|By Editor - 25 March 2013|
And what a scintillating Grand Prix it was. For Formula 1 fans, the drama that unfolded at the closing stages of the Malaysian Grand Prix was absolutely riveting to watch. From Mark showing Sebastian his own version of 'the finger', to Lewis being visibly upset over robbing his friend of a podium, to Mark Webber throwing his hands up, staring daggers at Sebastian exclaiming: "Mult-21 Seb...Yeah Multi-21!"
The 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix will be known for the team orders debacle that affected, not one, but two big Formula 1 teams, Red Bull and Mercedes.
The case of Webber vs Vettel/Horner/Marko has been raging on since 2009, when Dr Marko introduced his protege into a Red Bull seat. At Mark Webber's first win for Red Bull at the 2009 German Grand Prix, Mark's partner Anne said that the post-race celebration was more like a wake than a party. Fast forward to the 2010 British GP when the team showed preferential treatment by giving Sebastian Mark's updated front wing, having destroyed his own in free practice. Then again to Turkey 2010 when Sebastian attempted to muscle Mark off the track causing a collision. Even though Sebastian caused the accident, he made a gesticulation that Mark was 'crazy.' Mark paid the favour back last weekend, by giving Sebastian a one finger salute.
It is no surprise that team orders and inter-team rivalry has raised it's ugly head again at the Red Bull camp.
What is a surprise was Ross Brawn's decision to shackle a fast charging Nico Rosberg to the rear end of Lewis Hamilton's W04. Lewis was short fueled but Nico was not, so Rosberg had the equipment to keep Red Bull honest (not that they needed the extra motivation). In the last remaining laps when Lewis had to backed off to a snail's pace, it was excruciating to see Nico forced to slow down to a crawl just to remain behind his teammate.
So who was wrong?
* It was not Mark Webber - he was robbed of a win.
* It was not Sebastian Vettel - he is a racing driver so he should be allowed to race. Well, he might be a little at fault.
* It was not Lewis Hamilton - was short fueled, AND he was clearly upset for Nico (well done)
* It was not Nico Rosberg - he was robbed of a podium
The people who were in the wrong are the team principals, Christian Horner and Ross Brawn.
This is because both had put a stop to "racing." Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motor racing and when drivers are not allowed to race, then you would be hard pressed calling a grand prix race, "a race."
Christian Horner must take the responsibility for asking both his drivers not to race. Mark Webber stated that he actually wanted to race, but was told to hold station. Vettel did what Vettel does best, race. Mark held a four second lead after the final pit stop and he was on fresher tyres. This lead was artificially reduced to zero when Christian had ask Mark to turn down his engine. Had Mark been able to race, it would have been a sweet sweet victory - for Mark and for F1 fans.
Ross Brawn made one of the silliest calls we've seen in the history of Formula 1. He did this by asking Rosberg to stay behind a flailing Hamilton. Having short fueled Hamilton was also a big mistake. However, here is why the decision was so silly: What if Lewis Hamilton had just enough fuel to make it to the end of the race, but had to drive around the track at 60 mph? Would Ross have instructed Nico to drive at 60 mph as well just to stay behind Lewis? By Brawn's reasoning: YES! In effect, Ross Brawn asked one of his drivers to stay behind another car which was damaged (in this case, short fueled). Totally incredulous!
So what are the consequences?
For Christian - not much. He is the team boss and is "chummy" with Dr Helmut Marko. Sebastian validates Marko's role in the team so he will always "protect" his protege. Further to this, Marko is Dietrich's right hand man so Helmut gets to call the shots.
For Ross Brawn - a lot. Brawn no longer enjoys the same clout he once had in Mercedes. He has the new Mercedes CEO Toto Wolff and outspoken Chairman, Niki Lauda breathing down his neck. The suits back at Stuttgart detest foul play and to rob a fellow German of a podium is just sacrilegious. Expect Ross Brawn to get more than a slap on the wrist for this one.
For Sebastian Vettel, he is safe, but his stock price has plummeted in most peoples' eyes.
Meanwhile for Mark Webber, his stock is on the rise. He'll do some surfing and with the help of his manager, Flavio Briatore and Mark's entourage, he will be sufficiently rejuvenated for the next race.
As for Nico and Lewis, they will most probably continue being good friends....for now at least.
However, there are three weeks until the Chinese Grand Prix in April....and a lot can happen in three weeks.
What are your thoughts?
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