Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Red flag to the Bull

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, right, and his teammate Mark Webber of Australia stand on the podium during the awarding ceremony for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, March 24, 2013. Vettel won the race and Webber finished second. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany, right, and his teammate Mark Webber of Australia stand on the podium during the awarding ceremony for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, March 24, 2013. Vettel won the race and Webber finished second. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

Favourite backers were delighted by Sebastain Vettel's decision not to be team player in the Malaysian Grand Prix, ignoring instructions to let Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber take the chequered flag.

Racing should mean what it says. Concocting wins especially when not necessary, hardly glamourises the sport, even if it's done to protect tyres and engines.

But it certainly made a big difference to those who backed Vettel at 11/5.

Imagine how they would have felt if Webber, a 20/1 chance had been allowed to sail home at his leisure while the German made no attempt to improve his position?

Logically, if Red Bull wanted a result without over-taxing the cars, they should have insisted on Vettel winning anyway as he's probably better placed to win the title and was the favourite in Malaysia.

Bookmakers, too, will have been delighted to have taken the hit because the result safe-guarded the integrity of Grand Prix racing.

Who wants to bet on a sport where the outcome is predetermined or decided in the pit lane?

If such a situation happened in horse-racing where the favourite took it easy in the final furlong to allow a less-fancied stablemate to triumph, there would be a lynch-mob waiting for the beaten jockey once he passed the post. Not only that, the jockey would be facing a lengthy suspension for failing to gain the best possible finishing place.

The same thing happened with Nico Rosberg finishing fourth behind Lewis Hamilton after being ordered by Mercedes not to overtake and settle for the 27-point team haul, thereby allowing Hamilton to claim a podium spot.

That saw Hamilton, currently in fourth spot, cut from 16-1 to 14s for the title.

Vettel apologised afterwards but probably it was tongue-in-cheek and meant nothing as he took a nine point lead in the Drivers' Championship.

That's what was important to him. The affection between him and Webber is as warm as the temperatures in the Glens of Antrim over the weekend but it all adds a bit of competitive spice for the rest of the GP season and thank goodness for that.

The show moves on to Shanghai in three weeks time with Vettel who is 4/6 to win over 4.5 races through the season, the 15/8 market leader, followed by champion Fernando Alonso who failed to finish last time, at 4/1. Webber is 10/1.

How about 16/1 for a Webber-Vettel straight forecast? I wouldn't bet on it.

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