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The human dynamics at work behind Malaysian Grand Prix dramas
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.

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.

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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I hope this gives Webber a kick in the pants, he’s very fast when he drives angry, enough talking, it’s hunting season.


Dear Niki,

Please shut up. Ross has forgotten more about managing an F1 team than you will ever know.. nuff said

I wondered before the season if Rosberg would be the guy I thought he was and give Lewis a lot more than he bargained for. In MOTOGP parlance, I think Rosberg is an alien too. Time will tell, but the early signs look good


“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.”

That is the most cop-out sentence ever. Basically, “he’s good, but not popular”


Terrific summary

Key thing for Red Bull to avoid is a 2007 McLaren like situation.

The real winner out of all this drama is Alonso who will enjoy the destabilisation in the other teams


I remember a McLaren rep musing that they would have kept their dream team together longer had Prost won the 1988 championship instead of Senna.

I think of the Red Bull situation in a similar way: if Mark had won in 2010, he may have been far more receptive to playing the team game – if in fact he would still be with the team: he might have chosen to go out with a championship-winning high. Vettel may have had some more respect for his team-mate, and perhaps learned more about being more tactful in defeat.

What we have instead is a triple world champ that defies even the people that provide him with his mount to win races, and a guy that is far too good to be labelled a ‘Number Two’ that seems to be given the short end of the stick with car development and feels aggrieved when opportunities are taken from him.

Red Bull’s management problems stem back to 2010 as the final stages of their campaign are still on the nose – there would be no conspiracy theories if things played out in a more transparent fashion. As it has happened, these issues have been festering and have been bought to a point in the last race. There is even a chance that we have not seen these problems reach a team-shattering crescendo.


Not sure if anybody’s said this, but I don’t understand the notion of Brawn(or JA) claiming “the points outcome for the team would be the same anyway”

I think HAM and ROS were about 8 seconds behind WEB at one point. If WEB were to make a mistake or use up his tires and fall back a few seconds, and if ROS clearly had better pace than HAM, shouldn’t it be better for the team to have ROS close the gap as much as possible, in case anything happened. I understand its not a likely scenario, and the need for teams to conserve their engines etc, but as a fan you definitely want to see teams/drivers giving it their best till the fat lady sings


Good point, but at this point in the season – and especially given Mercedes (lack of) performance in previous seasons – I think they just wanted to have the points in the bag and maybe let them fight another day.


It’s patently obvious to anyone outside of F1 that the RedBull team has fallen into the clutches of Dark Emperor Marko. Vettel had been lured to the Dark side by his father ‘Adrian Newey Vader’.

Webber must convince Vettel to join the Rebellion with the help of Ewok’s like Horner and use the force of the Redbull to defeat the evil empire and defy team orders once and for all.


Sorry to interrupt you Steve, but I have a Mr. Lucas on the phone? He was banging on something about astrology and conflicts and lawyers or something, but to be honest I wasn’t really paying attention…

Anyway, all of this sounds like a good idea for a movie 🙂


Hi GUys,

Those comparing Silverstone 2011 need to get real, it was Seb who was calling the shots that day, Webber was told to maintain the gap twice and the said” maintain the gap ok righto”, don’t see how this was breaking a team order, youtube link below



Ta for the link.

Watching it again it did seem like he was backing off though the corners.


should be” and then said.”..


Horner is the problem in this situation and there’s an easy solution. If he were a stronger leader, he would simply say VET was in the wrong and this will be dealt with internally.

The solution:

At the next available pitstop where Horner can pay back WEB, he needs to instruct his pit team to hold VET up on the jacks and NOT let him down until the advantage is clear and insurmountable. He should be seen on camera holding his hand out to the crew with a “keep him there until I say so” gesture. Soon followed by a radio transmission stating “my team orders are not optional, Seb.”

Anything less is just political BS in my opinion.


Great idea!! I’d love to see that happen.



You mention the lure of Ferrari for Vettel again but isnt it true that Alonso has lately blocked that off?


The aftermath for redbull was a statement regarding tires, tires have problems, translated – if tires were better we wouldn’t have to go into safety mode orders. Our team promotes racing between drivers! As such we wouldnt be into this situation. The one two team blames tires, god!


Honour is like a Ming Vase.

If you drop it, then the pieces are not simply ‘put back together’. It takes a long time to glue the shards back into form, and it never holds the same appearance or value as it did prior.


Very true…and exceptionally profound for 2.44 in the morning. Kudos 🙂



This is the best article you ever wrote. You summed everything perfectly.


“as does his highly personal BBC Online column this year”

Spot on! Webber’s column, in spite of having some personal aspects, was fantastic. Lewis’ one screams “please, know more of me” from the roof top!


I don’t condone what Sebastian did and t’s tempting to have a go at him for putting his interests above the team’s, but if you think about it he simply did all racers in F1 are supposed to do – win! We can’t take it against him for being a racer, so we can just hope for bad karma to bite him back (hard) later on in the season. Since, I for one am rooting for Fernando Alonso to win this year’s WDC.

As for Mark, as much as I admire all his grit and determination, how many times has he fallen for the team’s (trick) “turn down your engines”/”back off” messages only to be “victimised” by Seb? David Coulthard once said on being told to move over in Jerez ’97 and then again in Oz ’98, “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” On the lessons of 2010 alone, Mark should have already learned how things can turn out for him when both cars are told to back off and on how the team will easily align their interests with Vettel’s. Plus he (Mark) should have also been more critical and suspicious of the team for the no. of times his clutch “failed” whenever he started alongside Seb. The fact that he continues to be (somewhat) so trusting of Red Bull given all those unfortunate incidences, allied with the fact that he has nothing to show vs. his team-mate’s driver’s titles only confirms Mark’s status as a no. 2 driver. And as harsh as this may sound, he’s just probably in denial.

As for the Austrians, Dr. Helmut Marko and Niki Lauda: (1) Christian Horner needs to grow a pair and, just like Ross Brawn, remind Dr. Marko of who is assigned to run RBR. Plus, Mateschitz should also (probably) remind the good doctor that his primary role is to usher in and monitor the progress of drivers from Red Bull’s academy. (2) With regards to Niki, does he even know how much of a fool he made Mercedes, and himself, appear by criticising what was arguably a job well done by the team and its team principal? If the board of Mercedes have any sense in them, then they would have realised by now how redundant and ridiculous Niki’s (throw an occasional hand grenade tongue lashing) role is.


At Silverstone 2011 Webber had no intention of breaking team orders. He put on a show of a fight, to save face. On one lap coming out of woodcote he could’ve easily stuck it outside of Vettel,but watch the onboard, he lifted and gave Vettel the racing line.It was all bark and no bite.


No way he could have get passed there. Stop making excuses for Webber, he ignored teamorders at least 5 times we know now and he was always defended by the media and Vettel haters.

Now Vettel does it and he is the anti-christ.

Such hypocrisy.


Watch my link below on youtube, i think it will refresh your memory of Silverstone 2011.


Can you list 5 times?


1. Turkey 2010, Webber was told to save fuel and not fight Vettel. He fought.

2. Silverstone 2011, told to maintain the gap while Vettel had KERS issues and had to save fuel. Ignored it.

3. Abu Dhabi 2012, told not to fight Vettel and let him through. Ignored it for a few laps which mad Vettel lose 2nd place in the end.

4. Brazil 2012, told to not fight Vettel at the start. He ignored it.

5. Brazil 2012, told to let Vettel past later in the race. Ignored it for a few laps.

And these are only the public ones.


Where does Dougel disparage Vettel in any way? You are way off the mark.


Bit of topic this, but it’s starting to look like Schumacher had plenty of fight left in him after all. Rosberg’s performances against Hamilton,admittedly after only 2 races, indicate scumacher, even in his mid forties, had the legs of one of best of the current generation of drivers. Impressive.


Just a wild thought. In tennis, there are senior competitions which is there ‘for the fans’.

I think the likes of Schumacher, Hakkinen, Prost, Mansell, Barachello and all other retired F1 drivers should have a regular gather and compete in the same car at least once a year.

It will be like the Olympics, where each city gets chosen and other cities wait in line to have the privilege to hold the legends race.

Such attractions would be enough to generate lots of TV audience which should be enough to pay these heroes and the gear required to set them up for the race.

