Date: 27th March 2013 at 9:18am
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With a break in the Formula One calendar following the Malaysian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel might have thought that the controversy may have died down by now.

But the three-time Formula One World Champion would have been wrong if he thought that was the case.

Just as well that he has a thick skin then, because he’s already declared that he doesn’t ‘care about the criticism, which is good because there is certainly enough of it around.

The media, certainly in Britain have been scathing towards him, now remember whilst Red Bull might be based in Milton Keynes, this is a Swiss team, with a German and an Australian driver, there is no sense in any form of bias from these reporters, who all united in universal condemnation of Vettel’s actions in Malaysia.

Formula One is a sport, the competitive nature of the sport is what makes it exciting and through history we’ve seen drivers do virtually anything to win.

In the modern era of Formula One the late great Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher all used dubious tactics in an attempt to win a Formula One World Championship.

But when those drivers pulled out all the stops, their race rival knew the situation, when the two McLaren’s of Prost and Senna collided in Suzuka in 1989 and ultimately decided the Championship following Senna’s disqualification, the two drivers had already had multiple disagreements between themselves throughout the season.

They were the fiercest of rivals despite driving for the same team. The following year and saw Prost’s move to Ferrari, the two collided again deciding the World Championship in Senna’s favour. The first corner crash was predicted by everyone. Senna may have won the title through directly taking his opponent out, but there was kind of a raw honesty about it.

Same for Michael Schumacher and his incidents with Damon Hill in 1994 and Jacques Villeneuve in 1997. They are all ruthless manoeuvres on a World Championship rival in the closing stages of a Formula One season.

Are they sporting? Of course not, but the win at all costs mentality won supporters the world over.

But in Vettel’s case that simply isn’t the case. The German has made his move in the second race of a nineteen race season. There was no title to be won in Malaysia.

The move was against a unsuspecting team-mate who had been ordered not to race to protect the tyres and the car. The Australian had turned down his engine settings and was bringing the car home unscathed.

This was not a so-called title contender and in doing what Vettel did he disobeyed a direct order from the team that has provided him with three world titles to-date and seemingly another car capable of taking a fourth world title.

This wasn’t a driver making a sporting move on track to beat a rival this was: ‘stabbing his team-mate in the back’ according to Byron Young of the The Daily Mirror.

‘He followed utterly in the footsteps of his idol [Schumacher] as he betrayed his teammate Mark Webber, his team Red Bull, boss Christian Horner, and billionaire boss Dietrich Mateschitz who has financed his racing career since he was 13, And the manoeuvre in the Malaysian Grand Prix was straight out of Michael Schumacher’s book of world domination: utterly ruthless and morally reprehensible.

‘In fact in the blazing heat of Malaysia Vettel’s [Sunday] was probably worse than most of Schumacher’s track actions. His were usually reserved for a track rival.’
he concluded.

The other papers followed in a similar vein.

‘We can now count Vettel as one of the most ruthlessly single-minded drivers the cacophonous old circus has ever seen. Being in one club, of course, does not preclude membership of the other. Vettel merely moves in alongside Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher in that respect. Maybe the ruthlessness underlines the greatness.’ Paul Weaver of the Guardian wrote.

‘There is a team order and then there is a double-cross, One was given and disobeyed [Sunday] as Sebastian Vettel showed a side of his character that defied the cuddly, cheery image of the sport’s youngest three-times world champion.’ The Times’ Kevin Eason said.

‘You expect a man as young as Vettel to have a backbone of steel to have been so successful at the age of 25. But he exposed himself as ruthless to the point of immortality as he defied his Red Bull team and jumped Mark Webber, his team-mate, for the victory in Malaysia.’

It’s difficult to see how Vettel can ever gain back the respect he has lost in Malaysia, but as he’s already defiantly said, he simply ‘doesn’t care’.