Yesterday’s Malaysian Grand Prix was for some a return to the good old days of driver rivalry that for many, encapsulates the essence of F1.
Drivers competing against each other, providing drama and colour is as exciting an aspect of F1 as the technical wizardry of the cars themselves.
Indeed, perhaps we could argue there are those who follow F1 for the engineering brilliance of creating these magnificent and yet, mysterious thunder balls of motoring genius and those who follow the sport, desperately seeking out the egos and rivalries of the drivers.
Yesterday, the drama and the colour of these driver rivalries went a few steps too far.
Red Bull and Mercedes both robbed their respective drivers of the glory they deserved, ie Webber and Rosberg. At least Lewis Hamilton had the good grace and common sense to acknowledge that he didn’t belong on the podium, fter Rosberg was ordered to let the Briton finish ahead of him. Sadly, Sebastian Vettel did not act in a similar vain.
There will always be arguments around F1 of team rules and team owners choosing which driver they want to see win a race. This is a part of the sport but it does not have to be as negative an aspect as it was yesterday. What we saw yesterday in the case of Red Bull was a young man, who clearly operates under his own rules, with little or no concern for others.
Why did Sebastian Vettel break team rules? Because he is never held accountable to his actions. Vettel answers to no one and it was clear from his actions that he is a product of his surroundings, that clearly give legitimacy to his actions. This was evident in Webber’s comments that Vettel ‘will have protection as usual.’
Vettel may well be the better driver, as many have commented today in various media, but that’s not what is being discussed here. The point is, the team told Mark Webber to save his tyres and power down his engine. Ie, you’re going to win this race.
What happened next was an appalling act of bad sportsmanship. Vettel broke team rules, he broke the agreement that had been to his team mate. He should be dealt with harshly by Red Bull. This needs to be done not just because of his display of bad sportsmanship, nor because of his utter disrespect for his ‘team mate’, Webber, but because unless Red Bull reign him in, they will never function as a team, irrespective of who drives on the team.