By 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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