Team Principal is the person who determines what they are and when they are to be implemented. If team orders are not allowed then each man for himself and let the best man win.

    F1 is in the tricky position where it is a team sport where individual’s within the team are vying to beat each other at every event. It is difficult to effectively straddle this divide as is witnessed in your analogies of Boxing and Football. In boxing the team supports one person, In football the individuals support the team.

    F1, like other forms of motorsport, is a combination of the two but ask a Team Principal which one is most important and they’ll answer the team. Team first, individual second.

    I have no particular problem with Seb’s actions in Malaysia other than he broke team orders which we have in F1, regardless of how they got back in. We can talk rights, wrongs, past histories and what we like and dislike about the sport until Judgement Day but in this race, with a 1-2 in the bag and team orders in play, Sebastian did the wrong thing. It undermines Christian Horner’s position and is very likely to have an effect Seb’s championship run as he’ll get no favours from Mark, no rear gunner when Mark is behind him, no easy pass when he’s behind Mark and chasing positions, and maybe even no quarter given when overtaking.

    Ultimately this could be the strategic error of the Season.

  83. Great blog. Love to hear your thoughts. However to say that Seb Won the race completely ignores the fact that Webber was running in a “turned down” engine. I’m a big vettel fan but Webber has moved up my list

  84. Isn’t winning a race if the opportunity arises hard wired into most of these men? In all honesty, if anyone has the chance for the DC it’s Seb not Mark. Sorry Mark! I mean he can be a good driver but it comes in small bits then nothing for a while. Is it me or has he had a chip on his shoulder since Seb’s first DC? It’s a tough situation but at the end of the day they are racers and instinct takes over. It may not be “nice” or being a good sport. Is that what this is all about though? We want our champs to be good sports and decent men. I do at least. But is that really the goal for most teams? Do any of the drivers listen when the team says slow down? Not many.

  85. Thank you Will for a fabulous analysis and for being willing to offer an alternate opinion.

    With regards Vettel, to my mind he displayed the mindset and will of a champion. He knows that Alonso is likely to be his main rival and with 2010 & 2012 coming down to a handful of points, leaving 7 on the table just wasn’t an option.

    With regards his post race comments, I would wager that he thought that Webber would put on his PR face for the podium and the talking and ramifications would take place behind closed doors as they have many times before. When Webber put it all on public display, I, like you would have rather seen Vettel tell it how it is – ‘I’m the triple world champion, I was on a faster strategy, there was a win to fight for and I wanted it’ – rather than stumble out a half apology, half PR answer.

    It’s a tricky situation for Horner clearly. He can’t afford to leave Webber in a position whereby he is unwilling to do the ‘donkey work’ in picking up the points behind Vettel to bring the WCC, but can he afford to push Vettel and the 6 titles his points have brouht towards the exit door? Especially with a huge F1 shakeup this winter.

  86. Great read Will, I always love getting your blog. I walked out of my living room conflicted, as you zeroed in on both my conflictions! As a driver I am not done with any of you until the flag drops, even with an 8 lap lead I am not done racing. But as a car owner I have pitted cars early to yank drivers out due to on track conduct and in this case that is not an option for Horner. For me this is ultimately MY conflict. What surfaced is that Vettle never took the high road after the race, in the green room, and during the interviews. And that is what leaves everyone looking to Horner as to what he is going to do about it. Vettle got out of the car did his I won show, looked around and found himself alone. He is racing for him, indeed. But the granger is you are on a team. It is a team sport. It’s in his contract, not that I have ever read one but I bet any laymen could understand it if read that part. The team comes first!!! But at the end of the day Vettle didn’t change anything for the team’s goal. Horner didn’t have to send Vettle back behind Webber as it nets him the same points. He is looking for a 1-2 finish. But now we look to Horner and his powers as to how they control this (or not). What a beautiful fine line. Will you talked about Vettle going to Ferrari (maybe) but Redbull still has this entire year ahead of them. That would be a handful and I still think it needs to be dealt with. Thanks for your share and letting us air it out lol
    For the record in my internal conflict I sides with what Vettle did. I am always a driver first. I am in the business of me. Vettle got what he was looking for and showed that he is bigger than politics. I would have just taken more ownership of my actions and showed more class toward my team. That’s the whole idea of being punk rock. Don’t be rude, but don’t say you’re sorry either

  87. Will, what are great time it’s been 2 weeks into the race season and it’s full of drama. I believe that if Red Bull does nothing about this last race in Malaysia. The team will be in a spiral down, as a team there is leadership and you follow the rules or your out thats life your not the owner your the driver. (Briatore, Webber and VETTEL must part ) this is from Webber’s management. Your interview with Horner, was great you caught him at the best time and you held his feet to the fire. You see them gray hairs come out as you pounded him with questions then his forehead got bigger less hair as you pounded him with more questions. You continue at this Will, you may get yourself a Emmy award. NBCSN needs your input more often throughout the whole weekend with your name at the top of the screen. Varsha, is great its just like being at home with you guys. Can’t wait till we see what happens between now and China.

  88. I think Webber sealed his fate with regard to Seb last year when he said he wouldn’t consider doing anything to advance Vettel’s championship hopes. If I have a team mate who’s stated he won’t help me late in the season and I have a chance to get 7 points now, I’m taking the 7 points.

  89. Many valid points made by most above. Although it was great viewing for us fans, the sport of F1 seems to have lost face by these whole ‘team orders’ things at both RBR and Mercedes during a single race.

    One things for sure regardless how you view this controversy, like Prost/Senna and Alonso/Hamilton rivalries before them, I can see Seb & Mark being at each others throats for the rest of the season. Good news for us TV viewers.

  90. I really like your text and agree with most parts of it. So, what could be done? I think we can rule out making team orders illegal again. There is no way supervising team orders aren’t issued in one way or another, the only solution would be to make radio communication illegal. Back to pitboards only. Would even this guarantee there were no team orders? It would just be a matter of time until teams would find a way around it. I think the genie is out of the bottle.

    So, let’s go the other way. I don’t think I would like to see it but it would solve the problems as we see them today. Make it impossible for the driver not to follow orders from the team princiapal. Put the team principal in control. Introduce telecommand. Today the drivers make the onboard adjustments to the car. This could easily be done from the pit wall via telecommand.

    So, do we want this? Probably not, but with telecommand Christian Horner could have set both Red Bull cars into “Multi 21″. Problem solved. Would this make racing better? Would it make it more interesting? Do we want to see radio controlled cars? I don’t think so. What do you think?

  91. All this finger pointing as to who was wrong here in this issue, ….and I’m here to tell you that it was me, the fan and F1 follower, who was WRONG ! I felt very good about the season opener in Australia. My thought was “no bad manners, no bad penalties !” “and that maybe, just maybe the latest bratpack of Formula One drivers was finally growing into their pants…..But I was mistaken, …they are clearly still shitting in them !”

  92. Damned if you do damned if you don’t. It is sad to see that racing drivers being treated as mere employees following the orders of a boss man. Do these drivers have so much time to think about while going at such high speeds?

  93. great article will. ruthlessness is most evident when the talent overwhelms the opposition.you do what your capabilities allow you to do. the man most capable was always jim clark. never tagged as ruthless he found a way to defeat the opposition. even in inferior equipment he would drive around a problem always at the limit. at the top level this sport is about focus and the ability to go beyond what the book says is possible. team orders,constructors points, and a duty to your sponsors have always conflicted with a driver’s will to win. the FIA have hamstrung the sport with tires that play to a script. I want to know who has the concession for recycling the clag after each race. but i digress- FILL EM UP,LIGHT EM OFF AND GET THE HELL OUT OF THE WAY

  94. I wonder if the cars had tires which wouldn’t fall apart after a few laps and didn’t have to use the engine & gearbox for several races if we’d see less of this ‘mailing it in’ the last few laps. You’re right, too often the race is over the last few laps. Looks like Bernie’s efforts to improve the show may have an unintended consequence.

  95. Couldn’t agree more, he’s a racer! 5 years from now people will be saying look how good he is not he’s a immature blah blah kid.

  96. One difference with ‘sitting out the last x minutes of sport x’, is that it is the last number of minutes. What happened here was that the last 20 minutes of a football match, or the last quarter of an american football match, were not played. It was not even the last 5 laps like in Silverstone, but there were another 11 laps. 20% of the race was still to be done.

