Sebastian Vettel’s ‘stab-in-the-back’ Malaysian Grand Prix win revived an age-old debate about team orders in Formula One but trust, or the lack of it, could be more of a headache for champions Red Bull in the weeks ahead.
“If you get a situation where there’s no trust between the drivers within a team, that is quite corrosive,” Britain’s 1996 champion Damon Hill said on Sunday after world champion Vettel ignored his team’s instructions and passed Australian Mark Webber to snatch victory at Sepang.
Formula 1’s past is littered with examples of teams riven by internal feuding, with drivers taking matters into their own hands on the track in dramatic and sometimes catastrophic fashion.
Admirers of the late and great Gilles Villeneuve will always blame Frenchman Didier Pironi for contributing to his death by ‘stealing’ a victory from the Canadian at the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix.
Villeneuve was incensed by Pironi overtaking him while the Canadian, leading a Ferrari one-two, slowed to manage fuel and tyres.
He never spoke to Pironi again, declaring “From now on, it’s war”. Two weeks later, in Belgium, the father of 1997 champion Jacques died in qualifying at Zolder as he tried to beat his team mate’s time.
The headline-grabbing animosity between champions Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna at McLaren in the late 1980s, which was thrilling for fans, engendered some superlative battles but also rash and reckless moves.
Bad blood between Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso at McLaren in 2007 led to the Spaniard impeding his team mate in qualifying and picking up a grid penalty that cost him pole. Without the sanction, McLaren would have swept the front row. (Reuters)