The 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix will go down as one of the sports more notorious races – not because of it’s unexpected result – but due to an unexpected/expected overtake and the rather cryptic term “Multi 21”. Multi 21 is a fuel setting term used by Red Bull, which essentially acts as an instruction to the drivers to “hold station and bring the cars home”.
With the last set of pitstops done – Mark Webber found himself in the lead of the race with reigning world champion, Sebastian Vettel, tucked rather closely behind his gearbox in the sister Red Bull. For better or for worse, Sebastian Vettel proceeded to pass his Australian team mate – despite plees from the pit wall to calm down and hold position – taking the win, and lead of the world championship in the progress.
Was Sebastian Vettel right to pass Mark Webber? We put the question to two of the sett’s more vocal members.
First up with the case for Mark Webber, Adam Millenueve;
Poor old Mark Webber – that was his victory on Sunday, he had one over on Vettel, even after a fantastic battle when emerging side by side from the pit lane half way through the race and as you would expect, with much at stake for the team, come the final few laps, Webber and Vettel were told to hold station and ‘bring it home’ for a precious 1-2 finish.
The fact that Vettel overtook Webber despite the team ruling is in one sense quite pleasing – we all want to see proper racing, but to do that to his team mate and then say “sorry” afterwards is just a joke and reminds me of something Schumacher would have done.
- Yes, Webber could have fought back, but he was following team orders and remained in 2nd.
- Yes, all F1 multiple champions are ruthless racers and often “not nice” people on track
- Yes, F1 drivers should always race for the win, go for the gap etc, and I’m sure Nick will quote Senna later.
- Webber wasn’t slower than Vettel – he was following the “multi 21” fuel saving call
There’s a lot of history between the two RBR drivers and Webber earned the win on Sunday. End of. Formula 1 is a team sport and the drivers drive for the team as well as themselves – when the team says ‘hold station’ you hold station. Webber has done this countless times for Vettel before – Silverstone 2011 springs to mind where Webber was clearly quicker but not allowed to pass Vettel during the closing laps. Vettel should have done the same for Webber on Sunday.
I’m not part of the “Vettel haters” movement, but I do have a lot of time for Webber – his honesty and public statements on controversial situations are refreshing, he wears his heart on his sleeve and in that sense reminds me of proper grand prix drivers – back in the day before F1 became the multi-billion dollar corporate entity it is today where the drivers are told what to say, when to say it and have to appear is ridiculous PR stunts.
Anyhow, the win on Sunday was Mark’s and not Seb’s. The faces on the podium tell a story – not a single one of them was happy (Lewis felt bad for his team keeping Rosberg back), this was not the correct result and wow, would I like to be a fly on the wall at the Red Bull HQ next week. Webber mentioned that Sebastian will have ‘protection’ and he’s probably right, he’s the golden boy at Red Bull but doing what he did to his team mate on Sunday was appalling. Seb I like you a lot, but you’ve overstepped the line and you should feel bad, very bad about it.
On a personal note, I love that Webber gave Vettel a ‘drive by’ after the chequered flag – blimey!
Secondly, defending the reigning world champion, Nico Beanberg;
There is a reason that Sebastian Vettel is 3 times reigning world champion and Mark Webber is a 9 times race winner (although that record isn’t bad in itself). That reason is hard to measure. It goes beyond favoritism different front wings, luck, or even hard stats. Mark isn’t Mr. Unlucky, as he is so often referred to, so much as Mr NotQuiteAsFastAsSeb. Sebastian showed the ruthless desire to win that is reminiscent of – ahem – other young German world champions, and world champions in general. I am reluctant to go all “Senna” on you, but the great man did once say;
“By being a racing driver means you are racing with other people. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver because we are competing, we are competing to win. And the main motivation to all of us is to compete for victory, it’s not to come 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th”
I appreciate that modern-day Formula 1 is clearly different to the early 90s era of Senna, Prost and co. However, the quote, in my opinion, stands for as much today as it did the day Ayrton said it. Any of the great drivers – past or present; Alonso, Kimi, Schumacher, Stewart, Prost… even Jaques Villeneuve – would have taken the chance if it was presented to them.
Mark was slower. To win a race, and deserve to, you have to beat the people behind you… right until the final lap. Sebastian got a sniff of blood. He saw the gap and he took it – and he took it brilliantly at that. Whilst things are all “sorry” and “how silly of me – sorry Mark” now – if Vettel beats Webber, or anyone else, to the title by seven points or less, it will have been a masterstroke. Will anyone be saying he doesn’t deserve a world title because he overtook Mark when he was told not to? No, they won’t.
Conversely, we saw the exact opposite happening down the pit lane at Mercedes. Nico Rosberg was faster than Lewis Hamilton. Lots faster – it was almost embarrassing. He could and should have had an easy DRS pass on the Englishman on his fading Pirellis, giving him a deserved 3rd place. Hamilton even acknowledged as much on the podium. Awkward. Rosberg finished 4th in what will now be considered as a fairly unmemorable drive. If he had taken the chance and stormed to third he would have laid down a marker to Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton. He wasn’t ruthless.
Ruthlessness is what will take Sebastian to within touching distance of Michael Schumacher’s statistical dominance – whether he is loved/loathed for it is another matter. It is also why he is likely to become a 4 times plus world champion, and Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber won’t.
Who do you think was right; Adam (Webber) or Nick (Vettel)? Let them know and have your say in our brand new Badger GP Forum