  97. Well, the article is a great read and most of your opinions are to be applauded. However, I don’t agree in the “let’s race ’til the end” part because, everyone knows the current rules, and tyres specifically, make impossible for F1 drivers to fight all race long. And this isn’t the first time it happens in F1 either. But more on that later. Team orders, as much as I dislike them, have been part of racing (not just F1) since the very beginning. Even though I am not old enough to have watched the ’50s and ’60s (though I know the stories, of course), I have enough seasons of F1 under my belt to give an opinion: Going for a little “history”, I can recall the seventies, when Ferrari put Lauda in a no.1 role at the expense of Clay Regazzoni, and asked “Rega” to hold positions behind Niki many, many times. As a result, Lauda became a double-champion and Rega could only win a couple races for himself, all the while collecting good points for the Constructors’ cup. In 1978, Lotus did exactly the same, and the one playing second fiddle to Mario Andretti was none other than the greatly regarded Ronnie Peterson, who willingly agreed to it before his terrible accident. Just one year later, Gilles Villeneuve accepted to help Jody Scheckter win his championship, thinking his time would come eventually. Only one year later, Carlos Reutemann did the same for Alan Jones, thinking the team would give the favour back the following season. He was quite surprised (and furious) at the sight of the famous “JONES-REUT” sign at Jacarépaguá in 1981, when he had already won the points-less race at Kyalami and had had the upper hand over Jones in that Brazilian race. 1982 brought us two incidents of the kind: the infamous Pironi-Villeneuve at Imola, which ended up in tears, with Pironi being treated as a traitor: and rightfully so, for he had attacked on an unsuspecting Gilles. René Arnoux didn’t give the lead to Alain Prost at the French Grand Prix that same year, and a big outcry began with “Nené” departing Renault at season’s end. And I could go on and on and on with examples, but it’s not my intention here. What about the nineties? Well, we saw Patrese never attacking Mansell in 1992, Damon Hill doing the same with Prost the following year, David Coulthard not only following home but also handing TWO race wins to Mika Hakkinen (Jerez ’97 and Melbourne ’98), and more. Senna had McLaren, and Berger suffered the consequencies, even when the car wasn’t that competitive to truly fight for a championship (1992). Schumacher had Benetton, and then Ferrari, for himself, bringing Brundle, Patrese and Herbert (at Benetton) and Irvine and then Barrichello (at Ferrari) to a “less than no.2″ position, such were the limitations all of these drivers had to deal with. Alonso and Vettel are only the new “arrivés” to this club, and Massa and Webber are dealing with it in different ways. Massa has accepted his role (apparently) quite well, while Webber never came to terms with it, because no-one ever said he was, definitely, a number 2 driver. What fans and pundits alike believe is one thing, but what his contracts say is another. Webber had the 2010 championship almost in his bag until four races from the end, and he had a 30 point advantage over Vettel. While 30 points, with the then new system wasn’t much (just over a win away), he WAS ahead, and Red Bull never gave him the needed support he deserved. We all fans applauded Red Bull for letting both drivers fight it out, but they risked big time losing the title to Alonso. Abu Dhabi saw an interesting case of Vettel dominating and Webber driving a “pizza-delivery van”, not able to get beyond 5th place at any given moment during the whole weekend. The result, of course, was Vettel won the championship, but only because Ferrari made its own mistakes, otherwise, Alonso would have won easily. Since then, Webber had all sorts of problems and was asked several times to make way for Vettel, sometimes accepting it, sometimes not. He had the upper hand over Vettel during the first half of last year’s season, and all of a sudden, he suffered a lot of failures and strategic problems, losing ground easily, while Vettel started winning. I’m not implying this was masterminded by the powers-that-be at Red Bull, only saying that Webber, for once, might have thought that, after dominating (for that’s what he did at Sepang last sunday, dominate, over everyone, Vettel included, while nursing his fragile tyres) the race, he would be rewarded with victory, especially so after the agreement they had reached before the race (and Vettel himself said that agreement stands for EVERY RACE, only that it very rarely happened, and when it did, it was with himself at the front…). The team, for once, appeared to back up him, and he trusted them. Vettel doing his own “interpretation” of that agreement caught him off guard and, yes, he should have taken the fight ’til the end once he realized Seb wasn’t going to commit to said agreement but, in all honesty, he knew that with his hard-compound tyres, he wouldn’t stand a chance of truly taking that fight to the checkered flag. Webber DID turn down his engine, or else how can anyone explain how Vettel cut a +5 second deficit to Webber in just ONE LAP?. Because he was going slower, for the team had reassured him the fight was off. I’m sure he went back to full power mode when he saw Vettel right at his side while leaving the pit-lane, but the damage was done: he had slower tyres than Seb, and he knew he wouldn’t be able to beat him in a straight fight (and before anyone says he wouldn’t even with equal tyres, will be missing the point altogether). Webber trusted his team to hold Vettel back: he had won fair and squarely the race until the last pit-stops, and the agreement said whoever of the two won that “battle”, would win. Vettel hadn’t truly threatened Webber until then, but took advantage of that trust and got away with it. I think both Vettel and Webber were quite furious with themselves after the race, because both had done things to damage their own images: Vettel showing his team he doesn’t care about their orders, which is a lot more serious than what many people can think is; and Webber because he lost a big chance of winning a race he had in his hands, only for trusting his team. Now, his only chance will be to do things his own way, and play as hard as he can, because he knows (something he should have known already, by the way) that he can not trust his team anymore. Did Vettel do wrong? As a champion, no, because he stood for what he always does: win at all costs, no matter what. As a person, however, he did very badly, and that, for me, is very bad indeed, a shame really. Those who say a champion has to be ruthless and self-sentered are wrong: sportsmen are, before anything else, human beings, and winning at all costs will not matter when retiring: being a good person will…………….

  98. My comment was so long I forgot to make a point on my “more on that later” part: 2013 rules and tyres do not allow racing drivers to race full out, but it has happened in the past as well: remember 1984 and 1985, when drivers had to slow down at the end of the race because they could run out of fuel?. THAT was similar to what happens now, and it is part of racing too. Fangio used to say that you had to win at the slowest possible rate, to nurse the car home, and that to win, your first had to finish. Racing IS NOT going full tilt all the time, it’s knowing when you have to accelerate, and knowing when you have to slow down. The teams also know this, and that’s why they have agreements and team orders: to secure results. Vettel risked this, and Webber didn’t. The fact that Seb came away with it was pure coincidence……

  99. Really excellent analysis here. Though, akin to many, I don’t quite agree with comparing this situation with boxing, or football, or any other sport for that matter. Motorsport is so fundamentally different from the majority of other sports, that the many comparisons made above aren’t really serving any purpose. Its like comparing an apple to an orange. Possibly the only possibility of a link I can find are other types of racing. Say for example cycling, a huge team game where everybody in the team supports the number one in order for him to win the race (or tour) Once the leader is out in front, the other team riders don’t try and challenge him for the win but carry him through to the line, as I said though, I find it incredibly difficult to draw comparison’s with other sports.

    I think fans need to accept that team orders are an integral part of the sport, like it or lump it. Because of the dynamics of F1, on Sunday it was, or should have been at least, Red Bull v Mercedes, and once the status quo was established, that was the race over.

  100. Thanks for the post Will! Since watching the race on Sunday I have been eagerly anticipating your post on this situation. I agree with everything you said above.

    As a fan of Vettel and RBR, two things upset me the most on Sunday – 1) Vettel apologizing and 2) Vettel going back on his word (assuming he had agreed to the team game prior to starting the race). Vettel should have come out and quoted Webber from last year instead of apologizing. From Webber last year (when Vettel was in the thick of the title hunt and Mark was all but mathematically eliminated): “I don’t go there thinking I’ve got to be playing a team role as such. I’m there for myself, to get the best results possible and to do that I need to be part of the team. So, no, I’m not going there thinking in a supporting role at all.” Or: “This weekend if I have a chance to win the grand prix I will go for it.” I think if he had come out and said something to that effect we would respect him a bit more for at least being somewhat honest. However that may have been more damaging to his relationship with Webber and the team, especially if he had agreed to the team plan prior to the race. Likely he thought he would be ahead of Webber in any case, and that the team plan would have been to his advantage. I think his natural instinct was to smile and sheepishly apologize and turn the schoolboy charm on as his way to try and mend things with Webber, the team, and the public.

    Ultimately I think this gives us another great story line to follow in a season that already has so many. Which teams will switch to 2014 development if 2013 slips away (which you have posted on)? Can Vettel and RBR get that 4th double in a row? Will Vettel go to Ferarri? Can Lewis Hamilton win a race at Mercedes before McClaren wins a race? If Massa continues to outperform Alonso how will Ferarri’s team orders play out over the season? Can Grosjean go incident free this season? And now we get to see how Vettel and Webber interact in the upcoming races. Will Vettel’s title hopes be dashed by Webber at the end of the season? I’m giddy with excitement!

  101. Awesome read Will.
    What I don’t agree with is the reference of vettel as one of the greatest of his or any generation. A senna or a Schumacher wouldn’t have made an agreement like this and then jumped at it as soon as they realised the agreement was working against themselves. They would have told their team and teammate before they even got into their cars, that they would fight for it and not have it any other way.

    I’ve always been a Ferrari guy, but I liked vettel more than I did Hamilton the last few years. I liked the idea of a three time world champion being such a nice guy and it was almost ok that the team I supported lost to a nice guy who fought for his victories, albeit many times just with his teammate, But this time he did not fight for it, he just pulled it out from under webbers feet.
    And red bull needs to just own up and play it like Ferrari. We have a no 1 and a no 2 and that’s how we are going to race. The whole facade of being an equal opportunity team isn’t working. McLaren have been the only team who can almost claim to be one and even they could come in jeopardy now with the button having to fend of the exuberant Perez. The next time they are in a one two position, it’s going to make for some exciting viewing.

    But I do wish we could go back to racing like it was in the senna / Prost / mansell / Schumacher era where they could race like that. The problem according to me started with aero development. Can’t the fia come up with rules that limit the amount of downforce the cars can generate so they automatically control the amount of dirty air behind the cars. We could do away with drs, do away with tyres that just kill the racing just because they put on a good show for a few people. It can’t be so hard to work backwards and see what levels of downforce and grip were there on the cars from 1991 or any year where we had close enough racing.

  102. Brilliant post, Will! I was already hopeless about someone bringing up the real deal in all the Malaysian mess.

    The first thing I asked myself after the dust settled and we could get some perspective was “Why the hell is he apologizing?”. He just went there and tried to win a race, which is what all those drivers in there should be doing. There’s so much politics and media frenzy around F1 nowadays that we must be forgetting what it’s really about. Racers race to win races, and that’s why we love it so much. We love them when they are brave, fierce, when they defy limits, when they are extraordinary. It’s not about good guys or bad guys, it’s about giving your best and being a winner.

    I was disturbed to read comparisons between Vettel and Schumacher, and I don’t believe Seb wants to be a “new Schumi” at all. Michael was always happy to use team orders, even when they weren’t openly legal, to his favor. He has always wanted Ferrari to be built around him, and that was never Red Bull’s profile.

