Vettel the 'reckless egotist'?

2013-03-25 13:31

SEPANG, Malaysia - World champion Sebastian Vettel will find out over the few weeks just how much his reputation has been ruined by his controversial victory at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix.

The future will also determine just where the line is for drivers to compete for themselves or for their team.

An exciting race became a footnote when Vettel ignored Red Bull team orders and passed Mark Webber for victory with 10 laps left. Behind them, Lewis Hamilton placed third because Mercedes partner Nico Rosberg stayed behind, as as ordered by their team.


Vettel eventually apologised for his move as Red Bull officials were clearly furious with him because they had told their drivers to hold their positions after the final pit stop to conserve the cars and get maximum points.

After all, Vettel ruined an all but assured one-two three years ago in Turkey with a risky passing manoeuvre, and team officials did not want to take any risks knowing there is not much love lost between their drivers.

That will be even less the case now, and Vettel's move only seemed to confirm that the intelligent and down-to-earth man becomes ruth- and reckless when it comes to winning in an F1 car.

Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) said: "Sebastian Vettel must now live with the image of being a reckless egotist who only remembers the team when it is to his advantage,"

With 17 of 19 races still left in the season, Red Bull can not be happy and can't afford an even further deteriorating relationship between their drivers.

British newspaper The Guardian wrote, "Red Bull rivals descend into civil war," while Germany's Bild said "he now has the biggest enemy in his own team."


Red Bull motorsport chief Helmut Marko said the situation was "out of control" and team principal Christian Horner said that Vettel will have to explain himself before the next race April 14 in China.

The rivalry could now be as explosive as that between Didier Pironi and Gilles Villeneuve or Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

Team orders were just as much on the agenda, and whether the Malaysian GP orders would still fit the category of real racing.

Drivers are signed and paid by teams, and there is always a conflict of interest because F1 has a drivers' championship and a constructors' championship. The former carries more prestige, the latter determines income generated by the various rights in the sport.

The SZ spoke of a sport "which requires team work but also teaches its protagonists biggest possible egotism," and some pundits, while not happy with the incident itself, pointed out that such manoeuvres were a reason why Vettel has three world titles.

Red Bull and Mercedes have no team order who is their number one, but they still had an interest in bringing both cars home safely instead of letting their drivers loose against each other in races.

Webber said: "I'm a huge sports fan and I think we want to see people give their best to the end. It's extremely unusual to have both cars at the end of a race together. It's part of F1.

"I think that when you have 500 employees and it was nip and tuck for Sebastian and I to be in the fence in turn one, (the fan is) happy, but is the factory happy, are we happy?"


While Australian online bookmakers sportsbet.com.au refunded all bets on Webber to win the race, the racer suggested that as much aspurity is an essence of every sport, it was a "naive" approach because "it is impossible for everybody to understand everything" in a sport.

Vettel remained a little more vague on the issue and it remains to be seen whether would allow Webber in a future race to pass him for victory to make up for Sunday.

He said: "You have a certain responsibility for the team as well and a lot of people in the factory working all year and obviously you have two cars and I think you have to take that into account as well,"

Stay with Wheels24 for the 2013 Formula 1 season – fresh reports every day.


  • jono.qmann - 2013-03-25 13:45

    the way he celebrated was also a bit childish! i like how webber crossed the line though!

  • Sameer Baijnath - 2013-03-25 13:50

    All I can say is that F1 will benefit from this, more viewers will tune in to see the rivalry between Mark and Seb as well as Nico & Hamilton. Unfortunately they will be dissapointed with the 1st because Mark will never be on the same playing field as Vettel unless we remove Vettels rear or front wing for the rest of the season. Imagine how stupid the entire RedBull team will look if Seb wins the WDC this year by a small margin, that is the measure of a true champion, foresight and a burning desire to always be at the front, always thinking about the end game. Ask Alonso, as a WDC he was thinking about this years championship, looked silly in the end (easy decision to come in but determined decision to stay out in wet conditions with a damged wing) but if he managed for another 4 laps could have been fighting for the win at the end of the race.

      Justin Rose - 2013-03-25 20:25

      Nice to see comments with some thought and insight. What I say about the whole thing, we will see at the end of the 2013 WDC what the margin is and how important the 8 points is. Webber wasn't cruising, like he and RB claims, did his fastest lap of the race the lap before Vettel passed him - go check it out Lap 45

  • Robbie Crouch - 2013-03-25 14:15

    It is supposed to be racing! Go Sebastian!

      Louis Venter - 2013-03-25 15:57

      Agree 100% Robbie!. Why have a 56 lap race and after the last pitstop on lap 42 tell the racers not to race anymore. 14 Laps left looking at cars staying in the same order?? That is pathetic and stupid! In any case when you look at the lap times Mark Webber was not slowing down at all as it is now claimed. Lets listen to what Ayrton Senna one of the best drivers EVER said. If you get a chance to overtake you must take it, if you don't, then you shouldn't be racing. I rest my case.

      Martin Gee Godfrey - 2013-03-25 17:17

      Again, it is the stupid rules that the FIA lay down that teams can only have so many engines in a season. Similarly, Hamilton felt embarrased to be third because a team order forbade his team mate with the better car on the day to overtake. Why call it racing if they are not allowed to?

  • Albert Lategan - 2013-03-25 14:45

    If you want a risk free sport, become a philatelist. F1 is motor racing, it is risky, the object of the exercise is to win. I get the impression that if F1 bosses had their way, they would have a 50 to 70 lap float procession around the track, and afterwards they would lock their pretty shiny cars in the garage until next time – hogwash. If you don’t want your shiny car bumped, don’t get into F1. If I was a fan who paid a bag full of dollars to watch a race, I would be seriously peeved at having to watch a procession instead of a race. Down with team orders, may the fastest on the day win.

