Turning up the heat
Sepang 2016
Malaysian Grand Prix
The human dynamics at work behind Malaysian Grand Prix dramas
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Luca Menato
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Mar 2013   |  9:31 am GMT  |  507 comments

At the distance of a week and with plenty of reaction from the key players to sift through, it is a good moment now to consider what human motives lay behind the two dramas we saw at the end of the Malaysian Grand Prix, involving the observation and non-observation of team orders within the Mercedes and Red Bull teams.

There have been all sorts of speculative stories about what happens next and the long term consequences, especially with regards to the Webber/Vettel relationship; the German paper Bild ran a story saying that Webber would leave the team at the end of 2013, but there is nothing concrete there yet.

So let’s examine the motives and reasons behind the actions of the key players last Sunday.


RED BULL RACING
Christian Horner
Horner as team principal is in charge of the team and his authority has been undermined by Vettel ignoring team orders on Sunday. The tone of his pally radio message to Vettel, “This is silly, Seb” contrasts with the calm, patrician authority of Ross Brawn, “Negative, Nico,” and makes it look as though he is too close to his star, unwilling to upset him.

Driver power is a dangerous thing; McLaren’s Ron Dennis often says that he lost control of Prost and Senna because he was close to them in age, as Horner is to his drivers. A team has to be led from the top and Horner has had to stamp his authority on this embarrassing situation.

Vettel is now a three times world champion, not simply a naughty boy, who carries his own significant authority in the car and within the team.

Aware that his authority had been called into question and that Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz had been displeased by the incident, Horner reasserted himself this week by dragging Vettel in to apologise to the Red Bull staff in Milton Keynes and then overtly portrayed this to the media as an act of contrition by his star driver, who recognised that “What he did was wrong,” This is an almost parental act of seeing through a punishment, rubbing Vettel’s nose in it, putting him back in his place, as a driver and an employee.

Horner also has to deal with the loose cannon which is Helmut Marko, who has a licence to interfere and to comment, which is frequently unhelpful to team harmony (as in the pre-season lambasting of Webber). Horner has to be careful not to give Marko any ammunition.

We do not know yet what further consequences there will be for Vettel, in terms of putting right the wrong with Webber, but Horner needs Vettel and Webber to work together and rack up the points if they are to resist Ferrari and others in the constructors’ championship this year. That is where the real money is in F1, not the driver’s standings, which are a ‘nice to have’.


Sebastian Vettel
For all the apologies made, Vettel has received quite a bit of sympathy for his actions this week; F1 is a brutal world of dog eat dog and he has revealed his killer instinct. Many argue that he has nothing to apologise for.

As a three times world champion, Vettel has earned the right to command authority and in a team like Ferrari there would be no question of him having to pander to the number two driver. Ferrari has a leader, like a Tour de France cycle team has a leader and everyone works for him.

Red Bull are different; they not in the sport to be a mere sponsor, they are here to participate, to be part of the story, the human drama. And that has always meant letting the drivers race.

However, since Turkey 2010, where they hit each other, that has been seen internally as a risk. The start in Brazil last year saw Webber challenge Vettel in a way that other teams found unnecessary and may have contributed to the spin he suffered in the opening lap.

Where possible they have given Vettel the rub of the green because he looked the stronger prospect for the championship and he has delivered.

This has contributed to the impression – which is how F1 history will remember this period – that Webber is “not bad for a number two driver” and Vettel clearly sees him that way. He spoke in the Malaysia press conference of his respect for Mark, but he would not have attacked him for the win if he respected him.

Handled badly, this episode has the power to drive Vettel into the arms of Ferrari sooner than anticipated. Like Hamilton, he will come to a point where he realises that he will never grow as a man inside the team that raised him from a child. Ferrari will give him the status he wants, where he doesn’t have to apologise to anyone.


Mark Webber
Clearly had the moral high ground on Sunday and played it well by speaking with dignity about what he had suffered and then skilfully deflecting the story onto the high degradation tyres to aid the current Red Bull political lobbying game.

But Webber knows that this was the defining moment in his Red Bull F1 career: close, but no cigar.

He is also aware that he is not without sin as he broke team orders to attack Vettel at Silverstone in 2011 and has played his part in making life difficult for his team mate, such as the start in Brazil last year.

Stories leaked to Bild this week suggest that the only outcome is Webber leaving the team and it’s not hard to guess where they came from.

What has he lost and gained from this? Webber has the sympathy vote and will carry that for the foreseeable future. However what he wants and what gets him out of bed in the morning, is a fair chance to challenge for the championship. The signs are there that once Red Bull gets on top of understanding the tyres, they will have a performance advantage. Webber wants it to be his turn this year. This is what he will have been lobbying Mateschitz to back him on this week.


MERCEDES
Ross Brawn
Undermined by a loose cannon within his own organisation in the form of Niki Lauda, Brawn gratefully took the opportunity on Sunday to demonstrate his January statement, “I’m team principal and I’m in charge,”

Inevitably, Lauda criticised the decision publicly. Brawn stuck to his guns. For the moment he has to live with the situation in which he finds himself at Mercedes. One of his closest allies, Nick Fry, was dispensed with this week, he is on his own with the Austrians in a circle around him.

His word, his authority carried the day on Sunday. Rosberg was closing up on Hamilton, but at no stage had he led his team mate from qualifying to race, so why should be be allowed to overtake, when the points outcome for the team would be the same anyway?

Mercedes is competitive again and it would be a very ill informed Daimler board member who thought the turnaround was down to Lauda and Toto Wolff. It’s a result of the planning put in place by Brawn, Aldo Costa and the army of technical chiefs at Brackley. Lauda has won nothing as a team manager, Brawn has won 16 world championships.

Mercedes has a quick car this year and they will win races with it. But the political situation may swallow Brawn up. On Sunday he put a marker in the sand; how long before it’s washed away will be very interesting to see.


Lewis Hamilton
Took his first podium on his second outing for Mercedes and is in the championship hunt. It’s a positive start for Hamilton, but he decided to go for the sympathy vote on Sunday, saying that Rosberg should have been on the podium, not him. This wasn’t necessary and showed Hamilton’s desire to be liked, as does his highly personal BBC Online column this year.

Most highly successful people don’t care what people think of them, but Hamilton is aware he and his team are building a brand and he has an image to improve. As a racer he also doesn’t want presents and the podium ahead of Rosberg could be construed that way. He was annoyed with himself for missing the opportunity to challenge for the win. He lost time going into the wrong pit box at the first stop and it cost him a chance to split the Bulls. An overly aggressive use of the throttle also burned up valuable fuel.

He’s aware that Rosberg is arguably better equipped to deal with the driving discipline necessary to do well on high degradation Pirellis and this is likely to arise again.


Nico Rosberg
Keen to cast himself as the ‘wronged man’, like Webber, but the situations are different.

However Sunday was a big win for Rosberg. “Remember this,” he said as he switched the engine off after the race. Those are the words of a confident man; Rosberg came of age on Sunday and he showed that he has what it takes to do well in Pirelli era F1. He needs to get on top of Hamilton in qualifying, but he made his point on Sunday and can go forward this season with renewed confidence.

Many thought he would be blown away by Hamilton and, although he cannot compete for pure talent, he will get to the chequered flag just as quickly and probably more efficiently than his rock star team mate.

[* Top image – A mash up of Vettel image with Tiger Woods Nike advert, by Luca Menato]

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507 comments

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1

It's very hard to understand why at all is Brawn's position in question at Mercedes. Yes they didn't get results last few years, but neither did Schumacher during his first years at Ferrari. On the other hand, Lauda with an evidently unsuccessful career as a team manager behind him seems to be in a much stronger position.

On the subject of Vettel and Webber, Horner unfortunately missed the bus in terms of making it clear that he's the boss. Pleading to his driver over radio transmission in public domain does anything but clarify he's boss. No matter what the team is able to come up with from behind closed doors, Horner looks like a weak man, a figure head, much like a monarch of a country governed by a democratic government (although Red Bull seems to be much less a democracy!).

2

The issue is that Webber was unaware that Vettel was going to ignore team orders. If this was the case at Silverstone and Vettel was unaware that Webber was ignoring team orders then I see it as tit for tat. The problem is I think Webber communicated to the pitwall several times that he was going to have a go. To my knowledge, Vettel did nothing of the sort. That's why this is underhand whereas what Webber did in 2011 was at least out in the open (not exonerating him though!)

3

Mateschitz is the BOSS of Red Bull, and his allowing of Marko to be divisive/devious, with his snide remarks [ mainly about Webber ] is what is fueling the problems at the team.

Horner is not really a natural leader and probably likes to be liked, more than accepting what comes from being the Team Manager, but still Marko is sneaking around in the shadows [ with Mateschitz's blessing I assume ? ] to undermine Horner and Webber at every turn.

Marko is the problem !

4

Agreed. CH wants to be the nice guy boss of F1 (as seems to be a worrying trend these days) but at times he needs to grow a pair as Flav suggested.

Unfortunately he hasn't handled Marko too well either. Quite what Helmut's job is I'm not sure, but CH should be in Mateschitz' face telling him to muzzle his dog. Then DM will have to choose who to support; his team manager or his old drinking buddy from Graz.

5

On the subject of Lauda. You forget to mention that he is a shareholder in the team (Probably bought his stake with the 1.2 million Euro a year he received since 2009 for wearing that stupid red cap in public). But that in our crazy world give him the right to mouth off. Not his Merits or lack thereof, as a teamcaptain..

6

"Lauda has won nothing as a team manager, Brawn has won 16 world championships."

Beautiful.

7

James, since the inception of this website, we're privileged to have read many great columns, but this is absolutely the very very best of them. Thank you so much for this amazing article which is extremely rare to find, even in this advanced age of internet and media. Cheers!

8

Flavio Briatore nailed the description of Horners situation. Perhaps a bit colourfully, but rather aptly.

http://www.f1times.co.uk/news/display/07398

9

Sorry, but why Flavio is even trying to comment? Can you remind me why he is not in F1 anymore?

10

Flavin was a good team boss, regardless of other issues. He hit the nail on the head this time.

11

Yes, first thing Briatore has said in years that makes sense and then he went and backtracked for some reason.

12

No Wayne.

There is the very clear convergence of two, very distinct, patterns, here.

The first is the Flavio pattern: very well documented: Flavio looks out for Flavio. And Flavio DEFINITELY does NOT want to be repressed in shooting ff whatever opinion Flavio has at that precise moment in the Flavio reality, except when, he realizes that it becomes into conflict with ultimately "looking out for Flavio".

I describe with no intention of judgement, whatsoever. Even though I believe that I don't behave like that, it seems to be working pretty good, from where I can see it.

Then we have whatever arm twisting, little cabnet of dirt Red Bull/Christian Horner has, to effect some kind of damage control upon who looks most bad in this whole situation, Christian Horner. Well, I would bet my last to cents that he has some juicy tid bits from the always ready to cast hem of... Flavio Briatore.

Horner cashed in some chips to get a comparatively damageless (for Briatore), 'clarification' of what he'd said, which mounts to no less than a complete and utter about-face on his comments.

Simple!

13

He wants a job at some time? Maybe he thinks he can have a second act with F1?

That guy is tainted and should never be listened to.

14

I agree. In my eyes, Red Bull's handling of this is turning the team into a compete joke from a leadership perspective.

Horner and Marko is now saying that the team did nothing wrong, so if anything was wrong it must have been Vettels doing. But at the same time Vettel won't be punished, since they are saying he did what anybody would have done. But why issue orders at all if nobody is really expected to follow them?

Even more, they are trying to shift the blame by calling out Alonso or Hamilton, saying that would have done the same. This is borderline slander, and even if it's true what has that got to do with anything inside RBR?

At the same time Vettel is busy apologising to everybody, apparently for something anybody would have done and which is not grounds for punishment. If that's the case, why is he apologising at all?

The leadership is so weak it's just staggering. I am not a particular fan of any team, but I can't see Ross Brawn, Luca di Montezemolo or Ron Dennis let themselves be overrun this way.

If RBR is marketing operation they should care about the values they are associating with their brand. Contrary to belief, not all exposure is good. For example you don't want to associate your brand with old people if your target demographic is young.

In my eyes, RBR are now mainly communicating weakness. I find that hard to understand from a marketing standpoint. Then again, I am probably not a part of their target market so maybe I don't have the full picture. It's interesting anyway.

15

The solution for CH is simple. He should make an ultimatum to Dietrich Mateschitz that it is either him (Marko) or me. Mateschitz is clearly a very smart business leader who must surely by now recognize what a cancer Marko is to the team.

The latter would simply be a no-show at future GPs and questions about his absence be met with "no comment" by the team. But the F1 community would easily figure out what had happened. In doing so :

CH establishes his authority

MW gets backing from the team by the removal of HM

SV does not have to be punished any further particularly since he represents there best hope for more WCCs & WDCs.

Mr. Mateschitz, do you have a job for me?

16

+1

Perhaps the head of the RB young driver program should spend some actual time with their young drivers?

SV is a triple world champion and doesn't need HM to hold his hand for him..