Young guns can challenge them but there is no prize won at the end. Just a bravo.


They have a similar thing in the AFL in Aus; they call it a Slowdown 😉

Good idea, but isn’t this kind of what the Race Of Champions is about?


Yes, ROC (race of champions) has the right idea. But the showdown format is too brief and kinda boring.

They bring the same track to different cities and drivers of different discipline have a few laps to win/loose the round.

I’m thinking of a showdown with similar discipline on different tracks and they have a proper 30min race. Same thing can be done to other types of motorsports.


There is an easy solution.

Red Bull should do it like Ferrari (Mercedes and Lotus).

They should tell us, that Vettel is the clear no.1 in the team and Webber isn’t allowed to win anymore and to take points away from Vettel.

There will be only “no.1 is comming, go out of the way, Mark, don’t hold him up, save fuel, he is faster than you” and nothing else.

It would be much easier for Vettel. Easier than Alonso at Ferrari. F1 would be very, very boring and Vettel wins everything.

Of course, there would be less clicks on the “3424234234” article about a controversy, but at least Red Bull would be honest.


There is a fact being missed in all this in the case of Mercedes which I think is significant. Mercedes actually allowed their drivers to race to a certain extent. Nico overtook Lewis twice and twice Lewis retook the position that was apart from the fact that Lewis out qualified Nico and being in front of him and doing all the chasing of the Red Bulls throughout the race. So in real sense it was Nico that was requesting team orders knowing fully well he cant overtake Lewis and get away. On the defence of Brawn. How many times do you want to see your drivers dice with each other in the same race and risk a no finish for either a few laps to the end of a race? So great call from Brawn i’d say.


Mercedes did not allow that, Rosberg was doing that on his own and after the 10th radio message he listened.

Hamilton has a vcery nice contract with Mercedes it seems. Alonso style.


As we say down under you can argue the point until the cows come home, or perhaps the bulls in this case! Ultimately people make judgements about elite sports people about both their results and how they go about achieving them. While backing MW to the hilt, I have the grown to admire the great talent of SV, and MW did this on the podium with his ‘fast peddler’ comment even after his win was stolen from him. Does SV need an unfair advantage to win, clearly not. Does he need to think about how he goes his business to be recognised as true champion world wide and eclipse his idle MS? While MW has yet to win a WDC we love the way he goes about his business and with an even play field will have huge chance this year. He’ll be back!


James why all of a sudden you´re blaming Webber for the problems Vettel had in Brazil last year? We all know that Vettel strugles when he can´t win the pole, in Brazil or elsewhere. Neither you nor anyone in the media blame Webber back then.During and after the race in Brazil all the debate was about a possible yellow flag.

I don´t know if Vettel is going to end up in Ferrari. But I do know that Vettel doesn´t look like someone who will have the patience to be without a champioship for 5 years or more.


Had Vettel lost the title Webber would have taken the blame for it.

It got to a point Pilbeam Webbers engine came on the radio to say thank you Mark for letting Vettel through and this same man is looked at as a team player am sorry i beg to differ that move had he been a Ferrari driver he would be out of the door before the race was over.


That´s speculation from your part. Coulda, woulda, shoulda… The fact remains that Webber was never accussed of wrong doing neither during nor after the race.


What an interesting and superbly written article.


You forgot to mention the Bulgarian weightlifting team, who actually beat Ben Johnson’s 100m time when they heard the drug testers coming 😉

Honour and integrity don’t come into the equation at this level…but they’re still nice to have every now and again. Still, it’s a bit harsh to compare what Vettel did with what these other ‘athletes’ did. So far as I know, he doesn’t do drugs and he seems to have a fairly sane personal life.

As for the bank robber…yeah, that’s one way of looking at it (and more than a few have).

The other way is that he is a top level race car driver going for wins – and he raced and got a win, which is okay in isolation.

It’s just the way he did it and the circumstances around it that have caused so much contention.


That was meant as a reply to Luke Clements, comment 109.


hey james,do you have some info on when vettel’s contract with red bull will end? and fernando’s at ferrari’s as well? cause i dont think those 2 will be there together. lol

Christer Hammarström

Contracts can, have and will be broken.If Fernando don´t get the titel this year i wounder who long Ferraris patience will last.He maybe have to deal wiht Sebastian or leave. Ferraris last WCD Kimi Räikkönen 2007 got fired 2009.Don´t be surprised if that can happen even to Alonso.


Agreed. And a similar thing happend to Schumacher.

So Ferrari would only do what they have done twice before! (Only difference would be that Schumacher and Raikkonen managed to be WDC with Ferrari before being let go.)


As Bernie Ecclestone said regarding this incident: “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser”.


Everyone is going on about Webber ‘chopping’ Vettel in Brazil. I have watched the start of this race 20-30 times now and if Webber would have done anything else, he’d have either been hit or crashed into another car, maybe even taking Vettel out in the process. A start is chaotic enough, as it is, when in a pack, so I somehow doubt either Vettel or Webber could have predicted what was going to happen. Webber just needs to race as if there is no tomorrow. Winners always cheat, cheaters usually win. Even Bernie admits to cheating as much as possible when he was a team owner!


I can only guess that those who sympathise with Vettel are the same as those who sympathise with Lance Armstrong and his 7 Tour de France titles, and sympathise with Tiger Woods and his marriage problems, and sympathise with Ben Johnson and his world record 100m time, and sympathise with the bank robber who needs to feed his family etc. Honor and Integrity don’t come into the equation and never will.


Reading such a… #%$@ after a very good and well balanced article is pain. Sorry.


Tiger is off the field and Lance is cheating.

Vettel’s situation is at the harshest view one of insubordination. Those that blast Vettel for insubordination must have never ever been late to work, or taken off early. They must be perfect angels that have never made a co worker mad. They must have never ever broken the speeding limit.

Look if you want to bash Vettel then fine but all this beating the drums about moral turpitude is just ridiculous.


Vettel’s action is very much like cheating. If there was no agreement in the beginning, Webber might have chosen a completely different strategy and maybe even ended with medium tires rather than hard for the last stint. Not to say that he would have been ahead of Vettel. That is all speculation.

Under circumstances of what happened, while the team is trying to minimize problems by conserving tires, it is stupid of Vettel to break the agreed strategy. This throws everyone in the team (including Webber) into a mistrust mode and that is not how a team can function.

I don’t think Vettel has the IQ to understand all these things.


Everyone keeps using the word agreement, but it was more team orders than agreement. An agreement is negotiated. I don’t think we have any proof saying this was negotiated.

Watching the US broadcast, those guys had such a different take on it than the British press and broadcast seem to have.

They immediately pointed out Webber’s past transgressions and kind of scolded him for breaking the very same “agreement” in the past. As a matter of fact I watched the race yet again last night and they were pretty clear that they thought Webber had lost the moral high ground. They also wondered why Webber thought Vettel should hold position when Webber said in a past interview he would not support Vettel. They said when asked he “would absolutely not”n support Vettel in his tittle chase last year and would race him no matter what team orders were. They even said they thought Vettel was spitting blood trying to catch Webber.


Great article James…. one of your best!


Maybe its time to change how teams earn there $$$, why not make it a combination of there Team points and drivers points that decides how much $$$ they are handed out by Bernie at seasons end


It kind of already is:

Let’s say in Team A the first driver got 31 points and the second driver got 21 points, while in Team B the first driver got 22 points and the second driver only got 4 points.

Team A got 52 points, so they get twice as much as Team B.

Team B got 26 points, they still get half as much as Team A.

But if you include the driver points, then:

Team A got 104 points total, so they still get twice as much as Team B.

Team B got 52 points total, so they still get half as much as Team A.

There’s no real difference that I can see, but let me know if you had something else in mind.


Why do the Vettel fans keep bringing up Brazil and Silverstone? At Silverstone Mark certainly let the audience know he was way faster than Seb, But he backed off very early on the straight. Brazil was a non event.

The bottom line is Mark could have easily took Seb off at turn 4 last week but chose (again) to get out of it.

i seriously doubt this will be the case again. I like Seb, he’s a racer, but the team ethic has to take precedent.

If you dont want team orders there are two solutions;

(1) 1 car per team

(2) Fund you own team and see how long you can watch your drivers chucking millions down the pan by fighting each other.


