Red Bull civil war: Sebastian Vettel is personable off the track... but on it he's as petulant and ruthless as they come

The Red Bull driver ignored team-orders to claim victory in Malaysia

Sepang

Sebastian Vettel is one of the most intelligent and personable drivers in Formula One, and most of the time is obliging and informative. But on the track he grows horns.

He does not indulge in the sort of dangerous manoeuvres that sullied countryman Michael Schumacher’s career, but the relentless will to win is similar.

We saw in Turkey in 2010, when he cut too sharply across Mark Webber’s bows while they were fighting for the lead and spun into retirement, that he is not such a nice boy when things go against him. That’s when a churlishness emerges that is less than engaging. 

This time the situation was crystal clear. Team boss Christian Horner wanted his drivers to hold station by the 45th lap, so they could preserve their fragile Pirelli tyres and ease the load on their Renault engines. Red Bull had had a bruising start to the season in Australia, where they dominated qualifying but were beaten on race pace by Lotus and Ferrari. Now they stood to gain a whopping 43 world championship points. Both Horner, and genius designer Adrian Newey, hid their heads in their hands as Vettel continued to push and pressure Webber.

In the end, the ruthless racer in Vettel could not be contained, and he pushed through to steal the win, and to hell with what Horner advised. He only seems to answer to energy drink magnate Dietrich Mateschitz’s right-hand man, Dr Helmut Marko.

Immediately afterwards, he explained that it was not until he and Webber were in parc ferme prior to the podium celebrations that he realised he had committed a cardinal sin. But that’s where his post-race damage limitation strategy was revealed as duplicitous subterfuge.

An apology was the right and humble thing to do. But the truth was that we were already well aware even before he passed Webber that he was going against the orders of his team, because Horner was telling him to stop being silly and to back off. And once the deed was done, Horner warned him that he had plenty of explaining to do. So he knew full well what he had done, and the suggestion that he hadn’t acted deliberately but had “made a mistake,” was risible.

His conduct was unbecoming, the petulant act of a man who simply wants to win at all costs.

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk