Dysfunctional intra-team rivalries are nothing new to Formula One.   One of F1’s axioms, of course, is the first driver you have to beat is your teammate.  Nobody takes a whole lot of notice when that team is Marussia or Minardi, but when it involves drivers on a front running team things can quickly become a high profile soap opera. Do Jones v Reutemann, Mansell v Piquet, Alonso v Hamilton and tragically, Pironi v Villeneue come to mind?Webber

For a four and a half seasons, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have done a poor job of concealing their mutual animosity, one doubtless fueled as much by the team’s occasional public displays of preferential treatment for their Wunderkind as by his three world championships.

And when Red Bull did give Webber the proverbial nod in this year’s Malaysian GP, Vettel wasted no time in disobeying team orders . . . and received even less than a slap on the wrist for his insolence, as he doubtless calculated would be the case.

Of course, Webber has given notice he is moving to the greener pastures of Porsche’s LMP1 program in 2014.   While he has been as professional as can be expected under the circumstances of being paired with a young teammate who is simultaneously the most talented driver of his generation, the fair haired child of their team/sponsor and a bit too cocky for some tastes, Webber let his guard down on a recent (at least in the USA) episode of Top Gear, the BBC’s zanily irreverent car culture show.

Host Jeremy Clarkson’s questions about Webber’s relationship with Vettel were answered with pregnant pauses and, when it came time for Webber to match or beat other race drivers’ times around the test track in a pedestrian Suzuki Leona, the Aussie’s sole mission clearly was to better his soon-to-be-former teammate’s time.

It was good theatre, as Webber was surely aware.  Still, he played his role with a passion that left no doubt he will be glad to be shut of Vettel when the checkered flag falls at Interlagos  – and which should give potential replacements lining up to take his place pause to consider what they may be in for when the green lights glow in Melbourne come March.

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8 Comments

Sebastian Vetel,very sharp, instinctive,composed driver that he obviously is, will not be tested to his maximum potential until he has a team mate of the same ilk. The natural type, as he is ,that being a Ronnie Peterson,Giles Villeneuve, or maybe even a Nigel Mansell. The closest type in f1 that we have today is you’ve guessed,Lewis Hamilton,a driver who having made many mistakes earlier in his career has now matured I feel into the only driver who if Sebastian Vetel looked in his mirrors knowing he had Hamilton with same car behind, he would very nervous.

john burke
August 30th, 2013 at 8:49 pm

its a shame that the ice man isn’t in the same car next year. Seb kept quite and now he’s all smile’s, knowing he’ll have an easier time.

DJ
September 4th, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Weber is correct in saying any driver partnering Vettel will have to accept a supporting role. That’s clearly why no top driver was considered or in all honesty considered taking the job. Bernie Ecclestone explained quite succinctly when asked how he dealt with a similar situation when he had his own team earlier in his career. When asked how he dealt with the team’s second driver taking points from their top driver who was challenging for the driver’s title Bernie simply said they didn’t put enough fuel in his car.

In 2010 Weber was as quick as and at times quicker than Vettel, ever since he has not come close. Clearly something has been amiss as Weber has not consistently challenged Vettel ever since.

Vettel is no doubt a top driver, but how much of that is down to having the best car designed by the best designer in Adrian Newey? No matter how many championships Vettel wins he will not be considered among the greats unless he switches teams and wins against top talent within the same team.

Tony C.
September 6th, 2013 at 2:28 am

Vettel will not get a good honest team mate/rear gunner again. Red Bull has lost prestige over the handling of Webber. No win per orders, no tyre 3 times, no petrol once, and that is just the obvious this season. This will show up at the checkout register if I stop drinking it. Fans know the little boy was given preferential treatment. No business will survive corrupt management. Now Vettel will be “red bulled” to use a rugby/football expression. It will be him against 21 or 23 other drivers and unlike a Senna he doesn’t have the balls to handle it. The end of Red Bull dominance? We will have to see. I liked the way Webber drove and my allegiance will now move.

psaunders
September 10th, 2013 at 6:21 pm

john burke is right. hamilton is a beast of a driver. wears his heart on his sleeve though, so needs to improve his self-control. the very best teams will shy away from him.

2. dj, i disagree with you. over three seasons and in the same car, webber has never looked like beating vettel.

3. tony c. equal partnerships are never going to exist in f1. alonso/massa, vettel/webber, raikonnen/grosjean, now hamilton dominating rosberg. perhaps in mclaren; however, button appears still to be the ‘top’ driver.

if you’re suggesting webber is being sabotaged, then he should have moved to another f1 team and proved his mettle as hamilton did. i have no doubt he would have found a ‘good’ seat. the fact is webber is not as good as vettel. in the paddock, perhaps only alonso and hamilton can take him on with the same car, in that order.

yinka olu-oguntokun
September 11th, 2013 at 5:20 am

Yes Alonso and Hamilton are good drivers also but of the three Vettel is the better teamplayer,not with the other driver but with his team. This makes a big
difference for the total package IMHO.
In addition I believe that Vettel has the best
technical knowledge of their environment and hence is
able to talk to his technical team most effectively
in any case better than Alonso or Hamilton.

UBM
September 14th, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Multi 21, eh?

Having your cars nose cone nicked and put on Vettels car.

Your team mate trying to overtake you when there was no space and crashing both of you out.

And those very peculiar backwards starts of Webber.

Don’t tell me Vettel wasn’t given preferential treatment. Otherwise, they’d have at least been level, or Webber even ahead.

Can’t have that happening to the not so wunder wunderkind, can we?

Pops
September 15th, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Hamilton is the man first season mating Alonso what a legend vetel would have no hope

Stuart
September 22nd, 2013 at 11:59 am

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