    Christian Horner was doing a great job to let his drivers race, but then in the second race of the year he decides it’s time to tell who’s gonna win? The Red Bull principal was the only one who had to apologize, in my opinion. Winning a race because you fought for it on the track isn’t ugly. Trying to manipulate that win from behind a monitor is.

    And what about Webber? Not my favorite driver, I must say, and I often find it difficult to identify that so called Aussie grit. I totally agree that he was somehow “emasculated”on broad TV for the whole world to see, but that was, in a way, his own choice. Why didn’t he fight for his position when he saw Seb coming? Wasn’t he backed by a team decision? It would cause him no trouble to make sure the team orders were obeyed. He just didn’t fight. And that’s why (and not because he’s a good guy) he’s bound to be a second driver, probably forever.

    Thank you Will for bringing your perspective and being so true to the spirit of this wonderful sport we love. Once again, I say: I wish everyone could see F1 through your eyes.

  103. Pingback: Buxton’s blog: Vettel the ‘smiling assassin’ | MotorSportsTalk

  104. I’d have more respect for Seb if after the race he’d come out and said:
    “I’m a racer; I raced. It’s who I am. It’s what I do. It’s why I’m 3x WDC. If the team is unhappy, then we can talk about in private later, but if they expected any less of me then they don’t really know me at all”

    Not sure I agree with you that Lewis was being disingenious in his discomfort at Nico being held back, but I only saw what was shown on TV. Don’t suppose he’s crying himself to sleep tho.

    It’ll certainly be fascinating to see how all this plays out!

    Good strapline btw ;-) Cheers Will.

    P.S. Really can’t imagine Vettel at Ferrari before Alonso retires – especially after this!

    • I was thinking if he said over the radio, i want those points, tell Mark im racing for them. That we would have huge respect for him.

  105. Ah Will. You wizard of words. You troubadour of text. You prince of posting. You bard of blogging.
    Very well thought out and written. I enjoyed reading this immensely. I may not agree totally with everything you stated but I’ll give you a hearty pat on the back and a virtual beer for how you wrote it.
    Vettel IS a product of his training. Vettel DOES need to own up to his decisions and actions. Webber SHOULD have said bite me and kicked it into high gear when seeing that Vettel was going for it. Even more so, Horner better get control back before RBR implodes on itself..even more than it already has. My ultimate hope would to see Vettel benched for a race and another driver put in his place. However, does that really benefit the team? Or could it be the team needs to take a hit to prove the point to Vettel? “We run the show, not you, and we’ll pay for it to show you how much we mean it.”
    I’m not a RBR fan by any means and find this a giggle worthy fiasco, I know. I’m horrible. However, I give Mark Webber my utmost respect by handling this like a real man…doing nothing in the press and going about his life at the moment. I wish that could be said for some of the Nascar drivers lately.

  106. Do you think Mark could out race Seb fair and square? Especially on Sunday when there was a tyre compound and age difference. Mark could have shut the door, but they would likely both be out, so had to concede.

  107. Interesting fact is that lots of people feel that Mark cant drive and some say he is past it. Mark is a considerate driver who has fought the fight in a team that favours the other driver. Seb is the best driver there has been for a long while and Mark was able to hold his own. Let see if Mark can fire up for China.

  108. I do agree with your last Blog Will and we have seen how it has worked out to this point. Some agree with what Vettel did with his never say die attitude and others may have a different view. But we all know what the engine rules are. If that engine is used in the next race with him in the lead and it expires in the final few laps from the additional stress, well, who will be saying I’m sorry then? I realize that is a big if but we also know IF is F1 spelled backwards, think about it… I’m sure Horner and the rest of the team principles have been. Seb didn’t appear to think about that part of the future in my observation and was glory seeking as he has done when chasing the fastest lap at the end while being asked to dial it down in the past. One of these days it may bite him and team in this team sport. If any of you don’t believe in that and just route for one driver ask yourself this. Why is there is only one crew for both drivers when that box, box, box call comes.

  109. Lots of comments around here (and there)! I’m reading posts and replies for an hour now!

    So, briefly – even though it’s not the best way to share my whole opinion picture about the “Multi 21 Gate” – I agree with you Will, because we’re heart-loving motorsports’ fan:

    “The race starts at the lights and ends at the flags.”

  110. There’s something said in the blog was about the tank being full. This is absolutely what I think too. Every car should have a full tank at the start of the race AND a complete set of ALL the tyres and compounds to use as and when the team/drivers chooses. As it is, it is impossible for them to race. I really think the FIA should consider this. I know it would be more expensive but it’s better than Joe Public getting bored with non-races and going off to watch synchronised knitting or something!!

  111. You certainly emptied your magazine there. It had to be said in a measured way. We spectators fork out to watch these drivers / Gladiators / Samurai / Spartans go wheel to wheel. Team orders have no place in F1, they sanitize it. Look no further than MotoGP/2/3 for a good scrap or few. As for Sunday’s results, they really messed up my Fantasy League!

  112. 100% on point on all points. I hope more people take the time to understand Vettel’s perspective before the next race.

  113. Good job. My thoughts exactly. I don’t think Seb should have apologised or acted like it was an accident. You can’t tell a man that won the championship by 3 points to voluntarily give up seven.

  114. Good job. My thoughts exactly. I don’t think Vettel should have apologised or acted like it was an accident. All the greats like Senna or Schumacher would have done the same. You can’t tell a man like Seb who won the championship by three points to give up seven.

  115. Vettel has a job and a boss. His job is to make money for the team. Personal or individual rewards are not any concern of the team and are secondary. To put yourself in front of the teams orders jeopardizes the financial goals of the team. Horner has no ability to govern and is much like Vettel, good car, lack of wisdom. Both are young and have not lived long enough to begin to understand the ways of the world. Ross brawn has commanded his teams through out the years and has produced a few world champions. Drivers understand with him there are consequences. He works for the teams and sponsors to deliver the maximum on their investment. What happened in sepang made an otherwise boring race very exciting. I love a nemesis, an enemy, some who breaks the rules. It motivates other teams to attack. To capitalize on the weakness brewing in a seamingly inpenitable team. Just my thoughts.

  116. First time reader Will, great article and good comments by others too.

    It’s such a complex situation that it’s hard to know what to think but essentially I feel that Vettel stabbed Webber in the back on Sunday. After the last pit stop the orders were to keep formation, I don’t know if Webber turned down his engine but Vettel didn’t easily overtake him, he challenged him. I think they both could have fought it out until the end but Webber knew that the team wanted 43 points rather one or both cars losing out on points. Vettel however went for the win at all costs without any regard to his team.

    What happened during the race was either wrong or drama depending on people’s view but what happened in the aftermath was like a pantomime. The moment the race was over Red Bull should have closed ranks and in interviews should basically have said we are not happy but we’ll speak to both drivers before we comment more. Instead Horner tried to laugh it off when it was clear he was fuming, Dr Marko put all of Red Bull in it with his comments to Sky by saying Red Bull clearly have a problem they need to deal with it (he is a part of the problem), Webber called Vettel out on the “Multi-21″ orders in front of the camera for the world to see, Vettel came back with some stupid excuse and then finally to round it all off Sky interviewed Webber’s father who was full of emotion, he slated the team and then said Vettel’s European so is the team maybe they are looking out for their own! An absolute PR nightmare.

    I feel sorry for the Red Bull Racing workers, they work hard and had a 1, 2 on Sunday and couldn’t celebrate in the way they normally would because of one person’s stupidity and supposed power struggles within the team. The f1 team started from scratch they had nothing to lose, nobody expected them to do as well as they have and now with their success the past number of years, egos have become inflated and hard to control. Somebody in Red Bull needs to have a look at the bigger picture and put some people in their places before a downward spiral begins and the money stops rolling in.

    Mercedes got off lightly on Sunday with all the drama they didn’t have enough fuel for Hamilton so he began fuel saving. Then Rosberg kept insisting that he be let past him. He had to be forcefully told on a number of occasions “NO”. He shouldn’t need to have been told more than twice. Hamilton was mortified and has come out saying there’s no hierarchy at Mercedes and there is at Red Bull. Red Bull always maintains that both drivers are equal, but in reality there is a hierarchy at all teams, it is true for all aspects of society. Red Bull and Mercedes may like to think both drivers are equal but Hamilton gets paid huge sums of money so he’ll end up being their No. 1 and Vettel is triple World champion so he will be No. 1.

  117. Reblogged this on |StartingGrid.org| and commented:
    This last weekend provided us with dramatic inter-team battles during the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix. Rather than us writing an article, we wanted to highlight the views of someone who was actually there on the day.
    Another brilliant article by Will Buxton. I’m super glad that he’s still in Formula 1 commentary, personally.

    This insight encapsulates our feelings on the weekend’s events perfectly. Give it a read, and give him some feedback. He deserves it. :)

  118. Comparing Senna to Vettel is no appropriate here (or ever?)
    Senna never kicked a man when he was down, he raised them up.
    Senna stood up for what was right.
    Vettel here just did the opposite of what Senna did, not the same.

  119. I am not sure if Vettel is such a “killer-instinct” driver as mentioned. In my opinion, he is such a pampered child supported by great team (and great car by Mr. Newey)

    For me it is very early to compare him to great champions Senna or Schumacher.

  120. Will,

    I completely agree with you that Sebastian Vettel showed part of his true nature in the Malaysian Grand Prix. Where I disagree with you is that the sunny disposition, the laughs, the smiles, and the wings are not also part of his true nature.

    I have no doubt in my mind that Sebastian is a friendly, humorous, joking type of personality outside the car, and that inside the car he is racer who just wants to win at all costs.