  • grant.henry1 - 2013-03-25 14:58

    The only way to stop team orders, and aslo save money like the FIA is trying to do, only one car per team.

  • Hansie En Elmien Myburgh - 2013-03-25 16:14

    And nothing is said about Red Bull mistakenly brought Vettel in too early to change to slicks. That's why he lost 1st place to Webber. Not because Webber was the better driver. GO VETTEL!!!!!!!

  • archmichael - 2013-03-25 16:28

    Funny how Mark Webber conveniently forgets Silverstone 2011 where he also disobeyed team orders numerous times to get a "one up" on Vettel. I couldn't be more pleased for Vettel's win. That's what champions do, they win. Mark on the other hand is a nothing, always has been a nothing, that's not going to change. I think he should just leave the sport, Red bull should get Hulkenberg to drive for them and the team competition will be so much better and thrilling.

      Sameer Baijnath - 2013-03-25 16:47

      Could not agree more, Hulkenberg is the next big star, watch him now and in the future, made of the right stuff - give him a Redbull and even Vettel may have to move aside - LOL...

  • Mark Singh Singh - 2013-03-25 16:48

    I think Vettel is an incredibly talented driver and does not require preferential treatment to beat Webber but he showed a very unsporting side when he decided to race Webber in spite of the team asking both drivers to turn the engines down. He is certainly not a team player but a self centred egotist. Webber is not in the same league as Vettel and Vettel should have allowed him to have this victory.

      archmichael - 2013-03-25 17:21

      Vettel is the team...What's good for him is good for the team as a whole. I recall Vettel getting a penalty for holding the entire field up(Slowing down the opposition while under safety car conditions) allowing webber to build up a substantial lead. Now a guy out for himself wouldn't have done that. After 3 championships(In a row!!!) I think Vettel deserves the title as "Number 1" in the team.

      Nikolai R.D. Kaufmann - 2013-03-25 17:25

      Sorry Mark, I gotta disagree, this is racing. You want it, take it. Vettel took it and left Mark in his dust. I'm neither fan nor foe of either driver, but commend Seb for doing what is in his nature. Winning races. Same goes for Merc, Rosberg was denied, I don't see why he should pay the price for Hamilton's engineers having equipped him with the lesser car. Malaysia shows that team orders can be good and bad in both equal measure. Either way, we as the fans would have lost out. It irks me that a race is deemed "over" after the final pitstop. That should never or rather should never be the case, the race only ends when the the fat chequered lady sings.

      Sipho Marete - 2013-03-27 08:28

      @Mark Singh Singh - I agree with you 100% - If vettel cannot obey team orders, he should go race in a championship where there are only single drivers. In ALMOST every motor racing championship where teams compete, team orders will be found. Any "fan" who doesn't that doesn't know motorsport.

  • Justin Rose - 2013-03-25 20:33

    Why did MW do his fastest 2 laps on lap 44, 45 if he had he engine turned down. Vettel still managed to overtake him on 46. Just putting it out there - his words and actions don't reconcile

  • Oscar Twentytwo - 2013-03-26 10:02

    Seems many are missing the point.Mark was fast enough but he set the car to limited performance as per the teams instructions. I loathe Vettel but at the end of the day its racing and if you're not there to win then whats the point. This "team order" stuff is a load of cock-and-bull. Why have an individual drivers championship if the outcome is not based on the individual driver - surely your number 1 oponent is your team mate like in Moto GP?

  • Mike Hosking - 2013-03-26 12:05

    Pure racer... You go Seb! Nobody says a word about Webber slowing the whole pack down and continuing to push Vettel back into the Mercs, for the whole of the second stint? When asked to go faster, he just stayed at the same pace? So Vettel must just sit and wear down his tyres and stress his engine, while Webber plays silly games, with Vettel's car and position? Uh-uh... Webber is a prima-donna, who has hardly achieved anything, other than to drive for Red Bull. What major support has he been in any of Vettel's championships? How many times has Vettel had to outrace him, to ensure he could stay at the top of the points? Mark is a sore loser and a poor team mate, I'm sorry to say. He knows Vettel was faster and could make better use of the car - just look at what he achieved coming out of his last pit stop. He pulled out over a second on Hamilton, who tucked right up behind him, as he exited the pits! In one lap and with Hamilton having DRS!... THat was pehnominal driving and just the absolute proof that he deserved to win, as he was the only one (other than Rossberg) who was really willing to race hard. Okay, maybe Perez had the odd moment, where he tried to fling the McLaren around a bit... Maybe ruthless, maybe egotistical and maybe without too much concern for Webber's "feelings" and ego, but for heaven's sake people... This is Formula One!!

  • Julius Klokow - 2013-03-26 17:09

    Sebastian Vettel was fastest and deserved to win! Congratulations to him for bringing integrity back to the sport of F1 racing. Where are the days of good sportsmanship without team orders and interference?

  • Ricky Singh - 2013-03-26 21:33

    What is this idiocy with team orders.This is the Big Daddy of racing so no pally pally.We want out and out competition at the highest level.I agree that we do take orders but not at the risk of reducing F1 to a team manager with a computer.Let the drivers race like in the good ol' days of Senna and Hunt.Va Va Voom

  • Dave Hardman - 2013-03-26 22:07

    Times change, some years ago Scmuck was the one with the ego, recklessly bashing into Hill, Villeneuve, Coulthard and the rest. But those days Schmuk was the ONE giving the orders. Now everyone has an ego the size of Texas and only Alonso Demands to be number one

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