- Paper Round - Malaysian Grand Prix
'Ruthless to the point of immorality'
Sebastian Vettel's decision to disobey team orders and win the Malaysian Grand Prix has ensured Formula One is splashed across the back pages of today's newspapers.
The common theme running throughout the headlines is one of war, with 'Red Bull at war' (The Telegraph), 'Webber and Vettel at war' (The Guardian) and 'Red Bull duo in civil war' (Daily Mail) added to by 'Truce over as Webber fumes at Vettel's grand theft' (The Independent) and 'Vettel victory out of order for Red Bull' (The Times).
It's in the editorial comment, however, where Vettel's reputation is picked apart.
"There is the team order and then there is the double-cross. One was given and disobeyed yesterday as Sebastian Vettel showed a side of his character that defied the cuddly, cheery image of the sport's youngest three-times world champion," wrote Kevin Eason in The Times.
"You expect a man as young as Vettel to have a backbone of steel to have been so successful at the age of 25. But he exposed himself as ruthless to the point of immorality as he defied his Red Bull team and jumped Mark Webber, his team-mate, for the victory in Malaysia.
"There was plenty of contrition afterwards and the usual extrovert language to underline his apology. "I f***ed up," Vettel told a packed press conference. By then, he had collected his winner's trophy and banked the 25 points that took him into the lead in the World Championship standings. He will not be that sorry if he is champion for the fourth time in November."
David Tremayne in The Independent said it was as much Vettel's actions after the race which were poor.
"Immediately afterwards, [Vettel] explained that it was not until he and Webber were in parc ferme prior to the podium celebrations that he realised he had committed a cardinal sin. But that's where his post-race damage limitation strategy was revealed as duplicitous subterfuge."
"An apology was the right and humble thing to do. But the truth was that we were already well aware even before he passed Webber that he was going against the orders of his team, because Horner was telling him to stop being silly and to back off. And once the deed was done, Horner warned him that he had plenty of explaining to do. So he knew full well what he had done, and the suggestion that he hadn't acted deliberately but had "made a mistake," was risible.
"His conduct was unbecoming, the petulant act of a man who simply wants to win at all costs."
In The Guardian, Paul Weaver said Vettel had "joined a dark list", adding: "Even if the Malaysian Grand Prix does not herald the immediate end of the strained but high-ly successful Sebastian Vettel-Mark Webber partnership at Red Bull, it does represent a new fissure, deeper and more damaging than anything we have seen before. It has also changed the way we will view Vettel.
"The German's greatness as a driver was already assured when, last year, he became only the third driver to win three successive world championships. But on Sunday, by ignoring team instructions from his employer, Christian Horner, and choosing instead to chase down Webber to secure his 27th win, he also joined another, darker list.
"We can now count Vettel as one of the most ruthlessly single-minded drivers the cacophonous old circus has ever seen. Being in one club, of course, does not preclude membership of the other. Vettel merely moves in alongside Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher in that respect. Maybe the ruthlessness underlines the greatness."
Byron Young, writing in The Daily Mirror went as far as saying Vettel's "manoeuvre in the Malaysian Grand Prix was straight out of Michael Schumacher's book of world domination: utterly ruthless and morally reprehensible".