This very moment a new color is being developed at Ferrari and it’s the color of Luca Di Montezemolo’s face. Beyond blood red and Ferrari red combined. Stefano Domenicali is most probably on the receiving end of every torture device that Leonardo Da Vinci had ever conceived in the dark recesses of his mind.
In Sepang Malaysia today, in a move that you might, and I do mean might see in a Formula Renault 3.5 race, Domenicali left Fernando Alonso out on the track after a first lap incident where Ferrari’s number one driver touched the rear of a Red Bull being piloted by NASCAR’s next star, Sebastian Vettel, more on that later.
The incident occurred in turn two on a wet track that had everyone coming close to disaster. Such is the nature of a Formula One race in Sepang, they, along with the weather, are always unpredictable. That wasn’t the real problem. The problem was that it was obvious to anyone with eyes to see, and the teams see everything as we do, that the damaged front wing of Alonso was not going to make it into the window of pit stops that would have everyone switching to slicks.
Granted it would be two to three laps before that change would be called for under ‘normal’ circumstances for a drying track. This was anything but a normal circumstance. On the start, Alonso’s teammate, Felipe Massa pulled a ‘scare’ tactic on Alonso by moving over on him. However, Alonso doesn’t scare easily, if ever, and the Spaniard simply went left, jarring Massa’s sensibilities, and up the middle to place him right behind Vettel. Alonso had no intention of letting Vettel get away, but the bold move put the Ferrari driver right on the gearbox of Vettel and ever so slightly into it.
Any Formula One team want’s to get as much ‘point’ insurance in the bank as early in the season as possible, but the gamble that Domenicali took cost the team any chance at driver points for Alonso and valuable Constructors points for the team.
Had Alonso been called in immediately he would have taken on slicks and at least had a fighting chance to get a points paying finish early in the season. Adding insult to injury, for Massa’s bravado at the start all it got him was a 5th place finish and, quite possibly, a bare bottom caning by the emotional President of Ferrari. Ferrari had a shot and Domenicali blew it bigger than the Hindenburg refueling.
Despite putting on the corporate face for the world, rest assured Dante’s Inferno is being reenacted in Maranello, Sepang and the dark confines of the Scuderia’s dungeons as we write.
As for Vettel and NASCAR, Brian France can only be imagined saying, ‘that’s how we do it here in the U.S. drive dirty and lie like hell about it afterwards”! After the race began to settle in with Webber comfortably in the lead over Vettel with just over ten laps to go after pit stops, Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principle, delivered orders to both Vettel and Webber to ‘hold their positions’. I’m not one for team orders but it only made sense when you know that these tyres degrade more rapidly when the cars are too close to one another.
Webber was told to turn his engine power down, which he did, Vettel did not, despite being told to do so. What ensued was Vettel tracking down Webber and, in a dogfight between the two that put the entire team in jeopardy, Vettel passed Webber in a potentially dangerous move to take the win. Horner was not amused.
According to Horner: “He (Vettel) put his interests beyond what the team’s position was. He was focused on those seven points difference between second and first place-which was wrong. He has accepted it was wrong”.
Sure he has, and the new Pope smokes grass.
According to Horner Vettel also apologized to Mark Webber and they will all focus on the next race. Then they’ll all go to Disneyland together.
Webber has but the 2013 season under contract with Red Bull. Vettel has until 2014. The move that Vettel made may end up costing him dearly over the course of this season as Webber seems to be resigned to the fact that this will be his last with Adrian Newey designed car. He hasn’t said as much, but all signs seem to point to it. Just imagine if Webber is in between Vettel and Alonso, will he do anything to help protect Vettel? No chance. Vettel has made an enemy in his teammate in a season that hasn’t flushed out who really has the advantage and that’s a dangerous place to be.
As competitive as this season appears to be shaping up you can almost bank on a DNF from Vettel at some point and no one is going to pity him, help him or move over for him. To make matters worse, Webber is now openly accusing Red Bull of favoring Vettel. It’s not a mystery that Webber is a number two driver to Sebastian Vettel, the drivers accept their place willingly to drive the best equipment.
But don’t be surprised if the next bit of news from the F1 world is that Mark Webber enrolls in the Kevin and Delana Harvick School of Payback.