Red Bull Racing have a massive problem on their hands. Those who thought the whole Sepang thing would result in another uneasy truce between the team’s drivers could not have been further from the truth.
Sebastian Vettel faced a fiery media today and to be fair gave as good as he got. However, Vettel’s confused responses are likely to cause mayhem in the team.
On the one hand Vettel says, “I apologised to the team because the last thing I want as a team member is to disobey a team order. My intention as a racing driver was to win the race and I don’t apologise for winning the race.”
He then quickly admits he is as likely to do it again should it mean passing his team mate and winning a race.
Following the Sepang race TJ13 article, “Civil war or just a load of old bull?” looked at various scenario’s which could ensue when the team reconvened in China. I suggested, “there are times in life when an event occurs and there is a general sense that things will never be the same again”.
Further I believed it was likely that “The most significant issue Red Bull may need to grasp is that it appears that Vettel’s action on track and initial re-actions after the event suggest that he believes the team were wrong in their decision. Yes, he may have apologised but if that is to placate only – rather than a true state of mind – and if he is indeed unrepentant – what else will Vettel question when instructed by the team?
Well ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls – roll up – roll up. This weekend only – you could see the greatest farce ever in the history of team sport….
I have to say I’m stunned at what I’ve heard today – genuinely shocked and amazed. Martin Brundle has written that ‘Red Bull has a major problem’. I think from Martin – that is a major understatement. Sebastian Vettel has basically said today that he will do as he pleases whenever he pleases and should he be given instructions again by the team with which he disagrees, he will do as he sees fit.
Meanwhile Mark is listening and watching on. He had a distant and disconnected look in his eye throughout the drivers’ press conference and was stilted and short in his answers to the questions.
What must be in his mind? For sure he did not return thinking there would be a new dawn in improved Webber/Vettel relations and most likely he has decided he will race Vettel hard at every given opportunity.
If we rewind to Sepang, what actually happened was that the team and the 30 or so analysts working behind the scenes, plotted a way for the cars to maximise their race time and therefore give them the best chance of success. It was believed prior to the race that success was probably a podium and fourth or fifth.
So the cars were underfueled to suit the pace the analysts had scheduled for each stage of the race. Due to Mercedes woeful judgement, the podium and minor placing became a Red Bull 1-2. This was nothing to do with either driver particularly, Pedro de la Rosa and a host of other drivers could have driven to the pace that Red Bull asked Vettel and Webber to deliver. It was a team victory and red faces for Mercedes.
Now Red Bull have no/reduced team orders announced by Marko and 2 drivers who will have little or no regard to the instructions and advice they will be given by the team. Hence possession will be 9/10ths of the law starting with qualifying.
It is not difficult to see Vettel and Webber burning out sets of tyres in Q3 to gain an advantage from the other in terms of grid position. this will prejudice their stint one in the race – but who cares… does not win.
Stint one in the race will be paramount too because the driver leading will get first choice of tyre changes and therefore control the undercut. Unlike in Malaysia where the optimum pace can be called by the analysts, will we see Webber and Vettel drive the wheels of the car to gain the advantage?
Webber made it clear today at the press conference that in Malaysia the reason Vettel made up 4.5s in one lap was because Mark’s tyres were gone. It should have therefore been Webber’s prerogative to get the first change of rubber but because Vettel was under pressure from Hamilton – the team decided Vettel would be given priority over Webber and Webber complied.
Were that to happen this weekend, would Mark just ignore the switch in strategy – pretend he didn’t hear and come in for tyres anyway? The team would have to service his car and Vettel would suffer either a wait behind his team mate or an extra lap on fast fading rubber.
These kind of chaotic possibilities are not endless but many. If the team were to stay completely hands off and allow the drivers to call their own stops they would clearly without information not make the correct timing calls to change the rubber. Watching a McLaren sail by may be medicine indeed.
So we could be watching a hell for leather race between Vettel and Webber to continually be the one with track position which with the 2013 Pirelli’s will surely not be the optimum way for them to tackle the race.
It is clear the team has utterly lost control of both drivers who will be out to prove they are faster than they’re team mate. This scenario is a complete disaster but there appears nothing Horner et al can do. If Vettel is refusing to take instruction from the team how can they expect Webber to do so.
Maybe the best solution for Horner and Newey is to just let it all happen for one race to prove the point. What will be will be. For sure it will not result in the best possible result for either driver or the team, yet maybe by taking their hands completely off the reins and allowing the drivers to do what they want to may mean that chaos does ensue.
Yet Vettel will get the message that this is not how he won 3 world titles and unless he is part of the team decisions he is weakened and open to attack from the team’s opponents. Then seeing Vettel’s submission to the team may possibly mean Webber will once again play ball to some degree.
On the off chance that driving the hell out of the cars and the rubber from the tyres prove to be a winning strategy – then the F1 fans would be delirious with joy and teams would stop being so conservative in their approach to each race.
And if this were not successful – a point would have been made to our immortal triple world invincibleness – that on his own he would win jack s^&t.