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In a sport where controversy is never too far away, it still came as a surprise that team orders caused such a drama in just the second event. The two top teams implemented team orders, and one came through respectfully whilst the other imploded dramatically.
Vettel’s desire to win is unquestionable, and is a major bearing to why he is a triple world champion and whilst it has normally come across well, it came out in full force in Sepang in a Schumacher-esqe style. It’s a mentality which would come hand in hand with taking out an opponent to win a world championship, or parking in a corner to stop rivals completing a qualifying lap. It was selfish and disrespectful, and of that there can be no denial. But these are elite racing drivers, who have given their lives to win and have their names in bright lights. It may have been wrong of Vettel, but it is not surprising. Schumacher would have done the same thing, and I imagine to so would have Alonso. With championships recently been decided by just a handful of points, the seven points from second to first is a handy leg-up that few would be able to refuse.
It effectively ends Mark Webber’s chances of ever becoming a world champion, with a team now unable to be able to claim an equal footing. Most people suspected that the triple world champion was a de facto number one, but Malaysia’s events shows that it is Vettel’s team, and that he can - within rights – can do whatever he wants.
Punishment will be given to Sebastian Vettel for his actions, and rightly so, but calls for a race ban are widely off the mark, and would make no sense for Red Bull. Even if he wasn’t a world champion, and perhaps this was the other way around, it still would be stupid for them to do. Red Bull are here to win world championships, and the best chance for them to do that is to have the best two drivers at their disposal in their cars for all 19 races. Taking one of them out of the car for a rush of blood one afternoon would be only weakening themselves.
It will be extremely interesting to see what is said when the press poke and prod around the main protagonists in three weeks’ time in China. The teams’ image has been tarnished, but especially because of how Mercedes and Ross Brawn treated a similar situation at the same time. The most noticeable difference has to be how the two drivers respected their respective bosses, and that I think is the most damaging aspect for Red Bull.
Rosberg’s underlying respect for Ross Brawn is what ultimately stopped him from attempting to pass Hamilton, and in return respect for Rosberg has grown, putting the teams desire in front of his own. Vettel’s disrespect for his team, and especially Horner was obvious and seemingly guilt free as he put his famous his finger in the air post-race.
Rosberg is under pressure this year by having by far his most competitive teammate, and has impressed me by keeping him in sight in both races this year. The opportunity to be able to beat him to a podium must have been so tempting, and would have been a nice opportunity to prove to so many doubters that he might just be the world class driver he’s always threatened to be. Next race marks the year anniversary of his first race win, and I’m sure he’ll want to keep us his impressive start to the year.