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GP Week : Issue 179
18 GPWEEK.com // 18 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Things may have got a bit tense at Red Bull Racing after the fracas in Turkey in 2010, but that’s nothing compared to what’s going to be going on behind the scenes at Helmut Marko’s, ooops I mean Christian Horner’s, team this week. Sebastian Vettel’s wilful ignoring of a clear, unambiguous call from the team to do what all teams now do under the circumstances, hold station and stroke it home, confirms his membership of the Michael Schumacher Club – world champions who will never quite be accorded the public respect they quite easily could and should have earned. With Michael it was the collisions at championship-deciding moments – with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve – and the infamous Monaco qualifying ‘park-up’. Now, with Malaysia 2013 complementing Turkey, the farce that is ‘equal treatment’ at Red Bull is exposed for the fraud that it is. Red Bull, let’s be clear, is run, when push comes to shove, by Helmut Marko, team owner Dietrich Mateschitz’s in-team ‘representative’. Vettel is his boy. And, whatever it takes, is what it takes. And sadly, Sebastian now appears to have been absorbed into that psyche and the belief that the end justifies any means. I cannot believe that he didn’t understand and that he “didn’t mean” to do the wrong thing. Bollocks. Two cars back, the Merc duo were doing just that. I have to declare here that I’m a Webber fan. I’ve known him since hjs Formula Ford days, as a straight- forward, non-complicated, fair-go sort of guy. Ambitious, but ultimately fair. So when I see the anger boiling inside on the rostrum yesterday as much as it was, I’m pretty certain that it’s bad. And it’s not isolated. Consider this already this year: when Melbourne Q3 became critical, a couple of minutes to go, Webber ’s car was rolled back into the garage when he pitted for the crucial but simple Intermediate-to- slicks tyre change. Vettel followed in, but did a 2.5 second pit-lane change, and was thus back out with time for two laps if required; Webber was denied that for no apparent reason. Malaysia Q3: one RB out there on fresh Intermediates, with two minutes to go; guess which one? I’m not a casino frequenter, but the dice do seem to be coming up one way rather too often for my liking. The final wash-up of this weekend’s drama is going to be fascinating. If Christian Horner truly believes his optimistic “we’ll discuss it and move on” will be the end of it, then .... he’s dreaming. I sense that, for Webber, this is a line in the sand. This is Senna/Prost, Villeneuve/ Pironi. A simple apology isn’t going to cut the mustard. Vettel ‘stole’ seven valuable points, and a grand prix win, from his team-mate. A Webber-Vettel 1-2 would have seen the pair tied for the championship lead. More ominously, as Webber pointed out, any trust that had been rebuilt between the pair, is gone. If this was Man United, the offending player would be benched for a game. In F1? No, of course not. The two-and-a-half weeks to China gives several parties time for introspection. For those who believe F1 to be more showbiz than sport, the theatre surrounding this drama is going to be fascinating. VETTEL JOINS THE CLUB OPINION CHRIS LAMBDEN Publisher OPINION