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Hungary 2009

27th July 2009

Creating a monster.

In the long list of words one could use to describe the attributes necessary to become a top-level Formula 1 driver, I doubt many would include magnanimity.

F1 2009 has been a little different – or at least it was.

At race after race, in interview after interview, and at press conference after press conference, we’d hear how each driver’s team-mate deserved the win and the accolades that followed; and of the need to knuckle down if they were to be beaten.

All refreshing stuff, no doubt, but one suspected all along that just a scratch on the surface would reveal the oh-so-familiar mind games, bitterness and backstabbing of intra-team rivalry.

The situation at Red Bull is the most intriguing. Up until early July at the Nürburgring, all seemed rosy in the sickly sweet world of energy drink-fuelled F1.

The young ‘n’ trendy Sebastian Vettel had won a race or two, ably supported by his down-to-earth Aussie mate. Mark Webber had dealt with defeat – and rumours of Red Bull's Germanic-leaning favouritism – with aplomb. 

After Mark’s maiden win things appear to have changed.

Vettel seemed less than happy to play the runner-up role in Germany, and after Hungary I bet he’s far from chipper at trailing Mark in the championship. Less than flattering mutterings about Sebastian’s attitude to doing anything other than driving are blotting the copybook of this previously very likeable lad.

Word around the camp fire is that the big boss back in Austria has told Vettel that he need not do anything he doesn’t want to. So, journalist with a story, photographer with a brief – don’t even ask. Sebastian is big time now and the bonhomie of recent times is long gone.

Giving rich young men with egos the size of F1 motorhomes the right to refuse all that their employers, press and the like ask of them is more than a little irresponsible. It hardly makes for a level-headed guy who’ll be popular with opinion-formers worldwide.

Webber, of course, is a wily old fox, and from what I hear has noticed plenty in his team-mate’s current demeanour to more than chip away at his young, inexperienced and possibly fragile character.

We’ll see – but with a new contract in his pocket, his team-mate throwing rusks out of his pram and the Brawns on the run, Mark knows his big chance is begging.

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