Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sebastian Vettel Breaks Formula One 'Code' Much To Fan Pleasure

The weekend's Formula One action has caused its fair share of headlines. The Malaysian Grand Prix's contained more than its fair share of drama with Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel disobeying team orders by overtaking team mate Mark Webber to claim first place.

The fallout from Vettel's decision has been felt ever since. Webber appeared distraught, team boss Christian Horner was clearly displeased and the negative reactions haven't stopped there with Webber's father criticising the young German, and BBC pundit (former McClaren driver) John Watson calling for Red Bull to suspend the three-time World Champion.

The Red Bull team will be understandably concerned. For a Formula One team the Constructors' Championship is a big deal and a major friction between their two drivers, particularly with their top driver completely ignoring them will be of serious concern. Horner and co won't have forgotten the sight of their two drivers colliding and having to retire while battling for pole position at the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix.

It will have been made even more frustrating as in the same race there was a piece of exemplary 'follow orders' race car driving with Nico Rosberg accepting Ross Brawn's instructions not to pass the slower Lewis Hamilton.

There is a team element to Formula One. That much is indisputable. However, it is misleading to suggest that Formula One is a team sport.

Last year's Drivers' Championship demonstrated just how many strong drivers there are in the F1 field today and just how balanced this competition can be. The 2013 season doesn't look set to be any different with Hamilton looking reasonably competitive in the Mercedes, Kimi Raikonen clearly a threat in Lotus and Ferrari are also dangerous. None of this even considers Jenson Button and McLaren who could steal some points later in the season.

Vettel knows this and he knows that if he plans on winning a fourth consecutive world title, then he will need every single point he can earn. Those extra seven points that the 25-year old earned on Sunday in Malaysia could prove crucial at the end of the season. Remember, Vettel only secured the championship by three points from Fernando Alonso last season.

Perhaps what has really angered Webber is that he isn't as good a driver as Vettel. He has never quite generated the same pace from the Red Bull, especially over the past couple of seasons.

More importantly, what do fans of F1 really want to see? Was the Webber/Vettel battle for first place more exciting or was the Hamilton/Rosberg gentleman's agreement over third and fourth what people pay to see?

Formula One is a competitive sport. A certain amount of team common sense is clearly needed, but racing between team mates is possibly the purest form of racing there is; all talk of who has the better car can be dropped and it becomes about just the two drivers and their competition.

I think I speak for all Formula One fans when I say 'bring on the Red Bull drama'. Some will enjoy following the story line, while others can just watch some exciting flat out competition between two of the better race car drivers in the world. This is after all what F1 is all about.

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