Formula 1: There's No 'I' in Team as Vettel Snatches Victory in Malaysia

Antony Herbert@LeeUwishWritingAnalyst IIIMarch 24, 2013

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - MARCH 24:  Race winner Sebastian Vettel (R) of Germany and Infiniti Red Bull Racing, second placed Mark Webber (C) of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing and Infiniti Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey (L) react on the podium following the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit on March 24, 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

In the heat of the moment Sebastian Vettel edged past teammate Mark Webber to take victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix, and in doing so caused immense tension within the Red Bull camp. 

At the same time, Lewis Hamilton coasted home in third place in his Mercedes, knowing full well that his teammate Nico Rosberg could have passed him and taken the final podium-placed finish. 

Mark Webber was livid and could not contain his frustration on the podium. Vettel had tried to approach him before they went out, but Webber simply replied by saying "multi 21."

Lewis Hamilton, however, felt ashamed to be standing on the third step. Such contrasting emotions causes you to once again ponder the debate around team orders. 

The plan from Red Bull was to let whoever led after the final pit stop win the race.

As Webber emerged from the pits in the lead but with hardly any advantage over Vettel, this would have meant victory by default for the Australian. His German teammate had other ideas, as he forced a pass on Webber through the first few corners of Lap 46. 

So, should the plan have been properly enforced when Mark Webber emerged with such a minuscule gap? And in this situation, are you are not denying the fans a spectacle if the two leaders are not allowed to race? 

What if you have put money on Vettel winning the Grand Prix, but are let down by a competitive sport's inability to let its stars actually compete?

Sebastian Vettel should be seen as having every right to race for the victory. He had struck gold in qualifying and had driven a consistent race to ensure he was in contention as the Grand Prix reached its climax. 

Webber had an unusually strong start, and had driven to his limit to find himself with a shot of glory. At the same time, he was certainly aggressive enough to try to keep Vettel behind him. He wanted to demonstrate that he was not the No. 2 driver that many believe him to be. He was therefore just as willing to fight for the win as his teammate, even though he expected it to be handed to him on a silver platter. 

For Mercedes, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Robserg both had promising races, falling just shy of the Red Bull duo in terms of pace. Maybe the gap between the two teammates would have been larger had Hamilton not mistakenly revisited his former McLaren team in the pits. 

But as the final laps drew in, the Rosberg team radio went into overdrive, as the German became increasingly frustrated behind a slower Lewis Hamilton. His team demanded that Rosberg remain in fourth, stating that Hamilton was only coasting to reserve fuel. 

However, Hamilton's admission that Rosberg should have been standing in his place, confirmed that the British driver did not have the same potential to perform as strongly in the final stages as his teammate.

Rosberg spent the final laps stuck frustratingly close to Hamilton's rear tyres, causing the Mercedes team to become increasingly nervous, and causing the fans to feel underwhelmed. 

It is for this reason that Vettel's bull-by-the-horns approach can be commended. He was unwilling to let team orders dictate his result, instead showing a desire to be the No. 1 driver and to give the fans what they deserve to see.

You can definitely understand why Red Bull as a team would take a different viewpoint, especially after their pair of drivers came together so catastrophically in Turkey 2010. 

In this race, they did finish with maximum points, allowing them to make an opportunistic review of the racing weekend in hindsight. 

They will ask some difficult questions of Sebastian Vettel, and the triple world champion will need to be focused on damage limitation to ensure that any friction within the team can be resolved. He will essentially need to take responsibility for his actions, and his blatant disregard for team orders. 

However, I can't help but feel that Mark Webber also needs to demonstrate a more mature approach to such events. Maybe he needs to be asked why he left Vettel next to no room as the two came bolting down the start-finish straight. As thrilling as it was for us to watch, the Red Bull team need to ask Webber why he was so close to putting both cars into the wall and potentially out of the race. 

From a spectator's point of view, we will be lapping up the attention that is born out of this result. After years of seeing the likes of Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa losing out to team orders, we now have a result where one driver has refused to buckle under the pressure to conform.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.