Thursday, 11 April 2013

The Red Bull Situation

"Multi 21 Seb"
In the three week hiatus since the Malaysian GP, you would have thought Christian Horner and/or Dr Helmut Marko would have dealt with the current divisions within their team.

Of course, this isn't the first time that the pair have clashed. A rookie Vettel crashed into Webber in a wet Fuji in 2009, the pair collided memorably in Turkey a year later, and there have been a number of instances where Vettel and Webber have not exactly seen eye-to-eye. Webber especially seems to believe the team is on Vettel's side, Silverstone 2010 springs to mind where the team took Webber's new front wing, giving it to Vettel who had broken his. Webber went on to win the race, "not bad for a number two driver".

However the most recent example is perhaps the most interesting. After a dominant performance from Vettel in qualifying, he began the race strongly. Some clever tyre changes in mixed conditions gave Webber the lead, and he just about held the position following the final round of pitstops. Now Webber had been led to believe that that was that, and he would lead Vettel home to a Red Bull 1-2. Clearly this didn't happen. Despite calls from the team, Vettel broke the "multi 21"call from his team and overtook his team mate. Their fractious relationship may just have broken.

After the race Vettel came out and apologised to Webber and the team for breaking team orders. Vettel even claimed that the win "should have been Marks". Debate raged on, but you felt that would be that from the two, who would have been wise to keep a low profile. Some argued Red Bull should drop Vettel, while others felt as a racer he had to make the pass, no matter what the team wanted.

Feeling the pressure?
Recently, Vettel has effectively retracted those statements. He firstly clarified his apology, saying that he "doesn't apologise for winning". Next he said if he had to be in the situation he would choose the same root, because Mark didn't deserve. He then pointed to Brazil 2012, where Webber's driving could have lost Vettel the world title. Compared to Massa's help for Alonso, Webber was practically driving for another team. Vettel argued that given Webber's indiscretions, why should he obey team orders for him. Christian Horner then announced, under the guidance of owner Dietrich Mateschitz, that Red Bull would no longer being using team orders.

As an F1 fan, this is excellent news. On his day Mark Webber is more than a match for Sebastian Vettel and it will be great to see a real intense intra-team rivalry. Will it spread to the garage as well? It could see one of the drivers massively struggling with set-up but they will have no help from their team mate. The best outcome of this is that they both fight to the end in every race and view each other as rivals, not friends. If the Red Bull proves to be the class of the field again, then it could be the only thing keeping it interesting.

My personal view on team orders, is that they shouldn't be used at this point in the season, and that therefore that Vettel was wrong to ignore them. But the implications of his actions could make an excellent season, and perhaps the Webber-Vettel rivalry will go down as one of the greats, alongside Senna-Prost, Piquet-Mansell, Villeneuve-Pironi and Alonso-Hamilton.