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Should Sebastian Vettel Have Handed Mark Webber Victory in Brazilian Grand Prix?

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 24:  Race winner Sebastian Vettel (R) of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull Racing and second placed team mate Mark Webber (L) of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing attend the press conference following the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 24, 2013 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Fraser MasefieldContributor IDecember 3, 2016

And so the dust settles on what has been a season of total dominance for Sebastian Vettel.

Victory in Brazil meant that the German set yet another record, equalling the legendary Alberto Ascari’s feat of nine consecutive race victories.

Yet in chasing yet more personal glory, did Vettel miss a trick to win over the boo boys that have wounded his pride this season and bury the hatchet with his old foe Mark Webber? Should Vettel have slowed up, pulled over and handed the race victory to the Australian in his final race in what has been a distinguished career?

The young German has enjoyed an unprecedented season of success, but it has not gone down well with everyone, and he has been booed on the podium after several of his race victories during 2013.

Vettel himself admitted on BBC Sport to being hurt by the negative reaction he has received at times, so on the face of it, handing Webber victory could have been an admirable gesture and won back many fans.

It has, of course, happened before. Then, great Ayrton Senna allowed his friend and teammate Gerhard Berger to win the 1991 Japanese Grand Prix as a debt of gratitude for his support during his final championship-winning season with the title already in the bag.

But for Vettel to do the same would have been wrong on a number of levels.

Firstly, Vettel and Webber were certainly not good friends, and there is reason to believe there was still a degree of animosity in their relationship until the very end. The pair clashed on a number of occasions, famously in Turkey in 2010 and Malaysia this season—when Vettel, told to maintain station until the finish, disobeyed team orders and fought and passed Webber for the race victory.

Shortly after announcing his retirement from F1, Webber admitted on an appearance on BBC’s Top Gear programme that he wouldn’t miss "a huge amount". Webber is also an extremely proud man and has won each of his nine grand prix victories on merit, and so it is highly unlikely he would have wanted to inherit a race victory as part of a sporting gesture. More likely, Webber would have viewed it as patronising.

The other difference between the Senna and Berger situation is that Senna was not chasing one of the long-standing and long-thought-unbreakable records in the sport. There is no denying the fact that Senna was a keen student of the history of the sport and that race victories were extremely precious to him.

Although nobody can speak for the Brazilian and it is merely conjecture, if Senna was on eight consecutive race victories with the chance to equal Ascari, do you think his friendship with Berger would have outweighed his thirst for a piece of history? It seems unlikely.

What makes Vettel truly great is that he is a racer who lets nothing stand in the way of a race win. Initially apologetic over his disobedience of the "Multi-21" order in Malaysia, Vettel later retracted it by saying on BBC Sport, “I don’t apologise for winning. I think that's why people employed me in the first place and why I'm here. I love racing and that's what I did. The bottom line is I was racing, I was faster, I passed him, I won.”

It is precisely why Vettel would never have moved over to let Webber win in Brazil, final race for the Aussie or not.

Likewise, there is little chance Webber would have wanted to accept such a gesture, for he has always been a racer too.

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