Villeneuve calls Vettel’s actions “plain wrong”

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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.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”