    To say that it’s a facade seems a little bit silly or simplistic to me. Why would he need to do that? It gains him nothing. Look at Ayrton Senna. He did not try to fool anybody about his true nature and yet he still won because of his ruthlessness. Sebastian has no need to pretend to be one thing while actually being another in order to win. He’s both the jovial guy out of the car, and the selfish, ruthless competitor in it. Humans are not simple cartoon characters.

    Human beings are not mono faceted. Human beings are complex and have various sides to their personalities. This is just Sebastian being himself in both cases. Both sides are real.

    • Totally agree with this. The media and fans seem to have developed a simplistic view towards Vettel, and probably a fair few other drivers as well, that they are either good or evil, there’s nothing in between. As you say human beings are complex. Saying the friendly, funny side of him is just an act because he’s now shown how ruthless he is, seems a rather immature view, particularly given he’s been around F1 since 2007 and has always been like that.

      Great blog though, I agree with everything else!

  121. Lots of sports turn to cruise mode at the end. Football managers regularly substitute their best players for the last 15 minutes if they are winning comfortably. The last 20 minutes of most 24 hour races at Le Mans is spent organising a photo finish.

    Vettel was totally out of order. Helmut Marko’s reaction after the race proved that.

    I could not believe my ears when Horner said that Seb was being silly. All I could think about was what Ron Dennis would have said in the same circumstances.

    Vettel needs to be made to understand that he needs the team a lot more than they need him. There are at least half a dozen drivers on the grid who could have won his championships in that car. He should be shown a list of all the drivers who have won races in Newey cars and their records in non-Newey cars. Vettel may be triple world champion and have a direct route to Mateschitz but Adrian Newey is the number one asset of the team.

    • It would be nice if you could name some of those drivers. Just sounds too simplistic to say that Vettel is a 3 time world champion just because of the car.

      • For starters Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen and Button have all won titles without the advantage of Newey cars so they would find it easier with one. He has not just won because of the car but the car is a huge part of it. It is not by accident that so many drivers have won titles in Newey car. Or that teams like Leyton House and Williams went backwards as soon as he left.

  122. Hi Will,

    Great article but i have one problem,

    You cannot simply just say that nobody was happier to be on that podium than Lewis Hamilton, and that the deprecation in the post race comments were an act.

    I genuinely feel that Lewis didnt feel that he deserved to be up there seeing that his good friend and team, Nico, did a better Job. I dont like what i saw either and i dislike what F1 has become, a juggling act of tyre wear, team play etc rather a race of pure speed.

  123. Great article Will – and for the most part, I agree – but there are a couple of points I think should be addressed;

    – I’m a Senna fan – have been since 1984 – but even I found his “if you don’t go for a gap”” comment amazingly gratuitous. This “gap” he was talking about was Alain Prost’s sidepod – not a gap. “Racing to win” shouldn’t include being willing to crash your opponents off the track if it’s to your advantage… (let’s face it – we forgave Senna for this because he had charisma – we pilloried Schumacher for the same offense because he didn’t…)

    More importantly though, you offer Vettel the excuse that “winning is what he knows, what he lives for, he sniffed blood” etc… Well and good. But can we not say the same of Lance Armstong? It’s a slippery slope.

    Great article though – enjoyed the read!

    • Please tell me you didn’t just compare Vettel and Armstrong.

      Fighting for positions isn’t illegal in F1. It may be against team orders in some cases, but it’s not against sports regulations at all. Using drugs to enhance performance is illegal in all sports. The comparison is absolutely nonsense.

      • Joanna, that was why I said “it’s a slippery slope” – I knew the comparison was invidious. But let’s be clear – Vettel didn’t “fight” for Webber’s position – he stole it. You can say that Vettel really really really wants to win, but there is nothing that special in that if he will do so at any cost. What he did may not have been against “the rules” such as they are, but it was without honour or sportsmanship… and in that sense we can easily compare him to Armstrong.

  124. Pingback: United Sports Car Racing & Hurt Feelings in Malaysia | Simon Tibbett

  125. Do we want racing from lights to flag? I would guess yes but I have a hunch no one is willing to take the necessary steps to minimize team orders and their influence on the “competition”. No this isn’t a problem every race, but it will hinder the popularity of the sport in my home country, the USA.

    I would suggest a massive overhaul of how the teams are structured. Like IndyCar and NASCAR, each team should have their own mechanics, race engineers, strategists, and pit box. Information should be shared between the teams right up until the lights go out, then it is every man for himself. Money should be awarded to teams based on each individual race, not at the end of the season. That never made sense to me anyway. You still have a drivers championship and you can still have your constructors championship. But what you do is you give the owners less or a reason to manipulate the results without pissing off half the team.

    Mark Webber is on an island right now and there is no boat to save him. Does he leave the team for a lessor team? Does he leave F1 for the V8′s or IndyCar? Does he ignore team orders from here on out and risk getting fired? Or does he submit and become #2 and have no chance of a championship the rest of his career? There is not an options where he gets the competitive ride and the big money at the same time.

  126. Lots of people here questioning the analogy betweet F1 and other sports. Most of this discourse exists because of what FOM chose to broadcast out of the myriad radio broadcasts. They, in fact, played a blinder! For me, most motorsport and particularly F1 is an utterly unique sport and the more I can be informed about team strategies, technical issues, sporting regs and who’s flouting them, the more I appreciate the sport. Anyone who thinks you can watch a modern F1 race and just watch ‘great wheel to wheel racing to the chequered flag’ is seriously niave and missing the point of the sport as it exists today. What I’d like is to have access to all the radio channels along with all the cameras and possibly the team telemetries. Don’t let them keep any of it hidden or private. What an amazing modern sporting ampitheatre that would be!
    Oh and I always admire the honourable loser over the calculating winner. Adversity makes the man and how he behaves in adversity makes my opinion of him

  127. Pingback: 2013 Formula 1 master thread - Page 6

  128. How many comments?! lol. Anywho..

    “What upset me most on Sunday was the way in which Sebastian Vettel dealt with the post race reaction to his win. [..] The crocodile tears. The faux resentment. The claims he’d made a mistake, that he was sorry, that he’d “fucked up.”

    This is exactly what i was think within about 5mins after the race, guess he is still too young to have confidence of his own mind. Still, loved every minute of it, more of that please. :D

  129. I couldn’t agree with you more. I was introduced to F1 when I started dating my boyfriend and Kimi was with Ferrari…..so we both watched Massa the next year. I couldn’t step on the Red Bull wagon, but Webber is a great racer. Vettel is still just a child, the youngest, and by Sunday’s performance still has a LOT to learn. Now that i’m a Lotus fan and he still a Ferrrai fan, we still couldn’t believe how Webber lost to his team mate….and was so close to winning…..

  130. Ferrari must love the idea of getting a driver that refuses to listen to team orders…

    My question about Merc though, if this proved that Lewis is the #1, then what will be said if later in the season the roles are reversed and Lewis is asked to hold station? I felt Lewis was genuine when saying that Nico should have been up there, but at the same token, where was the radio transmission from Lewis saying that Nico is faster and to tell him to go around?

    In the end, this is one of the reason we all love F1. The best drivers, the best constructors, the best tracks, the okayest tires, and the best motorsport drama!

  131. The positive out of all this is that it happened right at the start of the season, and it will lead to some gripping racing for the rest of the championship.

    Knowing that team orders are effectively dead at RBR is great news for racing fans, as there is no way Webber will ever turn his engine down again. He will come back from Australia with a sharpened focus, and next time he is behind Vettel he is going to be fighting tooth and nail to try and get past.

    Bring on 2013!

  132. I used to like Mark & admire him, especially the way he handled his crash Le Mans. His drives in the Minardi’s & Williams, & what I thought was his straight talking attitude but the mind & political games he played on the weekend have put me right off him. He has done it before but I accepted this as one driver trying to get the upper hand on another.
    It’s the 2 faced double standards he uses & the slinking off with his phone turned off to consider his future which I find particularly galling. This is nothing more than a strop to get his own way & make Seb look as bad he can.

    At Silverstone Mark tried his level best but could not pull off What Seb did in Sepang
    Mark is no saint and would have done exactly the same as Seb did and he would be hailed as an anti team order macho man & had this to say.
    “I am not fine with it. No. That’s the answer to that,” the Australian said when asked if he understood the team’s decision.
    “If Fernando retires on the last lap we are battling for the victory so I was fine until the end. Of course I ignored the team as I want to try and get another place. Seb was doing his best and I was doing my best.
    “I don’t want to crash with anyone, but that was it. I tried to do my best with the amount of conversation I had. One-way conversation obviously as I wasn’t talking too much back.
    “There was a lot of traffic coming to me, but I was still trying to do my best to pass the guy in front.”

    The only reason he was close to Seb was that they had a jack problem on his last pitstop which let Nando through.

    The general concensus on the forums at the time was

    ‘Good on you’, ‘Screw Red Bull team orders’ and ‘Go Aussie Grit!’
    It’s pretty hilarious to see how different it is when reversed

    The difference is Seb doesn’t throw a fit when Mark ignores team orders.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-07-11/alonso-wins-as-webber-defies-team-orders/2789516

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-07-11/alonso-wins-as-webber-defies-team-orders/2789516

    In Brazil where Felipe was doing all he could to help Nando, Mark made absolutely certain that Seb didn’t get by on the first corner but more than that he forced him back into the traffic where he had the incident that almost ruined his championship.
    Worse than that he allowed Felipe shepherd him high on the first corner so Nando could slip by both of them. Even his own manager said he was he was the one giving Nando the most assistance. Admittedly, before the race he said he was going to drive his own race & try to win it but that is not what he did.

    There is no evidence that Seb led his team to believe that he was going to obey the order and then didn’t, thereby surprising Mark with some sort of trap. What has been said is that Seb behaved as though he hadn’t heard the order or had misunderstood it. It has definitely not been said or implied that Seb acknowledged the order for what it was and then ignored it.