I agree completely on Silverstone and Brazil (see post 52). Some might think I’m flogging a dead horse but it completely relevant as these two examples are given to support the recent actions of Vettel.

I’ve got no problem with team orders though, I would rather they be out in the open with them than hide them in codes and winks.


Webber ignored teamorders 5 times we know now. Vettel 1.

And you still back Webber while attack Vettel? Ok.


Why Vettel fans? It’s a matter of fact isn’t it?

I think the bottom line is that Vettel didn’t owe Webber anything after what’s gone before. Webber has admitted as much after Silverstone.

Taking their respective race strategies into account the team order should have been to let Vettel pass Webber.


I’m surprised the bookies haven’t had more of a say about this. Suppose loads of money have been placed on Webber to win and then RBR calls team orders in his favour – begins to sound a bit fishy.

What bothers me is that apparently both Webber and Hamilton only seemed equipped to race for 2/3 distance – both lacking the tyres and fuel to run full distance at full pace. Why should that be allowed, understandable that both Vettel and Rosberg should feel perturbed that their different approach should be penalised at the last 1/3 of the race when their strategies were coming into their own.



Christer Hammarström

I dont understand what RBR has i mind. Trying to give Mark Webber the WCD on teamorders? Or are they short of money so team WC is prio 1 for this seson ? I can´t really understand why they give a teamorder like “hold posisions after last pit stop” and this was agreed on before the race. If RBR continuous on this road they will see Fernando Alonso and Ferrari for driver and team WC. And if Seb Vettel despite teamorders take the WCD 2013 he will,and mark my words, be of to Ferrari for 2014 reeplacing either Alonso or Massa.


What RB has in mind is very simple. It is called constructor points. At the end they fear that letting Vettel and Webber fight to the end may end up in a crash between the two. RB didn´t want that risk when they were having both cars in 1 and 2. That was their main priority not Vettel.


They have that rule to (try to) stop their drivers having a coming together on track, as in Turkey.

If Vettel makes a habit of disobeying team orders then I’d be surprised if Ferrari welcomed him with open arms.

Besides, Alonso has a contact for the next few years; I can’t see Ferrari breaking that for Vettel.

Massa’s performance has improved massively, he knows how to follow orders, and Ferrari and Alonso are both loyal to him. They may replace him in 2014, but I can’t see him being replaced with Vettel.

But still, having said all that, stranger things have happened…


I see you are from the Martin Brundle school of thought out-performed the car the funny thing is he has a better car and suddenly he looks average in that car so I don’t get the out-performed part as Massa is doing the same job last year a lot was ignored when analysing Alonso’s performance as Massa made him look better than he actually is! Funny thing is had Vettel been @ Ferrari he would have been on pole as well.


I suppose that’s one way of looking at it

Another would be that Alonso did outperform the F2012 – and I base that not on anything Brundle or anyone else has said, but on the fact that he ended up 2nd in what Ferrari themselves admitted was a sub-par car – while Massa only picked up his game later in the year.

Now Massa is performing well – very well – so he’s closer to Alonso than he has been. That doesn’t mean that Alonso is suddenly bad, but that Massa is good (something we should know from 2008).

As to Alonso being average this year, we have had a whole two races to see.

The first one he finished second – not an average result by any means – and in the second race he crashed out because of a very poor strategy call.

I do expect that he and Massa will be at the pointy end all season, but time will tell.

Vettel might have been on pole in the Ferrari, but I think that’s a stretch to assume. If he does ever switch to Ferrari then I guess we’ll find out for sure.

Just for the record I’m not all pro Alonso / anti Vettel – they’re both great drivers – but my original point was that I’m not sure that Ferrari think Vettel is that much a better prospect than Alonso to be worth breaking contracts over, but once Alonso’s contract is up and the door is open…then yeah, Vettel at Ferrari is a definite possibility.


didn’t Kimi have a contract with Ferrari? if Ferrari want Vettel Alonso would be moved aside straight away!


Yep, they did and yep, any contract can be broken if given the right conditions – or a lot of money – and if Ferrari were super keen to get Vettel they’d find a way…but I still doubt that will happen.

When Ferrari let go Kimi it’s my impression that it was because he was unmotivated after a lacklustre year in the F60; Alonso seemed a much better prospect.

Alonso might not have won a WDC with Ferrari – at least not yet – but he has outperformed the car, and many people are dubious that Vettel can do the same. That’s not necessarily my opinion, it’s just what I’ve gleaned from reading what others have said.

Adding to that Vettel’s recent actions, I can’t see why Ferrari would go through the hassle of breaking the contract of a driver who seems to working out well for them for a driver that may not.

But – as I said before – stranger things have happened and I may be completely wrong.

Mike from Colombia

James, what is your take on equality as Mercedes?

There have been some mixed messages from some people that Hamilton is definitely recognised as the Number 1.

I think that in all honesty if it was the other way around and Hamilton begging to pass Rosberg then Ross Brawn would have though long and hard about the long term implications of upsetting his “No.l” driver.


Bravo for the article, James.

Several points from my side.


People are attracted to those who represent their inner self. Thise who will not stop before anything to gain an advantage over another human being at any cost will support Vettel. Those who believe that winning is only possible when moral standard are in order, will turn their back on him.


Again, nothing to say. It is a coinsidence that we have seen both of them acting in the same situation, side by side.

Brawn clearly shows thathis is the team boss and he is respected. Horner was not giving an order, his was suggesting or having an opinion “this is silly Seb”.

Vettel now knows that he is in charge, not Horner. I actually believe that a lesson of humility would save his future, but Horner doesn’t have a character to teach one and therefore other people, like Bernie, will feed Vettel’s ego.

And I said it already. Pride comes before the fall.


Right. So can you repeatagain what is racing for you? When the team communicates to the one in front to slow down so that the other guy could overtake? This is racing? And which agreement Webber broke? What did they agreed before the race, as it was the case here, that Webber did not listen? Can you remind about such an agreement beforethe race in two races you mention?


The irony at your post, point 1. is that Webber did it multiple times before, so he clearly showed no marals to according to you. And now he does? Lol.

Fact is people who want to see F1 RACING back Vettel, the ones who hate Vettel for winning so much are against his racing.


Can’t disagree with any of your points Wayne. Whilst I’m not calling for MW’s head at McLaren, I have to admit Ross Brawn is a very attractive proposition. RB should be treated with respect and Mercedes need to remember this.


Mercedes will have to be very careful they don’t shoot themselves in the foot with regards to this political/ power struggle within the top hierarchy of the team. Like the saying goes; “too many cooks spoil the broth…”


great insight as usual James, I wonder how long Horner will last at Red Bull and what will happen to Vettel if he does leave and go to another contender like Ferrari?


And regarding Vettel, please remember the US GP last year. Hamilton demoed that Vettel still doesn’t have that last 2% that is essential to reach the top echelons of the sport, 3 WDCs notwithstanding.


That 2% was Hamilton having a much higher top speed and a backmarker helping him. But keep rewriting the race to suit your agenda.


Yeah right!

You setup your car to suit the straights or the curves. RBR has always been a high-downforce car. It is not expected to have very high straight line speed, except for the bendy aero days.


Lol and you believe that honestly that sounded as silly as the person who said the original statement with regards Hamilton he is one sportsman who has failed to live up to the ‘so called’ potential he has.

The lowest position Vettel has finished in a championship winning car is 2nd and Hamilton says he doesn’t have the last 2% so if he has it what exactly would he be doing that he’s not doing right now?


Hi Rockie,

What I am saying is

1. The last 2% is not really needed to be a 3-times WDC. You need a championship winning car more than anything.

2. For me the USGP last year was the pinnacle of racing as it had two drivers trying their best and one succeeding while the other fades away.

As this year progresses we would see what Hamilton could do with a half-decent car.


If Horner leaves, it would also be the end of Newey’s time in Red Bull. That will mean curtains to RBR as a world beating team.


Delicious journalism as ever Mr Allen,thank you very much for providing the most balanced and incisive analysis of this situation.

Mike from Colombia

James, I think this is the best article that you have written since the launch of this website.

Superb analysis of the mind games going on.

Red Bull

On a separate note, I think that Red Bull has become the most difficult team to like in the paddock.


Vettel has not really gone head-to-head with the best drivers in Alonso and Hamilton. He has only had to beat a politicially disadvantaged team mate in Webber and rely on Newey to the rest.