HM's time could be better spent over at Toro Rosso - I don't think Dan or JEV would mind having some extra support from high up.

Marko could spend the next 10-12 races working with TR and help them get a better driver and someone who could potentially replace either MW or SV when they do leave RB.

Rather than loiter at the back of the RB pit wall and pat SV on the back everytime he wins..

17

CH should resign

18

your comment is good.

But Red Bull is all about 'the rebel', conflict, adrenal high. This kind of dispute is like tripping over a mountain of gold; which makes it really, really difficult to believe that this wasn't orchestrated, at some level.

19

Rebel.

More like a dirty snake who shoots someone in the back.

Redbull tell Webber " don't worry mark we are pitting Seb before you so as to keep him ahead of Hamilton but he won't use it to overtake you"

20

Yes I agree, but that's kind of my point.

Vettel is surely coming across as the rebel, but Red Bull - the team and therefore the brand - is just coming across as weak and indecisive.

Strange marketing, unless the Red Bull brand exists to promote the Vettel brand. Still can't get my head around it.

21

This seems to be more of a problem with Red Bull than just Horner.

Many times Webber has been allowed to break team orders. What message does that send to Vettel?

If I were Vettel I would have reasoned that, since my team mate broke team orders and got away with it (even as recently as 2 races back in Brazil) I should be able to do the same.

Red Bull seem very weak when it comes to imposing team orders. It seems the drivers are free to follow or break them as they wish.

It is this weakness of Red Bull's that's to blame for all this. They should either be more strict when imposing orders or do away with it altogether. Webber has got away with it too many times to put all the blame for this on Vettel

22

right on JackL.

A week after the race, analysts at autosport and planet f1 have posted evidence of Mark goading Vettel. enuf said.

23

http://sports.howzit.msn.com/f1/was-webber-goading-vettel

Couple of questions?

1) when was it decided that Webber was in front after the last pitstop? They came out side by side

2) when did Webber supposedly turn his engine down? Most likely after he was overtaken

3) when did Webber have better pace in the race other than lap 5-7? Not at any point.

Disappointed that a balance view point had to come from another source. James ur site is usually my first point of reference, but I believe in this case u jumped to early in ur conclusion. You made it sound like Webber was comfortably ahead, and Vettel snuck up and sneakily passed when told not to. I think based on the above article there was a lot more to the story.

24

Bomber,

I appreciate your point of view, but if your theory is correct, what would have happened if Webber's pit stop was 0.5 seconds slower and he came out behind Vettel? Would the team have asked Vettel to let Webber through? I think not.

The point was that it was too close to call, Vettel was better on his tyres, and made both compounds last longer than Webber despite being in turbulent air behind Webber for the majority of the race, compared to Webber who was running in clean air and still had trouble with tyre degradation, even when trying to control the pace. Seb was able to drive at a faster pace and make his tyres last longer.

Regarding your point regarding "next time", I doubt Webber will be anywhere near Vettel for the rest of the season, as usual Webber will perform in 4-5 races per year, and be average for the remainder of the season.

25

Ahmed you are missing the point.

Webber should have pitted first as he was ahead of Vettel and that would have given him a bigger gap.

Redbull decided to pit Vettel first to keep him ahead of Hamilton.

Webber was told this and also told that Vettel wouldn't challenge him for the lead.

If Redbull had known that Vettell would behave in such an underhand manner they would have piited Webber first and Vettel would never have had the opportunity to overtake Webber.

Next time Vettel needs the favour of pitting first when another driver is chasing him down he won't get it.

26

'Webber has got away with it too many times to put all the blame for this on Vettel'

Really?..

Didn't break any team orders in brazil that I am aware of.

And Silverstone was completely different.

Which other 'many times' are you referring to.........?

Remember in 2011, RB publicly stated that they had no driver favoring, and even condemned Ferrari at the Alonso Massa Germany incident.........and then they were caught out telling Webber to slow down........didn't look good did it.

27

Red bull gives you forked tongue.

28

But Horner is in charge of the team, at least that's his job title, so he is the one who is ultimately weak.

JA, I loved your piece about Mercedes and about any 'ill advised board members'. Brilliant and my thoughts exactly. I said before the season that the likes of Lauda will take credit if the team does well and will shy away of it doesn't.

Do you have any idea what Mercedes get from having Lauda in a position to do what he always does which is blow hot air and cause trouble? While it's plain to see what damage the guy can do, does anyone have the first clue as to what value he adds....Anyone? He comes across as an arrogant, boorish fool (and I don't care how many races he has won!).

Brawn was simply outstanding during the GP in stark contrast to Horner who came across as hapless and incredibly weak. I actually saw Brawn earn his salary during the race while I was left wondering what on earth they pay Horner for (in that particular context).

All this sympathy for Vettel is self-absorbed, F1 garbage. They clearly said they had an agreement BEFORE the race in an interview, why people want to keep painting this as the same thing WEB did in Silverstone is incomprehensible to me.

How bloody dare people excuse someone from basic human values simply because they are a celebrity/sportsman! If I acted like that at work I would be out on my ear, VET and I are both human beings and are both accountable to the same set of basic decencies.

Amazes me how those people, including many pundits and BE are so ready to excuse Vettel because 'he is a racer' and so ready to send out the wrong message about how to behave to young children watching the sport. They should be bloody ashamed of themselves. On the one hand we tell these guys they are role models and on the other we excuse them almost anything. People need to get a bloody grip of what is really important.

29

Wayne,
[mod]

No one is disputing a pre race agreement, however the question that i have for you is,
when did it become clear that Webber would be the leader after the last pitstop?

Answer: It was too close to call, Vettel got pitted first and was setting faster laps than Webber, decided to go on Medium tyres, Webber pitted after Vettel and he chose (not Red Bull) the harder compount tyres. If his pitstop was 0.3 seconds slower, he would've come out behind Vettel. They came out side by side, and raced over 2 laps.

So your logic is that the team sent radio messages to both Vettel and Webber (in the middle of an intense fight for the lead) for Vettel to back off, which he ignored.

You made it sound like Webber was clearly in the lead, and was in cruise control, and Vettel sneakily passed him unaware.

Please stick to facts.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrVaADyuAWM

30

Think of the Children!!!!

lol...

That bit of mocking aside, I agree with your sentiments, especially how frustrating it is to see people rush in to defend Vettel and condone inappropriate behavior that he himself has already acknowledged to be wrong by virtue of having apologized for it. So frustrating...

31

Webber and Vettel BOTH IGNORED TEAM ORDERS, it does'nt matter what circumstances they did it under. a TEAM ORDER is a TEAM ORDER, whether they admit to an agreement before the race or not. Both of them are guilty of it, Webber moreso than Vettel.

32

Another good one, Wayne; objective yet decisive; good expository.

33

+1 for Wane's observations and for JA's presentation in the article.

The picture at the top of the story - Vettel giving the finger to the world and laughing about it - characterizes the situation (no matter what the talent may be) and Horner is the ultimate loser in the drama to allow it - contrived "apologies" to the staff included.

At Silverstone Webber did exactly what Barachello did for Schumi, but not as openely as waiting for the last 100 yards to comply with orders. And Schumi at least had the grace to recognize it on the podium. Stealng is not winning at all costs, it is what it is and hollow contrived apologies don't cut it.

34

Must concur, great analysis.

35

As you know Wayne, Vettel is the golden boy to BE as well....vettel can not do anything wrong in his eyes........another thing wrong i am afraid with BE....

36

PS, all the articles on this site are brilliant but this is the best for a while. Thanks again.

38

Brawn to McLaren to replace Whitmarsh? Seems win win for Brawn and McLaren to me.

39

Amen. Webber, frankly, brought this upon himself with his own decision to ignore team orders multiple times.

And may I just say as a Red Bull fan myself, I favor doing away with team orders until one or other driver has been mathematically eliminated, even if it loses us both championships?

It would be a good thing for the sport to have at least *one* team that is truly sporting at the pointy end of the grid. The other front runners may claim to be a team of equals, but each either regularly enforces team orders publicly, or is acknowledged to have a number one driver who is given favoritism in every decision (even if he's not given places on track.)

It is Red Bull that has these problems repeatedly, precisely because it is Red Bull that *does* strive to be equal to its drivers -- and when the team feels the rare need to protect itself they find it unable to do so with more than the most wishy-washy "instructions". So let's forget those instructions, do away with them, and take the moral high ground.

40

knoxploration take of the rose coloured glass man

41

Enough of the blattent vehement anti-Webber pro-Vettel! All the regulars are more than aware of your position; enough is enough; you might as well be Sebastian.

42

What orders Horner or RBR gave to Mark and he broke them? My memory doesn't want to help in this case.

43

TheJudge13 did a great analysis. There were no pre-agreed team orders prior to Silverstone or Brazil. Both were proper racing where in Malaysia Webber was told to turn down his engine and drive to a set lap time as Vettel will not pass... yeah right. In my eyes Vettel is a lier and a thief.

http://thejudge13.com/2013/03/29/ali-about-the-winning/

44

Niether is mine,all I know that Vettel got

laurels in Siverstone and Brazil.

Somehow one get the feeling Vettel may find

bit more dificult to pass during the race,

Mark is well liked by all drivers from front

to a rear of a grid,not only as the driver

but what he does in support for all the

drivers in Motor sport as a whole.

As for Mr Horner as Ray Charles song say

Hit road jack and don't you come no more.

He has lost all the credibility as a manager.

Cheers.

45

Silverstone 2011 and Brasil 2012 antics, to name a few. By the way, here is what Webber (playing the racer role) wrote in his BBC sports column after that Silverstone race. Someone should show it to him, just for lulz.

Link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/14145893

46

I totally agree, Webber openly admits he doesn't listen to team orders and yet he crys like a baby when Vettel does the same thing, its called jealousy, Webber knows what Seb has achieved and what sort of quality driver Seb is, Mark almost half heartedly tried to stop Seb from winning the title at Brazil last year, I don't blame Seb for overtaking Webber, he was held back all race being told to stay 3 second behind Webber to the point he was jumped by Hamilton.

47

Red Bull consistently claim that their drivers are free to race without team orders yet it seems obvious enough that they are not treated equally.

So why would Mark be singled out for not following orders when Red Bull don't follow there own principles and Vettel certainly won't pay any attention orders or principles when his own agenda is at risk.

Webber breaks rules because he has nothing to lose.

Vettel breaks rules because he has everything t lose.

48

Something about this whole story is not right. The team orders couldnt have been given prior to the last pitstop as the team would want to see where they came out before they told them to hold station and bring the cars home. When Webber came out of the last pitstop, Vettel was right alongside him going into turn 1, surely he couldnt have turned his engine down then as he was still fighting Vettel! Autosport confirmed this this weekend. Id be interested to know when, exactly, those Multi21 team orders were given, as that would shed a lot of light on what happened.

More curious is Webber during his middle stint on the medium tires (when Vettel first complained about him being slow). It almost seemed to me like he was backing Vettel up into Hamilton (just fast enough to be out of reach of Vettel, but slower than Hamilton on faster tires). What was going on there? Who was he actually racing?

I dont buy the argument that Vettel enjoys special protection within the team. Mark vacations with Dietrich for Pete's sake. Vettel's buddies with Helmut. Plus, lets be honest, if Massa pulled a stunt like Mark did in Brazil last year on Alonso, we all know he would never be in F1 again. The fact that he's still racing for them and in contention for wins means he's clearly not no2, maybe more of a 1.2. When Hamilton wanted to join the team, Helmut asked Mark if he wanted to stay first, that doesnt sound like the blatant favouratism that Mark suggests.

Im not saying one person is right and the other is wrong, but there's clearly more at play here than any of us know. I cant wait for senior members of the team to join other teams in the years to come so we can hear more about what really happened in Multigate.

49

This case is not (only) about team orders.

Webber was told to relax with the guaranty that it would'n be attacked by Vettel, so Vettel won the duel by shooting Webber from behind. In the end he won the duel, but he lost his honor.

50

Sebastian is a real racer and seems a genuinely decent guy. Senna would have done exactly the same and wouldn't have apologized

51

Vettel, as good as he is, is not Senna - who never tried to emulate anyone else, never broke a team order and didn't always have the best car.

52

Senna wouldn't have been behind Webber in the first place, particularly with the wet start to the race.

However, if Senna had been in Webbers position then Vettel would have found himself in the wall if he'd tried to pass, which is what Webber should have done.

53
vuelve kowalsky

Senna broke a deal he had with prost not with the team. The most clear comparison must be 1982 at imola. Pironi was not a match to villeneve, and took the oportunity to win, even if the team gave orders to hold station. There were many ocasions when a team order the leader to let pass his teammate, some obeyed some didn't. The first ones lost respect the others lost their jobs.

i like what vettel did, but i don't like that he was talked into apologising to everybody. on this count he is not like senna, but the way he took victory reminded me of the great brazilian. Let's see what he does if the same oportunity arises.

54

I'd rather see what Webber does....

55

Decent guy huh? All evidence to the contrary. And just because Senna (who had serious personality flaws himself)would have done something does not make it right - not by a long shot.