    I was discussing the race with my daughter as we watched it & when the team brought Seb in too early for slicks allowing Mark track position & then when Seb was catching him he was told to maintain the 3 second gap my daughter said, I think Mark’s friend Dietrich wants to arrange a title for Mark before he retires.
    This is them man who when asked by Bernie refused to have lewis at the team because he did’t want Mark to lose his seat & who only last week said Seb can leave any time he wants.

    The only mistake Seb made last weekend was apologising but I suppose this forced by the team, he should just have said this.
    I am not fine with it. No. That’s the answer to that,” when asked if he understood the team’s decision.

    As an aside, When Jenson pulled the same thing on Lewis in Turkey the only thing we heard was how great it was that team mates could race without taking each other out.

    I apologise if I have offended anybody, I just don’t like double standards.

    • Seb received the undercut on Mark, who was 5-6 seconds down the road, so that they could hold off Hamilton. As soon as this happened, it was no longer a ‘fair’ race to Mark. As such, the team advised both drivers multi-21. Seb received a 2-3 second advantage there and came out on top of Mark. Had Mark not been advised of multi-21 Seb would have needed to pass Hamilton then find Webber 10 seconds up the road. Good luck if he could get that job done.

      Silverstone ’11 was a lot different. The team advised both drivers to bring it in order and Mark said “nope, I’m racing this one out”. Seb did nothing of the like. In fact, first he took an unwarranted pit advantage…. then went out at Webber.

      Finally, Seb was the one who chose to pit first for slicks.. This is when Mark took the lead, this was Sebs decision. Not the teams or anyone else’s.

      If Seb announced his intentions straight out (like Webber did in Silverstone) and then passed Lewis and made his way to a pass on Webber, then good on him! He didn’t and that’s a lot of what this is about as well. Mark was assured by the team multi-21…. an order which he has had to obey as multi-12 before.

      I do not understand why this is so difficult for people to understand!

      Great Seb is a ruthless racer, but without help he was nowhere.

  133. John Watson suggested that Seb be retired for one race. In my opinion it would be fair punishment. After all, these guys are being paid millions to do their job and if taking direction from your team manager is part of that, DO THE DAMN job. I agree with Mr. Watson, but. might play it even a bit more embarrasingly. I’d make Seb Webber’s water boy for the weekend…the ENTIRE weekend. What ever Webber wanted or needed, Seb would have to accomodate him.

    Well written Will; truly well written.

  134. Agree on all but one point: saying that Webber didn’t turn his engine back up and race. I’m not sure whether he turned his engine back up, but he sure as hell tried to race, going wheel to wheel for 2 laps and then practically putting Vettel into the pit side wall when he was being passed. Vettel didn’t dust Webber off easily. He had to work for it. So where is the team telling Webber not to jeopardize the cars? I’m not saying Vettel was right, but which is worse, racing cleanly against team orders, or Webber jeopardizing both cars by trying to close the door after the horse left the barn? Vettel learned his lesson on the latter a few years ago and this time raced clean. Webber raced as he always does–with the widest car in F1.

    • Mate, Webber had the chance to send Vettel off the track by using all of his corner and he did not. He was the mature one in this instance. The only thing Webber did wrong was push Vettel to the wall along the front straight… and fair enough, that was wrong.

      Other than that, every other scribe in the business has said that Vettel is lucky his team mate has some years on him as any other battle would have ended with Seb being sent wide off the track leading on to the back straight.

      PS: Seb had no right to be there anyway, as he should not have been pitted first. He was only pitted first to save Vettel from Hamilton and the team had advised both drivers it was over.

  135. For some of us, winning isn’t the only reason to play, watch, or follow a sport. Some enjoy the strategy, the game within the game or the respect players show there teammates and there competion. If the win is the only part of sport that you and SV enjoy about F1, I truly feel sorry for you both.

  136. Pingback: Pirelli unmoved by Red Bull tyre complaints | F1 Fanatic round-up | Cars and Motoring

  137. Winning in many sports has transcended the gentille. Short of breaking the explicit rules, pretty much anything else is available to the driver with the desire. Remember how shocked Stewart looked when Senna essentially took him to task as being naive. Senna, Schumacher, Vettel– all had the win-at-[almost]-any-costs attitude. Prost was pushed, albeit unwillingly I think, to this position also.

    I think the only thing that would dissuade this kind of behavior would be reaction from the journos and the public. I doubt he’ll ever be shunned- people are too willing to look the other way at a winner.

    At the end of the day, Mark did not turn the wick up. He underscored what a lot of people think about his overall talent. ‘Nando had it right– Vettel is faster than Webber. Rosberg however, is another story. I think he got a rude wakeup call from Lewis and it’ll be interesting to see his response.

    Lovely post, Will.

  138. Absolutely fantastic article as always Will! This may have already been addressed in the comments but what are the chances that 2013 could also be Webber’s last season with Red Bull? If that ended up being the case then he’d surely have no motivation to make Vettel’s bid for another WDC any easier. It’s an unfortunate set of circumstances for him because although RBR is undoubtably the best place for him to secure his own WDC, it will never happen as long as Vettel is his teammate.

    I’d also like to bring up tires. What is Pirelli’s motivation to continue to produce an inferior tire? The aim was to create more excitement and uncertainty in the sport but it’s forcing the drivers to refrain from pushing to the absolute limit. The result is what we saw on Sunday, where guys are forced to go into autopilot mode and team orders became a strategy to get cars home safely.

  139. I wonder if Webber was in shock that Seb was pushing him so hard and froze. He thought maybe Horner would put the leash back on.. and when he didn’t and Seb got past, he froze. I am sure another addition to the equation is the “what if” game Webber had to be playing. Had he turned the wick back up and had contact… whether or not it was his fault he would squarely be in the cross hairs. The headlines would read “Webber refuses to settle for 2nd, instead wrecks himself and Seb.” Stories would question why Webber would push, Seb would then play the victim and in the end it still would be Webber’s fault. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

    Of course the winner in all of this Ferrari.. everyone has forgotten their boneheaded decision to not bring in Alonso and cost themselves a fair amount of constructor points. They can discuss this quietly while snickering about RBR.

    • Webber had about 6 seconds lead over Vettel going in to the last change. He should have been pitted first. The team pit Vettel first to cover off Hamilton. Had Vettel told Webber that the gloves were off he would have been 8-10 seconds down the road (including the undercut on Sebs pit) and Seb would have needed to pass Hamilton first before he could chase Webber.

      Fine, Seb is the best drivers of all time. He would have needed to pull one of that bag to get past Webber in that instance. And by the way, Webber did not turn up his engine again because he couldn’t. Why? Because he led most of the race and was dragging the rest of them around which actually uses more fuel than being in the tow of the car ahead of you.

      Vettel was not a killing machine or incredible driver on that day. He was just a common thief. He waited for his moment and went for it. Good on him…. but it was anything but honest. Honest would have been advising the team as soon as you received the order that you would not obey it and then getting past Hamilton and up the road to Webber to take the lead. That would have been honest.

      Sitting there and saying nothing, then overtaking your limp team mate who has done all the work. That’s a cowards end to the race. F1 is a game of chess, not chequers. If Vettel was expecting any help from Webber this season it certainly will not be coming now.

  140. New “team rules” Do not under any circumstances take your teammate out by contact. Otherwise, race, let the best driver/car come out on top.

  141. Well-said. Now if RB had any balls, they would tell Vettel to sit out for a race. Or, maybe next time Webber will take him out. Or, maybe the team will short-fuel Vettel’s car. Vettel was lucky. He just as easily could have run out of fuel or blown a tire and scored zero points. That sort of arrogance can easily backfire. I forget–what was the outcome of Turkey 2010 and Britain 2011? Wasn’t Britain 2011 a win for Webber?

    BTW: Senna was full of rubbish. The “gap” he tried to shoot at Suzuka was his delusion and destined to disappear. Besides, he didn’t shoot that gap to win; he shot that gap to crash Prost and win the championship. I hope you’re not advocating the deliberate crashing of (and risking the life of) a rival.

  142. Pingback: For all you F1 fans... - Page 25 - BMW M5 Forum and M6 Forums

  143. When you have an agreement, you’ll stick to it. If not, don’t settle that agreement. If you won’t be following rules, just don’t accept them when you have the chance to refuse. Stand up in the right moment, not when you find the opportunity to take advantage.

    Great post. But you are trying to sell that Vettel’s attitude is what is needed to be a great champion, and I don’t buy it. From now on, I’ll remember him as a cheater.

  144. I am not too much into this controversy all I can say is “Money matter the team” “Win matters the drivers” “What’s in it for me”.:(

    Simple thing that can be followed ban all the wireless communication. Show the board to BOX and let the drivers do what they are paid to do.

  145. Although I believe Webber has some justification for feeling aggrieved, the real loser here is, without a doubt, Horner. He has lost any authority. He was the one most emasculated by Vettel. Could you imagine old man Ferrari putting up with something like this?
    One other thing: it is now obvious that Vettel will not be able to count on Webber’s assistance in the future. If the season proves to be as closely contested as last year’s, Vettel might yet rue this.

  146. Enjoyed the thought provoking article. Vettel is simply a flawed genius behind the wheel, his personal traits being a liar, unethical and petulant in front of millions of viewers have damaged him forever, Christian Horner’s weakness as a leader was highlighted with Seb’s actions not for the first time. Webber should bide his time and at the appropriate time lower the boom on Seb when it counts most, in Australia we don’t get angry…..we get even.

