The F1 community is still shaking on its foundations after last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix. During the grand prix current world champion Sebastian Vettel overtook his teammate Mark Webber for the lead of the race. Nothing upsetting about that you would think but when we take a look at the entire race that perspective changes. Let’s take a look shall we
1. Before the race: Red Bull and the drivers make an agreement that when they enter the last stint for both cars, they will both turn their engine maps down to the slowest mode and hold station to ensure they make it to the end of the race (codename: multi 21). None of the F1 teams were sure before the race how long the tyres would last as Pirelli’s latest tyres have proven to be quite a handful. This explains Red Bull’s motivation behind the decision.
2. During the race we had four front runners: P1 Webber, P2 Vettel, P3 Hamilton, P4 Rosberg. Their pace was evenly matched. Yet when vettel managed to get a bit closer to his teammate he thought he could just ask the team to give him an easy pass. His exact word were: “Mark is too slow, get him out of the way. He’s too slow!” Now that isn’t only a very arrogant request it is also very disrespectful towards Webber. Webber responded however and managed to get the gap back up to 3-4 seconds.
3. The last pit stops dawned and Vettel came in first on lap 42 and fitted the mediums. When he leaves the pits instead of putting the engine map to slow he does the exact opposite, full revs it is. The gap was 5.73 seconds before that pit stop. Webber heads for the pits on lap 43 and fits the hard compound as he told the team he feels more comfortable on those. When he emerges from the pits Vettel is right on his tail. The team quickly reacts and tells vettel to leave a gap of 4 seconds as agreed. The team does this because the tyres don’t react well when they stay in dirty air too long. Vettel ignores this team order and continues his relentless attack on webber. Webber of course remembering the pre-race agreement defends tooth and nail but has to yield to a car on full revs in what only can explained as a brilliant fight. Several laps later the race ends and Sebastian expects his mechanics to be on the wall cheering for him as usual but only his pit board guy is there. They are clearly disappointed in him. You’ll have some explaining to do said his race engineer trough the radio.
So those are the facts, now what do I make of the incident? Well I’m not per say on Webbers or Vettels side of the story. Every coin has two sides we all know this. Vettel should have clearly kept his end of the bargain. That is a gentlemen’s agreement, something you should always respect, it is not a team order. A team order on the other hand is a disgusting thing that should never have been allowed in F1. Even back when it was forbidden teams used them via codes but at least they weren’t allowed to use them. Teammates should be allowed to race unless there is a pre-race agreement. That is something that the majority of f1 fans should stand by.
Maikel Joosten a.k.a. Force Maikel