Vettel: guilty, or innocent? Verdicts, please

Posted by Top Gear Australia at 5:10 pm on Tuesday March 26, 2013

multi21sebBy Michael Harvey

Is anyone out there shocked that Sebastian Vettel did what he did on Sunday? And then tried, and failed spectacularly, to cover it up?

I’ve never really bought the ‘lovely young man, that Vettel’ thing. Number one, he is a triple world champion at the age of 25. You can’t do that without what we’ll charitably call ‘a certain focus’. Number two, there are two Sebs; ‘Smiley Seb’ when he’s winning, ‘Sulky Seb’ when he’s not.

Maybe there’s a third now; ‘Shifty Seb’, the one who couldn’t hold Mark Webber’s gaze when Webber called him on his wilful disobedience. The apology and the even more ludicrous ‘accidental overtake’ line have hardly done him any less damage. He’s a gifted racing driver, one of the very few greats. Of course he’s ruthless. So was Michael Schumacher and frankly, though we have largely forgotten it, so was Ayrton Senna. Both would have done exactly the same thing.

Which brings us to this: was Vettel’s disobedience justified, given they’re racing?

Personally, I think Vettel needs to have a little more regard for Christian Horner and Adrian Newey. What they’ve done is remarkable. While never short of cash, remember this team was the very ordinary Stewart and frankly hopeless Jaguar before it was Red Bull.

Vettel owes his current success, his fame, and his wealth to these two. So whether you feel ambivalent about Red Bull as manufacturer, you may not feel that way about Horner and Newey.

Do those two have any right to tell their drivers in which order to finish a race? Of course they do. It gets more tricky when you ask yourself: is that right a good thing?

Imagine none of this had happened. No orders had been made public, or no radio intercepted, or Mark Webber had saved it all for the debrief. We would have been contemplating a fantastic race, complete with a moment of madness from Fernando Alonso, a moment of misty-eyed nostalgia from Lewis Hamilton and a mind-boggling battle between two identical examples of the some of the most evolved engineering on this planet.

Ignorance would have been bliss, and the best racer would have won. The fact that in many people’s eyes he’s less of man isn’t really our problem. Vettel made his choices, and he has to live with them now, off the track and (where I suspect he cares more) on it.

What do you think? Was Vettel justified in passing Webber, because that’s racing? Or is he a snotty nosed little German guilty of robbing our Webber of a race he should have won?

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  1. Anonymous said...
    Tuesday March 26, 2013 at 5:39 pm Link to comment Report comment

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  2. jack said...
    Tuesday March 26, 2013 at 7:46 pm Link to comment Report comment

    wow vettel buddy you were losing so what you cant win everysingle race mate. webber in my mind is the better driver because of sheer experience. vettel has to learn when to back off.(that overtake on the straight anyone??)

  3. F1 fan said...
    Tuesday March 26, 2013 at 11:09 pm Link to comment Report comment

    As you said, Schumacher and senna would have done the same. Yes it was a bit of a backstab for webber to do what he did, by why didn’t mark fight back? Why did he drop to 3 sec behind vettel within 2 laps? Maybe because he isn’t as fast? Or as hungry? Quit whinging and get on with racing mark. I absolutely despise vettel but Webbers complaining is getting a bit tiring now.

  4. Red Terror said...
    Wednesday March 27, 2013 at 1:12 am Link to comment Report comment

    F1 fan – The reason Vettel was 2 secs ahead of Webber after 2 laps was because he ignored more than just the ‘hold’ order from the team. He also ignored the ‘conserve’ order to turn his engine down. Mark on the other hand kept to the ‘conserve’ order even when being attacked & ultimately passed by Vettel. I think if Vettel had obeyed the ‘conserve’ order he would not have been able to pass Webber.
    Personally I just think this is another example of Vettel’s arrogance. He knows he will get away with pretty much anything as long as he’s Marko’s golden boy.

  5. f1rumours said...
    Wednesday March 27, 2013 at 9:08 am Link to comment Report comment

    Webber is better because he is trustworthy and respects his team whereas vettel seems to think hes too good for anyone

  6. Rev'ed said...
    Wednesday March 27, 2013 at 9:57 am Link to comment Report comment

    Vettel just can’t grasp the fact that there may be another winning driver. He drove that race like he was Prost going after Senna

  7. Petrol head said...
    Wednesday March 27, 2013 at 12:29 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Vettel should learn to obedient. Just ‘cos he’s going slow doesn’t mean you can take matters into your own hands. learn to listen to orders!

