The coming together of the Red Bull’s of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at the Turkish Grand Prix last weekend has become a massive talking point, a somewhat controversial incident that has multiplied in size due to the poor handling of the situation by Red Bull management.
Today Vettel and Webber met with each other and senior Red Bull Racing management to talk through what happened and ‘draw a line under the incident’. Both drivers made positive comments and talked about moving on. Webber stated ‘Seb and I will make sure it doesn’t happen again’. However, for this to realistically happen, they must have agreed on how and why the incident happened.
Like many other F1 fans, I watched the incident live on TV and then have seen it again and again on replay from every angle (UK users only) and I keep coming back to the same conclusion: Mark Webber did nothing wrong. I really find it hard to understand any criticism of his part in the incident.
I must also stress that I am not a particular Mark Webber fan and admire both him and Vettel equally. In fact, ignoring my tongue-in-cheek post about Vettel’s heritage, I really quite like Sebastian Vettel, both his driving and the way he conducts himself as a person. He seems like a really nice and uber-talented guy. However, last Sunday he got it wrong.
There are two ways of looking at the incident, firstly, you can analyse what did happen and secondly, you can make the assumption that Webber was at fault and then assess what he should have done instead.
As we all have seen now too many times, Vettel made a pass to Webber’s left as they came towards turn 12 on lap 40 of the Turkish Grand Prix. Webber had spotted Vettel’s run at him and had stayed to the left, giving him just enough room on the left to make a pass but left lots of room to the right. Basically he was covering the inside line and if Vettel was going to pass, he wanted him to do it from the outside.
Once it was clear to Webber that Vettel was trying to pass on the left he stayed straight, his car did not deviate. Watch the footage and see how twitchy Vettel is in his car compared to Webber who maintains his line. Before they get to the 150m marker Vettel , who is not yet passed Webber completely, moves sharply to the right and they collide and have their accident.
Some have been critical that Webber was at fault because he ‘squeezed’ Vettel on the left hand side. Vettel chose the tight left hand side to pass Webber (he could have gone right where there was lots of space) and Mark simply held his course.
In Webber’s mind, if Vettel had to take the corner on a tighter line then he had a chance of braking later than him and overtaking him back. It is important to remember, the accident occurred because Vettel turned right quickly and Webber had no time to react to that. They had not yet reached their braking points so Vettel could have waited a little longer, until he was fully passed Webber, before moving over to the right to take a better line through turn 12.
So, from analysing what happened, it is clear to me that Vettel was at fault for the accident. Webber was hard but fair; something a racing driver should be with his teammate.
If we make the assumption that Webber was to blame, then we must have an answer as to what he was supposed to have done instead. It is argued he should have given Vettel more room. As soon as Vettel came up the inside he should have moved over to the right. This would have absolutely gifted the corner to Vettel as he could also move right and take a more normal line into turn 12. If Webber had done this, he would have been severely criticised for being a weak racing driver. He is leading the Championship and there is no reason why he should make it easy for his closest rival to overtake him.
Some have said that when Vettel moved right he should moved right too. However, Vettel moves across so quickly he did not have time to react and you can see him tying to move right when he realises Vettel is going to hit him.
Sebastian had made a good pass on Mark Webber, but he hadn’t actually finished the pass when he moved to the right, that’s why the accident happened. Mark Webber did not do anything wrong and if I was him I would be quite angry that he has been given any blame whatsoever for the incident. What else was he supposed to have done?