Illegal Team Orders at Red Bull

Chris MasieroCorrespondent IMay 31, 2010

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - MAY 30:  Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Red Bull Racing reacts as he crashes out after colliding with his team mate Mark Webber of Australia and Red Bull Racing during the Turkish Formula One Grand Prix at Istanbul Park on May 30, 2010, in Istanbul, Turkey.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

On Sunday at the Turkish GP, we witnessed another shining example of un-sportsman like conduct, not from a driver, but from a team.

Mark Webber, in his Red Bull, was leading a group of the 4 fastest drivers, Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), and Jenson Button (McLaren).

Webber seemed to have a one second gap on Vettel, who was being harassed by Lewis Hamilton just a few tenths behind, with button another 2 seconds down.

Then on lap 41, suddenly Webber slowed and his team mate, Vettel, got a run on him into Turn 11 and went up the inside to pass.

What happened then has been almost universally agreed that Vettel, who after being left just enough room to pass, made a sudden deviation into marks car before he had gotten around—causing an accident that left him with a DNF, Webber with third, and the McLaren's with the 1-2 win.

Quite a strange move by the German, who for some reason seemed confident that the Australian was not really racing him—and with the cuddles he got from the team bosses after returning to pit lane it seemed even stranger.

However, the stories that come out afterwards are where the incident becomes much more than just one car hitting another.

Initially, Vettel came out in the press and stated that although not faster than Mark during the race, he felt like he was quicker on the lead up to that incident, and that's why he made the pass.

Then, during the Post Race Press Conference, some cryptic responses about his pace were given from Webber.

Q : Is there any reason why he had a jump on you on that particular lap?
MW : Hmm. Maybe.

Q : Did you come out of the previous corner a bit slower on that lap? 
MW : Hmm. You guys need to dig more, somewhere else.

During this time, Helmut Marko, to guy who brought Vettel into the fold at Red Bull, and who seems to have his hands in all sorts of things in Upper Management, was asked a few very interesting questions with some very interesting replies.

Q : Is it true that the team gave instructions to Mark Webber’s race engineer to let Sebastian Vettel pass because otherwise Lewis (Hamilton)would be able to overtake?
HM : That is not correct, because that would mean a team order. We informed Mark about the situation and it is for the driver to decide. The fact is that if Sebastian hadn’t passed he would have been overtaken by Hamilton. 

Q : Why was Sebastian so much quicker than Mark so suddenly?
HM : I think it was in the tires.

And now, after the race has run, and all the PR people have got together, we hear the story that Webber was told to run in fuel saving mode because Vettel supposedly had one more lap of fuel more which allowed him to make the move.

Yeah, right.  How many stories do they want to tell us.

In my opinion what happened here, is that Red Bull favored their in house driver (Vettel is a product of Red Bull Racing Development and the Next Big Thing), and that the accident was a botched (by V) attempt at making a change of position look like racing rather than team orders.

Sure vettel was at fault for the accident, and his behavior afterwards leaving his car show his immaturity, but the Red Bull team itself are the ones that should be holding their heads in shame, because they are making a mockery of the sport.

If you have any money on Mark Webber winning the WDC you should take it off right away.  They are manipulating the race to ensure that Vettel gets the title, make no mistake about it.