Monthly Archives: March 2013

Was Mark Webber’s Reaction A Little Bit Too Much?

Two races into the season and already there’s a storm brewing. Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel seem to have lost any kind of friendship and while the two will remain, for now, as team-mates, it looks to be in a purely professional relationship.

It all stems from an incident late in the Malaysian Grand Prix. The Red Bulls, line a-stern, were sure of a race win and team orders were implemented under the ‘Multi-21’ code that Red Bull use, meaning the lead car stays as the lead car. They did this to avoid any incidents like the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix which saw Sebastian Vettel crash out of the race during a botched overtake attempt.

Yet, Vettel either chose to ignore the order or as he put it ‘misunderstood’ what was being asked of him. Either way, he launched an attack on his more experienced team-mate and won. It was a close battle, one which nearly put Vettel in the wall and Webber in the gravel – but Vettel came out on top.

Webber was absolutely furious. Swiping in front of Vettel on the line and threatening to boycott the podium ceremony – something the FIA takes very seriously – was only the tip of the iceberg. He has since taken time away, returning to Australia for a surfing holiday rather than his home in Buckinghamshire or the Red Bull factory in Milton Keynes.

The best guess is that Mark is taking this time to seriously consider his future in Formula One and this rumour has prompted his father to come out in support for Webber, claiming he will be back for the Chinese Grand Prix and although damage is done between Vettel and Webber, it’s not the end.

But many have criticised Mark for what they call his child-like response to the incident. Personally, I don’t see it as an over-reaction.

What one has to remember is that Mark has consistently played second fiddle to Sebastian Vettel. 2010 being the perfect example. Stemming from the aforementioned Turkish Grand Prix, tensions in Red Bull were high. Arriving at Silverstone with two new front wings – one for Mark and one for Seb – Vettel’s broke on the Friday and Red Bull chose to take Webber’s wing, without telling him and putting it on Vettel’s car.

Webber was very upset by the decision and winning that Sunday’s Grand Prix, he took a dig at the structure of the team with the infamous message “Not bad for a number two driver”. 

Skip on to the following year’s British Grand Prix and Webber, having dropped from pole position to 3rd place in the race was now chasing second-placed Vettel and catching him at a nice rate of speed. Christian Horner came onto the team-radio and instructed Mark to “Maintain the gap”, seeing as pleas from his race engineer had failed to slow the Aussie. Webber took one quick try at overtaking the slower Vettel before conceding and taking his place behind Vettel, again as the number two driver.

These are but a few of the examples of Webber being forced to play reserve role to Vettel. One has to admit that Webber is a fantastic driver – you don’t win the Monaco Grand Prix twice if you aren’t. The trouble is he’s only fantastic when he is in the zone, and he is in the zone far too rarely.

This is where the problem last Sunday stemmed from. Webber was pulling away from Lewis Hamilton in the other Mercedes, who was then overtaken by Vettel. As I have said, when it gets late in a race and the team have a comfortable 1-2 position, they implement team orders to endure they get the 43 points up for grabs. Webber relaxed now believing this race was his – ironically on his 200th Grand Prix – and one can’t possibly how he felt when Vettel broke team orders to pass him and rob him of the win.

When one plays second fiddle so much, when he has been forced to obey the rules so much they expect the team-mate to do the same. The situation by Webber was summed up perfectly. ““Seb made his own calls today and will have protection as usual and that’s the way it goes”. 

Mark can’t step out of line while on a one year contract. He knows Red Bull just cannot scold Vettel, they can’t afford to. Essentially, Vettel has managed to get Red Bull to unwillingly agree to an appeasement policy. He pushes the boundaries of the team and they let him do it because they can’t lose the man who has won them all their championships. So he does it again. Again, they let him push and then he does it again because he has not met resistance.

Webber on the other hand can’t do this. There is a queue literally out their door waiting for Mark to leave so they can step up, Sebastian Buemi for example is waiting in the wings. If Mark disobeys the team, it’s a case of ‘goodbye Mark, thanks for the time’.

