An uncomfortable truth endemic to Formula One that is the fact that nearly all “great” champions happen to be ruthless, petulant brats. Today Vettel decided to join the likes of Senna, Schumacher and Prost, thus admonishing any gentlemanly “nice guy” charades.
The good, the bad and the ugly. Today, we saw all three facets of Formula One. Brilliant wheel-to-wheel racing, team orders and their disobeyal.
The problem (or appeal of, depending on your perspective) with Formula One is that the sport is designed around a conflict of interest. It is in each of the individual driver’s interest to gain the maximum 25 points, whereas it is in the team’s interest to gain the maximum 43 points.
We saw incredible racing between both the Red Bull drivers for the lead and both Mercedes drivers for the final podium. In both cases, the team did what was in its interests – to safely maintain track position. The team remains oblivious to the positioning of the 1-2 or 3-4, as long as it is a 1-2 or 3-4. Any wheel to wheel racing between its two identical cars constructed collectively by the might of a hundreds team members is an unnecessary risk, leading to situations like Turkey 2010 where points are lost due to uncontrollable driver egos. As I said rather cheekily on twitter, the heart-rates on the pit-wall must’ve been sky high.
BREAKING: Christian Horner and Adrian Newey’s average heart rate is now 210 beats per minute #F1— Literal F1 (@LiteralF1) March 24, 2013
Truth be told, the team in reality has pretty much no control over a drivers action on the track. They can only chose the repurcutions of the actions, not the actions themselves. Today, saw two drivers take the diametrically opposite stance. Both Vettel and Rosberg were specifically told to maintain position and not overtake their team mates. Rosberg obeyed. Vettel didn’t.
Rosberg was clearly frustrated and told the team to “remember this one”. But post race he did say that he understood it (team orders) go both ways and he drives for Mercedes. Lewis was a top gentleman on the podium and said “it’s not the best feeling standing here. If I’m honest I feel Nico should be standing here.”
Vettel has apologised and should rightly be slapped on the wrist by the team. But it doesn’t change the result. Vettel earned 7 points over Webber and who knows how crucial those will be come Brazil.