57

Had Ron Dennis asked Senna to stay put behind Prost at the 2nd race of the season with 16 laps to go, he would've parked the car near Mclaren pits,punched Ron Dennis on his face, gotten back into his and overtaken Prost. There is no question of Senna nor Schumacher holding position when they are in a position to take the title at the end of the season.

Webber,like Barichello before him, needs to step back and think a bit. After spending over half a decade with the same team and constantly whining about lack of support throws a bad light on Webber and not his employer. If you've been short-changed for so long and yet you stick to the same employer, then there's something wrong with you and not your employer.

58

Yeah, I don't think Senna would have done that at all...

59

I don't think Senna would have appreciated you telling him what to do either. It's irrelevant anyway; Senna has nothing to with Red Bull.

60

But then he would not say to prost to turn his engine down in the first place. Vettel would not get ahead of webber this time if webber was not instructed differently.

61

Your example which claims to know what Senna would or would not have done (he was not the most predictable person at the best of times, even to those who actually knew him)is an example of how NOT to behave rather than the opposite.

62

@Mike J

Also, for all the strategy stuff ups and mechanical malaise a certain side of the RB Garage seems to regularly suffer, you don't find your engineer promoted to a higher position at another team if you can't get strategy right and you don't keep your mechanics job if you can't keep your garage-side's car running up to reasonable standard... oops.

63

@zombie, sorry Wayne.

All webber wanted and was agreed to was to have equal treatment...he was told he would have that and he signed again.

However doesn't happen like that since the team management has too many bosses by the look of things and webber has to fight to get his meal delivery on time at races, let alone getting the preferred strategy.......or a decent KERS...whoops that a sore point.

64

Point is, champions are hired to win titles and not play second fiddle when you know you are still in the race. And Webber has been saying he is unhappy with the team for a while now. If the kitchen is too hot, maybe he should've quit 2 years ago instead of continuing to crib.

65

"If you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver." (A. Senna) 🙂

66

Ugh... this quote again? Out of context! With this remark, Senna was referring to an inter-team rivalry with Prost at Ferrari, not his team-mate, specifically regarding Suzuka 1990. As mentioned above and in an earlier column, an instance of Senna defying a direct team order has never been documented.

I know that Senna was no angel, but he would not have wanted his rivals to be hamstrung - he wanted to be the best on even terms (witness his battle against driver aids when McLaren could not compete with Williams).

For what we have been advised, the gap that Vettel took for this race was not really a gap: there was a direct order from the team. Malaysia 2013 was akin to a punch below the belt when Vettel thought the ref wasn't looking.

67

First, it was a completely different situation. Prost was driving for Ferrari, and his retirement meant that Senna would take the WDC and McLaren would probably take the WCC.

I doubt the team told him not to broadside Prost-- I doubt they wanted the furor, but at the end of the day, McLaren won, Ferrari lost.

Secondly, what really happened is that Vettel only won because his teammate was told to get out of his way. How's that make Vettel look?

68

It is a real pity that the senna movie was produced since everyone since then 'clings to that line' and they don't state the whole sentence.....theynisna long more meaning than that which is lostto people.

It does not, repeat, does not hold relevance to this situation at all.

Please stop quoting senna in the same sentence as Vettel.

And it is a different time and different situation.

69

Actually the line is very relevant in this context. The topic here is trying to understanding the mental workings of the drivers that led to the controversies in the race. We are not trying to decide if Senna or Vettel are pleasant chaps that we would like to invite over for an afternoon tea.

AuraF1 above says "There's a fine line between competitive and unpleasant but its still a line". Well, the line between winner and loser is very obvious, and Vettel, Senna, and Shumacher refuse to be on the wrong side of that line. Do you think it is just a coincidence that these 3 supremely succesful F1 drivers are also often criticized for their aggressive and selfish personalities?

Also keep in mind that many of the people posting comments here are not necessarily saying Vettel was correct to make the pass, they are simply trying to explain WHY he made the pass.

70

But I think this is essential to understanding the situation. These are race drivers, unique among sports in many ways. Certainly in the mental requirements -which is what this topic is all about (an aside- James I think you missed your calling as a psychologist- this is an excellent analytical article).

Vettel risked life and limb to make the pass. The easy thing would have been to hang back and cruise along. Aggression, going for the gap at almost any cost is in their make-up, how their minds are wired to work, in-grained from years and years of physical and mental training. Sitting back would be like asking a hungry lion to walk past an antelope and not think about hunting it down.

You have to take the good and the bad. If you admire Vettel for being the youngest 3-time champ etc etc then you have to accept that what made him pass Weber is the same thing that has made him so succesful.

71

I think vettel lost all claim to being a 'true racer' when he was falling behind mark on faster tyres and came on the radio to demand team orders to move mark out of the way.

If that's what makes him a great driver, watching webber pull out 7/10ths on a lap with slower tyres and then going 'oh he's too slow, use team orders to pull him out of the way' after it was vettels own fault for pitting to slicks too early and losing position - well bless his little heart then, he's a true champion.

Vettel fans can defend him if they want but he wanted team orders to solve his own mistimed pit stop and tyre change and then when he found mark had pulled sufficient gap he decided team orders didn't apply anymore.

Senna is not a model human being but his comment about being a racing driver didn't apply to Prost who he was horrified out-politicked him with the FIA- so I really don't think vettels double standards are justifying a 'great' champion. There are champions who didn't disobey their team and didn't throw tantrums worthy of a child twenty years younger.

Up until this seb could sit back and portray maturity and at least pretend he was the 'Schumacher who didn't have to stab people in the back' but now he's ruined that. The apologies are just PR.

There's a fine line between competitive and unpleasant but its still a line.

72

'Vettel risked life and limb to make the pass'

What?..that is the strangest comment in a week of pretty bad ones.!!!

'Sorry, no it wasn't. Right now vettel has really come to the crossroads. A lot of people have opinions that Vettel has his 'greatness' due to the car, not his ability.

And more so, decisions from his team that gives him benefits over his team mate.

You see we are here because webber stands up for himself, instead of assuming the subservient approach of drivers like Barrichello and Coulthard.....

73

Dear God, Senna should not be held up as the perfect example of a human being. He was a great driver with a whole set of issues and flaws of his own.

74

Aside from what Wayne said, this quote is also rather out of context. It's all wonderfully pure and glorious to race hard and go for gaps. It isn't particularly though when the gap is there because you agreed to a plan with the team and then decided to just make your own plan instead.

Maybe Senna would have done the same. It doesn't mean it's the right thing to have done. It's no indication of being a great racer, and certainly not a great person. Doing whatever it takes to get that bit closer to taking the title is great if it's done by genuine means. Done by dishonest means, it's hardly anything to be respected.

76

Would you '+1' your children if they acted as VET did? Just wondering........... While people proclaim VET's virtues as a 'racer' I wonder how many people of his 'virtues' as a role model.........

And by the way, the original poster has NO IDEA AT ALL what Senna would or would not have done so it's a fairly moot point.

More than once I heard Senna preach spirituality which seems totally at odds what with everyone thinks of him here.

77

I just watched his Documentary and I don't know what Senna would do. It made him look like an angel and Prost look about as evil as it could. The really confusing part was that Prost is on the board of his foundation and part of the management of the Documentary team.

78

Senna & Schumacher never broke team orders. Even James stated that into one of his posts this week after the race. There are other 3 times world champions in the history as well that not "great". It takes more than a fast car or speed to be "great". Vettel has more than a few things wrong here,

1: Broke the pre race agreement (counts almost as cheating, knowing that the driver ahead had the engine turned down, but he still disobeyed the team order)

2: He tried to justify his act after the race & just before going to the podium. He said on the camera to Newey ,"it was obvious I was faster". Newey reminded him, "it wasn't obvious & we will talk about it".

3: His comment during the race, "Mark is too slow, get him out of the way". Now we all know why mark wasn't driving as fast as he could have been.

4: His act made the rest of the F1 teams aware of his character, which Vettel might have to carry for the rest of his F1 career. Adjectives like, "unmanageable, disrespectful & selfish" are now being labeled with his name that might be difficult to erase. In other words, he is not yet a team player.

5: Vettel did say how much he respects Webber & so forth, but his action speaks otherwise. That also makes majority of the F1 world wonder if he really means what he says.

Overall, Vettel has created an incredibly bad situation for himself & most importantly Red Bull. We all knew about the bad blood between Vettel & Webber. We also knew that Vettel has been the number one preferred driver for Red Bull. But his action has taken things into a whole new level. He basically cleaned up any chance of having many fans. The consequence of his action has put a huge question mark over Horner's & Red Bull F1 management's credibility. I will finish with Briatore's comment over the incident, "Vettel runs the Red Bull team, not Horner".

79
Philip Henderson

I blame Charlie Whiting: he should have just hung out the bad sportsmanship flag the first time Seb went past

80

@Formula Zero

Excellent comment!

81

Come on, we do not live in an ideal world. In an ideal world what Seb did would be very wrong, but neither Silverstone 2011 nor Brazil 2012 would have happenned. In an ideal world there would be no mind games before racing took place.

Seb just got even, after Turkey 2010, Silverstone 2011 and especially Brazil 2012, the young ace deemed that three strikes were more than enough.

Moreover one of his more dangerous rivals for the championship had retired, so he showed his fangs and went for it.

In an ideal world I would agree with you, however that is not where we are so I just take notice and shrug.

82

Mazirian: When you are no longer running for the WDC, and your teammate is. When you know that a WDC is good for the team you work for, are you telling me that you need an explicit agreement to help your teammate in the crucial Grand Prix?

AlexD: You are missing the point, Seb was not betraying, he was getting even.

83

I wish more people like Seb in your life...hope you will be happy if they behave like this towards you.

84

Are you saying Webber and Vettel had an pre-race agreement that Vettel should get a free pass in Brazil? I can't remember that being reported.

85

PB, of course they cannot endorse his behaviour, they are just looking the other way. We have all seen too many Hollywood movies to know by now that one thing is the application of the law and another thing is justice. Once more this should not have happenned, period. But life is more complex than that, may be it was agreed before the race, but it was not necessary to agree before the start of the last Brazilian GP that what Mark did at the first corner was not right.

Seb took justice into his own hands and got even. Period. I do not applaud what he did. I just look the other way and move on.

86

For the sake or repeating Wayne's point that is consistently being missed (ignored) by those supporting Vettel, in this instance there was a pre race agreement, which didn't exist in the other instances being quoted (specifically, suggestions to do something during the race in Silverstone for example is different). In a relationship like that between these two, I'm not sure how to expect Webber (or Vettel) not to chase the other or make their life harder. But in Sepang it had been agreed that the drivers will hold station after the final pit stop - doesn't matter who was faster (which by the way we will never know better than the team).

To cut the long story short, this is the only example amongst all that have been quoted where one driver violated an agreement, disrespected the team and went ahead to overtake a guy who possibly wasn't even ready to defend his place.

Oh, and by the way, did you all miss that there isn't a single entity in the whole Red Bull team that's supporting Vettel on this one (including Dr. Marko)! I can't recollect that they were all unanimously against Webber in any of the quoted races despite the apparent favouritism within the team - says something, doesn't it?

87

Come on, we do not live in an ideal world. In an ideal world what Seb did would be very wrong, but neither Silverstone 2011 nor Brazil 2012 would have happenned. In an ideal world there would be no mind games before racing took place.

Seb just got even, after Turkey 2010, Silverstone 2011 and especially Brazil 2012, the young ace deemed that three strikes were more than enough.

Moreover one of his more dangerous rivals for the championship had retired, so he showed his fangs and went for it.

In an ideal world I would agree with you, however that is not were we are so I just take notice and shrug.

88

I don't think Mark was the one that cost them the points: MW had led every lap for two whole GP weekends previous to Turkey 2010, and had led every lap of Turkey to that point as well. It is well documented that Webber turned his engine down to conserve fuel, and Vettel reacted to a phantom threat from McLaren (who weren't really close enough to attempt a pass, and subsequently had to wind their engines down too).

Webber was entitled to make one move, and left a car width of space on the inside line. Vettel was the one that tried to swing right and push Mark back, but Webber was not likely to give him more space. Most observers at the time (aside from Red Bull) saw this incident to be mostly Vettel's fault.

89

Sure, Tim, can you elaborate from the video footage how Seb could know that Mark had not given way.

On the other hand, that day Mark made Red Bull lose 28 points in the WCC.

90

reply to Sami - youtube footage.

I am unclear in what way you believe the youtube footage vindicates SV. If you look at the in car images - you can see SV change the angle of his steering wheel and the car clearly moves to the right, away from the white line at the left hand side of the track.

MW was to the right of SV and that is why the two cars collided. MW was under no obligation to give way, or change his line to accomodate SV attempted overtaking manoeurve.

Perhaps, you could explain how you see the incident differently.

91

Really? Just watch the slow motion images from Seb's camera:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vx9zIQvrdZU

Do you still think the same?

92

I agree with Alex D. What about Turkey? Do you mean when Vettel moved across and crashed into Webber. Agree that Webber wasn't innocent in that he was making it very difficult for a team mate but then for Vettel to 'assume' Webber should make way .... Vettel was not the innocent party in that exchange.

