It ain’t short on Red Bull, Formula One is the absolute pits

Sebastian Vettel seemed a broken man. Tearful, almost. "It's not a great feeling right now and surely tonight it's not going to be easy to fall asleep . . . I owe an explanation to the team," he sighed during an emotional chat with the BBC after the Malaysian Grand Prix.

If you’d tuned in late you’d have wondered what nasty fate had befallen the poor divil.

And it was? Well, victory. But he’d been ordered not to win, so this was a bad thing.

Formula One? A hoot.


No one was laughing, mind, Red Bull team-orders-gate had left all concerned stunned, Vettel overtaking team-mate Mark Webber when he'd been told not to even think about it, so this was a total no-no.

Outwardly, at least, Vettel seemed thoroughly remorseful about his treachery, although inwardly you suspected he was going: “Whoooooo hoooooo!”

But maybe not.

“Is this the most hollow win you’ve had to celebrate? Are you happy you won?” he was asked.

“No,” he said, like he would take the shame to his grave.

Webber was spitting, as you could spot when he had a quiet word with Vettel after the race. "They're big boys, they'll sort it out," David Coulthard told us, but that was the worry: that they'd deck each other.

Suzi Perry, our host, was aghast. This was a dark day for Red Bull, even though they'd finished first and second. (What would be a bright day for Red Bull? She didn't say).

“Is that a race of instinct, or is that slightly stupid?” she asked Coulthard of Vettel’s intemperate behaviour. Coulthard was a little irked by the stupidity suggestion. “You are overheating, your core temperature is over 39,” he told her, “every decision you make in life isn’t perfect – I’m sure you’ve made some decisions that you regret”.

Well, cripes.

Suzi stayed cool, when you really wanted her to insert her overheated microphone where Coulthard’s sun doesn’t glow, while declaring “take that square jaw!”. But she was too big for that. “Awkward,” was all she said.

So, yes, tempers were a little frayed. And judging by the flexy muscles in Webber’s jaw, he was ready to detonate. Did Vettel have any respect for him? “I think Seb has respect for Mark Webber, yes,” said Mark Webber, losing all our sympathy in one fell swoop – anyone who refers to themselves in the third person deserves to be overtaken, despite team orders.

He wasn't, though, the only one to have a bad day. Poor old Fernando Alonso 's race was run in the first lap when he had a brush with Vettel's machine. "It was just the tiniest of kisses, but unfortunately when you have a Ferrari prancing horse kissing a bull then it damages the front wing," said Coulthard, like we didn't know that.

Overheating nuts
"And another miserable story further down the field was Force India today with those pit stops," said Suzi.

“It’s surprising. They had a problem with overheating nuts,” said Coulthard.

As Murray Walker once put it, “anything can happen in Grand Prix racing – and it usually does”.

Then, of course, there was Lewis Hamilton.

"Oh! Ah! He went in to the wrong pit! He went in to the wrong pit," howled Ben Edwards when Hamilton appeared to have forgotten he no longer drives for McLaren and is now a Mercedes man. It was an exceptionally cute moment, like a fella returning to his first love having concluded faraway snazzier models are less green than they'd hoped. Although, when the faraway hills pay you €70 million over three years, you put up with their shortcomings.

It was, then, all happening in the pits. Like the moment a Toro Rosso vehicle collided with a Caterham and knocked its nose off, the crunch only drowned out by Hamilton's cries of "Take me back! Take me back!", Red Bull hollering "Seb, don't even think about it!" and Mark Webber bellowing "I am Mark Webber".

Eventful, then. A nuts kind of day, in an overheated kind of way.