  8. TheFly said...
    Wednesday March 27, 2013 at 4:47 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Webber dropped back because he knew the consequences of a dog fight between the two of them, not just the possibility of a crash but that their tyres would go off and bring the Hamilton and Rosberg back into the race.

  9. Rick said...
    Thursday March 28, 2013 at 11:42 am Link to comment Report comment

    if they signed a agreement to follow team orders then thats that vettel should be disciplined by the team. Also just to ad to disgrace why didnt webber say f it turn conserve off and catch him if he did all would be fair but vettel is still in the wrong webber was the bigger man ,however if he losed his cool during the race i would totally understand and would be a thrilling experience.

  10. don said...
    Thursday March 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm Link to comment Report comment

    totally agrree , but also racing is racing where drivers should be free to go as fast as they want by that i mean u woundnt hold a horse back in a race so the favourite can win its a race to the end!!!!!

  11. Jack said...
    Thursday March 28, 2013 at 3:55 pm Link to comment Report comment

    If red bull really wanted webber to win they would have told vettel to step aside and let him back past or told webber to fight back

  12. yo said...
    Thursday March 28, 2013 at 5:14 pm Link to comment Report comment

    vettel disobeyed orders and overtook him no matter what he said about him not hearing its a load of lies he heard the orders it but he wanted to win so he overtook mark

  13. combat-wombat said...
    Thursday March 28, 2013 at 9:06 pm Link to comment Report comment

    2nd race of the season, NOTHING is ABSOLUTELY reliable – no amount of pre-season testing can accurately replicate real racing conditions, short of having an entire fleet of test drivers on a track.
    Vettel risked a team 1-2 result for his own glory. If he really wanted the win, without risking the 1-2 finish, he’d have waited another lap & done it using a DRS zone. He was making a statement by doing it where he did.
    Vettel should be punished for making a risky pass, but he will NEVER be punished for passing Mark ‘cos he’s the golden boy.
    I’m surprised he can fit his butt in that car with the heads of Helmut & Dietrich so far up it.
    I just hope Mark keeps taking their $ millions & retires a happy man.
    He has proved his patience, talent & ticker as a race driver over & over again in the face of being forced to play 2nd fiddle to the Impossible Princess.
    Mark has nothing left to prove – SSSSOOOO many people on this very website always said that Mark was ALWAYS out of his league in F1 & couldn’t win a chook raffle.

  14. Vidooba said...
    Thursday March 28, 2013 at 11:24 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I have made a comment on the Vettel drama a little while ago. Where the hell is it?

  15. Vidooba said...
    Thursday March 28, 2013 at 11:29 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Looks like my original comment was too long. So I have made it into two parts.
    Part I
    The Malaysian GP was Vettel’s from the very beginning and everybody including Vettel himself has forgotten that fact. Webber did not become the leader of the race due his expertise but by a mishap. Vettel’s first pit stop was lousy strategy by by the team which resulted in Vettel losing his leading position in the race. Thus, in all fairness, Red Bull should have supported Vettel to regain his leading position of the race but, instead of doing that, they have started supporting Webber who has become the race leader by chance and that is not only ridiculous but grossly unfair by Vettel who started the race on pole position and led the race until the lousy first pit stop.
    On the other hand, there was no valid reason or purpose for their lousy Team Order to give Webber the chance of winning at the second race of the new season. If the Malaysian GP was towards the end of the season where Webber was hard pressed for more points to clinch the driver’s title, then of course anybody would understand and even go along with the team order to let Webber win the race. However, it was not the case, and with Webber, there is no need to say that, such a situation will never be the case. I am sorry to be harsh on him or on RBR, but what the bloody jolly idea or purpose behind trying to let Webber win the race by depriving their more deserving and of course the faster driver a vital win that would surely count towards his attempt to win a fourth driver’s championship this year? Webber should be ashamed to have expected to win the race on team orders rather than on his driving skills especially when he did not deserve such help as it is only the beginning of the season. By the way, is he a contender for this year’s driver’s title? We all know the answer, don’t we? So what is this big fuss on Vettle disregarding the lousy team order which shouldn’t have been there in the first place, to clinch the win? RBR should be happy he did it. That comment of me will make real sense towards the end of the season. Wait and see Horner. Pl don’t forget, if not for Vettel, RBR would have been history a few years ago.
    Teams may have a right to influence the performance and the conduct of their drivers but that is not an outright right. Thee drivers have their rights too. If anybody likes to think that Horner and Newey have made Vellel a champion that is bullshit. If Vettel doesn’t exist, they would have done the same job to help who ever the Sakalabujan racing for RBR. So, Vettel is not under any undue obligation to Horner and Newey. After all, F1 is a business and we got to count the drivers also as businessmen and not really thrill seekers since unlike the team owners, the drivers have been training to become race drivers ever since they have been pissing in their pants. So, who are the idiots who like to find fault with Vettel? Like I said before, the Malaysian race was his from the beginning, and he won.

