I’m a big-time Formula 1 motor racing fan. I’ll wait up until 3am to watch a race. If I’m on the road I’ll even stream the practice sessions. A life goal is to attend every F1 race on the calendar with a paddock pass around my neck. I support Mark Webber (@aussiegrit), not just because of nationality but because he’s an exceptional driver. So there’s my bias for what follows.
This past weekend’s race in Malaysia was outstanding, as one of F1’s mostly hidden but nonetheless great rivalries re-entered public consciousness. Whereas in the past the Red Bull Racing team managed to keep the angst behind closed doors, Sebastian Vettel’s pass on Mark Webber, after Webber had been instructed to “turn down the engine” means this time it’s not going away.
I understand Vettel’s behavior. He’s ruthless. He wants to win his fourth consecutive driver’s championship. He knows this will soon enough be forgotten, that no-one remembers who comes second. He knows he has the team on his side (Christian Horner is a sheep masquerading as a team boss). Vettel believes Mark’s a pushover.
Check out this Top Gear tribute to the late Ayrton Senna if you want to understand where Vettel’s head is at:
There are also clues in the video about how I believe Mark Webber ought to respond to Vettel: he needs to put his Red Bull Renault “on rails”.
Webber is good enough to win the 2013 driver’s championship. He also has less to lose than Vettel, who will have an eye on bettering Michael Schumacher’s seven world championships (five of them consecutive!).
If I were Mark Webber I’d let in be known in whatever way is appropriate that from now on it’s wheel-to-wheel racing. If Vettel wants to win he’s going to have to take the long way around. If he thinks there’s a gap he can force his way into, he’s wrong. That if the team delivers a shitty car and I’m out of the points, Vettel had better not try to lap me … That I am going to crush him.
Maybe that can be said? Maybe it needs to be demonstrated on the track? Whatever the case the only response to Vettel’s behavior is unmatched ruthlessness.
[I am not generally an advocate of force but its manifestations, such as dominating an opponent with one’s will, are sometimes necessary in order to secure victory.]