93

And what about turkey?

94

Like James said in an previous article, Senna never disobeyed a team order, whereas in this case Vettel did which is the whole point of the story.

95

Well said Kay.........a lot of people are missing the point.....by trying to justify the vettel incident with things that happened 2 - 20 years ago.....

96
Michael Grievson

Personally I would have more respect for Vettel if he simply said "I wanted to win" instead of all these false apologies

As for Hamilton, instead of saying "Rosberg should be on the podium" he could have let him past if he felt that strongly about it.

97
vuelve kowalsky

Agree. Shut up and drive. Too much talking. Vettel understands that. And horner is messing it all up pushing him to apologise when all he wants is drive the nuts out of the car. And some fans are talking what is right or wrong. the only thing that's right is racing!!!

by the way, anybody heard what keke rosberg thinks about this matter. He is owefully quiet about the hole thing.

98

Michael, it can't really be said better than that.

+1

100

To be fair to Hamilton, Brawn told him to hold the position and after the race when Hamilton said he considered letting him by Brawn told him to always obey what order he was given no matter what.

101

Exactly. Hamilton felt "bad" enough to win some sympathy and maybe gain some points with his team. But he didn't feel bad enough to pull over and let Nico go by.

102

How?

By driving into gravel and letting him through?

103

I agree with you on what you said about Vettel. Obviously, he was forced to apologise. The race result stands & so does the history of his action. So yes, any kind of apology seems fake. I would have more respects too if he said that he wanted to win & he will do the same again. Therefore, any team that he drives for will know how to manage the situation & not tell the other driver to save fuel or promise that the order will stand.

I don't agre with what you said about Hamilton. I am not a Hamilton fan, but he did nothing wrong in my view. Hamilton did not ask to stay ahead of his team mate as far as I am aware, ever. Hamilton has never been that good at managing his tyres or saving fuel. Rosberg is an excellent driver. And it won't be long until Rosberg starts beating Hamilton in regular basis. In my view Rosberg is a capable of winning championship over Hamilton in the same car. Having said all that, Hamilton's comment on the podium and since then in other interviews makes him look very mature. I am certain Brawn would've done the same if Hamilton was behind Rosberg in the same situation. Drivers work for the team, not the other way around even though it seems different in Red Bull team.

104

I somehow think you are going to be disappointed about Rosberg beating Hamilton. Hamilton can look after his tyres indeed he did so better than Button last year, but he is one of those drivers can raise his game at will which is why he will always beat Rosberg in qualifying. It's true that having to conserve tyres reigns in Hamilton performance somewhat, but when the tyres are durable he can put in extremely fast sustained performances. As it is this year we will have to wait and see, but perhaps Pirelli have gone beyond their remit. In any event racing on high deg. tyres is a non-race as far as I'm concerned because if your team can engineer it's way to the front then the tyres protect your position as in the case of Red Bull. On a different subject I think Mercedes would do well to get rid of Lauder as he is a disruptive infuence which the team is best managed without. Helmut Marko might almost be described as Lauder's opposite number at Red Bull, and should be sent on his way. In Ross Brawn even though he is getting on, Mercedes have the right person to careful manage their progress to the front, and they would let him go at their peril.

105

Why should Lewis let anyone past? He is there to race not run a charity.

Rosberg might not have needed to save fuel, but the fact is that he could not overtake Lewis and make it stick. Each time he tried, Lewis immediately passed him right back (thats why he cried out for the teams help), Ross Brawn called it off. Even if he felt Nico would have eventually made it past on his umpteenth attempt, Lewis is too new to disobey team orders.

Another thing, I can't picture Lewis pleading with the team to get him past a team mate. He would simply go past, and that would be that, he has an inner core of granite. It is such considerations that would have informed Ross Brawns decision about who to back.

106

Yes exactly what I was thinking I would have respected Vettel if he stood his ground and not apologised, it was pointless and just made Webber feel more justified, same with Hamilton if he really wanted Rosberg in 3rd he would have let him past, the gesture on the podium was fake.

The main problem was that the faster drivers in the respective teams were behind the slower drivers and the problem sremmed

107

I don't agree. If he took matters in his own hands and let Rosberg pass then he would be showing he has no respect for Brawn and would been to be disobeying orders too.

108

James, you say that Ferrari will give Vettel a clear no 1 status, which I don't disagree with, but the problem here is not a no1 status, is what would Ferrari do if Vettel would disobey orders.

Ferrari have always said the Team is above any driver and I think Ferrari would stamp their authority if something like this would happen.

RBR have a clear no1 for 2-3 years now, otherwise I don't see why they would take Mark's wing to give to Vettel (when the points difference was very small), why would they order Mark to maintain the possitionat Silverstone (when the points difference was huge in favour of Vettel), taking Vettel's side after the Turkey crash (where was clearly Vettel's fault) and many other situations.

RBR show alot of disrespect towards fans by denying they have a no1 driver. We are not stupid! This is insulting our intelligence.

109

Ferrari would do just about anything to win a Championship, last one was 6 years ago, 3 of those with Alonso. I think Ferrari feel that they have given Alonso enough chances, 3-4 years of developing a car to his liking and no COnstructors or Drivers Championship. I dont think the decision will be left up to Alonso.

I think this is part of the reason why you will see Alonso struggling under the pressure this year. Massa has finally got a platform which he is comfortable with, and Alonso is under pressure achieve a Championship with a very competitive car in 2013.

110

hahahahhahahaha

unbelievable :)))

So it's Alonso's fault for not winning the championships WHILE being voted the best driver for the last 3 years. Has it ever crossed your mind that Ferrari haven't built a car good enough?

111

Alonso was voted best driver of 2012, however I believe that a drivers responsibility is not just to "drive", but he is responsible for helping to develop the car, via feedback, and insights into where they can gain speed and improve certain handling characteristics.

Alonso has had 3 years at Ferrari, and all we keep hearing is "that the car is not fast enough" etc etc. The car won the Championship in 07, and almost won it in 08, so its not as if he was dragging a mid field car to the top as Schumacher did in the 90's. Whilst Alonso may be one of the best all round drivers, i dont think he would be classified as one of the best in developing a car.

By the way no one remembers who was voted best driver, however the history books remember who the WDC was.

112

It was not Alonso fault but he was not the Best Driver for last 3 he was twice only 10 and 12. Vettel won it for 09 and 11

The 11 and 12 are some what Bad cars for Top teams standard but 10 was a Good car and it was all Destroyed by the On Track Strategists in Yas Marina.

113

It's an interesting thought, but do you think Ferrari would want Vettel? with Alonso there till 2016?

Didn't Montezemola say something about an exceess number of "roosters' in the hen house recently?

114

Luca also said they didn't need Alonso at the start of 2009, few months later he was confirmed, I think if Ferrari wants the title they need Vettel, it'll be fireworks but I think he has too much raw speed and consistent form for Alonso to handle.

115

Luca said Hamilton wasn't "right" for Ferrari, now he may be thinking the same about Seb.

116

In Malaysia, despite Vettel came on the radio and said Mark was slow, Mark in fact was pulling out an even bigger gap!

First half of 2012 Vettel was outscored by Mark.

I don't think Vettel has much of a raw speed and consistent form, certainly not more than Alonso. If anyone it's Hamilton and Raikkonen who has that raw speed.

117

Vettel will not go to Ferrari if Alonso is there, and Alonso wouldn't have him anyway. Would you ?

118

Who else would love to see Vettel and Alonso at Ferrari, at the same time; they deserve each other.

Oh but would't THIS FANTASY be good to witness, in real life? lol!

119
Philip Henderson

Since Luca wants 3 car teams - maybe we could get Lewis in there too!

120

Spot on mate. Yes Ferrari will favour one driver over the season to win championships, but they won't let this kind of behaviour slide under the carpet. Ferrari will stamp their authority as soon as they find out that the driver put himself over the team's interest. Ross Brawn's authority in Mercedes is the legacy that he carries on from Ferrari.

121

I think though, that part of the discussions surrounding the possible departure of Massa from Ferrari last year, centred on the suggestion that Alonso's domineering position in the team, and over Massa in particular, was having a detrimental effect on the team's standings in the WCC.

122

I think the point might be that in this situation, Ferarri would have moved Webber aside and let Vettel through.

123

The point might be what if FerrariWebber then refused to let FerrariVettel past?

124

+1

Where would RBR be with respect to the WCC over the last 3 years without Webber?

Which is precisely why F1 is a team sport, as James has said before this is what the teams are really fighting for.

125

Maybe the WCC should just be based on what points a team's 2nd car achieves? That right there should solve any no.1/no.2 preference. Or have the 2nd car's points count for double in the WCC standings?

So for Malaysia, RBR would've scored 61 pts (25 + 2x18), and Mercedes 39 pts, in the WCC.

126

No thanks

127

Very well said. Ferrari didn't hesitate to sack Alain Prost for not playing the team game. I don't think they'd hesitate to sack a driver who does not obey a team order.

128

Well said

129

Some great observations James. None other than your opening paragraph re Christen Horner. After the race, and looking back through the telecast on replay, these were exactly my thoughts.

Putting aside the Webber/Vettel rights and wrongs, if Horner has shown Brawn's leadership, none of this would have happened. He was pathetically weak in his communication with Vetter, based on what radio comms i heard.

F1 team leaders are supposed to be decisive and lead, not just sit on a stool bouncing your foot, making 'silly' comments.

130

Silly indeed, parents are firmer with an errant child in a public supermarket. In the end, actions > words and they did not ask him to give it back.

All the smoothing words/apologies in the aftermath just look like hoping to get through the year without a train wreck, knowing MW will have many opportunities to widen his car---or do the same as SV did when their positions are reversed in some future race. Interesting to see if Horner will remain quiet then as well.

131

Horner's best (or worst?) comment, "this is silly Seb". mmmmmm, interesting comment from a team boss, sounded more like Vettel's employee.

132

the antagonistic opposite of flattery for a man.

133

Nice read! Well written

134

+1. Outstanding article

135

Yup. Great article.

136

Indeed.. Nice comments as well. Really love your site James!

137

Thank you - please tell your friends!

138

It's a shame we didn't get Red Bull's entire team radio conservation but from what we heard, I would say the difference between Horner and Brawn orders is in Brawn's case, he was reacting to Rosberg's request to have Lewis jump out the way after he had failed to make the pass stick whereas Horner was reacting to a pass that had already happened.

So under these circumstances, am not sure Brawn would have said anything different apart from... ''Nico give the place back''

Now with Bild predicting Webber will leave Red Bull after this latest episode, am lead to believe this is true for the German publications are usually spot on regards their F1 rumours e.g. The Lowe to leave Mclaren story.

As for my take on the Vettel-Webber story, I think the root of such tussles always lies in the driver's age.

I doubt Webber would have serious problems with Vettel if he was older or the same age as him but the fact Vettel is a younger chap and doing much better than him, this always leads to feelings of disrespect and shame in the older driver (especially if that driver held high opinions of his talent)

Yes, this was the same cause for the Senna-Prost battles and Lewis-Alonso battles. Likewise, Jenson wasn't too keen to help Lewis during their time at Mclaren because of this.

As for Lewis and Rosberg affair, in my view, it would have been unfair to let Nico take the podium considering it was the team's mistake with the fuel.

Also I read that Lewis asked Brawn if he could let Rosberg through to which he said... ''Absolutely NOT''

In conclusion, this season is going to be a fun season as there are so many teammate battles up and down the grid.

P.s.

Newey's reaction on the pitwall when Vettel made his all-or-nothing move was very funny.

139

goferet, where did you read about that bit about Hamilton saying he should let Rosberg past?

141

Vettel was crying is his helmet at one stage over the radio.

He mentions something about being scared & he had to leave the racing line?

142

Newey was clearly disgusted.

143

One line stood out of the entire article

"A team has to be led from the top and Horner has had to stamp his authority on this embarrassing situation"

That is as straight as Sachin Tendulkar's straight drive.

At the end of the day, Horner still will be called timid (i really wanted to use a word here) unless he stamps his authority publicly

144

But what can he do, realistically? He can't bench Vettel, or harm his chances, can he? If he underfuelled him for the next race, he would come in for harsh reaction from a lot of the press out there, and it would just get Vettel against him, and trying to undermine him.

So, as Webber said, Vettel is protected. But what if Horner was able to get rid of Marko out of this episode? I know that scenario is just a smidgen less unlikely than the previous one, but it would definitely get the message across. And sometimes knowing that others have taken the punishment that should've been yours, is worse in the original perpetrator's eyes.

Plus it would mean one less clown in the F1 circus.

145

agreed.

one way is to stand up and say -- I don't want marko at races.

146

Brilliant piece James. This is fantastic news for alonso. This has to be his year, as long as he has a great season. Whats your feeling on webber wanting alonso to win instead of seb, clear indication was him not pressurising fernando in abu dhabi 2010, or racing vettel in brazil last year, have you got any inside knowledge on this?

