While everyone talks about the Auto Club 400 finish, Tony Stewart’s post-race tirade and Denny Hamlin’s back injury the motorsport world has overlooked another very compelling story. Last week in the Malaysian Grand Prix, 3x reigning Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel disobeyed team orders and basically stole the victory from his teammate, Mark Webber. Mark was told to give up his 4.5 second lead to save the car and was assured Sebastian would stay behind him. Instead, the German went after the win the second Webber back up to him and ended up locked in an intense wheel-to-wheel fight for the win that could have ended disastrously with the slightest miss-calculation.
Now, had Vettel caught Webber and then been told to stay behind him but proceeded to take the victory, then I would be praising him for his rebellious actions. The problem I have is the fact that Webber had a big lead but gave it up on purpose being told Sebastian would ride in 2nd which he obviously did not do. These two already have some bad blood between them and this has strained their already edgy relationship that much more. I will be shocked if Mark Webber is still a Red Bull driver come 2014. There were even some rumors that he wasn’t going to race in the upcoming event in China but Mark’s father disregarded the stories stating they were false.
I will tell you one thing, Sebastian won’t receive any help whatsoever from his teammate as he pursues a 4th straight title and who knows, the Australian may actually try to hinder Vettel’s efforts when he can. If I was Webber, I’d make Vettel’s 2013 a living hell in any way that I possibly could after his unsportsmanlike actions in Malaysia. I can see the temptation to pass Webber if Sebastian rarely wins races but the man is winning practically every other race he enters in. You can sugar coat it any way you want but that was just a plain selfish and greedy move by the champ. His team obviously won’t punish him but are very displeased with what he did and everyone is looking at him differently now.
Former Renault team boss, Flavio Briatore who has been part of Mark’s management throughout his career came right out and said that the Red Bull drivers’ relationship is destroyed and can’t be sewn back together. Webber is obviously still furious at the move and will have plenty of time to think about it over and over again until the next race. I don’t think this is the last time the two will butt heads and I would not be surprised to see this rivalry escalate throughout the year.
You have two drivers here that flat out don’t like each other but are forced to see one another all the time being teammates at Red Bull Renault. I think this feud will hurt on track performance not because of the cars but simply because the their feud will take focus away from their racing. No matter how you slice it, there is no way this rivalry is beneficial for Red Bull but it’s great for Formula 1 of course. It’s a rare treat that F1 fans get to see their drivers show such raw emotion like Webber did at the conclusion of last weekend’s race. It will definitely be very interesting to see how these two act towards each other for the rest of the year and how aggressive Webber will be when racing Vettel.