On the Ferrari move. Why do they need Vettel when they already have the best all-round driver in Alonso? Why upset the balance?


Horner comes across as patronising and “smarmy” – it could just be his tone of voice….but there is a lack of the human touch that Ross Brawn carries with him.

Seems not to be very genuine. I saw his interview with Ted Kravitz and he comes across as treating the viewing public as idiots.


Paddy Lowe might end up being technically better than Brawn, but I doubt he will command the same presence and standing.


Lauda seems to be of little added value. Maybe he is just there so that the Mercedes board to not have to deal with underlings.


Has too much been bestowed on this man? I don’t see what he has achieved in F1 that made it so evident to the Mercedes board that he is their man.


DM should send him on a long Saga cruise. What will he do without Vettel at Red Bull?

Great article again James! I really love these types of insights. Could we please also have one mid-season on McLaren, Button, Perez.


I agree with you that James’s analysis of the situation is excellent.

I disagree with you on all your other points.


The guys are engaged to race and provide a public spectacle which, if it is a winning one, is advantageous to driver, team and sponsor.

IMHO team rules should be abolished, the drivers guided by advice and information only, and required, should there be a team shunt, to pay a substantial excess per race to compensate both the team and the sponsor.


Good article, James; maybe my favourite, ever.

There is one thing, however, which strikes me with such bad taste, so as I feel slightly ill.

That is the devinations of that person, who I believe many of your readers might share my opinion, was the best race car driver of all time.

Unfortunately, this detracts from an otherwise fascinating discussion, more than skirting the borders of an intensive psychological evaluation of the sport.

So compliments to you, credit where credit is due.


Is it just me, does anyone else understand what this post means?

For instance, what is devination?


I’m getting tired of seeing Webber sulking about this. He should have just passed him back!…….oh wait..he couldn’t!

Ok team orders were to hold stations but lets be real Vettel blows Mark out the water every time!

As for Rosberg, if he thinks that if the situation had been reverse he would have preferential treatment, he’s in for a shock.


From memory (and I stand corrected), team orders were not allowed in 2011. If this is correct, how could Webber have broken said team order?

If an order *was* given, he was correct to continue racing as this would protect the team from fallout after the event. ie, Ferrari fiasco with Alonso & Massa.

Regarding Brazil 2012, what team order did Webber break here? Was he ‘ordered’ to allow Vettel to take him at the start? This seems unlikely to me.

I’m finding it hard to find a team order that Webber actually broke.


There was a change in regulations after Hockenheim 2010 and “Fernando is faster than you” saga, team orders were completely legal in 2011. Seb just accomplished what Webber couldn’t in 2011.



I want to thank you for the BBC link. Seems like it would have been proper to have a few quotes out of it in some of the articles arount the interweb. Honestly, Mark having written this really shouldn’t have been playing the injured party.


I refer to Silverstone 2011.


What a biased article against Hamilton from you @JamesAllen. Rock star team mate? What a rubbish, sounds like the tabloid pigeon holes!

I haven’t thought you are this superficial.

On the other side Rosberg came a long like a spoilt brat for me to tell Brawn ” remember this” . This is quite rich from Rosberg.

If Rosberg is not able to overtake in the race while they race, his own fault! He played very nicely afterwards the victim.

BTW tyres have been not the matter,for Lewis was going slow at the end of the race!


Excellent analysis, James. Really enjoyed it, especially the proper treatment of Lauda and Marko. Cheers.


Hi James,

Great article. I know it’s only been 2 races but Bianchi has been very impressive. Any plans on writing something on the up and comers in F1 – the next wave of F1 talent/superstars?


Yes. Thanks


F1 is a sport. Was Vettel’s behaviour sporting?

If not it should be condemned.

If ignoring team orders and ‘pre-match’ agreements is OK and taking advantage of your teammate and team is good sporting behaviour because only being the winner matters, then praise him.



well said.

Val from montreal

Text messages between Michael and Sebastian :

Michael : Guten tag Sebastian ! Nice one in Malaysia …

Sebastian : Thank you , but I had to appologize to the entire factory for my actions … Have you read the papers ?

Michael : Yes , only the reports coming out of our mother-land …

Sebastian : They have lambasted me in the UK however !

Michael : Never mind them , they are’nt the ones putting food on your table …..

Sebastian : So what should I do now ? Mark is pretty upset at the moment …

Michael : When you secure the title in August , that’s when you can throw a bone or two to Mark , like I did with Rubens in 2002 ….PS , if you really wanna piss people off , try winning one in the pits !

Sebastian : Lol , that’s next on my check-list !

Michael : Auf wiedersehen ! Have a good one !


And that “fictional” message exchanges would be appropriate.

Wasn’t it Eddie Jordan who once said about the likes of Senna and Schumacher that for ruthless champions, posession is 2/3rds of the rule. They think about winning the titles as there will always be people who’ll argue if they deserved it or not.


Great article. F1 would be so much simpler without the humans.


I think you summed things up pretty nicely. A couple of points:

1) Horner is still not doing a proper job of establishing authority and putting Vettel in his place. Dragging him in for an apology to the staff isn’t going to cut it. The attitude Vettel displayed in his win is the attitude all great drivers have. He is the three time defending world champion for Red Bull. I will not be ordered to follow my teammate. Mark Webber doesn’t do the winning. I do. Webber collects Constructor’s points. It’s the same attitude Senna and Schumacher had. If Horner wants to be a Team Principal when he grows up, he needs to be more like Ross Brawn. Brawn didn’t just say “Negative, Nico” calmly: he said it with the tone of a father who is telling his five year old “no” and that he is to be obeyed. He was very stern, almost a bit harsh, in his tone. He has to make Vettel afraid of the consequences. I don’t think he’s capable of doing it. He’s been run over plenty of times already.

2) It seems like the early races have always been a problem for Hamilton these last three years with the Pirellis. He had a big problem at Malaysia in 2011 with cooking the tires, and he had problems at races last year. But by the time the European season gets around, he seems to get a much better handle on how to manage them over a race distance. And again, he needs to work on it, because Rosberg showed better pace during the dying laps of the tires on the long runs.

3) Rosberg seems very, very confident. His interview with Sky after the race showed that- especially when he said, “There will come a time for teammates to fight.” He knows he has had great pace this year so far and is going to make Hamilton fight for it.


Lewis had problems with low fuel, not tyres.

By the way, the tyre thing is basically a myth. For example, last year, Lewis was miles better than Jenson with his tyres, even doing one less stop on one occassion. Yet, we were drenched in a constant stream about Jensons better tyre management.

Its just F1 myths. Modern commentary would be nothing (or so the commentators think) without the little myth now and again.


I think what is being missed here is that when Webber challenged Vettel, it was always on racing terms and it was obvious that he’d ignored team orders.

In this instance, Webber had turned down his engine and at that point Vettel attacked.

I wouldn’t have a problem with vettel challenging for the win, but he needed a helping hand to get him past the guy in front. So while he proves himself a winner with his attitude, he’s still suggesting he’s not capable of doing so unless the cards are heavily stacked in his favour.


This is just nonsense which Webber needs calling on. The lap timings showed Webber and Vettel completed their fastest laps on the lap 45 when they were fighting for position. Very impressive if Webber had turned his engine down.


Yes, it was rather impressive 😉


I lost all respect for Mark. He acts like he’s the one who is 25, not Vettel. Whining, pouting, sulking – rather silly and immature. If you feel like you have been wronged, go for it and don’t wash your team’s dirty laundry in public! A team player? Hell no.

Thank you, Vettel, for being a racer and not the whiner.


In this case, I wish that in your life you will only meet people that will treat you just like vettel behaved in this situation. Applaud them and thank them for this. Hope this wish comes true in your life because this is something good you want to experience day by day.


I agree with most of that, and I’ve always thought Nico Rosberg a fast driver. I don’t think Sunday was particularly representative of anything between Rosberg and Hamilton. Hamilton had a go at catching the Red Bulls, and paid for it later on with low fuel, probably a bit lower than Rosberg, but the race was Hamilton’s really. As the Mercedes improves I think Hamilton’s speed will become more apparent particularly in qualifying. Pirelli tyres really are quite ludicrous for proper racing as they serve merely to protect the leading car so it’s not a race just a tyre strategy and conservation exercise that curtails the true spirit of what F1 really should be about.- Proper full on racing!