    Part II follows

  16. Vidooba said...
    Thursday March 28, 2013 at 11:43 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Now I can’t post my Part II of the comment. What the hell is this TP?

  17. Vidooba said...
    Thursday March 28, 2013 at 11:53 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Part II
    Part II
    Now one can understand the fact that Vettel shouldn’t have apologised to anybody due to the stupid ness of the ‘Team Order’. Being a young guy, I am sure Vettel became confused and embarrassed as he became a bad boy in the eyes of all the bloody ignorant people and apologised by changing his stance on his action when he became helpless among idiots who didn’t know what they are talking about. That is due to lack of experience in life and we got to excuse a young guy in that respect.
    Now, Vettel should not feel ashamed as he has not done anything wrong as he took what is rightfully his, and it was the others who made a lousy mistake of supporting a driver who was leading the race by chance and couldn’t even maintain his lead against his team mate.
    Thus, Vettel should go to the Chinese race with his head held high and without any embarrassment. It is RBR and the other ignorant people who should be embarrassed of their wrong judgement.
    Vettel, come on my boy; hereafter you question the validity of any lousy team order that would deprive you of the points you are to grab; before obliging. Now, go and win in China in real style. Let others eat your dust. You have the best man in the world to support you. You may Google my name Vidooba Senarathne to know who I am.

  18. Red Terror said...
    Friday March 29, 2013 at 12:47 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Well Vidooba, for someone who had so much to say it seems you don’t know very much. You support Vettel & think he was right to do what he did, that’s your opinion & I’ve got no problem with that. What I have a problem with is the logic you are trying to use to support your view is completley wrong & shows you don’t even have a basic understanding on how RBR or F1 works. Perhaps you should do some research & then read what you wrote so you can see how wrong your line of thinking is. I’d take the time to tell you myself but seriously I’ve got better things to do that sit here typing for the next half hour.

  19. Red Terror said...
    Friday March 29, 2013 at 2:57 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Perhaps best if you stick to your scientific philosophy Vidooba. From what I can tell your not exactly very respected in that field either so I retract my comment that you should do some research & then reread what you wrote, I don’t think you will get it even after that. I don’t know what could possibly help you, maybe get outdoors & play some sport?

  20. Anonymous said...
    Friday March 29, 2013 at 3:53 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Vettel is the best

  21. yo said...
    Friday March 29, 2013 at 7:20 pm Link to comment Report comment

    people who are supporting vettel have something wrong with them. it was marks day and vettel didn’t want to come 2nd he wanted to come 1st greedily and disobeyed team orders when they said to turn the engines down because they would come 1 and 2 and mark turned the engine down but vettel didn’t and he overtook him and won the race . he was basically being greedy and he can get away with it.

  22. somebody said...
    Friday March 29, 2013 at 11:26 pm Link to comment Report comment

    It is so funny to see how people are now wanting to support team orders. This completely defeats the object of F1 in my opinion, we want to see who is best and if tem mates need to battle it out so be it. Webber should have been given the go ahead to race Vettel. Same with Rosberg and Hamilton, what a sad ending to a potentially brilliant race.

  23. paulkate72 said...
    Saturday March 30, 2013 at 9:21 am Link to comment Report comment

    The Malaysian GP for 2013 was like many others in the past. I don’t see what all the fuss is about persoanlly. Webber should have won and would have, if Vettel had obeyed team orders. But didn’t Prost and Senna do that and many others before or since them do that too? That said, team
    orders should only come into play when one driver in a team can win the championship and the end of the year is getting close.

