Pit Stop – Was Vettel Right? – By Lewis Brearley

Your reaction to the team orders incidents at last weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix depends on what your attitude to racing is.

If you prefer your sportsmen to prioritise winning at all costs and expect them to do their utmost to achieve the very best they can then you probably supported Sebastian Vettel’s decision to pursue his own desires while ignoring his employers.

If, on the other hand, you want gentlemanly conduct and honesty from your sportsmen, then you have probably lost a little bit of respect for the triple world champion.

These two camps of opinion will never combine to agree with each other and if anything, this season looks set to provide plenty of firewood to keep each camp’s argument burning.

Formula One seasons don’t normally heat up until the European section of the season, however this year’s has already burst into life at the second round.

No sport thrives on controversy like F1, and in that case, this year’s Malaysian grand prix is unlikely to be forgotten any time soon.

When Vettel made his decision to keep his KERS in overtake mode and to pass Mark Webber with a highly risky overtaking manoeuvre he revealed his true attitude hidden deep beneath the famously smiling exterior.

In ignoring his boss and in his willingness to try such a risky pass, Vettel proved that he truly believes the Red Bull F1 operation is his own, personal winning machine.

While his supporters would say that this is only the sort of winning attitude shared by his great rival, Fernando Alonso, who happens to be venerated despite his own belief that he should be treated as his team’s number one driver, this isn’t the point.

Alonso has never ignored an order in his time at Ferrari, and Vettel’s actions show blatant disregard for the team’s bosses and executives, without whom he wouldn’t have become the triple world champion he is today. A blatant disregard for every single engineer and designer back at their Milton Keynes factory who are paid with money not from Vettel’s, but Red Bull’s wallet.

A sharp contrast to this was provided by Nico Rosberg’s decision to follow his boss, Ross Brawn’s, orders despite his clear anger at the situation. This revealed that Brawn is the man in charge of the Mercedes race team and also that his drivers are respectful of this.

Vettel’s post-race apologies and downtrodden demeanour show a sorry racing driver who may have let the red mist of his young mind cloud his sense of perspective. He claims he isn’t happy with his 27th grand prix victory and that if the same situation arises again, he wouldn’t repeat his act of treachery.

Whether this is true or not, time will tell. But one thing is certain, when that time comes, there won’t be a Formula One fan not on the edge of their seat.

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