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Hold The Outrage, Easy On The Hypocrisy

FEATURE BY GLEN CROMPTON
26/03/2013

Fan forums and the media are predictably awash with all manner of venom and vitriol about Sebastian Vettel's disregard for team orders. A little ironic since not too long ago team orders were forbidden and at the merest indication that a team was implementing them caused similar fits of apoplexy. Now these orders are legal and we have outcry that a driver ignored them.

In fact given the hyperbole way back when Rubens Barrichello moved aside to allow his Ferrari team mate to take victory in Hungary, I'd have thought that defying a team order made you a hero not a villain? What a fickle lot we fans and the media are.

But fans will be fans and naturally there will be times when supporters of a given driver see their hero lose out to a team mate. Somebody must be vilified. This is no different to any sport and I'm sure we can all think of examples of supporters of football codes who swear blind that referees have never given a fair penalty against their team.

I find it far worse when journalists behave this way. As an Australian I'm used to local media doling out parochial pro-Webber twaddle but clearly Mark has many international friends in the press box too. Former racer John Watson has gone so far as to suggest that Vettel be given a one race ban by his team. Now there's an interesting bit of logic. Red Bull issued the order to try to ensure a maximum point haul. John's suggestion that the team stand down their triple world champion would seem an obvious way to harvest fewer points - the exact opposite of the reason they issued the order Sebastian ignored!

In Malaysia, Seb chose not to bother with his team's directive and passed Mark in a fairly spectacular dual - the kind F1 fans like me love. As a fan, I do not enjoy watching drivers parade around in predetermined order. As a pragmatist, I understand exactly why Red Bull gave the order. Too many team bosses have been left wincing as both their cars needlessly slither off the road, a haul of points evaporating like coolant from a busted radiator.

Sebastian's otherwise unsullied image will suffer as a result of this and he only has himself to blame. He has, as the line in the movie goes, been a very naughty boy. Seb defied his team and that's an issue between him and those who sign his paychecks. Then again I think Vettel has 3 good bargaining chips in the shape of World Championship trophies. I'd love to be a fly on the wall at that meeting.

Interestingly, Sebastian won't have to go far if he wants some advice on how to deal with a team when you've defied their orders. Back in 2011 at the British GP there was quite a spat in the closing stages as a couple of team mates haggled over second place. The team boss called the behaviour stupidity when Mark Webber repeatedly ignored the team directives to stop chasing down Sebastian Vettel.

Glen Crompton
crompo@pitpass.com

To check out previous features from 'Crompo', click here

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