1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve has called Sebastian Vettel’s actions “plain wrong”, comparing the spat with Mark Webber to the dispute between his father, Gilles Villeneuve, and Didier Pironi in 1982.
“It’s easy to make excuses,” Villeneuve told Auto Bild. “In the end he’s got the win and the points. Mark has nothing. It was a deliberate decision by Vettel.”
Despite many figures in Formula One believing that the move was deliberate, Vettel maintains that he did not mean to snatch the win away from Webber in Malaysia.
“Ignoring is just plain wrong. The best example is my father and Didier Pironi. Just look at the problems that caused.”
At the 1982 San Marino Grand Prix, Ferrari teammates Villeneuve and Pironi were positioned first and second late into the race, way ahead of the third placed driver. The drivers had agreed prior to the race that should they be in P1 and P2, they would not challenge one another for the win. Therefore, with Villeneuve leading, the race seemed to be over. However, Pironi unexpectedly overtook the Canadian driver, and eventually clinched the win ahead of a bemused Villeneuve, who swore he would never speak to his teammate ever again.
Sadly, this turned out to be true. When trying to better Pironi’s time in qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix at Zolder, Villeneuve collided with Jochen Mass, causing the Canadian driver to be flung from his Ferrari into the catch fencing, where he died immediately.
Although the comparison may be exaggerated, Vettel’s move has certainly damaged an already-strained relationship between himself and Webber. When Formula One returns in two weeks’ time, it will be interesting to see how both drivers handle the situation, and whether 2013 ends up being Webber’s last with Red Bull.