Only A Game? - It’s a bit of a cock and Red Bull story

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany holds a press conference ahead of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai, China, Thursday, April 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany holds a press conference ahead of the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai, China, Thursday, April 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

By the time most of you read this the Chinese Grand Prix will be over and if you were wise, mad or dedicated enough to get up at 7.30am on a Sunday morning to take in said race then I salute you. But, and there’s a big but... Formula One racing needs to change.

Sebastian Vettel is the defending champion, he’s won the Drivers’ Championship three years in a row and many believe he is the most skilled driver currently competing in Formula One.

Vettel races for Red Bull but there’s a big problem; he has a team mate and he is called Mark Webber.

Mark Webber has only ever won nine Grand Prix races, he’s regarded as the number two driver at Red Bull but like Vettel he can be extremely fast when he wants to be.

Three weeks ago, in the final lap of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Mark Webber was way out in front and team mate Sebastian Vettel was in second place.

The Red Bull team instructed Vettel not to over take team mate Webber and similar instruction were relayed to Webber as well as additional instructions to reduce his speed and preserve the engine.

Vettel decided to ignore his team’s instructions and over took Webber, when he wasn’t expecting, and won the race.

All over the world, fans were disgusted and Vettel’s actions made for one of the most telling podium photographs ever taken and if you thought that was entertaining then the post race press conference was like something from a movie.

Webber was as frank and honest as he could be without using profanities and did not hide his disappointment at what team mate Vettel had done. It entertainment in its purest form.

Now, here’s the thing. By ignoring team instructions it can be argued that Vettel was indeed in the wrong but a Formula One racing driver is instinctively selfish and instinctively competitive. Effectively, the act of over taking is in their DNA.

The reason Red Bull instructed Vettel not to over take was because they wanted to avoid a repeat of what happened in Turkey a few years ago.

The two Red Bull cars were in first and second respectively in Istanbul and the race was close to the finish. The two cars were close to completing the race safely when both Webber and Vettel decided to compete for the P1 spot and it resulted in both drivers crashing out of the race.

If both cars complete a race safely it means less cost for Red Bull so it’s easy to understand why when the race is effectively over those in charge would want both cars to return in as good a condition as possible.

There’s a major problem here. Red Bull were being practical and sensible when they instructed Vettel to not over take; Vettel was being instinctive and was doing what he does best - race.

F1 fans can tolerate a certain degree of pragmatism but what we want to see is racing drivers racing one another and if that stops happening then it’s time to ask some serious questions and maybe make some radical changes.

So here’s what I think should happen.

Each Formula One racing should only be allowed one racing driver; they should do away with teams. If a team want to have a reserve driver then that’s fine but to make the sport a even more attractive and credible the people in charge of making the rules should do away with team mates.

I appreciate why teams have two drivers; they are integral when it comes to tactics and trying to reduce how many points claimed by competing teams.

However, would it not be much more entertaining if the 24 drivers competing in each race represented 24 different Formula One racing teams? I believe this would make Formula One racing even more pure, clean and fair.

I know there are people who will think this suggestion is absolutely mad but think about it. What happened in Malaysia a few weeks ago was utterly ridiculous and not only did it embarrass two very highly paid sports men but the situation had the potential to cause serious injury and/or even death.

Every Formula One race has the potential to cause injury and/or death, some will say but there’s no denying that when a driver attempts to over take another driver who is not expecting such an action the likelihood of an accident happening is greatly increased.

With every change to the rules and altercation to the cars, Formula One continues to be an ever changing sport but when the opportunity to make the sport even more competitive rears its head it should be seized upon.

There’s no reason why this couldn’t work. It would take some time to get used to but where’s there’s a will there’s a way. I’m sure there are numerous billionaires and millionaires in the world who would jump at the chance to fund a Formula One racing team so why not get rid of team mates, increase the number of teams and it’s almost certain that the sport would become even more entertaining, extraordinary and worth getting up at 7.30am in the morning for.