Sebastian Vettel endured a difficult Chinese Grand Prix today in Shanghai as he could only bring his Red Bull home in fifth place, finishing some 24 seconds behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo. However, he did turn some heads when he flouted team orders and refused to let his faster teammate through after the first round of stops.
Ricciardo was far quicker than Vettel in the race, but a poor start meant that he trailed his illustrious teammate. However, he soon closed after pitting, and was clearly quicker than the German driver. Red Bull gave Vettel the order to let Ricciardo past, but he quickly challenged it.
“What tires is he on?” Vettel asked his engineer, Rocky. When he was told that they were on the same tires and therefore the same strategy, he then refused to let Ricciardo past. “Tough luck” was the impetuous call from Vettel, who inferred that if Ricciardo was going to gain the position, he would have to overtake him without any assistance.
Ricciardo continued to close, and ultimately found a way past into the first corner. Vettel had asked about Ricciardo’s strategy, and was told that he was on a two stop, whilst the German driver was still able to run a three-stop if need be. He then backed off slightly to let the Australian driver through, and then saw little more of him for the remainder of the race.
Vettel was soon protesting over the radio again as Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi unlapped himself. Despite being entitled to do so, it annoyed the Red Bull driver who complained to his team. With worn tires, he soon pitted and eventually re-lapped Kobayashi later in the race.
He may have won the last four world titles, but the cracks are beginning to appear in Sebastian Vettel’s F1 crown.