This could be what has upset Mark the most. He might feel now that there is really no huge point in being there or that there is no more wins while Vettel is there, no more glory, everything is reserved for Vettel – and THAT could very well be the problem. It’s not that he lost the race but it’s that he can’t put up a challenge and he may now know that.

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Mark Will Race In China – Says Alan Webber

The Father of Red Bull’s Mark Webber is certain that his son will be racing at the Chinese Grand Prix in little under three weeks.

The Aussie was leading the Malaysian Grand Prix from team-mate Sebastian Vettel until Vettel defied team orders to pass Webber and win the race. Webber was furious, swiping in front of Vettel’s car post race and threatening to boycott the podium ceremony.

Red Bull were also not happy, coming on the radio to Vettel post race, first congratulating him on the win and then telling him they will need to sit down and have a talk with him about the meaning of the word ‘team’. Mark’s anger spilled over into the post-race press conference where he refused to accept Vettel’s apologies and he then made claims which would suggest he is seriously considering his place in the sport for the future. He has since returned to Australia on a surfing holiday.

But Alan Webber was quick to douse rumours of Webber’s imminent retirement telling the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that “We’ll be up in China for the next one.”

He went on to criticise Vettel’s actions, “I think it will take a while to earn the respect and trust again. Sebastian disobeyed team orders and most, if not all the team, are disappointed with him.

“Up and down the pit lane Mark has not lost any credibility at all. It’s probably Sebastian who has lost an awful lot.”

The Malaysian incident just cemented the unease that exists between the two men which has existed since the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix in which Vettel hit Webber during a botched overtaking attempt, taking Vettel out of the race and demoting Webber from 1st to 3rd.

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What Really Upset Us About ‘Multi 21’?

It’s the Monday after the Malaysian Grand Prix and across the globe, written media is hitting the shelves with reports about the “controversial Malaysian Grand Prix”, but what made it so controversial?

Obviously there is an unease within the team. You can’t go ignoring team-orders to such a large-scale. Even Dr. Helmut Marko who is infamous for his support of Vettel, admitted to the media that the team will be speaking to the young German in an attempt to slap some obedience into him.

But what made the fans so upset? Two completely different things happened at two different teams during the race. Red Bull had a leading driver whom they assured would be kept in front with team orders. So did Mercedes. Red Bull’s driver opted not to listen to the team orders, instead launching a vicious campaign against his team-mate, one he eventually won. Mercedes’ driver did quite the opposite, taking to the team radio to plead with Ross Brawn to let him pass team-mate Hamilton, but to no avail.

Both situations were met with criticism by fans, so why? Vettel, they claim, was wrong to defy team orders while Rosberg, they say, was victimized by the team imposing team-orders on him and that Nico should have ignored them. This makes no sense – one person making both statements is highly contradictory. So what’s the problem? Where does this contradictory nature come from?

I’ve decided it must be a personal attack on Sebastian Vettel. ‘Baby Schumi’ as he was called, is setting out in a similar path to his German idol, winning three consecutive World Championships – and making no friends in the process. It gets tiresome and boring to see the same man storming away at the front every Grand Prix and eventually, one gets tired of the driver himself.

What did Vettel really do? He fought his team-mate coming out of the pits and then challenged him again a few laps later – even though it did get close – and he made it past Webber and into the lead. Apart from that, he defied team orders from Red Bull while Christian Horner radioed the German with the words “This is silly, Seb. Come on.” Mark Webber has taken radio silence himself on some occasions such as the 2011 British Grand Prix, and he got away with it, the fans even siding with the Aussie and claiming it was unfair. Again, where’s the consistency.

Another account on Twitter made an interesting point claiming that if Ayrton Senna had done exactly what Vettel had today done, then it would have been legendary. And they were right! Think about if Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen had made such a move, would it be met as harshly?