Vettel suffers from ‘red mist’: something happens to irritate him, or when racing wheel to wheel, and he loses composure. Look back at the incidents where he’s collided with others. Until he sorts the red mist issue, he’ll always be a fair weather champion.


Purple mist is more like it…


Hi James,

I disagree that a team has to be led with demonstrable ‘authority’. That works for areas where things have to work like clockwork. For example the pit crew need such kind of authority during a GP with creativity coming in only at the debrief on improving the stops. Regarding the strategy bit during the race you need to be flexible.

I think Red Bull’s success is more down to Christian Horner and Adrian Newey than to anyone else. I have a feeling that Newey staying is connected to Horner staying.

They can replace Vettel and they have options. Even Alonso might be willing to join them. But the Horner-Newey partnership is critical.

I think the biggest mistake done by Red Bull is hiring Webber. They can get many drivers with on-again off-again talent. There are very few drivers who have the constant drive and ability to excel. He also doesn’t seem to be adept in maintaining inter-personal relationships.

No event in this world is purely merit-based(even athletics is tainted). F1 is a show with really high levels of skill (engibneering as well as driving). Equality and all other traits do not apply. You can’t go back and strip Schumacher of his Benetton trophies that were won with illegal software. Nor can you correct the problems of photocopying and stuff.

The root cause of all of this is the poor governance in the sport. Teams having two drivers with no strict code of how parity will be maintained is one of the smaller problems. Parity is essential if viewers enjoyment and betting is desired.

This incident only highlights the long-term malaise of the sport.


James, do you know what team’s motivations for hiring Lauda are behind the scenes? It appeared that he had some influence in Hamilton’s move from McLaren in this case, but it’s hard to see how that would warrant such a senior position given that he’s not just a figurehead. Just curious if he brings any tangible benefits to a team other than always managing to find an audience for his (sometimes not very well timed or aimed) opinions and an apparent ruthless streak that I suppose is useful in F1…


Please let me know if you find an answer to this…


I can see both drivers in the top 4 teams are quite evenly matched this season. Massa will give Alonso a hard time this year. So each of the drivers will have to be fighting both inside and outside the team to get points ! Looks like there will be more team orders for sure …


“Many thought he would be blown away by Hamilton and, although he cannot compete for pure talent”

Is this because a 43 year old Schumacher vs Rosberg was 7-3 up in races both finished last year and 10-10 in the qualifying battle and would have been easily been ahead of Nico on points but for multiple car failures?

What if the old man was actually performing at a much higher level than he was given credit for? Is the British press infatuation with downplaying Schumacher’s achievements actually made Rosberg look less talented than he is?

What happens if Rosberg beats Hamilton this year? Will we have to read all the excuses of it’s the tyres, it’s the new team etc but he is still way more talented than Rosberg??


When LH and NR were karting team mates, LH came out on top. What makes you think it will be any different this time?

Val from montreal

Heinz Herald Frentzen was seen as a faster driver than Schumacher in the lower formulas before reaching F1 , look what happenned afterwards ….


Let’s ‘meet’ here at the end of the season and see which of the two has come out on top.

So far it’s 2 nil to LH, both in quali’ and the race 🙂

Val from montreal

+791 !!! Great post !!!

When Schumacher was passing cars left , right and center at Valencia last year , Coulthard and Legard were’nt saying much … Those 2 talked more about “Hamilton and his Mercedes” in the OZ GP than they did about Schumacher during the whole 2012 season …

I remember last year during the first half , when Rosberg was constantly behind MSC in the races , James Allen’s race reports was stating that : ” Rosberg has been having a dip in form lately ” …. Instead of giving credit to Schumacher for elevating his game , Allen chose to do the opposite …


Along the lines of what Elie said, which would be more likely explanation for an older driver and younger driver becoming more equal in results – a 43 y.o. driver with >300 GPs improving, or a 26 y.o. driver with almost 200 less GPs (and possibly waning motivation in an uncompetitive car) dropping his level?


Val, stop crying over Michael, Im sure if you read all the posts you will find there were many that credited Michael Schumacher many times.

I would certainly have been harder on Rosberg for not challenging at every race as he should against his 43 yo team mate.


Wasn’t part of Schumacher’s problem that he tried to pass cars in the center (instead of left or right) a couple of times too many??

Liam in Sydney

Boom!! 🙂


Damn!!! 🙂




Thoughtful stuff, James. A great read, thank you.

The last week has given me time to ‘unpack’ my own thoughts after Malaysia and I find myself coming back to several points.

A Webber victory over Vettel in Malaysia would have been a form of karma for Vettel, and we were robbed of it.

I have an uneasy and ongoing view that a large share of Vettel’s 27 wins have been enabled by RedBull’s sacrifice of Webber’s chances at a win.

More than a third of Vettel’s wins have been 1-2 finishes with Webber second. There are 10 by my count.

A further number of Vettel’s wins have been assisted by RedBull’s subtle encouragement of Webber to go ‘off-strategy’.

And while Webber is dealing with the teams plan B, Vettel’s races are played out on the preferred strategy and built on the lessons learnt from Webber’s struggles with the cast-off strategy.

As a thought exercise, try taking Webber out of the last three seasons completely and replace him with a different sort of number 2 driver.

Instead of leaving Redbull with a number 2 driver that can win Monaco twice, or Silverstone twice, play out a scenario where he is replaced with a Massa-type driver, someone who comes in fourth or fifth most of time, occasionally bagging a podium. Reliable, but otherwise not winning races.

I know it’s useless to do this, but without Webber, Vettel would not have been champion in 2010 & 2012 at all, not a three time champion, not one of ‘The Greats’. Alonso would have been champion in both 2010 and 2012

I personally find Vettel’s claim to ‘greatness’ to be on very shaky ground. Untouchable in 2011, fair enough. But greatness is more than one season

I find the assessment of Vettel by his defenders as ‘ruthless’, when he overtook a teammate who had slower tyres and was managing his engine on fuel watch, to be grossly overstated.

Malaysia was a thrill-kill for Seb. Just too easy wasn’t it? And he was unsure afterwards of what he had done. Real hunter-killers pick their time and do what needs to be done.

Also, for what it’s worth, I don’t like hearing Brazil 2012 or Silverstone 2011 hung around Mark Webber’s neck, not when there are five times that number of races when he did not challenge Vettel and a further five times when he made better of RedBull’s off-strategy play than Vettel would have made himself.

The simple fact that Malaysia 2013 has been compared to Senna/Prost or Pironi/Villeneuve in the media tells me that there are enough fans out there who recognise Webber’s contribution to date ranks alongside a three times world champion.

If everybody thought Webber was a genuine number two driver, why would there be any fuss?



Thank you Miss Jane.


“If everybody thought Webber was a genuine number two driver, why would there be any fuss?”

It’s because people feel Webber is a number 2 driver that there is a fuss.




I think that the eclipse of his career showed fo him that he was so wrong. He did not win his family for some reason….so do not feally think it is wise to quote a man of no moral values.


“WINNING TAKES CARE OF EVERYTHING.” ~ Tiger Woods — yeah, except ensuring a happy, stable family environment for your children, and maintaining a committed relationship with the mother of said children. Yup, winning really took care of everything important for Tiger Woods. Pffft!


You win once, they love you. You win twice and they hate you – Michael Schumacher


Rosberg was CHILDISH exposing his engine to Lewis’ hot emissions for half of the race, after he’d been told (very clearly) to stop attempting to pass Lewis.

Then there’s the countless unnecessary over-the-air questions and comments.

Seemed like he was addressing the media rather his boss (which was in bad taste).


It would be nice if the FIA made accessible which engine each driver used where, and how much mileage was on each, etc.

In the particular example up above, we could see if Rosberg’s engine up in a future race whether that was the engine from Malaysia, where he was following in Lewis’ wake more closely than he should have, given the hold station order.

It would be great information to know.