  147. OK, just spent an hour crafting a Pulitzer-prize-winning discussion of this topic, only to press “tab” and find it disappeared. Summary:
    Buxton = Brilliant, in every respect (thank F**k NBC finally figured out they couldn’t live without you — when will they realize this about Bob Varsha?)
    Red Bull = totally at fault. Didn’t manage Vettel. See Mercedes’ management of Rosberg for clues.
    Weber = Bitter, Whiny Child. His car wasn’t as fast as Vettel’s in the last phase of the race, but he still wanted to win. His behavior was just as risky as Vettel’s during that “duel.” In fact, pictures have surfaced indicating he continued the duel after the race.
    Red Bull = totally at fault again for trying to fix the match. Why on earth would they care what order Vettel and Weber finished in? They’d obviously promised Weber (see above, “Bitter, Whiny Child”) that he’d get to win at least one race this season, and they knew what a tantrum he’d throw if Seb finished above him.
    F1 = totally at fault for allowing teams to fix matches. I’m sorry, but the teams can fix the cars however they want, but the guy who drives the car the fastest and crosses the finish line first should be the winner. Felipe Massa got royally screwed last year by Ferrari, who blatantly told him to give up his position to Alonso on numerous occasions. Apparently that’s what Red Bull were doing with Weber this week, and maybe that’s what happened to Nico Rosberg. HOW THE HELL IS THIS ALLOWED IN ANY SPORTt????!!
    Vettel = Winning Machine. That’s what he’s paid for, that’s what he does. He’s 25 YEARS OLD AND HAS WON THREE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS!
    Vettel = Very Clever. He’s been with Red Bull since he was a kid. He’s no idiot. He knew the team was match-fixing and that Weber was supposed to win. He also knew he was much faster than Weber in those last laps. He ALSO knew that by passing Weber and winning the race he’d make the bosses happy but they’d have to pretend to be mad at him.
    Red Bull = Politicians. Any complaints about Vettel’s behavior from Red Bull are pure politics. Like they want Mark Weber to win the championship this year??? HA! How will it look for them to have a 26-year old, 4-TIME WORLD CHAMPION on their team?
    Mark Weber = Angry Guy. Mark Weber seems to drive like he’s got a constant chip on his shoulder. I really dislike Lewis Hamilton, but this season I much prefer him over Mark Weber.

  148. “I only wish he’d been man enough to admit it.”

    The above line sums it up for me.That’s exactly what felt.He was given some stupid exuse of not noticing the team orders.

  149. Cry me a river, folks. Way too much is being made if this. OK, so the gloves are off at Red Bull. This is Formula One. This is serious competition. This is the way it’s supposed to be. May the best man win – and I don’t mean the best “gentleman”.

    • This is a team sport in a time when the team only has 8 engines per year. I think it is a big deal when a team member defies a direct order. Are you saying Vettel should do whatever he believes is best and ignore the team leader? I guess you might want the rules changed so we have one driver teams with the driver also team principle. Vettel should be punished by the team for his actions.

      • OK, then let’s just run the races on a simulator. Program in all the mechanical variables but leave out those pesky human emotions which often get in the way…

  150. Will great article thank you. I do have to disagree that the fans want dirty cheating high competition drama. We do want good competition but I also think there needs to be a level of sport, a level of integrity, a love for doing the right thing regardless of the sport and regardless of who we are talking about.

    And I argue that there was no real competition Weber, had already turned down his engine and was not racing and in my opinion was doing the what his employer asked hin to do. Anyone could have passed him at that point not just Vettel, you or me could have passed.

    I do not think it is too much to ask for people to do the right thing. What happened to character, integrity, doing good, doing right?

    Either way great article thank you.

    R.B.

  151. Your point about Senna was well made. That is exactly who I thought of when Vettel made his move. That instinct is what made Senna great. it’s the exact same instinct that made Colin McRae great. It’s why we as fans tune in and hold these guys up as heroes.
    I too was disappointed to see Vettel apologise. He is employed as a RACING driver, not a demonstration driver. I can see why he would appeal to Ferrari…

  152. Great article Will! Team orders are rubbish but apart of the sport! I feel it was disrespectful to Mark! How many times gas mark played second fiddle to Seb? Im sure all were team orders! Marks a team player and Seb looks out for himself! Thats not a good thing in my book! Would you wanna be his team-mate? Knowing that hes that cold-hearted? My guess is that he will fit right in at Ferrari! Thanks..

    • I wonder how happy Aussie fans are with Webber being a team player or a great second driver, with no shadow of a world title. As a Brazilian, I can tell you we’re not happy with Felipe Massa playing this part. At all.

  153. Nice article. The rules are here and they are made to be broken. I blame Webber all the way, he should have fought back and eventually make his point.

  154. Will Will…..Great piece…..my two cents is
    Greatness never yields. All the driver we consider great ruthlessly exploit the smallest of gaps to their advantage…when I think of past WDCs I cant think of one who hasn’t don’t something similar or would do it if the opportunity presents. Vettel has extracted 3 titles from that car, Webber..none and truth be told he was never in the running despite a few wins. Vettel is like Don Carleone

  155. Well done Will. They are racing drivers and if they want real racing then get rid of the tire limit and the maximum fuel volume and let them tear it up. I don’t want to see a spec series driven by wanting to be green or revlant, I want the best drivers going wheel to wheel with the radios unplugged and hurt feelings afterwards.

  156. Well written Will, but if pigs could fly we’d all be covered in pigshit.
    People remember “How” and history remembers “How many”. People die off while history gets tweaked for the benefit of the ruling elite.
    How can anyone race with a team mate that has proved that he is not a team mate but a self serving, selfish, immature liar? He is not the first and certainly wont be the last to pull this crap. I think history should record “worthy legends” and “unworthy legends”, based on on-track character and behavior. Would be interesting to read who you would put into these categories.
    Mark made the right call, ignore him from now on and never turn his back on him, only to be in front of him.

  157. I agree with almost everything, especially with the last words! Thank you for your opinion! Thanks God, there are men who understand and analize siyuation, not only listen to media…)

  158. Nice read Will, agree with most of what you said. I´m not at all surprised with what Vettel did, The Smiling Assassin was one of the first thing i thought of when I red all the after-race reaction on twitter and F1 websites. And as an F1 fan that´s what I want to see in the race, if I wanted to see gentlemen and nice behavior I´d go have a swimming or running race with friends where we would gift each other wins in the name of good friendship. And to everybody criticizing VET actions, he didn´t kill anybody, so cool down or don´t watch sports, because I don´t think there is a sport where this doesn´t happen. But about his apology, I think you, as F1 journo who was in this media business for some time, you know he had to said that apology. In car he technically can do what he wants because team can´t take him with crane and make his position in race stick, but as soon as he´s out of the car he´s back in their hands. And after what he did there is no way team would let him tell what he thinks and embarrass them even more. So yes he´s talking empty PR words, admitting his own mistake and real F1 fans/ people know that it´s exactly the opposite of what he thinks but it seems like he´s trying to heal the damage and that what matters in F1 show&business as much as racing does.

  159. Another “well, he’s just such a driven competitor, he can’t help himself” story angle on Vettel, which somehow is deemed an admirable trait. g And this:” Is this not the attitude that all the greats possess? To take advantage of every opportunity they see?” Uh, no. There are plenty of champions in sport, business and other areas of life that somehow are able to be both amazing competitors and decent human beings. He’s a spoiled, petulant arrogant child, nothing more. He’s amazingly talented, hard working, driven, etc; but he’s an a-hole. There’s nothing admirable about that.

  160. Most of the stuff here is either “for” or “against” Vettel or Webber, for that matter. Fact of the matter is that F1 has been designed as a team sport and both the drivers are absolutely willing partners in that set-up. So its ludicrous to argue who complied with team orders and the one that did not.

    If anything, blame the F1 management (read uncle Bernie) who re-allowed team orders to be part of the spectacle. Two, if Vettel is paid his gazillions to be part of a team, then it becomes mandatory for him to follow the orders.

    “Pure racing” or “the instinct of ruthless champions” are simply superfluous platitudes and weak excuses used to justify the sheer disrespect and disregard that a 3-time world champion displayed to his own team owners.

    A true reflection of how that race at Sepang would have turned out was if team orders were banned and allowed all four of the drivers from P1 to P4 to race as they deemed fit.

  161. If team orders are here to stay, then eliminate the driver’s championship. Make it constructor’s only and it would become a true team sport where team orders would not only cease to be controversial but justified and expected.

    (One thing that’s not controversial: the quality of your article, Will! Super job.)

  162. As it is, he sat in Hamilton’s wake and accepted the team’s orders despite holding the pace advantage. And when the Englishman took to the podium and pointed to his crew below him, it wasn’t just as a means of saying thank you. It was Hamilton telling his team, and his new team-mate, that he was number one. So don’t believe the faux platitudes and the deprecation in the post race comments. Nobody was happier to be on that podium than Lewis Hamilton.

    How the hell do you come to that conclusion, do you have access to the inner workings of Hamiltons brain that other mere mortals don’t. As far as i am aware LH has never asked for number one status at Mclaren or Mercedes & has never asked to have a team mate move over for him. As Hamilton said this week “You have to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say you won fair and square, I wonder what Sebastian Vettel sees when he looks in the mirror.

  163. Nicely done Will. Just proves to me that Seb isn’t a man yet, but more of a boy wonder. And Karma is a b**ch.

    Glad you guys are on NBC now. We can finally get some F1 coverage! See you in Austin!

