Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor Fat Hippo
In recent history there are two drivers, who have been signed up at very young age by major motorsports operations. A twelve year old Sebastian Vettel was one of the earliest members of Red Bull’s young drivers program and Lewis Hamilton was signed up by McLaren at the ripe old age of thirteen. Interestingly enough, at the end of this year neither of them will be part of the operation that shaped their racing careers.
The case of Sebastian Vettel is now in the spotlight as on late Friday evening he told his former mentors to look for a substitute. The details are fairly well documented. Christian Horner got an SMS on Friday evening asking him to meet Seb in his hotel room and bring Dr. Marko along. If Horner’s account of the events is to be believed, Seb was in tears when he told them that he would no longer be a member of the Red Bull stable once the year ends.
This of course begs the question of why a driver leaves ‘his home’ after fifteen years, crying, but nonetheless determined to go. The signs of trouble have started as early as 2013. Seb had won both the 2010 and 2012 championships by less than five points, yet the team asked him to donate seven points to his team mate in only the second race of the season, now known as “Multi 21”.
Of course the decisive factor is the 2014 season though. From the very start Vettel was on the back foot. The little running that Red Bull managed in the winter tests was mainly done by Daniel Ricciardo with Seb losing most of his allotted time to burning cars. When the first in-season test came after Bahrain, it was completely given to Danny boy, another unexplained move that made it look as if Seb wasn’t really in the picture any more.
Of course the detractors brigade had a field day with that, but back home in the fatherland people where left scratching their heads. One thing that Red Bull has acquired a rather dubious fame for the fact that they are unable to build two competitive cars. One is usually up there with the best, while the second one spends most of its time exploding.
In 2009 and 2010 it was Seb’s car, the next three years it was Mark Webber driving the ‘evil exploder from hell’. In 2014 it seems it was Seb’s turn again. While Danny RIC enjoyed a largely trouble-free season, the weekends on which Seb didn’t loose at least one session to car breakages can be counted easily by a one-armed man.
More trouble was brewing in the early season as the team thought it was a good idea to issue team orders as early as Bahrain and China, telling Seb to move over, only to realize after those two races that he’s been struggling around in a damaged chassis. No apology was given by the team (in public) and both Marko and Horner carefully kept that information to the German speaking world – which is fairly small.
Motorsport Total, who are fairly close to Seb’s inner circle, see that as one of the three main causes for his exit. The team has made uncharacteristic mistakes this year, but did not always communicate them as such. As it stands, Bahrain and China still count as Seb being utterly mediocre when in fact his car was damaged. The team never owned up and never regained the trust they lost in those weeks. When they apologised for messing up his race at Canada, something they would do again after Monza, it was already too late – the trust had been lost.
A second item of speculation is that there has been fallout between Seb and Christian Horner. Recently having become a father, he is said to have been appalled at Horner dumping wife and kid for a Spice Girl that likes to show her assetts on page 3. No confirmation has been provided for that by Seb himself, but the two reporting papers Spiegel and Motorsport Total are known to be close to Vettel’s inner circles.
The thing that broke the camel’s back however must be Red Bull’s HR policy. Not only was Adrian Newey ‘contracted away’, who was a sort of father figure for Vettel, his trusted race engineer Rocky ‘fell up the ladder’, too and the unceremonious dismissal of Kenny Handkammer is believed to be the moment when the German decided that his days in dark blue were over.
It exposes the cynical nature of F1 when you look at how teams treat their drivers. Williams has a long history of sacking world champions, Ferrari blackmailed Schumacher into continuing and wrecking Massa’s career or buggering off and Red Bull skipped their 4-times world champion into the gong pit. It’s not a job for the faint-hearted…