Victims of Circumstance is brought to you by TJ13 Courtroom Reporter & Crime Analyst: Adam Macdonald
Sublime to the ridiculous
After bemoaning a fairly low key debut for the page, I am left with the mammoth task of clearing up the mess from the swamp in Malaysia. The 2 teams who gave out orders ended with 4 different feelings and 0 content drivers.
The Mercedes story is simple. Both drivers played ball and left the team with a good result to go to China with. Questions will linger over whether Hamilton has a no.1 clause in his contract but at the end of the day, all parties involved can (at least pretend) to be happy in front of the media.
The Red Bull story is a touchy subject with almost all corners of the media jumping on the ‘I’ve lost respect’ for Sebastian bandwagon. Granted, nobody can argue that the overtaking move by Sebastian down the pit straight was in any way sensible or justified. However, it is what was said over team radio throughout the race which I find more interesting.
On lap 8, Webber was the only runner in the top 10 to be have opted for the hard (and slower) tyre, showing he didn’t expect to be able to make them last as long. Naturally, Vettel now on the faster tyre, along with Hamilton and Rosberg were catching Webber, so it was no surprise to hear Vettel, on lap 28/29, over the team radio saying, “Mark is too slow, get him out of the way.” At this point, Vettel and Hamilton were within DRS range.
A Rocky Road to recovery
It was interesting to hear Vettel’s race engineer, Guillaume ‘Rocky’ Rocquelin saying “Sebastian be patient, you’re only at half race yet.” Rocky hinting at the fact he may be able to pass him later in the race, but hold position for the moment. Already the first signs at not wanting to play the team game.
Vettel was then jumped by Hamilton when he emerged from his pit stop on lap 33. I imagine a few choice German words were said under that helmet leading to the rush of blood to the head later. 6 laps later, Vettel was able to overtake Hamilton and made up the 2.8 seconds to Webber up to the next pit stop phase.
This left the duo fighting it out from lap 44 onwards, whilst it was a similar story for the Mercedes with Rosberg overtaking Hamilton in the first DRS zone, and Hamilton then returning the favour on the pit straight.
Lap 46 saw an unnecessarily risky overtaking move. It was silly and showed the immaturity that Vettel still possesses. Webber was sensible enough to not fight for too long and let his team mate past soon after, when he realised the futility of fighting someone on quicker tyres.
When Vettel had subsequently won, Rocky came over the team radio to say, “Good Job Sebastian, looked like you wanted it bad enough. Still, there will be some explaining to do.” It could be argued that Rocky knew what Sebastian was going to do and agreed with it. Furthermore, he knew Sebastian would have to issue an apology but it was a price worth paying.
Although there is no stated No.1 status at Red Bull, it would seem based on the evidence of Silverstone 2010 and today that there is. Ciaron Pilbeam leaving could have added fuel to the fire without saying anything, but by his actions. Why else would you leave the team who are triple world champions, with probably the best technical director and all the resources needed to succeed?
Potential answer: He didn’t want to be race engineer to the No.2 driver – without the backing to go for the WDC in 2013.
Do Team Orders really have a place in F1?
And so we are back to the highly polemic issue of whether team orders really work and can function in F1? If Mark loses, or if Sebastian wins the WDC by 7 or less points then this race will resurface. Much the same as if Fernando hadn’t blown a 15 point lead in Abu Dhabi to claim the 2010 WDC, after passing Felipe Massa controversially at Hockenheim earlier in the season.
Fernando in this case was interviewed by the BBC, before the Abu Dhabi qualifying and said he would be happy to win the WDC in this manner. It was a complete reversal from the interview below, which is post Hockenheim where there is no admission of guilt. Is it really fair to win in this way?
Furthermore, is it not intelligent manipulation by Fernando to surround himself with people that make sure he is the no.1 in the team and give him the best possible chance of winning? At least the Red Bull ranks can be honest about the fact they were trying to keep the race positions fixed.
Although as shown by Ferrari in Austria, 2002, this honesty is not something people like and the FIA are no exceptions. After letting Schumacher win the race, Barrichello took the top step of the podium. Ferrari, Schumacher and Barrichello were subsequently fined $1,000,000 for not fulfilling podium duties. It was after this event that the rules against team orders were declared.
Is it really better to have a team that agrees to let one member beat the other? Also, should a driver be protected in they are using their tyres quicker but are ahead (Webber)? Or if they have gambled with their strategy and under fuelled (Hamilton)?
Both very difficult questions to answer. However, what we saw on Sunday was one fairly boring procession to the line by the Mercedes team and one great scrap out on track between the Red Bulls. Formula One is after all a spectator sport.
Vettel is awarded the win for being less harsh on his tyres and Nico is awarded the 3rd position because of his better strategy. I.e. He had enough petrol to push at the end.
Further to the slow stop on lap 7 there was another slow stop on lap 23. This eventually led to his retiring from the race. 9th before his first stop ahead of Nico Hulkenberg, he is awarded the position.
Paul Di Resta:
similar to Sutil, the pit stops cost him. After emerging finally, his car had over heated and it was not worth continuing whilst a lap down on the rest of the field. With a much poorer qualifying position he is awarded 12th in front of Jean-Eric Vergne.
Due to his own stupidity and not pitting for a new front wing he was forced to end the race in the gravel at turn 1, on lap 2. Not like Fernando to do this. He remains a non-finisher.
With his petrodollars looking less likely to be paying for his seat next year, it’s surprising that Pastor keeps making life hard for himself going rallying through gravel. He remains a non-finisher. Maybe Pastor should consult Kimi before going rallying again.
Another unfortunate week for the Aussie who through no fault of his own was forced to retire. Running in 13th at the time he is awarded 15th ahead of Esteban Gutierrez.
They may have the world record of 2.31 seconds for a pit stop, but another error costs a McLaren team member points. Something I’m sure Sam Michael will make sure is fixed. In a net 5th position before this, he is awarded this for the race.
This leaves the revised results table looking like this:
|Revised Race Position||Driver||Result comparison||Points||Points Difference||Grid Position|
|12||Paul Di Resta||RETIRED||0||=||15||12|
|19||Giedo van der Garde||-4||0||=||22||19|
It could be argued that Mark had turned his engine down and they both should have realised the situation. Ultimately, if this was any other driver they would have fought with Mark until the bitter end. Why should the racing be stopped just because they are in the same team? Are they not both sportsmen, defining themselves by their aggression, competitive streak and results?
Below, the revised World Drivers’ Championship:
|Driver||Revised WDC||WDC Points Difference|
|Paul Di Resta||11||2||-2|
|Giedo Van Der Garde||=21||0||=|
*Those with 0 points will not be ordered
What they would have said
Mark would have bemoaned the tyres and shrugged his shoulders. The asphalt surface at Malaysia would have been blamed for the graining that Mark was suffering, but the truth of the matter is that the Red Bull is very quick, and doesn’t chew up the tyres in the warm.
Lewis would have groaned about the strategy but realised that it was still better than being in a McLaren. They gambled on there being a safety car or rain and there wasn’t (Interesting to note, Sebastian too was wearing his blue – rain-design – helmet).
Quote of the Day
The American author Hilary Hinton ‘Zig’ Ziglar famously said, “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.” Sebastian Vettel is in the process of getting a 4th world title; and as he showed on Sunday, he doesn’t care what he becomes in due