What do you think? Leave a comment or tweet me @BenSweeneyF1.

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Bets On Webber Refunded In Australia

Gamblers in Australia will have a spring in their step today after learning that they’ll be refunded if they bet on Mark Webber to win the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Australian Gambling website SportsBets.com.au told punters on their website that “We’ve refunded all bets on Aussie Mark Webber to win the Malaysian Grand Prix last night after ‘team-mate’ Sebastian Vettel defied team orders and hogged the glory for himself”. 

The incident refers to the battle between Mark Webber, who was leading the race, and German team-mate Sebastian Vettel who was told via team radio to stay behind the Aussie and bring the cars home in a strong 1-2 position. Webber, who himself has been forced to play second fiddle to the young World Champion, believed this secured his win and backed off into the team’s ‘Multi-21’ formation plan and began fuel and tire preservation.

Yet, Vettel began a vicious battle with Webber eventually ending with a German winner and a very unhappy Aussie. The team came out in support for Webber claiming they will need to sit Seb down and explain the meaning of the word ‘team’ while Dr. Helmut Marko, famed for his support of Vettel, echoed the team’s claims.

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Sebastian Victorious In Sepang Storm

Sebastian Vettel has won the Malaysian Grand Prix from pole position ahead of Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton. The German flanked his Aussie team-mate for most of the race, eventually passing him despite calls from his team to the contrary. 

Lights out and 22 drivers stormed towards the first corner. Fernando Alonso was too eager and tapped the rear of Sebastian Vettel’s RB9 into turn 2, damaging his front wing. It was a nasty break but Fernando refused to come in to the pits when he passed it the first time and continued to battle Mark down the pit straight. That’s when the front wing buckled and went under his F138, disabling the steering and sending Alonso off into turn 1 where he was beached and out of the race.

With Fernando out of the race, a surprisingly strong starting Mark Webber was chasing his team-mate. Massa on the other hand had an awful start, dropping from his first front row start in 2010 all the way down to 6th by the end of the first lap. While Vettel lead Webber by almost four seconds in the drying track, Rosberg was battling hard with Jenson Button, the former eventually trumping the latter.

Winner of the season opening Australian Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen was surprisingly off the pace, dropping to 12th when he ran wide on lap four. Vettel was the first man to box on lap five, swapping from the Intermediate to Dry Pirellis. He was followed in by Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo, Kimi Raikkonen and Adrian Sutil. Sutil’s stop was awful, the left front tire simply refusing to come off the car and keeping the German fuming in the box.

Toro Rosso let Jean-Eric Vergne out of his pit box and straight into the path of the Caterham of Charles Pic meaning the team had to pull Vergne back into his box to replace his front wing. First round of pit stops over and Webber was now leading from Vettel, Lewis and then Rosberg. The sparring Red Bull’s were slowing each other down while both Mercedes’ took full advantage of it to catch up on them.

There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing as Webber extended his lead to have it reduced again, eventually being the first of the top five to box for a second time. Sutil also came in for a second time to have exactly the same problem as the first when his wheel nut on the front left simply refused to budge. The team eventually got him going but when di Resta came in and lost a lap to the problem, he retired the car.

Second stops all completed and Webber led from Vettel, Hamilton and Rosberg in identical formation to that of when they boxed initially. Vettel was really catching his Aussie team-mate now and was himself facing the threat of Hamilton behind him and soon reached Mark’s DRS zone. While Sutil was wheeled into the Force India garage to retire his VJM-07 for the same reason as di Resta, Vettel and Hamilton were trying unsuccessfully to move up the order with Webber doing a good job to keep them behind him.

Hamilton pitted again followed by Webber and Rosberg a lap later and Vettel another lap after that. Hamilton had jumped Vettel in the pits meaning the new order was Webber, Hamilton and Vettel narrowly leading Rosberg. Surely nothing could hold Lewis back now that he had a free track to attack Webber – or so we thought. Ordered over the radio to lift and coast, it became obvious that Lewis’ fantastic pace was due to a high fuel setting and he was now suffering from it and in fuel saving.