Yes, Rosberg played the poor victim very well


Nice article James. I’m very annoyed at Horners comments re Seb apologising ( half arsed Im sure) to the factory does not even amount to a slap on the wrist. Horner has shown that he couldn’t give a hoot what Seb does on the track as long as they win. Christian must be the joke of the paddock by now as surely he lost respect of many. He needed to show alot more authority one way or another ( like brawn). Don’t say stuff he doesn’t mean because no one believes it- it’s even worse than what Seb said on the podium- Maybe he’s rubbing off on Seb.! Webber should quit – he should show the team up for its lies and above all- Horner. If not then he needs to acknowledge he’s a no2 driver & give his all to that- otherwise he too would have lost all credibility.

I’m certain Brawn handled the Mercedes situation correctly. Lewis was ahead after Australia and was in the lead at Malaysia. Held the team up to fighting the Red Bulls which must really have put Mercedes in the spotlight for the Daimler board. Regardless – Lewis too could have defended and arguably beaten Nico albeit at the expense of them both running out of fuel. I think he showed great respect for Nico and over called it on the podium- because he could easily have said “I was told to turn my engine down many laps before, also because I was asked to fight the Bulls earlier “etc. I don’t think his brand would have lost anything. But shows Ross Brawn knows exactly what he is doing and already commands respect from Lewis as well as Nico- I think this will serve them both tremendously in the races ahead. Unlike Mark and Seb who no one can blame for driving each other off the track now. People forget this is only Lewis second race in that car – I’m certain Rosberg will be fighting at the front but Lewis will regularly be the guy ahead in the coming months. It’s terrific for Mercedes & Nico to have Lewis because he has definitely pushed Nico along already. If Nico were totally honest there have been quite a few races that he did not drive his best over the last 3 years.

Have a great Easter James & fellow readers!


No, sorry if Mark can win GP’s he’s not no.2


Hello ! / he was winning that GP or did you not get that


Great post, well reasoned.

Yes, Happy Easter/Joyeuses Pâques/Buona Pasqua/Feliz Pasqua to all!


hulkenberg to red bull. that would have to be a strong possibility. he would make a good replacement for vettel if he moves on to ferrari.

i think it unlikely that webber will be offered

another season by RB.

Webber needs a change of scenery.


I can definitely see the Hulkenberg move as a possibility.


It’s Kimi to RBR for 2014 and beyond.


I think we need to see Hulk and Bianchi in top teams next year. Maybe in 2 years for Bianchi? Do you see them moving to top teams next year (or at least better teams – mind you, Sauber is already a good team in my view) and if yes, where do you think they could go?


Out of respect to Ron Dennis who lost the 2008 championship and Frank Williams who lost many world championships because they would not give team orders we should insist that team orders be kept to the absolute minimum…


Out of respect to Ron Dennis who lost the 2008 championship….

Out of respect to Ron Dennis,you might like to check your facts before clicking ‘submit’ 🙂


Sadly I am not surprised that Lauda stuck his stupid oar in, somewhat surprised that he did it to his own team. As you say, Ross has 16 Championships, Lauda, zero as a Team Manager…

Webber, LOL, when will the whining stop ? Do people realise that he also had turned up his engine, so lost a straight fight, not one with his hands tied behind his back, as he and his supporters have been keen to insinuate.

He is a Number 2 driver because he cannot pass, defend, or qualify at the sharp end like Seb can. Silverstone is one thing, but his start at Interlagos was utterly unforgivable, he tried to cheat his own teamamte out of a highly deserved, exciting championship, and, all to benifit someone he sees as a friend, with whom he shares a manager.

This has made me appreciate Seb a lot more, and loose all respect for Webber, I hope Heiki gets his seat for the rest of the year, MW can go and play tough guys where he belongs, down under.


Webber cannot pass?

Spa v Alonso around the outside at Eau Rouge. Not bad for a man that can’t pass.


Mark could have driven Vettel off the track at turn 4, where he eventually passed him. Didn’t. Ergo, team man.



About Lewis BBC column being quite personal? I’m not surprised.

Those of us that followed F1 on BBC’s 606 forums can remember the sorts of obnoxious, below board stuff that seemed to be allowed against Lewis, but heavily sanctioned against other drivers. He’s talking to the same demographic, so has to introduce himself in proper detail and be a tad cautious about the reception.


why should be be allowed to overtake, when the points outcome for the team would be the same anyway?

This is such poor logic on so many levels.

1. These awful tyres mean its a long game till the end. Just like Vettel, Rosberg might have been managing his tyres better, taking it a bit easier, so that he could pick up pace at the end and use the fresher tyres….instead he was denied this opportunity.

2. Hamilton was driving embarassingly slow. On the onboards on Rosberg, he was completely off throttle going into T1 about 300m from the corner. Rosberg could have easily passed without causing any harm to anyone. Its totally irrelevant who does the better job in practice and qualifying, I thought the race is what matters?

3. You refer to Mark Webber deflecting attention onto the tyres as lobbing – without dealing with what he said, which was 100% true. All of the drivers are driving at 8/10ths, None of them are racing each other because they are simply driving slow to manage tyres to the end, and it is highly ambiguous who is genuinly faster or slower because of the 8/10ths driving. This was the central theme underlying the various team order decisions, but it is not discussed because you can’t undermine the sport can you.

4. The fallout from this whole thing has been stupid on another level – its the equivalent of Sachsgate, with the media trying to stretch it out as much as possible, creating a narrative that doesn’t exist.

Vettel said himself – he doesn’t care about what other people think, it is an internal issue. Why would he care? He doesn’t owe anything to ‘fans’, whom he’s never met and will never know.

Webber crying about it, when he tried the exact same thing in Silverstone.

In the past when they could drive flat out for the entire race, there was never any ambiguity about who was the quicker driver. Therefore the ‘race until final stop rule’ made sense, it gave both drivers the chance to prove themselves for 70% of the race.

In this Pirelli age, the whole point was to make it ‘unpredictable’ (read artificial), but if you’re killing the team battle at the final stops, well….it makes the Pirelli tyres completely pointless.


This team battle scenario is not new so I am not sure why this has become such a hot topic this season.

Hamilton and Alonso had a great battle on and off the track in Hamilton’s first year in F1. Didn’t Hamilton ignore team orders in qualifying with Alonso when Alonso blocked him and it was reported to the Stewards and Alonso got a penalty. Hamilton did not apologise for that.

Was Hamilton not told to slow down in a race and that Jenson would not pass him. Then Jenson not following team orders attempted to pass him and after wheel to wheel racing for several corners Jenson had to back down.

Also if there was an agreement between team and drivers that they would hold position after final pit stop did Rosberg not disobey this. Rosberg (and not much is being made of this) did overtake Hamilton at least once and Hamilton retook it. Why didn’t Rosberg keep the position? Was it not because Rosberg could not keep the lead that he sought the teams help? I am sure I saw Brawn looking down or holding his head when Hamilton and Rosberg were swapping positions.

Also if Hamilton was saving fuel from lap 25 and Rosberg was not why did Rosberg not capitalise on it earlier. From lap 25 Hamilton was not driving as hard as he could and Rosberg was free to push.

Mercedes could have won the race if they had fuelled the car for him to race the distance and that is what they should do. However it is nice that they did not allow Hamilton to run out of fuel unlike Mclaren in Hamilton’s qualifying.

Rosberg should be out qualifying Hamilton and beating him properly in the race but he did not do so with the advantage he has by being in the team longer etc…

I think Hamilton being there has caused Rosberg to raise his game and that is good for the team.



Red Bull – Horner showed an evident lack of authoritarian leadership last Sunday, and it could cost him and Red Bull in the future. Vettel was okay I feel to do what he did as he was close enough after the final stops, and he is the leader of the team. It is his way or it is the highway. Webber should not be feeling upset because he wasn’t fast enough, or more importantly determined enough to win the race. He may have had this aspect a while back, but not now. The problem that I have with Webber is his ‘child like’ moaning that he always displays in these moments. A 36 year old should be more mature than this. It is time for Webber to either start growing up, or pack his bags and move to another place.

Mercedes – Brawn showed great authoritarian leadership. There was a lot going on, the battle between both Red Bull’s, fuel issues on both cars, particularly on Hamilton’s car, and it would have been easy to get confused at what was happening. The best thing he could do was tell both of his cars to stay in current order, and it was a good decision. 10 out of 10. Hamilton didn’t need to say that he felt his teammate deserved the podium more than him, but it does show a great respect the pair have for each other. Rosberg I feel didn’t really understand that Hamilton was in serious fuel trouble caused by the team, not Hamilton. I am sure both drivers were told later by Brawn on why he made the decision, and I think they will accept it as being the right decision for them and Mercedes. Brawn should be at Mercedes for a while yet.


