Vettel's win comes at expense of teammate Webber

DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:26 PM ET

Sunday’s downright dominant 1-2 finish by the Red Bull team at the Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang would have been more impressive if there weren’t some questionable incidents that helped Germany’s Sebastian Vettel get to the top step of the podium.

While he and teammate Mark Webber were all smiles for the cameras in the post-race euphoria, it had to grate on Webber — who started on the pole — that Vettel seemed to get all the breaks on this day.

In fact, the key to Vettel’s victory was not his pass of Webber out of Turns 3 and 4 at the start, but some 23 laps later when the pair went in for their pit stops a lap apart.

It looked as though Webber would come out ahead on the exchange of tires but a key misstep by one of Red Bulls tire changers kept the Australian on pit lane for 1.2 second longer than Vettel’s change.

That 1.2 seconds was enough that Webber ended up behind a slower Lewis Hamilton on re-entering the race. More importantly, it gave Vettel an unfettered route to the finish line.

It could all be explained as coincidence, of course, but in the world of F-1 hardly anything is ever left to chance.

And then there was the passing under a yellow penalty that wasn’t. Vettel passed Jarno Trulli’s Lotus when the yellow was out for Fernando Alonso’s stopped Ferrari. Vettel passed Trulli in Turn 4, but race stewards didn’t penalize him.

It is important to remember that in the lead up to the 2010 season, Red Bull and Vettel were being touted as potential champions. Some experts were already engraving Vettel’s name on the world championship trophy before the first race at Bahrain was even run.

When Vettel missed the podium at the desert circuit and followed it up with a disappointing result in Australia, fingers were starting to be pointed in and around the Austrian-based team.

So Sunday’s victory fixed all that. How convenient.

Vettel said it was just good, hard racing that got him the win.

“We are here to fight, but you should always keep respect and I think we both had respect for each other,” he said. “If Mark had been in my position, I’m sure he would have done the same.”

However valiantly Vettel tired to quash any conspiracy theories, the fact remains that on this team there is a 1-2 and Vettel was meant to be the one and Webber the two.

Sunday’s result simply reinforced that fact.

Making tracks

Are we the only ones who have noticed that Kevin (Happy) Harvick appears to be more happy than usual these days?

Could it have anything to do with the constant talk around the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage that Harvick and wife Delana are just a couple of signatures away from starting their own Cup team?

Harvick had a down year last season with a miserable 20th average finishing position. This year, Harvick already has tucked four top 10 finishes — including a pair of second places — under his belt with the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

And he is winning in the Nationwide Series and in the Camping World Truck Series with his own Kevin Harvick Inc. race cars.

The California native finds himself in a very comfortable position, in this his contract year, at RCR. He can justifiably demand a big raise based on his performance in the

No. 29 Chevrolet or move out on his own a la Tony Stewart.

Finish lines

Did Lewis Hamilton learn nothing from his embarrassing connection to last season’s F-1 cheating scandal? The former world champ was front and centre Sunday in another questionable racing tactic at Sepang. In a battle with Renault driver Vitaly Petrov, Hamilton weaved side to side down the track in an attempt to keep the Russian behind him. Last we checked, that was against the rules ... Kyle Busch collected his first win as a team owner Friday in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series at Nashville.

dean.mcnulty@sunmedia.ca


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