147

Perhaps we are seeing the end to a super successful team (RBR).A fish rots at the head first, thus Horner is responsible for this situation getting out of hand. Vettel's suspect ethics must be controlled and sitting him out for the China GP would drive the message home. Promote Riciardo (Aussie) for China which no doubt would upset Marko, (kill 2 birds with the one stone). Horner will never recover from this latest episode, his handling of the Turkey fiasco was appalling, forget about Silverstone and Brazil. Time for Mateschitz to make the call, god knows Horner doesn't have the balls.

148

Are you calling Flavio "god"?

149

Why would you like to kill the birds? Thanksgiving?

150

Vettel's ethics? Horner's rotting? you want Marko to lose his cool? Sounds like another english speaking 'fan', probably a Hamilton fan that just can't handle the fact that Vettel and RBR have been outshining your 'driver' for years, if Seb's ethics are wrong then so was Senna's but then he's classed as 1 of the best and drivers like Barrichello, Rosberg, Irvine or Herbert are all also rans. The fact is Webber should have been sacked after Brazil last year and Mercedes have made a mistake in paying 10 times the wage of Rosberg for a driver that is actually slower, if the current form continues at Mercedes Hamilton's future as a 'top driver' will be in doubt, let the show continue I'm sure a 4th title for Vettel is achievable.

151

Actually never been a Hamilton admirer but I think he displayed maturity and honor on the podium, unlike Vettel who was very sheepish and guilt ridden for his actions (even Marko disowned him!).

152

hmm... you don't have to sound so bitter. Did schick punch you or something 🙂

153

Excellent analysis as always.

After reading Sky Sports' apologetic bullsh*t about this PR disaster for Red Bull, it's immensely refreshing to hear someone call spade a spade.

154

i have read comments james. re mercedes, that there was a pre race agreement identical to that of red bull insofar as whoever lead after the last pitstop would not be challenged for the lead? have you heard this?

as for red bull, well webber has been strung out....again. he forecast that vettel ‘will be protected’ and that has come to pass. i am totally disgusted with red bull for not ordering vettel to give the place back. horner had 14 laps to handle this and he wimped it. ross brawn, rightly or wrongly, demonstrated to his drivers who was the boss, as it should be.

155

How boring is racing going to be, if all the teams make this the defacto call, whomever is ahead at the last pitstop is not to be challenged.

This would make for some interesting strategies. Are drivers going to be really aggressive in their first 2 stints, push their fuel limits and use their new tyres to get ahead of their team mates, just to get that extra position, when teammates cannot challenge from behind...

Boring racing i say, thankyou Vettel for making this interesting...

156

It's not often a team has two cars in adjacent positions, so ....no.

157

" [The constructors’ championship] is where the real money is in F1, not the driver’s standings, which are a ‘nice to have’."

I've often heard this claim, but is it actually true? Of course, Formula 1 payment to teams are determined in large parts on the number of points scored in the constructor's championship.

However, sponsorship money is attracted according to the success (and marketability, but the two are closely related) of individual drivers, not of the constructor scoring points. In the case of Red Bull winning the constructor's title will earn them about£50m, but that's only about one quarter of their annual budget - three quarters come from sponsorship money.

If a constructor or principal sponsor is also in the business of selling cars (like Ferrari, Mercedes, Lotus, Mclaren), the reputation of building the fastest F1 car may also carry marketing potential. However, Red Bull is in the business of selling soft drinks, and choses to attach its brand to "exciting" sports. I think this explains the reluctance to issue or enforce team orders, and that attitude probably keeps the sponsor happy.

159

Maybe, but who is the de-facto only sponsor of Red Bull?!

160

Er... Infiniti?

161

That would be the Infiniti that is part of the Renault-Nissan group for whom Red Bull are in effect the 'works' team?

And as the original comment says "If a constructor or principal sponsor is also in the business of selling cars (like Ferrari, Mercedes, Lotus, Mclaren), the reputation of building the fastest F1 car may also carry marketing potential"...

Infiniti build cars.

162

Are you saying Red Bull is the only sponsor of RBR? Their main sponsor now is Infiniti, to the point where the team is named Infiniti Red Bull Racing.

163

Driver sponsors and Team sponsors are different.

Its a bit of a leap to say all sponsors are paying for the drivers success.

The likes of kapersky will stay with ferrari if Alonso leaves the team whereas Santander will move with him.

164

exactly, "Red Bull" don't care too much for winning or losing so long as they are making headlines. However, "Red Bull Racing" staff get a five figure bonus each, if the win the WCC, so the majority of team members are very motivated by WCC points.

165

Thank you so much for another great article, James.

The two contrasting driver-pair conundrum at Malaysia was so dramatic, almost poetic, even. It lead many F1 fans debating over the ethics of the sport - and this is exactly the sort of things that fascinates me to F1 and want to keep coming back for more.

166

What a fantastic, objective, and informative article, thanks James, we all know were to come to cut through the cr*p !!

167

Getting rid of Brawn would be a sign of insanity by the Mercedes team. Ross knows how to win world championships over and over again. I think they will not be anywhere near as sucsseful without him. I think he is likely a huge reason why Lewis went to Merc. If Ross leaves I think Hamilton could follow eventually.

168

Yeah you're only saying good things aboyt Ross because he helped Hamilton from being overtaken by the faster Rosberg, if it was the other way round most of the Hamilton loyalists would be up in arms slating Ross and how he should be replaced.

169

To be fair the number of championships Ross has been behind are solid facts and with multiple teams to cement them. To be honest I should dislike Ross as I dislike Ferrari and have always hated shumi. Can't deny his excellence. Not sure how how much I may like or dislike Hamilton is a factor. I think Rosberg should have been allowed to pass but the whole farce is down to tyres. Whether we like all of Ross's decisions or not he makes decisions that win championships.

170

Not true. I'm a Hamilton fan, but I've always recognized Ross Brawn's pull in F1. He did a great job with Brawn in 2009, even though to me it seemed he engineered some results for Button over Barrichello that year (the most famous when Rubens was gobsmacked in the pre-podium room, wondering aloud "how did I lose that race?!?"

It always seemed to me that in any 50/50 decision to be made by the FIA, that Brawn would 95% of the time get his way. This used to rankle, when Lewis was at McLaren. But now that Lewis stands to benefit from Ross' pull in the sport, it's of course the best thing since sliced bread!

I agree with DB that Mercedes would be stupid to let him go. He knows how to win championships.

171

@tealeaf

you're forgetting 3 titles at Benetton (2 drivers and 1 constructors') and the 1991 world sports car championship with Jaguar.

172

Ross Brawn won many titles because of cars Rory Byrne developed, along with special Bridgestone tyres, Ross shouldn't take the credit for all that, and in 2009 it was $300million from Honda and a double diffuser that won the title, since the Mercedes days Ross has won 1 race, hardly mind blowing.

173

Great article James.

Re Rosberg. I've always rated him very highly and never thought he'd be blown away by Lewis. This is the guy that ended Alex Wurz' career (who was underrated) and pretty much dominated Schumy. He'll probably lose qualy battle with Lewis but don't be surprised if he does a Jenson and is ahead on points at seasons end.

174

If report cards were issued now, after two races, then I would say that Rosberg has out-driven Lewis, even though there's a fairly big gap in pts (especially for just two races), in Lewis' favour. It's silly to view a points haul as the be-all, end-all, without any regard to the context in which those points were earned/gifted/lost/taken away.

It's why I rate Lewis as the clearly better driver in the Lewis vs Jenson years. Last year Lewis was head-and-shoulders better than Jenson, even though Lewis only finished 2 pts ahead. The only season that Jenson was better than Lewis was 2011, where he finished quite far ahead (though the last race 3rd for BUT and mechanical DNF for HAM spread the gap somewhat). But even in 2011, it was only from the 6th round that year that Button was better, after which Vettel already had 5 wins. McLaren screwed up Lewis' qualifying at Monaco (where he had looked a cert for at least a front-row start), and we know the fallout that then happened in that race, and the following race in Canada.

Basically, I guess what I'm saying is that in every period where the DWC championship was still reasonably there to fight for, that Hamilton was better than Button. It was only in the period where the DWC was out of reach that Button consistently outshone Hamilton.

If we just look at HAM v BUT as its own DWC championship, these would be the results:

2010 - HAM (clinched at last race, of 19)

2011 - BUT (clinched at 2nd last race, of 19)

2012 - HAM (clinched at 2nd last race, of 20)

As for HAM v ROS, I don't know how anyone could say that HAM would blow away ROS. Even moreso in this iteration of F1 with the high-deg Pirelli's, which give an advantage to ROS vis-a-vis HAM. It's going to be a tight battle between the two of them, guaranteed.

175

Best post of the site! 100% agree with KRB!

Lewis never said nor went to Mercedes asking for favours! This guy has spoken and told us every time waht he wanted to do with them, but it seems to me nobody ever listens...

Lewis never wrote the BBC column to make himself 'likable'... I'm really surprised at what i read today! And where would they be all this celeb and athletes and stars and actors if it wasn't for the public to be interested in them?

So next time, Lewis talking to his fans about his dog would it be a problem also?

I don't understand these people, whatever Lewis does he can't never win with them!

Since he has started his Mercedes career as a a driver, I'm listening every word and watching video of him & how the team reports/relates to him...Where the hell did he say he was going to trash Nico Rosberg? Isn't any media paper golden opportunity to spin his words and put that in their articles?

How many times Lewis himself has acknowledged Nico's strength/speed or racecraft, ecc.?

Lewis has designed and moulded his race seat, do things at Mercedes we only heard from others blogs or little from the team himself, but nobody cares...It's when things would go bad for him that they'll be noticeable!

What's next? Waiting for Mercedes to fail maybe only because he's there...

Do they really take the time to learn more about him, who is he and his approach to racing?...I guess they never did or never cared, just for the sake of spinning what Lewis has said or when they pretend to know what he has on his mind!

He's had only 2 races so far but i'm willing to watch what Mercedes and Lewis/Nico can achieve this year and in the future!

So far, I've seen a mature driver focused on his job and letting the track records do the talking! And yes, Lewis Hamilton is really becoming an interesting person this year! As if he needed to be liked for which purposes...

Oh by the way, Lewis Hamilton is the most 'liked' F1 driver on Facebook at the moment (+1.450.000 likes) and on Twitter, he's only second best behind Fernando Alonso...

Not that it's relevant but if people watch F1 nowadays and like you, then it shows right there!

Looking forward to an exciting season!

176

Jenson and Lewis raced 3 seasons together and in 2 of those Lewis was ahead in points at season end. In the second half of 2011, its pretty obvious Lewis under performed (relative to the standard of the rest of his career) while Jenson made better use of the 2011 Pirelli tires in races.

What is most interesting is that in 2010 and 2012 it was only Lewis who looked like a realistic championship contender when the season entered its home stretch (as he also did in 07-08).

It will be interesting to see how the two compare after Lewis gets settled into the team. Nico still has a lot to prove in terms of being a consistent race winner and a season-long championship threat in the manner that Alonso, Lewis, Vettel and Kimi have done more than once before. One hopes the Merc can provide him with this opportunity...

177

There's no doubt that Lewis is a quicker driver than Jenson, as seen in their relative qualy performances, probably around 2 to 3 tenths a lap on average, but Jenson's coolness and intelligence make up for that on race day. Remember, he joined Lewis's 'team', which most observers said was effectively career suicide and after one season he looked like the encumbant. As you say Lewis finished ahead 2 out of 3 seasons but I think i'm right in saying that Jenson scored more points cumulatively over those 3 seasons. I am looking forward to the Lewis Nico dual, particularly after what happened in Malaysia, Both will be desparate to establish themselves as top dog. Tyre management will be the key factor.

178

Most highly successful people don’t care what people think of them

-------------------------------------------------

One thing is for certain, we're all different.

Yes the world is full of the likes of Bernie, Schumi, Alonso and Max Mosley who couldn't lose any sleep of what others thought of them.

On the other end of the scale we have the sensitive types who care alot about what others think of them such as Lewis, Vettel and Jean Todt.

So with the latter, you will always get apologies and good acts whilst from the former, you will be lucky to get so much as a smile.

179

Hamilton cares a lot what the public thinks, so does Alonso. Vettel could not care less clearly.

180

Not sure Alonso cares that much, you know...

181

Not really. Add Alonso to your twitter so you can see for yourself James

182

Alonso do care for his "racing reputation" for sure. Probably doesn't care what others think of him as a person/sportsman/etc.

That is one of the reason he crafts his message so carefully to avoid "underdelivering". As, you know the Tifosi's can be really unforgiving something...

183

I think you're right.

184

Excelent article as always, on the topic of Brawn you have summed it up perfectly. You get the feeling that no matter what Mercedes might achieve this year the credit will not go in his (the rightful) direction.

You wonder where he might end up by end of season.

Am I completely off the wall suggesting that he could go to Mclaren next year? If the rumours are true and Honda will be joining up with mclaren in a couple of years would Brawn be just the man to make Mclaren seem like a realistic proposition again?

Would he still have the stomach to start rebuilding a team with Ron Dennis at the head?

Either way there is no doubting the mans achievements and the fact that he is a touch of class.