  24. Black dog said...
    Saturday March 30, 2013 at 10:54 am Link to comment Report comment

    Same shit different race,Marco is the problem he is sebs unofficial body guard and the only reason the little turd gets away with his spoilt brat tactics!
    Like aj said the fans are the real losers,the fact that marks car was already turned down makes it plain old cheating to me!
    Will they do anything about it NO and never will,like another german driver who used to get away with dodgy tactics it will be washed over.
    Mark will be off to Ferrari next year,he and Fernando are real mates with genuine respect for each other.

  25. Anonymous said...
    Saturday March 30, 2013 at 4:05 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Black dog, i hope to god that you are right. i couldnt think of anything better to see!

  26. Winged bull said...
    Saturday March 30, 2013 at 6:21 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Vettel could beat Webber in a Toyota Corolla

  27. internationalist said...
    Saturday March 30, 2013 at 9:20 pm Link to comment Report comment

    In this instance I thought Vettel was in the right even considering team orders and Webber’s F1 car in fuel saving mode and add to that his current apology to Webber.

    Certainly at this early stage of the event, all the main F1 drivers’ would be psyching and preparing themselves up for safety points lead and it’s just common sense and in all fairness for Vettel who has the quicker car to fight/compete and take that lead.

  28. BullyRedWing said...
    Sunday March 31, 2013 at 5:41 pm Link to comment Report comment

    The issue here is much more than Vettel and Webber – it affects all drivers. What Vettel did was give himself an extra 7 points advantage over all the drivers.
    If Webber has slowed his car and followed orders how can anyone seriously suggest Vettel did the right thing? His apology changes nothing – removing the 7 points would redress the situation vs the Field.
    Vettel’s a cheat.

  29. Anonymous said...
    Tuesday April 2, 2013 at 12:21 am Link to comment Report comment

    Everybody knows that the clamed best driver in the world , Ayrton Senna would have done exactly the same. Same goes for Michael Shumacher . Accusing Vettel of wrongdoing is like accusing a football player off scoring a goal in the wrong corner of the goal, because everybody, including the goalkeeper, was expecting him to go for the other corner. Sebastian should be thanked for saving the sport for the Formula 1 lovers

  30. Ozboy said...
    Tuesday April 2, 2013 at 8:26 am Link to comment Report comment

    This is a team sport and the team is made up of the engineers, pit crew, mechanics, drivers etc. The decision was made to spare the cars and make sure of a one two finish. Vettel needs to do what he is told and what the team captain decides as he is the one who has the full picture. Vettel’s win at all cost with no regard to safety or team orders will bring him unstuck as it has before. He is just another self interested little shit as Shoemacher was. Remember the Damen Hill incident and others.

  31. NCO said...
    Tuesday April 2, 2013 at 8:33 am Link to comment Report comment

    Firstly, to me F1 is more about drivers than teams. Individuals make a difference. That’s why we remember great drivers and engineers more than great teams. The team enables but it’s the great overtakes and the perfect laps that the drivers do that we remember. And I want to see racing not strategies. That’s what makes a race exciting in an F1 that is drowning in politics. I mean how depressing was it watching Rosberg, stifle his ambition and sit behind Hamilton desperately asking for permission to race.
    Secondly, Vettel’s a person, a human, and we tend to be ruled more by emotion than reason when under pressure. The end of the race was approaching, he’s stuck in limbo behind a driver – I doubt he was thinking too much about Webber the person – who he thinks he can pass successfully and he, as with most F1 drivers minus maybe Felipe Massa, wants to win if it’s possible. You really don’t get to be a great of any sport without the desire to win. That desire to be successful is what leads to you spending hours training and pushing yourself and I think that’s what came out in this. It wasn’t Vettel being sneaky or purposely backstabbing his teammate – who he owes nothing btw cause only one man gets that final trophy – he was just running on the instinct and desire that got him three World championships and a stunning record. If it was me and I had a chance, my mind would tune out the voice in the radio and take it. He is guilty of being ruled by his passions and that does not make him a bad person. He was wrong but it should not be held against him and should not be a permanent mark against his character. I happen to think he seems like a straightforward person who isn’t afraid to not pretend to cameras. When he’s happy, he smiles, when he’s disappointed, he sulks and after the race, when he realised the consequences of his actions, he expressed regret. I respect that. The weirdness of what he said I think was due to not knowing how to respond to confrontation when his only reason was instinct which is hardly the response the press want to hear.
    Also, look into Webber’s history with impeding Vettel I highly doubt it’s squeaky clean. And I don’t think he performs as consistently as he should. Everyone says Vettel’s the favourite but isn’t that the intuitive conclusion when he gets more points each season? You give the most to the person you’re gonna get the most out of.