Webber stormed ahead and Vettel made quick work of Hamilton, Rosberg ordered not to pass Hamilton. Further down the grid, Raikkonen still wasn’t feeling comfortable, battling Hulkenberg out of the pits. A close call out of turn 4 saw the German move across as the Finn tried to overtake, merely pushing and pushing until Raikkonen was nearly on the grass.

Force India weren’t the only ones suffering pitlane woes. Lewis Hamilton made a return to the McLaren garage instead of the Mercedes one while Jenson Button pitted in the right box but leaving the pits without a properly connected front right wheel meaning the Briton had to pull over at the end of  the pitlane and wait to be wheeled back down to his garage to have it reattached.

Hamilton, Rosberg and Vettel pitted again for the last time while Webber boxed on lap later. He could not have emerged any closer to Vettel who tried to overtake Webber on the outside of Turn 1. Webber cut him off and they fought tooth and nail out of turn 2 and in the run up to turn 3. Webber keeps control for three laps until Vettel, aided by DRS, renewed his charge for the lead.

To Christian Horner’s words of “This is Silly Seb, come on” Vettel was pushed to the edge by Webber who was then pushed off-line in Turn 1 by Vettel, the German eventually getting his nose in front and storming away. Similarly at Mercedes, Rosberg was contesting the team orders prohibiting him from overtaking a much slower Hamilton. Ross Brawn assured Rosberg that Hamilton could go much faster but that they needed to take it easy.

Meanwhile, Pastor Maldonado took a trip through the gravel and became beached, retiring for the second consecutive race, which is exactly what happened in 2012 too. Jenson Button had badly worn tires and decided to retire on Lap 55 of 56.

And so, Sebastian Vettel met the checkered flag first, followed by Mark Webber who drove as far away from the pit wall as possible to show his distaste. This spilled over into the post-race room where Webber shouted “Multi-21! Multi-21!” at Vettel, which is a code for fuel saving. Vettel later apologised in the press conference, saying that the race should have been Mark’s, but Mark refused to accept it. There’s a storm a-brewing.

  1. Sebastian Vettel
  2. Mark Webber
  3. Lewis Hamilton
  4. Nico Rosberg
  5. Felipe Massa
  6. Romain Grosjean
  7. Kimi Raikkonen
  8. Nico Hulkenberg
  9. Sergio Perez
  10. Jean-Eric Vergne
  11. Valtteri Bottas
  12. Esteban Gutierrez
  13. Jules Bianchi
  14. Charles Pic
  15. Giedo van der Garde
  16. Max Chilton

Retired:

  • Fernando Alonso
  • Paul di Resta
  • Adrian Sutil
  • Pastor Maldonado
  • Jenson Button
  • Daniel Ricciardo

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VIDEO: Sebastian Vettel Malaysian Pole Lap

Here’s Sebastian Vettel’s pole lap at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Copyright FOM.

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March 23, 2013 · 11:39 am

Raikkonen Handed Three Place Grid Penalty

Lotus’ Kimi Raikkonen has been handed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix. The Finn was found to have blocked Nico Rosberg during Saturday’s Qualifying session meaning Kimi will drop from 7th to 10th on the grid.

He won last weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix and he was looking strong during practice and so a good bet for Qualifying. However, a suspected hydraulics issue combined with bad weather robbed him of a top three position, qualifying down in 7th.

Jenson Button, Adrian Sutil and Sergio Perez all benefit from the penalty, moving from 8th to 7th, 9th to 8th and 10th to 9th respectively.

Raikkonen’s team-mate Romain Grosjean was caught out in Q2 when Lotus gambled – and lost. Rain crept over the circuit meaning when he went to set his fast lap, he couldn’t find the speed necessary and qualified down in 11th.

More to follow.

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