185
6 Wheeled Tyrrell

This would be a great move by Mclaren Brawn would definitely be an immense asset for the team and it would bring en influx of new talent to the team or at least stop the bleeding; but sadly I believe this is just a bit of Fantasi F1 here and I doubt RB to Mclaren is a realistic possibility.

RB deserves more respect than he's currently getting from the Daimler board, I do not understand how anyone sees Lauda as anything but a disruptive force in the team.

186

"I do not understand how anyone sees Lauda as anything but a disruptive force in the team." --- I agree with you and have on several occasions wondered if Lauda was not hired as some kind of an inside joke or as a ploy by a faction of disgruntled board members seeking to destroy the team and company that backs it??

187

Ron Dennis will have enjoyed last week's grand prix, cognac in hand and a smile seeing two teams have driver politic issues....the good old days!

188

Oh best add something more relevant. Great article as ever James and I think the only conclusion we can draw is that it will be another interesting season off the track. On the track I want to see hard tyres and flat out racing. Re fueling is too expensive so why not introduce the rule that every race a team must stop twice and use at least 2 compounds. Between those stops we will see the skill and stamina to go flat out lap after lap. Small error and your off the track or caught from a car behind. Would also mean more exciting mechanical failures in a year too. How to make those engines last! 2 DRS zones allows loads of chance to overtake without needing tyre degradation. No driver would look hard done by or embarassed if they all knew they went flat out the whole race for track position.

189

Hear, hear!! We already know that ALL of these drivers can drive their cars expertly at 80-85% of its limits. F1 should be about finding out which of those drivers can drive their car at its natural limit and still keep it on track and headed in the proper direction.

Less aero dependance, bigger tires, and exhausts pointing up to the sky, to reduce the turbulence for any close-following cars. I wanna know who has the b@lls to not lift through a high-speed chicane, and who doesn't, and have fortune favour the brave.

190

Can you please explain why refueling is too expensive? It is done very easily in other racing, I just thought it was a safety issue in F1.

191

It needs extra team members at the track and that means extra kit, hotel rooms, plane tickets etc for every race. Plus the fueling rigs need extra kit which is big, heavy and expensive. It all needs shipping to every race. I don't think it is a massively expensive thing but it all adds up and costs need to stay down. A lot of other sports that re-fuel in race tend not to be truly international and don't have such high development and engineering costs to pay for. This is all only opinion, I have no factual figures or anything. That's where James can step in.

192

@DB thanks, but if that is all it is you just limit the number of people over the pit wall like other racing does.

2 tire guys 1 fuel guy and 2 jack guys. Expenses cut way down. You can even put the jacks in the cars so that kills the need for 2 guys or you can have only 1 jack guy. Change the front then the rear. Pit stops will be really exciting and athletic then.

193

'Lauda has won nothing as a team manager, Brawn has won 16 world championships.'

Well said.

On the other hand, saying that Rosberg cannot compete for pure talent but will get to the chequered flag just as quickly and probably more efficiently seems a little contradictory...and a little harsh.

Lewis might be faster over one lap - I wouldn't argue that - but there are many kinds of talent, and so far I would say that Nico is doing okay 🙂

All in all an interesting article, but I'm sure there'll be more to come...

194

In this era of drivers running at 85% for the entire race, the statement isn't that contradictory.

I do think, however, that it's a little harsh. Outside of Karting, Lewis and Nico haven't had much direct competition before reaching F1. Both won the GP2 championships for the same team in consecutive years.

The 2004 F3 Euro Series is the only large vehicle non-F1 series-long comparison of the two drivers, and Rosberg finished that series in 4th, one place and one solitary point ahead of Lewis.

Granted, an F3 car isn't the same as a Mercedes F1, but I'm fairly sure that Nico will give Lewis a close run this year. Ross' assertion that he has the two best drivers in F1 may not be far from the truth.

195

Nico used to be called mr. Friday for obvious reason, what Ross is saying is a media spin to mkae NR feel a bit better (guy who needed 100 races to win a race can not be called good or one of the best, I'd call him dady's thrill seeker), also he knows the car and the team inside out and LH just came in (Not a fan of Lewis but I think he changed a bit for better also I think merc should have gave the leg to NR not MS).

196

As always fantastic unbiased reporting on a very sensitive topic.

Great work!

197

Excellently summed up Mr Allen.

A good read.

Thank you.

198

I'm not sure it was done for this reason, but Mercedes has lucked into a very nicely balanced pairing. Lewis can drag a car to a result, and Nico is intelligent enough to think his way around problems. Lewis will also make sure Nico doesn't get lazy, which many have wondered about on occasion in his career.

We will see how the dynamic builds, but I am more interested in the team than at any point since Mercedes bought it.

199

Only Bernie has the guts to call spade a spade. Seb was wronged many times yet there was no screaming and shouting on Mark. He apparently did the right thing for standing up to his teammate and not being a roll over. But when Seb pays him in the same coin all hell breaks loose. Seb is called a cheater, selfish and what not!

Why these double standards? Coming from Asia it appears the British still don't like Germans that very much do they?

200

Please name 5 of "the many times" Seb has been wronged

201

Twice with Karthikayan last year. One with Ricciardo last year in Abu Dhabi, one with Button last year in Germany and with Webber in Turkey

202

I can do 3 Silverston, AbuDhabi, and Brazil.

All three Weber didn't have the skill to make them stick. AbuDhabi he was eventually pitted so it might be the exception.

203

I wonder why?

204

Great article, liked the Red Bull part very much. As an athlete myself its nice to look at the sporting angle of some of the F1 actions.

As for Mercedes I would be more critical reg. their decision as I felt cheated as a fan by their decisions and some of their comments I found just too week. I lost some of my respect towards Mr. Brawn therefore. Rosberg is closer to Hamilton than I thought he would be and I argue that he is even close in terms of pure talent. Hamilton is really good but I feel he is still a bit overrated due to his first few years in F1.

205

Definitely agree with your comment about Hamilton, Mclaren has given him too much just look at it closely and you'll notice the only person he's actually beaten cleanly and clearly is Kovalainen, even the 'slow' 'no grip' Button beat him o er 3 years, so no surprise Nico is showing him up.

206

We shouldnt jump to hasty conclusions based on just two races. Lets also not use points totals over 3 years to make judgements. Ham has once (in 6 years) lost out on points to a team mate which is in 2011. He destabilized Alonso in 2007, trounced Button last year, though Button's temperament is better suited to accepting defeat publicly, and his veneer of charm and intelligence have caused people (inside and outside the team) to like him and thus overlook his contradictions/mispredictions as well as inconsistencies in performance on the track. Mclaren has just lost a driver of staggering ability with potential to get even better. Recent years have shown that McLaren have often been found wanting in terms of putting together the pieces needed sustain a title challenge. They've become bigger in word than deed...arguably they are more arrogant than their departed driver

207

Hamilton just started driving his true 2nd F1 car and is having a measure on Rosberg in Qualifying, who the "great" Schumacher referred as "one of the best qualifier"... emough said.

Yes, the new tyres have limited his freedom, while driving to his style. To say McLaren gave him everything is pure BS. Whitmarsh's love with anything Button is well known; sort of like Horner's with Seb.

208

Ham vs Button at McLaren 3 years.

44 vs 14 Ham ahead in qualifying

24 vs 13 Ham ahead were both finished race

Ham 10 wins and 9 poles with Button 8 wins and one pole.

209

Try using the stats of Vettel vs Webber and you would see the difference and maybe get an idea of what Dave C is on about.

210

Re:Rosberg-Hamilton,I really don't see how somehow Rosberg has gained an upperhand in the team dynamic even in this softly softly Pirelli era.Its too early to say which way its gonna go.

However James,why is it always the case that journos suggest that somehow, Hamilton cannot cope with managing his tyres although there are evidence to the contrary.

For me I see Nico as a fine driver,with lots of ability and I dont expect him to be blown away,having been in the team for the past three years.

In the Malaysia,Hamilton I suspect unexpectedly found the Mercedes matching the Red Bull causing him to try and catch them thereby using more more fuel,exacerbating an already difficult fuel situation. I doubt Nico,would acted differently if the roles were reversed and he found himself in pursuit of the Bulls.

Time to move on from the Red Bull Saga,however what is evident is that Vettel's honeymoon period with journos is clearly in the twilight zone.

211

Earlier in the race, Ross asked Lewis to "put the hammer down on the Red Bulls"... urging Lewis to push the car to the limit. I feel this may have contributed to the extreme fuel situation on Lewis's car.

212

But the thing is we all know Hamilton in his futile attempts to beat the Redbulls at Malaysia caused him to burn more fuel in the first half of the race, but what was impressive on Nico's part was the he matched Hamilton's pace whilst using less fuel and because of that achievement Ross should have let Nico past and pressure the Redbulls at the latter end of the race.

213

Dave C, I noticed you went into the shadows on your "Rosberg faster than Hamilton" theme after Australia qualifying, and only came back after the race in Malaysia. I guess in this respect reliability is not always a virtue.

The facts are that it's still way too early in the year to make any definite conclusions on HAM v ROS. I think Brawn knows what he's doing, far better than anyone on this site.

214
Alexander Supertramp

Lewis started saving fuel quite early in the race. Nico only started to come back after the 3rd pitstop, so I doubt he could have been able to match Lewis's pace if Lewis wasn't saving fuel. I guess China will answer some questions..or not.

215

Also, Lewis was not undone by his tyre handling, it was a fuel issue, so the Pirreli era stuff is a bit off mark.

216

Agreed.

Looks to me like Lewis can get more out of his tyres than Mercedes expected; he could go faster for longer with less degradation and therefore her ran out of fuel.

Same driver + car + more fuel in the same race = no issue with team orders.

217

The team have now understood Lewis fuel requirements after their first dry race together. Next time, they'll fuel him a bit more heavily and the situation at Malaysia would not arise. Lewis was already saving fuel from practically after the first pit stop, thats no way to run a race. It says a lot that it took so long for Nico to catch up a team mate who was in fuel saving mode for almost the whole race.

218

Many thought he would be blown away by Hamilton

-------------------------------------------------

Apparently Rosberg's father believed this too and that's why he discouraged him from partnering Lewis again.

For some reason, unless Lewis beats his teammates hand over fist (without the help of team orders mind you) then some fans see this as an opportunity to label him overrated whereas his teammates' legacy get a major boost e.g. Jenson.

And yet whenever one brings up the topic of qualifying were Lewis obviously has the upper hand then this is swept under the carpet with the explanation, qualifying doesn't matter.

In my view, the main handicap Lewis had in relation to other top drivers was in the good fortune stakes.

Just last season alone, 6 DNFs is remarkable. However, seeing as he begun a new chapter in his career with Mercedes, I think Lewis bad luck days are behind him, just look at Australia qualifying 2013.

P.s.

Pretty ironic that Lewis' mother is called >>> Carmen

219

Look at qualifying? Rosberg's been quicker in winter testing and all sessions apart from 2 Q3 laps, if I was Hamilton fans I'd be worried, I doubt Mercedes board would tolerate paying all that wages if he keeps getting out performed by an average driver, and after that where's he going to go? Williams? Dont be surprised if Maldonado also gives him a hard time.

220

Q1&Q2 mean absolutely nothing, Q3 is where your grid position is set! I think Rosberg is an excellent driver and we are going to have a close season between them. I personally think Hamilton is in the wrong era of F1, he would have been great in the early 2000's against Schumacher & Hakkinen. No tyre worries just driving balls out in between fuel stops ( I would love to go back to those days ).

221

It would be fun to watch though! I want to see drivers racing as fast as possible not nursing their tyres.

222

Well you could say Hamilton's in the wrong era or whatever but in the Schumi days him and Hakkinen were devastatingly quick and Schumi ba k then was almost untouchable, I think Hamilton would have been blown away by them 2.

223
Alexander Supertramp

Come on man, he scored 25 points in his first 2 races with a new team. That's pretty remarkable, he's only going to get better.

224

That's an interesting stat. So I went to look at how others have fared in their first two races for a new team:

pts = points

pts-eq = points-equivalent

pts-act = actual points

ALO - 43 pts-eq (18 pts-act) in 2007

RAI - 40 pts-eq (16 pts-act) in 2007

ALO - 37 pts in 2010

HAM - 33 pts-eq (14 pts-act) in 2007

BUT - 31 pts in 2010

HAM - 25 pts in 2013

ROS - 20 pts in 2010

RAI - 16 pts in 2012

MSC - 9 pts in 2010

VET - 0 pts in 2009

Thing is, the first five in this list were drivers debuting for clear top-tier teams. Hamilton's 25 with Mercedes, which no one, I repeat no one, considered a top-tier team, stands up very well indeed.

225

Well qualifying does not matter because you get zero points for it. This is F1 Racing, not F1 Qualifying.

Hamilton has a long way to go to prove he is a great or anything coming close to it. So far he one 1 championship on the last few corners in an equal car against Massa of all drivers and he got beaten over 3 seasons by Jenson and now he is being helped by his team to beat Nico.

Hardly a strong CV.