  32. NCO said...
    Tuesday April 2, 2013 at 10:45 am Link to comment Report comment

    Firstly, to me F1 is more about drivers than teams. Individuals make a difference. That’s why we remember great drivers and engineers more than great teams. The team enables but it’s the great overtakes and the perfect laps that the drivers do that we remember. And that’s what I want to see – racing not strategies. That’s what makes a race exciting in an F1 that is drowning in politics. I mean how depressing was it watching Rosberg sit behind Hamilton desperately asking for permission to race.
    Secondly, Vettel’s a person, a human, and we tend to be ruled more by emotion than reason when under pressure. The end of the race was approaching, he’s stuck behind a driver – I doubt he was thinking too much about Webber the person – who he thinks he can pass successfully and he, as with most F1 drivers minus maybe Felipe Massa, wants to win if it’s possible. You really don’t get to be a great of any sport without the desire to win. It wasn’t Vettel being sneaky or purposely backstabbing his teammate – who he owes nothing btw cause only one man gets that final trophy – he was just running on the instinct and desire that got him three World championships and a stunning record. If it was me and I had a chance, my mind would tune out the voice in the radio and take it. He is guilty of being ruled by his passions and that does not make him a bad person. He was wrong but it should not be held against him and should not be a permanent mark against his character. I think he seems like a straightforward person who isn’t afraid to not pretend to cameras. When he’s happy, he smiles, when he’s disappointed, he sulks and after the race, when he realised the consequences of his actions, he expressed regret. I respect that. The weirdness of what he said I think was due to not knowing how to respond to confrontation when he had no rational reason to disobey which is hardly the response the press want to hear.
    Also, if you look into Webber’s history with Vettel I highly doubt it’s squeaky clean. And I don’t think he performs as consistently as he should. Everyone says Vettel’s the favourite but isn’t that the obvious conclusion when he gets more points each season? You give the most to the person you’re gonna get the most out of.

  33. snoopy said...
    Tuesday April 2, 2013 at 9:01 pm Link to comment Report comment

    vettel could only beat webber in a corrola if webber was walking mate

  34. snoopy said...
    Tuesday April 2, 2013 at 9:05 pm Link to comment Report comment

    i honestly hope webber leaves for ferrari like it was said. he and alonso are great mates thus webbers morale would be higher and more inclined to race better and faster

  35. backofburke said...
    Wednesday April 3, 2013 at 7:50 am Link to comment Report comment

    Vettel is just proving what we already know. That he is the bastard child of Schumacer. You win at any cost, even if you have to (in some way) take you your rival. Remember what Shuey did to Hill & Villeneuve?
    I just hope that Mark does everything he can to hinder any chance of Vettel winning any more races.
    Can you imagine how volatile & fractious Red Bull would be if Hamilton “did” go there. I don’t think he would accept Vettels’ brattish behaviour. Could be funny actually.
    I think the best Mark can do is go to Ferrari. I think they would treat him with more respect (sorry Massa fans).

  36. Mr Pants said...
    Wednesday April 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I agree with the personality comparisons between Vettel and Schumacher. Vettel has done this crap before and if he could go back in time knowing what he knows now, he would do exactly the same thing again.
    Redbull need to hang on to Webber, he is one of very few drivers that have the temperament to put up with Vettel’s antics. Got to be frustrating for Webber though. Real shame he got such a crap start in Oz, would have loved to see him win/place there.

  37. Poida said...
    Thursday April 4, 2013 at 11:34 am Link to comment Report comment

    If Vettel had the balls to ignore team orders on the track and go on to win, you need to have the balls to admit it. Gutless shyster.

  38. GP said...
    Thursday April 4, 2013 at 4:22 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I’ll say two things, Vettel has set a precedent on how to obey team orders and the other thing is I hope Vettel isn’t counting on Webber’s support at any time during the rest of the season, especially if Webber’s involvment becomes pivotal in deciding the championship.

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