  164. Just to add my two cents as we say here…..I think Seb was definitely childish……BUT there was no way for him to “give back” the position as “team orders” are banned from F1…….these orders have been replaced by “Multi 21″……and to be fair to the teams they have to protect the hardware for other races in the year! Horner did the only thing he could do and that was to call the driving “silly”……NOW what the world is waiting to see is what is going to be the fallout over the rest of the season between Mark and Seb……..cause I am sure there has to be some fallout…..and Mark said it best, “There is no rewind button.” And Mark has one year left in his contract and if he finds a race seat before year end……then probably his revenge will be sweet cause I am certain he will do everything in his power to not see Seb win another championship!
    In hindsight I am still wondering why they even pitted Webber in the first place…..he had a 20s gap with 15 laps to go…..and that to me is also puzzling from the team perspective because Vettel was on his wing as he came out and there wasn’t any transmissions then……just saying. So basically I am saying Red Bulls’ behavior was very consistent with letting the drivers race…..but in the end they were asked to hold station and Vettel just refused.

    As for Mercedes, I don’t know why you will ask one driver to save fuel and the other driver behind him to maintain pace……..and you are chasing Red Bull a few seconds up the road. And according to Ross there was nothing to gain with the overtake…..but Nico has everything to play for and his teammate is slowing down to save fuel……people are racing for crying out loud……and Nico has no fuel to save…….he could have gotten a run at the Bulls……after a few laps Nico would have received his “Multi 21″ message….lol.

    But the Red Bulls chemistry will be interesting for the rest of this season, particularly as driver lineups are being determined and the championship battle unfolds!

    On another note Will……I getting coverage from SkySports…….I miss you and the rest of the Speed team…..just saying!

  165. Excellent article, Will! Thanks for taking the time to hash this out with much thought and heart. I completely agree with you here. I feel the teams need to figure out a way to let drivers race till the finish. Let the drivers always know at the beginning of each race that they’re both on the same playing field. No driver 1 and driver 2. Formula 1 is about racing. And when teams order their drivers to hold position, you have immediately lost the main purpose of the sport. In my eyes, each driver should be balls out till the finish. It seems ridiculous that team management would order a driver to hold position in a sport that teaches you to race and win, not hold back and give way to another car.

  166. The thing that I find most unpaletable about the fall out from Malaysia is the argument that Vettel’s greatness is evidenced by his ruthlessness, as greats of the past (Schumacher, Senna, Prost) did morally reprehensible things on the track in order to win. For me the aforementioned three are greats in spite of their misdemeanours, not because of them and there is also a roll call of greats who would never have dreamed of stooping as low as Seb did on Sunday. Moss, Fangio, Gilles Villeneuve, Clark and Stewart (to name but five) all hated losing, but they wouldn’t have gone to any length to win. On the flip side, perhaps the most famous exponent of defying an agreement/team orders to overtake a teammate for a win, Didier Pironi, would be hard pressed to make anyone’s top 50. Vettel went down in my estimations on Sunday, not for badly wanting to win, but for not caring how he did it.

  167. @”“Multi 21” was the call, turn down the engine and bring the cars home. Webber dutifully obeyed. Vettel did not.”

    I don’t think that’s the case. if it were the case then Mark Webber would have mentioned it, and he has not said any such thing. Nobody at Red Bull has said this happened.

  168. Mark Webber has a history of ignoring team orders at Red Bull, and of being applauded for that defiance by F1 fans. It’s a bit rich for those same fans to turn around now and claim that Webber has been a loyal servant to his team dutifully obeying whatever orders he receives.

  169. @”Of course, Webber could have fought back in the race. He could have turned his engine back up and said, “Sod it. If the gloves are off, they’re off.” But he didn’t.”

    Why do you believe that? Watching the race it certainly looked as if the gloves were off, the competition between Webber and Vettel was the hardest fought battle of the entire race by a long shot.

  170. I’ve only been watching F1 for a few years now. But I think from the day Vettle scored a point in the Bmw till he established himself in the Toro Roso he shown he’s a different kind of driver. (remember how excited it all made us feel) Look at that kid go!
    I cant imagine the focus necessary to complete a race but when should he turn that drive off? After all Vettle just tied Jackie Stewart in wins!!! and he’s still quite a young man. I dont think he’s evil I think he’s just a machine which may make him appear to be without emotion.
    Dont get me wrong I do feel for Webber because he drove well and will never attain the wins Vettle has already Furthermore, If Vettle doesnt turn it off till the flag drops he doesnt want to hear or comprehend team orders any more than Nico Rosberg wanted to. If Nico had a little more presence he would have kept racing Hamilton instead of settling himself into the role as the second driver as you stated. The true test or measure will be the growth we see, or not, in Vettle after all this settles. It will let us see what kind of champion we have.
    I admire you taking the time you did without blasting something out Will. I dont see many indications in sports of writers being concerned to this degree.
    And in closing I found it harder to watch Schumacher beat everyone down in that awesome Ferrari he drove. (Now just rambling, sorry) Thanks for your blog.

  171. It is so refreshing to have an intelligent comment on that farce! Read Eurosport France and what Stephane Vrignaud wrote: it is pathetic! Great F1 histories are full with such Vettel/Webber moments: Senna on Prost, Piquet on Mansell. At the end, every Webber, Barrichello, Massa, Irvine dreamt of doing once what Vettel just did: explain their team what they really think about team orders.

  172. Thanks for your well stated view Will, and all the comments it has brought forward. Your work each week on NBC is always the best.
    Still, what a nice start to the season – plenty of passion and interest in F1 which must be good for all.
    I still think the FIA and the ever expanding rules are playing too much with the edges, tires/DRS, just to make a “show”. Not racing just to conserve fuel and tires isn’t what F1 should be about. That is where Indy Car has been and the results long term are not so good.
    Mark has always been a bit of a “shop steward” about rules and “fair play”. Not the best way to win championships in my view but, still a great “number two driver”.

  173. Two other thoughts:

    1. those of you saying Webber didn’t fight back need glasses,

    2. Those of you saying Webber should have run him off the track because not doing so emasculates himself apparently have only been following F1 sometime after 1994, because otherwise you’d remember that people can get killed in F1 cars. To have purposely crashed into Vettel would be stupid at best in terms of both safety and tactics.

    None of you watched the 1997 GP at Jerez when Schumacher tried to take out Villeneuve for the championship? Go google it and see how well that worked out for him. Yes, it worked for him in 1994 against Damon Hill, but it obviously can easily go the other way as well. So fine, Webber rams Vettel to prove his manhood as some of you think is necessary, and somehow they avoid injury but now Webber is pointless in the race.

    Smooth move. It’s a good thing some of you are not racing drivers.

  174. This can be solved in one easy move. Require the teams to have separate sponsors. No sponsor spending 20 million a year will stand for a team order telling their guy to hold his position. NASCAR has separate sponsors, and they race to the flag every weekend. Sometimes they even have to pass or bump their team owner on the track to win. It makes for good racing, and eliminates this kind of crap we seem to see every few years.

  175. Do I, as a fan, want to see flat out racing to the flag? Heck yeah! But that F1 doesn’t exist anymore. It’s not just the tires, it’s engine limits, and rev limits, and gearbox limits, and the loss of T-cars. Why SHOULD any team allow their drivers to continue to stress their cars when the win is certain? You want “pure” racing? Then don’t force the teams to concern themselves with getting through the next race, or the one after that.

  176. It was dishonest. Seb did not advise Mark or the team he would be ignoring team orders. So, really, he cheated a little on that one. Further, Mark should have been given first pit being that he was leading. The team pitted Seb first to cover off Hamilton. He received and unfair advantage on his team mate who have been advised by the team to switch off.

    Sure, if this makes Seb a ruthless racing driver then great. Let’s see how much of a team player Mark is from here on.

  177. He said “To hell with team orders. You can shove them. I’m here to win, not to finish second and I’m not turning down my engine until I know I can’t be beaten.”

    You know what, Will. If he had said that then there would be NOTHING to account for. The whole thing is that he DIDN’T say that. He let the team screw Webber and then he pounced. Had to said that from the start, then the team should have given Webber his pit priority and from there it was up to Vettel to show us how good he is!

    This is NOT what happened at all and not what Seb did. He took the cheap advantage, said nothing, then pounced like a coward. Great… he’s a champion. But he’s not a man. A man would have made his intentions clear, like Webber did in Silverstone ’11, and then had a go.

  178. Promise ! Trust ! Integrity !

    It is not about team order !

    Vettel made the PROMISE to MW before the race and now he breaks it.
    that’s the problem !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Everyone can accept NO TEAM ORDER. but people CANT accept an driver with no INTEGRITY at all.

    You are mixing up different things to defense Vettel. That’s all I feel from this article.

  179. Hey Will great analysis, I really enjoyed your article. Watching Webber and Vettel in the same room was incredibly tense. It’s obvious that Vettel wants to be considered to be one of the great racers and it comes down to ability and attitude. He looks for opportunities and takes them and for the most part it benefits the team. Based on last year’s driver points battle with Alonso, Vettel saw an opportunity for maximum point differential and takes it. With Vettel and Webber fighting each other gives the team good constructor points and 7 points can lose a drivers championship. Just hope it does not backfire (Turkey ‘10) or implode the team. At the end of the day, can Vettel’s actions/apology be respected? I think not, hope he learns from this. If he keeps this up, no quality driver will want to be his teammate. Thanks again for the great read.

  180. Firstly, Great article Will! Secondly, I love the the angle you have covered on this situation and I must agree with your analogy of Parent-Child (Horner-Vettel). I feel that if the team truly were upset with Vettels decision, then he should have been given a bit more then a slap on the wrist. But of coarse, telling the three time world champion to sit in the corner for the next race to think about what he is done isn’t going to create Constructors Points [CP]. What could they do to make pull him back into line (that is without sacrificing CP)? Do they simply run Webber and Buemi in China and sacrifice these points to show their stance?

  181. Watched the last 12 laps on DVR again last night, I didn’t see where Webber wasn’t racing with Vettle giving nothing, then I watched Vettle pull away.