226

Lewis Hamilton has an achievement on his CV that no driver has ever achieved in the history of F1 and is unlikely to ever be equalled:

In 2007, his rookie year, notoriously the most difficult time any driver faces in F1, he finished the championship ahead of his 2 time world champion team mate, the much lauded Fernando Alonso.

Say what you like, but Hamilton is a phenomenal talent, your dislike of him and bias against him will not change that, ever.

227

Qualifying DOES matter because track position is important. Track position is important because, in general, following cars hurts the tires, being in front maximizes the chances that you will run in free air at the true pace of your car (as Vettel emphatically demonstrated in 2011). Being in front gives you intra-team priority over pitstop calls. Being in front reduces your chances of having to mix it up with the Grosjean's/ Maldonado's/Kobayashi's. There are exceptions...a fast starting car that makes up lost grid places, a tire-conserving car which allows leapfrogging rivals, and nowadays the benefit of DRS to help a faster race car overtake, but by and large, there is a strong correlation between grid position and race result. The importance of grid position is magnified when you are at the sharp end of the field, which is an important factor in Vettel dominating Webber in 2011 and Lewis beating Button in 2012.

228

Good fortune!!!... Ha... Ha Ha Ha...

229

Geez James?

What an attack on Lewis.....

Whilst he did no wrong, you just had to spin that around to something still horrible 'desire to be liked, that great man don't have'.

He wouldn't have finished ahead of the Redbulls even if he didn't do the Jenson, and you know that.

His finishing 3rd was not a gift, Rosburg tried twice to pass him on track and FAILED. And Lewis would continued to defend that position, risking fuel for both.

So what if Nico is better at nursing those tyres, this is racing....

230

Actually Rosberg had more fuel and could have kept the attack on Hamilton til the end of the race, and the last few laps was NOT racing.

231

Not taking away any achievement from Rosberg, a real racer, wouldn't have complained on radio to team boss to pass his team mate. At that point, Rosberg gave away his right for a 3rd position.

A team boss would have been silly asking either 1) for the lead driver to pull out of the way 2) or allowed them to race and end up with a crash or fuel issue.

Ross made the right decision...

232

Nico is in danger of becoming another Webber.Massa. Barichello.... good drivers but not able to make the best of it and stamping their authority on their team mates....

233

After reading tons of articles and comments about this, my opinion is as follows:

Red Bull Racing had a pre-race agreement that whoever is 1st after the last pit stop will not be challenged, but they didn't think for a second that Vettel will end 2nd after that moment. This agreement was made more for Weber to be followed than Vettel (they didn't want a repeat of Silverston 2012).

When they didn't succeed to get Vettel in front of Weber (even with calling him sooner to pit and putting him on medium tires), Vettel challenged for the lead and left Weber invoking the pre-race agreement ("Multi21"). This explains all the embarrassed faces and excuses from Red Bull after the race. All-in-one is nothing else but a poor attempt to restore the appearances of a honest team for the media and fans.

234

I can sort of agree with this, but Webber's last pit stop was very quick. I would think they would've had trouble with a wheel gun if they wanted to orchestrate Vettel going ahead.

235

the leading driver gets the first fit stop so he doesn't get undercut ...unless it is vettel behind of course as on this occasion

236

There is no place in top level multi million dollar business's for histrionics and "loose cannons", especially when the individuals concerned are trying to hang onto days long surpassed. They would do well to remember that first and foremost F1 is a business directly employing thousands and not a sport performed on Sundays to collect silverware. I can see Vettel leaving Red Bull at the end of this year regardless of whether he wins the championship or not. Perhaps that would then leave Webber to mentor the likes of Da Costa or Bianchi to have a go at Vettel in a few years. Could make for interesting racing.

237

I just want to say: good write up!

We already know this season will be a interesting story unfolding...

238

Nice article James.

Vettel is a very funny and likeable guy when interviewed but I have observed last season as well as this he carries a sense of self entitlement (team radios is where this normally surfaces) which is a little off putting but I suppose his success has reinforced that side of him.

Having followed Hamilton, I believe whatever his motives he really is a pure racer and I genuinely think he took no joy from benefiting from team order (different matter in the closing stages but not now) and his reaction was not motivated by 'sympathy vote'.

Anyway, great article with great insight that has something to say and not just a repost of other articles circulating the web. Thanks

239

" ...Horner reasserted himself this week by dragging Vettel in to apologise to the Red Bull staff in Milton Keynes and then overtly portrayed this to the media as an act of contrition by his star driver, who recognised that “What he did was wrong,” ..."

If that's the only sanction Vettel faces, then Horner has not reasserted himself; rather he has sent out the message 'you may ignore team orders with impunity' (unless you're called Webber).

Given Vettel's status in the team, that might well be inevitable, but to present it as anything else is just PR.

The only downside to all this for Vettel is that he now has a teammate who will neither trust him, nor give him the benefit of the doubt in 50/50 situations again.

Whether that matters in terms of results remains to be seen, but the idea that Red Bull have 'put this all behind us' is preposterous.

If the season does turn out to be a close contest, rather than the Red Bulls running off into the distance, the kind of team discipline (and apparent trust between the drivers) that Mercedes displayed, could be significant.

240

You forgot the part about Webber ignoring team orders and bragging to the press that he would never listen to team orders in the past.

241

You seem to conveniently forget the many times where Webber bragged about ignoring team orders and racing to the end. Silverstone 2011, Brazil 2012 were couple of the the more brazen examples that made it into the public arena.

Webber and Alonso have history besides the same Manager. Cutting off your team mate in the first corner of a Championship deciding race to make room for your "mate" and continuing to race him as he works way back through the field has all been conveniently swept under the carpet by Horner and the press- something I found quite astonishing at the time. It shows VERY weak leadership.

The only person who called it was Marko- who got a lot of stick in the British press for dumping on Webber. Vettel has joked about these things in the past, but brought up the issues. They obviously rankled him.

The fact Redbull management seems to have ignored Webber's misdeeds in the past by firmly dealing with them at the time makes them look weak and indecisive and if anything set the precedence for Vettlel to taking things into his own hands last Sunday.

Webber crying foul and the whole Redbull team gnashing its collective teeth is utter hypocrisy.

It would seem Ross Brawn would never have allowed things to escalate this far and would have reprimanded Webber and Vettel for that matter right after the first instances of disobedience by setting the record straight firmly.

Only Parading Vettel around in Milton Keynes now like a bad little puppy is pure hypocrisy and very one side and playing to up to Webber again while he Puts in public, but laughs all the way to the bank in private.

If I were DM, I'd severely censure Horner and seriously start looking for a new team manager.

Have I been tough on my favourite Ossie- yes. I've been a fan of his from his junior Mercedes days, but playing the wronged diva instead of doing your talking on the track I find off-putting and disingenuous.

242
Bring Back Murray

Good points. The apology was half baked. This is a long long way from being over yet.

243

Some excellent observations James. Glad to see you putting in a good word for Ross Brawn. I hope they are read by the power brokers in Daimler and Mercedes. My fear is that the backroom politics will win out and the team will lose a great man. As you rightly say - how many titles has Lauda or Wolff won? Honda jumped away a season too soon. Let's hope Daimler are good at learning from history and don't make the same mistake. If they do then we will probably lose Mercedes as a team from the sport and they fall into the role of engine provider like Renault (and possibly Honda if they return).

244

Just two comments.

1) On your line "Rosberg was closing up on Hamilton, but at no stage had he led his team mate from qualifying to race" Maybe the reason Lewis was ahead of Rosberg after the last stops was that he had burned too much fuel. A race is 100% race distance, not 75%. If Rosberg had used a similar fuel strategy, maybe he would have been ahead after the last stop !! Great drive.

2) I was very interested to see how well Rosberg fared against Lewis this year, as it would give an indicator as to how well Schmuacher was performing last year. I always thought that people were very unfair on Schmuacher last year as they didnt consider that Rosberg could well be a top class driver. It looks like could well have been operating at the same level as Lewis last year and was still getting stick !!

245

What I don,t understand is that Rosberg is said to be a very intelligent racer.

So why did he twice over take Lewis in the first DRS zone, only to be retaken in the second.?

Watching on TV I thought if he overtakes in the 2nd Zone he would have got the job done and kept ahead of Hamilton.

I'd have thought he'd have figured this out after the first time.

If he'd have got ahead during this period Brawn would have left things as they were.

246

True that (that Brawn would've left them in those pos's). I thought it was odd too that he did the same the 2nd time around.

247

Lewis was saving fuel after the first pit stop. What is big a surprise is, it took so long for Rosberg to catch a team mate in fuel saving mode.

The team will simply put more fuel in Lewis car next time; both sides are still learning about each other. That much was implied when Ross Brawn said to Lewis over the radio, "we still have some work to do."

248

I'd say Rosberg was several seconds a lap faster at the end of the race. Rosberg could have caught him earlier should he have used more fuel, but he would have been slower at the end. I think the Rosberg/Lewis battle will be the best part of this season.

Even Lewis admitted that Rosberg was faster in th e race, so little need for a debate !

249

No doubt ROS could've been seconds faster than HAM at the end. Hell, a Marussia (or was it a Caterham) was able to hold onto them in the last few laps there.

Yes, Lewis repassed Nico a couple of times down the pit straight, with the DRS as you've said. But even if Nico stupidly kept trying the pass that way (passing on the back straight, only to afford Lewis DRS for the next straight), Lewis would only have been able to fight back for at most a few more laps, if that.

People are silly if they think that there's some sort of set pattern between those two now. Lewis will learn and adapt. Lewis is given short shrift - by many that watch F1 - on his abilities to adapt. Let's see how it all unfolds.

250

@Quade

Agreed... great psychological move there by Lewis

As he gets more and more comfortable with the Merc (and it's buttons), it gona be even harder for Nico beat him.

251

Dear God,

The only reason Lewis was able to re overtake was because Rosberg overtook Lewis into a DRS zone, so Lewis had the advantage of DRS again down the main straight.

Your the only person I have heard think that Lewis was faster than Lewis on Sunday. Trust me, if Lewis was faster, he would have said it, or at least no admitted Rosberg was faster

252

@Michael Carty

If Rosberg was several seconds a lap faster, how come Lewis was able to overtake him right back each time Rosberg tried a move? A catastrophically slower car/driver can't pull that off, otherwise Marussia's would be able to overtake Red Bulls.

Sorry, but the evidence does not support your view.

As I said earlier, Lewis will get more fuel next race. A faster driver needs more fuel.

Lewis was just being political with his statements. He has to manage Rosberg race to race dissapointments skillfully and from Sundays evidence, for now, he achieved that with flying colours. When informed by the press, a very tense Rosberg was quite shocked and flattered that Lewis had put a word in for him on the podium, you could see his shoulders visibly loosen and relax. It was a political thing, otherwise Lewis would have relinquished the position and 3rd place trophy. He didn't.

253

Excellent James.

I have always said F1 is fundamentally boring but when you know the personalities involved, it becomes absorbing.

The happiest man in F1 must be Bernie, the viewing figures and press coverage are going to see a healthy upswing.

254

Golf is fundamentally boring, fishing is fundamentally boring, snooker is fundamentally boring, cricket is fundamentally boring, even moto gp is now fundamentally boring, Formula 1 is anything but boring.

255

I said at time I don't get what Nikki Lauda is working for Mercedes for. He is like a helmet marko type dude for me and they both do more harm than good. I have a feeling long term Ross brawn is going to be completely screwed over and if they do they will be making a huge mistake as every other team on the grid would love Ross in charge of there team.

256

Best article yet James.. although I think your judgement of Niko v Lewis is a bit premature.

It is funny that if the incident had happned between Alosnso and Massa the press would have said nothing... but with Red Bull.. the world has ended.

On a side bar I think the best way to prevent the teams guarding the double points dilema for constructors points is to give constructors points exactly the same way as the driver BUT only the first team driver home gets the points, that way it is less relevant about worrying aout getting two cars home.

257

In that case you would have one car harrying the opponents, only to know that they will drop out of the race eventually (sacrificial race). Better would be if only the 2nd car's points counted, or if they counted for more.

258

Horner is a lame duck now. He's clearly not leading anything... Marko has more power there than Horner, regardless of what the job titles might say.

But RB cannot afford to lose Adrian Newey. His record speaks for itself. He seems to be close to Horner in terms of running things - he really needs to speak up if he wants to retain that, otherwise he'd be welcome at any team on the grid.

259

Hey James, it's a bank holiday - you're allowed to have a break!

This is yet another interesting saga in the whole RBR team dynamic. Today I was actually reading up on the piece you wrote just following the 2010 Turkey incident, which describes the situation in striking similarity to Malaysia this year - i.e. Webber running a lower engine setting to conserve fuel, the excuse that Hamilton was putting pressure on Sebastian being used...

Three years and three WDCs for Seb in the meantime put things in different context when comparing these two races, however I just found it interesting to see the parallels in these two episodes.

260

Interesting insight as always James. I think it's very interesting and true how many of these superstars in F1 act as though they don't care but in the end they really do care about what others think, and at the end of the day all of the above want the popularity vote. Which, is also evidence how many of them have done one thing and the. Realised it was wrong and had to make a complete U-turn.. That's why it's great to have Kimi back! Its funny how many of them are now trying to have that kimi attitude (I don't care what people think of me) but their u-turning comments and actions prove otherwise. I think even seb said it in the post race interview, I don't care what others think...I bet he wishes he didn't say that now.