The only thing I’ll comment on is the statement that “All the money’s in the constructors championship; the drivers is nice to have”.

This is completely untrue. Any of the top teams would trade the constructors for the drivers championship simply becuase it is FAR more pretigious and is the only thing people remember. Since F1 is an advertising driven game, the Driver’s championship is likely worth far more.


A hard cheque in the hand is worth a lot more than a moody drivers champion medal – considering that to have won that title the team will have been on tv more often than not already for their sponsors. I would call the drivers title a very nice to have but still not the main target.

Put it this way – Vettel wins title number 3 – and then drives for Ferrari or McLaren next season – what is that worth to Red Bull?


It’s important to keep opinions and feelings separate from facts…


Unfortunately prestige doesn’t pay the bills, but the higher the team in the constructors championship the more money they get so it’s not hard to see which is more important to the team. However if it is a strong pairing and one of them wins the drivers championship it is most likely that they will also win the constructors championship “as points make prizes.”


The drivers championship is a bonus to the team…and maybe something extra to attract sponsors with the #1 on the car.

At the end of the day, the team wants the WCC over the WDC. ……and there are a lot of $’s backing my opinion up.


But isn’t it true that at RBR the basic salaries are much lower for Webber and Vettel compared to those of other top drivers and the win bonuses make up the rest of the salary. Surely you must expect your drivers to fight for the win if money is at stake as well as 25 points?


Well, you are wrong


So, last day of the season and Ferrari or McLaren are given the choice of 2 outcomes: Win the the DC or the CC and come 2nd in the other, but you can’t win both.

Which do they choose? I think the answer is pretty straightforward.


Its clear they would go for the constructors, drivers championship doesn’t matter at all to them financially.

Ironically, Ferrari gets more than any other team for winning the constructors, so mentioning them is just off the track. You need to familiarise with F1’s rules and traditions.


It’s not straightforward, and that’s the point. Your scenario is an exceptional one, and the whole point of RBR’s early season actions, is to reinforce to its drivers the view that the team comes first. Now, in reality, Horner has also acknowledged that there are going to be times when drivers take matters into their own hands.

But today’s drivers understand that the old days of drivers commanding teams are over. Prost, Senna, Schumacher often (not always) drove faster cars than their competitors. F1 is a lot more competitive now, and team owners want to assert their authority over their drivers – partly because they are pouring the money in.

As James points out, this was an issue of leadership, and nearly a week on, Horner continues to give interviews criticising his drivers’ actions to drive home the point – because RBR want to set the tone within their team for the rest of the season.

They’re effectively saying – It’s not just about what you the driver thinks or wants, what we as a leadership team think matters, and if you don’t agree, then use this week an example of what is going to happen.

The driver has a choice – he can ignore team strategy and instructions – but he risks alienating his team, and in the worst case, risks losing his job in the long run.


Well, what about personal sponsorships, a la M. Schumacher in the heyday? This is not on the official balance of payments, but at the period sited, it must have been a very significant; if you used the modern monetization formulas, which recently, for example, asessed Ferrari as the number one brand in the world, and the amount it monetized that brand at, there seems to be a viable argument here.



I just can’t stop wondering/worrying that Webber’s car won’t be as competitive the rest of the season.

But I hope I’m just being paranoid?


I am sure if RBR are not doing very well in the WCC then Webber will do quite well.

Last year was funny when Vettel had the new type alternator which failed and Mark had the old spec alternator and finished in the points. Some days it pays to be the No 2 driver/ car but most days not.


Probably the most sensible article I’ve read this week on the whole episode, well written JA. It left me thinking though that it would be terrific to see pit to car radio banned. Imagine 2 drivers being left to pretty much their own devices when it came to race strategy and all the team could do would be to hang out a board every lap. It used to work in the ‘old ‘ days 🙂


I agree – radio for safety related messages only.


After the race the drivers can tell us all in a press conference so we the fans will know everything that took place. Driver won´t keep their mouth shut specially if they are angry about something

Craig in Manila



Redbull tried to undercut webber at the last stop and just missed out as they came out side by side

Horner can’t be accused of being weak when he knows vettel will fight for the drivers championship and those 7 points could prove vital, he was never going to be hard on vettel over the team radio

Marko wants webber out, possibility for one of his young guns, this was confirmed during close season when he criticised webber, we all know Marko would have been secretly delighted about vettel winning, therefore trying to deflect the attention to mercedes with his comments about number 1 drivers

Webber will win the odd race and will be off at the end of the year

Ross Brawn played it safe, he knew he needed third and fourth for the championship, Rosberg wasn’t going to beat the redbull’s, as usual whatever happens Lauda has something to say, I do wonder what he would have said if Ross had allowed the Mercedes to race and both ending in the barrier

Finally, I will remember the Malaysia Grand Prix as the day Vettel proved he will be the ideal Ferrari driver, when this is who knows, but Alonso must be feeling the pressure as he needs a world championship sooner rather than later


but Alonso must be feeling the pressure as he needs a world championship sooner rather than later…

I don’t particularly like FA, but I can’t think of anyone who could have done a better job than him at Ferrari in the last 2 or 3 seasons. Are you are seriously suggesting that SV would have won his last 3 WDC, were he not driving the Red Bull?


Vettel ideal for Ferrari? Vettel will leave Ferrari if he can´t win the championship within 2 seasons there.


I think the most telling thing of the way RedBull is servicing SVs ambitions is the message from SV over the radio:

“He is too slow, move him out of the way”

This demonstrates SVs attitude towards his team mate and how RedBull are going along with it. I think it was on the same track last year that SV insulted Kartikayen calling him a cucumber. He may be a fast driver and 3 times world champion but his behaviour towards the other drivers shows why he will only ever get accepted but a limited number of fans. And that’s sad.


Uhmmm, how exactly the RedBull went along with Vettel in “getting Webber out of the way”?


By not telling him to keep his mouth shut and respect his team mate? By not telling to give back the lead to MW before the end of the race?

Still, the issue for me is SV’s ignorant attitude.


It was an ignorant attitude and they didn’t service him, the facts were there, they were told to dry at a certain speed and as he said, Mark was too slow, even Hamilton was catching up.


Love it! That’s what F1 needs: conflict between drivers and team management and lots of controversy. Nothing better to spice up this years championship!


Good article James.

But what’s most visible to me here are the double standards that exist in F1.

Like you have mentioned Webber is not without sin as he has broken team orders, more times than (and before) Vettel has. (as far as I’m aware).

So why is it only Vettel that has to face the consequences? Is it because he’s a better driver and more feared by everyone?

Why is it only when Vettel breaks team orders that it’s condemned all over the media but when Webber does the same there’s not as much said and sometimes his decision to go against team orders is even applauded?

Why does Vettel have to apologize to the team when Webber never has for breaking orders?

Why has Vettel broken the trust between team mates when it is Webber’s breaking of team orders that could have lead to this?

How can anyone, especially Webber expect Vettel to follow team orders when he himself didn’t two races back?

This whole incident has been blown out of proportion, mainly because many people are not happy about Vettel’s successes.


It’s todo with a sense of fairplay.

Turkey 2010. Vettel caused the crash yet makes crazy signs aimed at Webber. Horner cuddles Vettel on the pit wall and seems to blame Webber only back tracking after Redbulls own fans complain.

Silverstone 2010. Redbull removes the improved front wing from Webbers car and hands to Vettel.

Silverstone 2011. Widely mis represented. The only team order Webber was given was to “maintain the gap”. This was only given after Vettel got on the radio and told the team in a thinly veiled threat to “be wise” . The team responds with “we understand what you mean and are controlling the situation”.

Basically Vettel issuing team orders from his car. IMO Webber pushed it as far as he dare racing just behind Vettel till the end of the race. Webber would not have been afforded the same “protection” if he had gone the whole hog and actually overtaken Vettel

Brazil 2012. Fair enough Webber did nothing to help Vettel.

Sepang 2013. Vettel overtakes Webber when his guard is down. Unlike other events this is real loss of points for one of the drivers. Vettel apologises.