  182. The old habits are the hardest to break. The complete Red Bull entourage have spent the two seasons immediately previous (since Vettel’s first WDC) pretending Webber isn’t a #2 driver. But I think Vettel was loathe to leave seven points on the table (to an admittedly able #2 who nonetheless stands exactly ZERO chance ever to win a WDC) when he only claimed the previous WDC by less than half that margin.

    Best for all concerned they should stop playing at Charades and race with the full knowledge that Webber’s obligation to the team is to assist Vettel in any way possible, so long as that effort does not compromise RBR’s odds of winning WCC. If that puts Mr. “I Will Never Follow Team Orders” knickers in such a twist he takes his toys and goes home to Oz, then so be it. No team principal in his right mind would make the ambitions of a 3x (and reigning) WDC subordinate to that of an aging veteran at career’s sunset who never has come better than third in WDC.

    Despite his delusion he is not a #2 driver, Webber has been a most apt …#2 driver. He would be sorely missed by Red Bull, at least until they can get his replacement’s seat fitted.

  183. You make a good case Will, and being a Webber fan myself its one I didn’t really want to hear. This, however, doesn’t diminish the truth of it. I would add to it this.

    Formula 1 is structured as a huge glaring contradiction. The fans want strong interesting personalities fighting tooth and nail for the win. They want no team orders (which was promised by Red Bull to both fans and drivers); they want to see team mates race. The drivers would like this as well, but the FIA has decided all the money goes to the constructors championship and the driver champion gets is a trophy. This is the case in many team sports, but the culture of those sports is different than F1. In the NHL, NFL, NBA, or MLB personal honors are secondary to winning the championship, not here. Here the fans care more about the winning driver than the winning team. Everyone can tell you that Schumacher has the record for most consecutive driver championships but which team has it for consecutive constructors? Better yet, Formula1.com has a Hall of Fame webpage of past drivers champions but not past constructors champions. So as a driver, if you want to be remembered, you have to win the drivers championship, but this is not what the teams are paying their drivers for.

    Teams need their drivers, both of their drivers, to score points. This means they need their drivers to be professional. How often do we see one driver in a team on one tire strategy and another on a different to maximize the chance of at least one scoring points. The constructors championships have often had more to do with the strength of the second driver in the team than the first. If Massa or Grossean had out raced Webber last year, Red Bull would have been hard pressed to win the constructors. At the same time there was a real feeling from the questions the media asked that they really expected Mark to get the hell out of the way and help Vettel win his third championship. No one recognized that with a different driver paired with Vettel, you don’t win the constructors.

    But to the teams themselves driving a race car is a job and the requirements for the first and second driver for each team are very different. The first driver needs to win races, be selfish as hell (yes this makes him a better race driver), work well with the mechanics, be a good face of the team for the sponcers, and have a very strong, unique, memorable personality. Meanwhile you need your second driver to be fast and a team player. The race team is going to develop the car around the first driver, put the second driver on alternate pit/tire strategies, and expect him to come in second and smile for the cameras. This is why Hamilton and Alonzo made such rotten team mates, and why I’m always amused as people suggest Vettel will take Massa’s spot at the end of the year. Ferrari is the king of team orders, Vettel ignores them, and Alonzo would never tolerate being the second driver. Look down the paddock and in every team you will see one selfish driver who is amazingly fast, and one driver who is a team player. Aside Jensen Button, I can’t think of any former world champion who is a team player. Alonzo ignored orders to pit last race, Vettel ignored orders not to pass, Lotus doesn’t waste their breath on orders to Kimi, and Hamilton would have ignored any order to move over last race (only Rossberg is a team player so he didn’t have to).

    So I accept that team orders are a fact of life with the money going to the constructors championship. I can accept that the type of person you have to be to win driving a race car makes team orders difficult to follow. But I am just a fan. The real question is can the team principals accept that. In many ways it might have been better if Vettel had run his tires off or run out of gas or otherwise lost the race last Sunday as it might have helped mature him as a driver in that he needs to understand that the team doesn’t give orders for no reason. Then again, him acting like a spoiled child on the track and a child being punished, forced by his parents to apologize afterwards may be exactly the man we need him to be for Red Bull to keep winning.

  184. Very well said.

    The media in Australia had been making this a big news (or fuss)over the week!

    The racers are race to win. Aryton Senna said that before, he doesn’t race for second, third..
    Given SV is hungry for the championship, we can’t blame him.

    The entire world here in Australia pointing the fingers at SV; they must had forgotten that MW ignored team order too. Bias.

    This is only second race of the year, they have still long way to go.
    I sincerely wish them all the best, especially Christian Horner, for looking two naughty kids :)

  185. Agree with much of the original article Will, particularly the statement: “The teams will say they have to look after the tyres and conserve fuel. I say fill the car up with more fuel and don’t design a car that’s so heavy on its tyres.”. Couldn’t agree more – and while we are at it, hows about losing KERS (we don’t need to pretend that F1 is the driving force behind hybrid technology development, and really – the only notice we take of it is when it plays up on a driver/ team).
    And while we are pulling stuff out, how about losing the technology that enables a driver (or anyone!) to push a button to limit engine power? Give them a tank full of fuel, and let their right foot control it’s consumption, and the tyre wear – and the engine/ drive-train longevity! There is far too much control out of the cockpit – these guys need to be drivers first and save the computer skills for the simulators/ game consoles.
    Finally, I am amazed at the disrespect so many show all of these drivers. They are a product of the sport and ultimately Bernie’s business model. He has made F1 the charade we saw played out in Malaysia, and then had the hide to complain about it!
    Being an Aussie, I have followed Webber pretty closely, however often agree with critics of his starts and tactics – all I can say is I am looking forward to the future possibility of some “free-for-all” racing in the year ahead. If not, Mark may as well retire now…

  186. Will, I love your enthusiasm, but I think this situation is more about character, character of both drivers.

    “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”
    John Wooden.

    Do people garner more respect as a result of their inflated ego or their character. I believe Mark Webber realized that racing Vettel after his pass would have resulted in one or both cars possibly not finishing the race. He chose not to pursue those possible DNF’s for the sake of the team. I think Vettel knew Webber would not pursue this fight thus he took advantage.

    Mark Webber may not be as fast, but he has strong character that I admire. Sebastien cared more about is reputation (wins) and took advantage of a loyal team mate.

    I also believe Lewis would have given up his position if the order was given. I admire him for acknowledging the situation and Nico from the podium.

    In the USA we recently have had numerous false heroes like Lance Armstrong, Barry Bonds, Mark Maguire. They were our heroes until their character let us and themselves down for the sake of their winning at all costs. While the correlation is different, it is not entirely about winning, but more about how you go about it.

    • “Mark Webber may not be as fast, but he has strong character that I admire. Sebastien cared more about is reputation (wins) and took advantage of a loyal team mate.”

      Mark Webber was never a loyal team mate and you only have to look at Brazil 2012 to see this, where he openly admitted he’d rather see Alonso as Champion before Vettel. I’m sorry, but if I was Vettel after that I’d have done the exact same thing in Malaysia.

      Vettel may have let his team down (even though I don’t agree with team orders), but not Webber. He’s only given him a bit of his own medicine (Silverstone 2011 amongst others).

  187. After thinking about this some more and reading all the comments in various forums, I’ve come down to this: I’ve no real problem with Vettel doing what he did- he’s decided that winning is more important than following orders. Fine. But he weaseled out of owning his behavior in the post race comments. “I’m sorry”. “Misunderstanding”. Rubbish. He’s just not comfortable with who he is.

  188. Good post. I didn’t enjoy the podium, seeing 3 great drivers, all miserable, because of team orders. Knowing that even when team orders are outlawed, the teams will still dictate the race does spoil it for everyone except the teams, who generally impose orders for financial reasons. I feel I’m being conned. I want to see every driver fighting for the best position he can achieve for every lap of the race, but the teams have a different agenda. I can’t think of an answer unless the drivers themselves pay for any damage – then we’d be watching the richest drivers, not the best. After all, the fiercest racing is usually between team mates, and it’s fierce racing we want to see.

    Is there any point in racing if no one watches, and if fans like myself feel conned because for part of the race we know that drivers are simply giving the illusion that they’re racing, will the audience still be there? Although I’ve been a fan for around 50 years since watching both bikes and cars at the old Crystal Palace circuit, I’m now finding Moto GP and BSB more attractive. Those riders give 100% on every lap – they’re racing and they mean it! I do feel sorry for SV; he was the best racer on that podium; the fans should be behind him.

  189. I agree with many that Mark should have raced very hard to get lead back. He still maybe would have been 2nd, but his racing would have done his talking for him, and the gloves are off from then on, until Vettel very clearly puts them back on, and you start to talk about team again. Going forward, Mark has a very fast car, is retiring from F1, so race like a one man team and let the racing do the talking. Mark is in a good position if he wants it.

  190. I think this is a great analysis of the day. I only differ in the opinion that I think the only reason Vettel passed was because Webber obeyed orders and he did not. If Mark had decided not to turn his engine down, then Vettel probably wouldn’t have won. Maybe Webber should have turned it back up and raced back. Either way I think both of them should be treat the same. Either Vettel gets suitably reprimanded by his team for not following orders, or Webber should have been told he could race back after Vettel ignored them. I don’t feel that drivers’ by a team mate should be punished for following team orders.

  191. If Mark Webber decides to retire from F1 at the end of this season, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull had better hope that neither of them needs help from Webber in the last couple of races to win either the Constructors or Drivers championship, since, if Webber is feeling that mean-spirited, they are unlikely to get it…remember what Alan Jones did to Carlos Reutemann and Williams at the end of the 1981 season. He was totally uninterested in helping Reutemann to win the championship, and went out and won at Las Vegas, before walking away.

  192. Pingback: Despite uproar, Vettel keeps focus on victory | MotorSportsTalk

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