What a farce. I hate team orders in motor sport and this race was the perfect example why. I can’t agree that this was a great race (as some commentators have said), it was a team orders induced farce. Instead, we were robbed of a good race and given a controversial mess. I know my opinion on this isn’t popular, but here it is.
After what I saw from catching up on the Australian GP, the qualifying results for Malaysia didn’t surprise me for the most part. One of the first things I noticed in the session is that the teams seemed to be ready for the rain that came later in qualifying; it’s normal for this time of year for that part of the world and the cars seemed to be leaning considerably in the turns indicating some rather soft suspension setups. Red Bull and Ferrari were the front runners with Mercedes and Lotus close behind. Force India continued to be a top 10 contender and if not for calling DiResta in too soon at the beginning of Q2 and getting caught out by the rain, they may have both cars in Q3. Interestingly, Felipe Massa out-qualified Fernando Alonso for the second race in a row; if anything came as a surprise, that was it. I don’t really count myself as a Vettel or Red Bull fan but all credit to him and the team for taking pole in the rain with a car that was running considerably less rear wing than the rest of the field.
The race was utterly ridiculous. Fernando Alonso had contact with Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap which damaged his front wing. He continued to race with the damage and apparently Ferrari didn’t call him into the pits to replace it. When Mark Webber made a pass, the turbulence from his car caused Alonso’s wing to fail and it folded up under the car causing Alonso to go straight off out of control. It was a silly decision put Alonso out of the race and everyone behind him in danger. Next you have Vettel petulantly demanding that Red Bull tell Webber to pull over and let him go. Then it turns out that Red Bull decided to manage the race after the last pit stop and let Mark Webber win the race. Vettel was faster; he was catching Webber at the end of most of the stints so he disregarded the orders and passed Webber for the lead and eventually the victory. While that was going on, Nico Rosberg was asking Mercedes to let him pass Lewis Hamilton for P3 because he was faster. Of course the answer from Mercedes was no; they too were managing the race, Hamilton was doing what they were telling him to.
In both cases, team orders led to acrimony. Vettel disobeyed orders and it it angered Webber and the team. Rosberg obeyed his orders and it angered him; he told them over the radio post race “I’ll remember this.” I don’t blame Vettel, Webber, Hamilton, or Rosberg. I blame the team bosses and team orders. I don’t watch a race to see teams “manage the race” I watch to see racers race. Race teams are worrying too much about winning championships instead of winning races. In my opinion that isn’t good for the fans; fans want to see good racing on the track not teams managing a finish for the benefit of the team championship.
What is even worse is Vettel’s post race behavior. He claimed not to know about the orders, stating he didn’t know he was supposed to allow Webber to win. Whatever respect I had for Vettel (I’ve never been a fan) is gone. Just be honest about it, “I was faster so I made the pass.” This just makes a bad situation worse. I have more respect for Lewis Hamilton’s podium statements to Martin Brundle; he admitted he was slower and that Nico Rosberg should have been on the podium instead. If you haven’t figured out by now, this race has left me thoroughly disgusted.
Nike had an advertising campaign built around the slogan “Just Do It.” We need to have a slogan in motor sports: “Just Race.”