Vettel won the Malaysian Grand Prix ahead of Mark Webber but all the attention will be on in the manner in which he won.
Webber was leading the race ahead of Vettel after the final round of pit stops and both Webber and Vettel were given instructions to maintain their positions.
However Vettel chose to ignore team orders and decided to make a move on Webber down the home straight and nearly colliding with the pit wall. A few corners later Webber almost seem to give up the fight and Vettel eventually passed him and then went on to win the race.
Immediately after the race you could see Webber’s frustrations and the awkward conversations before they went onto the podium.
Was Vettel Right?
Simply No. You can call him spoilt, selfish and arrogant for what he did today, showing a lack of respect to Webber and the team. If your boss tells you to do something, then surely you must follow their instructions and not do what you want.
Vettel has always seen to be favoured by Red Bull and there has been past incidents where Webber was given instruction to hold back from challenging Vettel, and completely agreed to it.
It wouldn’t surprise me if later on in the season, Vettel is leading a race and Webber returns the favour and decides to challenge him or even overtake him.
Christian Horner has said that they allowed their drivers to race until the last pit stop and from then on they set out team orders because they were worried about tyre wear on their cars.
This is reasonable because you don’t want the drivers risk crashing into each other and also they had to make sure Mercedes were kept behind them.
It was interesting when team principal Christian Horner was asked why he didn’t ask Vettel to give the place back. He responded
“Do you honestly think if we had told him to slow down and give the place back he’d have given it back”. “There’s no point”.
This is surprising because at Mercedes, team boss Ross Brawn told Nico Rosberg not to overtake with some authority a few times and he listened. Why didn’t Christian Horner do the same thing? By saying “Seb, this is getting silly” is not really an order to stop Vettel. Could Christian Horner been more forceful? Yes, definitely. Would Vettel listen even if he did? I’m not so sure.
Similar Situation at Mercedes
Nico Rosberg frustrations could be heard over the radio about him being able to go much faster but again team orders were put in place to keep him behind Lewis Hamilton.
Team boss Ross Brawn has said that both cars needed to save fuel so it was pointless in them fighting, and even Hamilton acknowledged after the race that Rosberg deserved the podium instead of him.
I’m not sure how much fuel Rosberg had left but it would have been interesting to see if he could of even challenged the Red Bulls. They both finished 8 and 9 seconds behind Webber at the end, and this was with Hamilton going very slowly.
The difference between the Mercedes and Red Bull situation is that Rosberg and Hamilton are good friends off the track and respect each other. They both grew up together from their karting days and now live in the same apartment block in Monte Carlo. It’s very clear Vettel and Webber don’t get along.
Should Team Orders Be Banned
The ultimate question again is should team orders be banned again. Team orders were not allowed a few years ago but after Ferrari tried to secretly allow Alonso to pass Massa, this rule was removed.
The argument for team orders is that it helps and protects the team. If one car is faster, they could easily let it pass without risking causing an accident. Also one car can help another by holding their competitors back but I think it’s more about ensuring both cars finish the race safely without incident.
However team orders do not promote racing. It’s not fun to watch as a fan essentially four cars just coast around the track. Let’s be honest here, even though what Vettel did was wrong, it did provide some excitement to the end of the race.
We all want to see Vettel vs Webber and Hamilton vs Rosberg racing wheel to wheel but it will never happen as the team is always put first because a lot of money comes from winning constructors championship. This is why it sometimes feels that races are ‘manufactured’ because drivers are not given a opportunity to race each other to see which one is the best.
At the end of the day I think they should be banned because we all want to see the best drivers race against each other and not parade laps around the track. Let me know in the comments whether you think team orders should be banned.
- Vettel apologises to Webber for pass (bbc.co.uk)
- Vettel ignores team orders to win (bbc.co.uk)
- Sebastian Vettel faces Red Bull rap after edging out Mark Webber in fiery Malaysian Grand Prix (metro.co.uk)