Just imagine that someone stole something from you, they admit there guilt, but do not return or compensate you for what they stole. Webber is supposed to accept that.

It’s Redbulls double standards when it comes to the supposedly equal treatment of there drivers which is problem.


webber had already taken the safer choice of the harder slower tyres as he wouldn’t be overtaken ..not much he could do anyway



Sepang 2013. Webber did not have his guard down, watch it on youtube from onboard camera.

Webber came out from pits, almost side by side, and they raced over the course of 2 laps. So spare the BS about Webber being caught unaware. Vettel beat him fair and square.

Silverstone 2011. Webber stated that he tried to overtake and would have if he could. Difference was Vettel didnt open a gap, even on worn tyres.



Oh Please!!!

Fair and Square.!!

Being told by the team twice over the radio that your team mate will not over take you as no bearing on you whatsoever I suppose.

How was he meant to judge if Vettel was seriously going to overtake him, especially as they had agreed pre race that the final pitstop would be the end of team racing.

The fact Webber pulled up short from running Vettel wide at the point of the overtake meant that Webber had stopped racing.

On top of this why then as Vettel apologised.?


Team orders:

(1) Issued by the team, during the race, without any pre-agreement between the drivers, to deliberately favour the ‘#1’ driver

(2) Agreed between the team and the drivers before the race, i.e. “You can race until the last pitstop, then whoever is ahead gets the win, and whoever is in 2nd stays there”

The former is not really sporting, as it favours one driver over the other. This is the Ferrari standard. RBR claim they don’t favour one driver over the other. I’m not convinced.

The latter is fair, particularly when both drivers agree to the conditions before the lights go out. Both drivers have an equal chance to win, but to save the machinery, there is a point in the race before the end where WCC points take precedence and the drivers hold station.

It appears that the latter scenario was applicable at the Sepang race. Seb, upon seeing that the agreed outcome wasn’t going to favour him, then changed the rules without telling the rest, effectively robbing Mark of the win he deserved. This is cheating, and that is why Seb is rightly being castigated for his actions.


I think the relationship between Webber and Vettel has gone down hill since Vettel veered into him knocking them both off the track with Vettel retiring. What Vettel did was a blatant disregard of team orders, and Horner should have made him give the place back and hold position under those circumstances. One thing is for sure there will be no respect there now despite what they say, and team orders will not be worth a red cent.


Agree on every point.

Any comments Contributors?

Before I forget, I’m really glad I found this site- by far the best in F1, regardless of language. Congrats to James and his crew!!


The LH situation and SV situation are completely differant. To compare them is just plain daft. Mercedes are trying to build a successful team and needed both cars to finish. There was nothing to gain by risking a battle between the two Merc drivers.The Vettel is sinario iis in a differant league. I hope that the whole season goes wrong for him. The Ferrari situation is also interesting. Can you imagine if he had done this to Alonso?? I believe that Vettel,s stock value has nose dived! I think the Ferrari board will have observed what went on and made up their minds regarding his future!


Agree that Merc needed to see the cars home. Even with a 3-4 finish in Malaysia, they still lie 4th in the WCC table.

As always, finishes, podiums and top-5’s are very important in the final reckoning. Two races in, here’s how they stack up:

Team – Finishes, Podiums, Top Fives

RBR – 4,3,3

Lot – 4,1,1

Fer – 3,1,3

Mer – 3,1,3

Interesting stat: the only four teams to have four race finishes are RBR, Lotus, Marussia and Caterham! And if we say zero non-finishes, then you can add Sauber to the mix (3 finishes b/c of Hulkenberg’s non-start in AUS).


The sad thing about RBR is Helut Marko. When will he leave.


Prbably later than Ross Brawn leaves Mercedes.


Good article James!

I am a Fernando fan and this is just my opinion – I don’t dislike Sebastian. Seb is a world class driver and “probably” the best overall package today in F1 but like all great drivers, he wants to win at any cost. Fernando does that too and I don’t see a problem in it. I feel sorry for Mark but I guess he is the oldest driver on the grid and should know how F1 works better than anyone else.

The way I see it – Sebastian knew Fernando was out and wanted the extra 7 points. I am sure he didn’t even think about Mark when he made the move but there is the difference between Seb and Fernando. In Hockenheim 2010, Fernando could have made a risky move on Felipe but chose to use team orders so that both cars finish the race, the team gets 43 points and he gets the win.

I disagree with people who say Fernando needs team orders to overtake teammates. He doesn’t but he knows it is the best way to avoid a collision. I think the only problem with the move Sebastian made on Mark was that it was risky. He came too close to the pit walls doing 320 kmph. I know he is a racing driver but safety is bigger than any championship or win or a sport for that matter.


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.


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.

Alexander Supertramp

Couldn’t agree more..




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 !


But the problem was fuel, not tyres.

Alexander Supertramp

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


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.


Lewis is great too. It’s just that he finds it harder to raise himself above Rosberg in these circumstances


Hi James, I am a great fan of your site. But I would like you to know that the level of Bias that u show when talking about Lewis is disgraceful. Everybody heard it loud and clear from Ross Brawn that Hamilton was asked to slow down due to fuel management and not tyres.

Secondly, I don`t know which statistics u are using to say Rosberg is faster than Lewis. Since when in F1 do u qualify in front of your team mate but British journalist still come out with theories to prove that eventhough you are infront, you are slower than your team mate.

When Button won the season opener last year, the title of your article was ” Button gets the bragging right in McLaren Garage” . Sincerely James, I would like you to apply for the job of a team principal and will see how much you really do understand about F1 cars or its just dislike that you have for Hamilton.

If Hamilton would have made the decision that Alonso made on Sunday I am sure you would have asked for his driving permit to be redrawn instead you want us to believe that it was just one off. If it would have been Hamilton we would have read an article on all the misjudgments he has made through out his career.


I think you have got completely the wrong impression

I didn’t say Rosberg was faster, I am not suggesting Hamilton is worse than him

You should read other articles I’ve written here to see that I have
Huge respect for Lewis. Sad you see only a very narrow view


So now after all the British journalists saying Hamilton would thrash Rosberg this year… the official excuse now if that doesn’t happen is it’s because of the Pirelli’s??



Which journo had said Hamilton would thrash Rosberg?

Seems to me that someone has exaggerated “beat” into “thrash”. They’re separate words for a reason.


The tyres are just an excuse, Rosberg is just plain faster than Hamilton wet or dry.


How exactly James? So what do you say about when Jenson the messiah of tyre management was struggling with tyres and set-up last year?

In Malaysia,I dont recall Rosberg making one less tyre stop compared to Lewis. The season is only two races old to allow an objective comparism to be made between Rosberg and Lewis.

Great article though!


James, Hamilton is in a new team, with a new car.

You seem to come across as having little respect when you write about LH in your articles.

I thought it was a JB over LH thing.

But he has moved on and now adapting to a new car.

Yet it’s as though you still feel he is not to be admired, in the way you seem to have for JB.

I think LH tyre management will prove you wrong. (He’s very adaptable.)

Please try writing about him as an F1 racer and leave out the bias over tones.

Otherwise great article.


I see your point, Cliff. I think the real problem with LH was fuel. I also expect him to come on top, but he needs to work harder in order to find a way with those tyres.


JB was struggling to get the front and rear tyre temps to match. He took some wrong routes.

End of season the tyre choices were much more conservative anyway

I never said he was the messiah, those are your words


James, thank you for reply. But i don’t understand. so you don’t think he will be able to adapt. is that what you are implying here? Many thanks again.


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


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


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.


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..


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

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!


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.


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.”


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


Webber’s place, more likely.


“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.


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…


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.


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.


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.



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?



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.


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.



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.



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


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.


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.


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.


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



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


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.


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.


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!


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

Now return the 7 points to Mark.


“…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.


+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!


My thoughts exactly….seems he can’t win whatever he does.


How can he with the likes of James around?

It’s just so sad….

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).


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!!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 !!


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.


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.


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.”


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 !


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.



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.


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


@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.


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).


” …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.


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.


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.

Bring Back Murray

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


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


I just want to say: good write up!

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


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.


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.


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.


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


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….


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….


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.


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…


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.


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


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.


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 ).


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


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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Good fortune!!!… Ha… Ha Ha Ha…


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.


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.


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.


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.

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.


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



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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.