261

I think webber conceded his position in both last weekend and also back at silver stone when he showed he was the quicker driver but pandered to team orders not to take both cars out - the fighting could have continued to the checkered flag or till one was off the track in both instances. So I see mark as having towed the team line. He probably does feel cheated and this could come back to bite RB if seb needs help later in the season.

As for Marko and Lauder, I really see them as ring masters with no circus. They seem to just create friction for no real reason.

I think merc could have let Rosberg thru, as even Ross said, materially there would have been now difference. The cynic in me wonders if there are performance clauses in Lewis's contract but I doubt it would be held in the fore front of people's minds so early on...

Either way, sets up the season for some interesting racing!!

262
Tornillo Amarillo

So Hamilton was the better, he won the position (P3) in race day and the human side giving Nico the credits and "obeying" team orders (fuel saving, positions).

263

"...showed Hamilton’s desire to be liked, as does his highly personal BBC Online column this year."

Maybe his desire is to just try and present his side of the story? Seems only fair when you and your peers get to fill up so much space by talking about him and his personality.

264

+1 I'm kind of surprised at that statement... I guess you can't please everyone in this world!

Which also means people didn't expect Mercedes team to deliver the goods from the start!

Hope this trend will continue for Lewis & Nico and bodes well for next year!

Them doom mongers will all been proven wrong!

265

My thoughts exactly....seems he can't win whatever he does.

266

How can he with the likes of James around?

It's just so sad....

267

Cool apologies taken. Thank you, but not thank you.

Now return the 7 points to Mark.

268

Everyone at RB except Marko seem to know that they've won the COnstructors every year because they have TWO fast and motivated drivers. Ferrari haven't because they've only had one. So RB either have sensible team orders that everyone obeys (like calming down at the end of the race when preserving tyres and engines is important) or they have none, when the drivers fight it out on the track. But you can't have a halfway house, when one driver plays the game and the other doesn't.

Horner is always going to be caught between a rock and a hard place with Marko sniping from the edges. He needs now to be very firm and consistent and since Sunday has done all the right things.

Why Mateschitz allows Marko to destabilise the team as he does is anyone's guess. Perhaps its his version of chaos theory. One suspects that he'd had a word with Marko before the latter's expressions of shock after the race. Otherwise he'd been showing the finger (in every sense) like Vettel did.

On the contrary, I think Brawn got it wrong. He won't motivate Lewis by giving him presents. And if Nico knows that if he plays the long game to be fast at the end of the race he'll be penalised, he'll go more short-term, and results will be lost for the team as a consequence.

269

I agree Ross made a howler I also agree Vettel and Webber has both done the job with Vettel being 1 of the world best, time will tell.

270

I, for one, am hoping that RBR does not read your post and doesn't listen to your advice, b/c I would like for them to implode under the weight of Vettel's ego, and hand the constructors to someone - anyone - else!

271

James,

Not adding a real comment of my own here. Just saying thank you for an excellent, unbiased, insightful analysis!!

272

I'm genuinely surprised at the reaction the Vettel/Webber story has gotten. Mark has publicly admitted ignoring team orders in the past and yet this is what Vettel did and he has been lambasted. The only difference being that Vettel successfully managed to make the overtake. Does that means that had Webber successfully passed Vettel (when ignoring those team orders) he would have been criticised? I find it more likely Vettel would have been criticised for being the 'favourite'.

Personally, I would have thought the biggest problem to arise from Malaysia was that Vettel ignored an order from his employer – not that he was successful in completing the pass – as it shows little control on Horners part. Especially when you consider the acknowledgement from Horner that both drivers have ignored orders in the past.

I’ve two hypothetical scenarios that I’m interested what people think:

1.) Had it been Vettel coming out of the pits and Webber was coming down the straight, does anyone think Mark would have just sat back and not had a run at Seb?

2.) If however, that had happened and Webber had held station in 2nd, then would Seb and RBR not have be accused of favouritism?

I was appalled at what Vettel did last Sunday, but, as time has passed and more has come out about them both ignoring orders I’m beginning to find it hard to see what the difference is between what Seb did and what Mark has done in the past, other that the fact Seb completed the move.

273

Ultimately, Mark never stole a win from his team-mate. And hypothesis doesn't work because they never happened. Therefore no one knows for sure. You may get biased wishful thinking, but until the occasion arises you just never know.

274

Aisha,

The difference is that Webber tried and was unsuccessful (British GP 2011), whereas Vettel tried and got the job done. I think that is what frustrates Webber more than anything else.

What kind of team mate races you and squeezes your space at the final race of the year (Brazil 2012)??? Which team mate refuses to let you pass (when he has no chance of WDC), when your fighting for the Championship and coming from the back of the field (Abu Dhabi 2012), and is forced to pit by the team???

I'll let you figure out who that is?

275

Andrew,

Re Brazil 2012:

-The incident with Bruno, was just that a "racing incident". Maybe Vettel turned in too sharply, maybe Bruno dived down the inside of a wet track and tried to attack too aggressively down the inside. Stewards looked at it, and did not give any penalties.

The point is that Webber was side by side with Vettel in the first corner, and should have backed off to give Vettel space, which is what 9/10 supportive team mates would do. Instead Webber raced aggressively and squeezed Vettel's space, which impacted on the collision with Vettel and Bruno Senna.

Vettel still managed to get the job done with very little help/support from Webber in 2012, and Vettel wont be counting on Webbers support in 2013, so nothing changes. Toro Rosso and Schumacher showed more support for Vettel than Webber.

276

maybe the kind of teammate that lets you past during brazil 2012 ('thank you mark' came over the radio)

I think Seb should feel blessed to be 2012 champion. Brazil, i feel he caused the collision with bruno, was very lucky to still have 4 wheels on the car, the rain/drizzle kept the cars need for aero performance down, and he had a certain young driver team that made it very easy for him to pass.

Maybe it is the german/english language barrier, Seb seems to maybe not have a full realisation of the tones/inflections his words carry at times. this might be an explanation for the malaysia 'too slow' radio message and why it came off as arrogant/entitlement.

also james, i have posted in the past but have never seen my posts, not sure if they have been moderated off. Maybe a quick email notification that post was moderated would be nice.

Keep up the good work james, still my no.1 source for f1 news.

-andrew

277

You're right Ross, but the other difference is that when Mark ignored team orders he came straight out and said 'I'm ignoring team orders'; everyone knew what was going on.

Vettel on the other hand surprised everyone - even Horner and Newey - and then tried to get out of trouble with weak excuses.

If Vettel had said beforehand 'I'm going to pass Mark', I would have still been a bit angry that he did, bit I would have also had a bit of respect for him.

278

+10

If you think that your boss is given you wrong orders you have to tell him.

279

YOu show the double standards everyone is talking about: "yeah Webber broke teamorders, but you know it was different because namesomeexcuses"

Webber broke teamorders and he got applauded. No, buts and becauses and ifs. Vettel is German and winning, that is why he is getting flamed by mainly the British media and fans.

280

Webber´s action in Silverstone back in 2011 didn´t hurt Vettel. Coming into that race Vettel was leading the championship by a big amount of points. And Webber didn´t pass him on that race at the end.

281

Lol (saying your name, not laughing at you),

If I said Webber was right, Vettel was wrong, no if, buts or maybes, then absolutely I would be a hypocrite.

Webber was in the wrong to ignore team orders, Vettel was wrong to ignore team orders: They were both in the wrong.

What I am saying is that if what Webber in Silverstone and what Vettel did in Malaysia is similar, there is a difference in the way they handled it with the team. Webber admitted outright that he ignored team orders, Vettel said he didn't mean to...which I still don't believe.

My initial reaction when Vettel overtook Webber was just anger, but after thinking about it - hopefully objectively - I realised that Vettel did what he did because he is a champion - he saw the opportunity for a win and he took it and that's what champions do...and I've said that several times in recent posts - you can go back and have a look if you have a mind to.

I agree with what you say about the British media - and it's not fair - but on the other hand I get the impression that German media is inclined to take Vettel's side, so maybe it comes out even. In an ideal world all media and journalists would be impartial, but it isn't and they're not.

For what it's worth I'm Australian - not British - so I'm naturally going to cheer on Webber, but that doesn't automatically mean that I'm out to crucify Vettel.

282

Mark didnt come out and say that, he only said he ignored it at the press conference.

283

Ferrari will be reassured that Vettel is well on his way to being potty-trained regarding team orders, prior to him joining them – but I guess Webber will be warming the seat up for him for a year or so?

Whilst the other actors on your list are just as deserving of attention and comment, their positive actions are not controversial enough to warrant the fans’ column inches.

284

"He is also aware that he is not without sin as he broke team orders to attack Vettel at Silverstone in 2011 and has played his part in making life difficult for his team mate, such as the start in Brazil last year."

I challenge the widely-held belief that Webber broke team orders in Silverstone.

He was playing with Vettel, almost passed him on the outside of a turn, then short-shifted so as not to overtake him. He was "showing a wheel", or "muscle-flexing".

To me, his admission after the race was nothing more than pandering to the demands of Horner and Marko. Do people really think they were Webber's words?

The supposed squeeze against the wall in Brazil was also a beat-up. Vettel had plenty of room, and to suggest that this somehow contributed to his spin is ludicrous.

I am not a Webber fan, just an F1 fan, and I think popular perceptions can sometimes be wrong.

285

Very well said. The Silverstone and Brazil 'incidents' are being quite mangled by some of the comments here.

The conversation here is often intelligent and always engaging, but I frequently wonder if we're all talking about the same race...

286
Bring Back Murray

Looks like the silly season's going to be starting early this year.

Maybe Rosberg can have Vettel's place after he moves to Ferrari next season!

287

Rosberg would be a bargain if RBR signs him, he is faster than Hamilton for a 10th of the price, and if I was Nico I rather be the number 2 driver in the best car and number 2 to 1 of the best drivers in the world rather than being number 2 at the Mercedes farce.

288

Lol! Give it up!

I remember when Kovalainen too was "faster" than Lewis. The story is always the same for Lewis team mates, they are always "faster."

289

Indeed his team-mates are always faster and more race-savvy/intelligent. Than Lewis, but he somehow manages to beat them... Oh dear Lewis...

290

Webber's place, more likely.

291

Great article James!

A year and a bit ago team orders were forbidden...then what, Sorry Seb, but Mark was faster than you would have Horner's message..

292

Turkey 2009. Seb was given that same message. Mark came 2nd, Seb 3rd, JB smacked them all in the Braun.

293

Don't you mean 6 world championships for Ross Brawn James?

294

No - 3 with Benetton, 2 with Brawn, 11 with Ferrari - WDCs and WCCs

295

Yes indeed.

Benetton - 2 DWC ('94-'95), 1 WCC ('95)

Ferrari - 5 DWC ('00-'04), 6 WCC ('99-'04)

Brawn - 1 DWC ('09), 1 WCC ('09)

Hard to argue with those stats.

296

Hi James Allen, i am big fan, please answer my question:

So given that Roseberg is great with these Pirellis, do you think Lewis H will be able to adapt in time?

For example, last year, he did ok at the beginning of the year as he was familiarizing himself with the Pirellis and then he was flying later in the year.. your thoughts please? Thank you very much.

297

No no no we're getting the wrong slant on all this. Had Hamilton had a bit more fuel his lap times would have been higher and Rosberg would probably not been able to close the gap, indeed if pit errors had been avoided together with more fuel it's quite likely that Hamilton would have been able to at least get amongst the Bulls as at one stage he was closing. I didn't see Rosberg do that, but this is a consequence in fuel useage by stepping up the chase as Hamilton did initially. Hamilton is well able to give a controlled race as he's shown before, but controlled racing dosen't catch the competition, and Mercedes needed to push to understand their relative position which justifiably is second fastest car on the grid. A improvement in aero efficiency and downforce could see Mercedes in amongst the Bulls and then it gets exciting. - I hope they can do it. Hamilton and Rosberg are a great pairing and I expect they will push each other to great things this year.

298
Alexander Supertramp

Couldn't agree more..

300

If Mercedes are going to get anywhere near the others, perhaps they should do some work on fuel consumption ? How such a high-tech team can be so wrong (they were saving fuel almost from the off) just beggars belief.

(Haven't seen anyone's head roll for that yet).

And when they do, Nico will be a match for Lewis. Remember how Michael was going to blow him away ? He's still there !

302

But the problem was fuel, not tyres.

303
Alexander Supertramp

China and the races to come will set the record straight. I still expect Lewis to come out on top.

304

Rosberg is a fast driver, no doubt and both guys will push each other to greater things. But like you, I expect Lewis to be faster over the course of the season. He and Rosberg were karting team mates and Lewis was faster then. Also McLaren chose Lewis over Rosberg, despite both coming through the Maca/Merc young drivers scheme; now, Merc seems to rate Lewis above Rosberg as well. No one can argue that Maca and Merc aren't experts at sporting driving talent.