When you think of Formula 1 in the 1990's and early 2000's, one name is all that comes to your mind - Michael Schumacher! And you are not the only one to think that way. Michael Schumacher has dominated the sport like no other driver ever have, and arguably ever will. He was the best driver and had the best team to deliver results race after race. Some lesser mortals won races in between, but it was MSC who was winning the championship. Among his team was one person strongly responsible for MSC to graduate from a great driver to a legend. Very few will remember him after 2-3 decades from now. His name is - Rubens Barrichello.
Rubens Barrichello was Schumacher's team mate in Ferrari. And played a pivotal role in Schumacher winning races and championships. When Schumi needed points to be ahead in the drivers standings, Barrichello paved the way for him. He himself allowed Schumacher to overtake him at times. At times, he also blocked other drivers from getting close to MSC. Now, that's a perfect example of a team player. Ferrari were blessed to have Barrichello in their side and so was MSC. MSC went on to become a legend (controversial legacy, I must add) and Barrichello will remain in the history books as the number 2 driver who, statistically, couldn't defeat the legend.
Fast forward to the 2013 Malaysian GP -
|An awkward moment.. Image Courtesy: www.breakingnews.ie|
Out of the top 4 drivers in the race, two went away happy and two sad. Mark Webber was dominating the race for Red Bull which was a welcome surprise considering how dominating Vettel has been in the previous seasons. After the last pit-stop, Webber followed team orders and was cruising to a well deserved win. Vettel, meanwhile, had other plans. He went against the team plans. Now only did he come close to Webber, he tried overtaking him and successfully did so, despite knowing that Webber was doing the right thing - atleast as far as the Red Bull team are concerned. Vettel won the race and Webber had to settle for 2nd best. That's a Barrichello moment for Webber.
The race for 3rd place in the podium was heating up too. Hamilton was 3rd and Rosberg, his Mercedes team-mate, was right behind him. That's when the "team-orders" forced Rosberg not to challenge Hamilton for 3rd. Rosberg argued multiple times on team radio but was discouraged. Hamilton himself acknowledged Rosberg's pace and admitted Rosberg was better than him in the race. But the history books of F1 already has Hamilton as 3rd and Rosberg as 4th. That's a Barrichello moment for Rosberg.
Who's at fault?
The point system in Formula-1 is a cliched one. It forces the team to have their self interest at the cost of one of their driver's drivers progress. And this in turn, leads the fans to believe drivers are tweaking the result for the benefit of their teams. Ferrari have used it extensively with Barrichello and now Massa. Fans can understand if the tweaking of the result happens in the last few races of the season. But it's completely illogical and unethical to have team orders from the 2nd race itself. If this continues, it will prove detrimental for the future of Formula 1 as a sport.
I personally respect Barrichello for what he has achieved in Formula 1 and as I mentioned before, he remains the perfect example of a driver for putting the team before himself. None of the drivers in today's times will reach that status. Now, it's every driver and every constructor for themselves! Having said this, the fans would want drivers to remain selfish. We want racing to be at it's very best and want the best driver to win. We don't want the winner to apologize to the 2nd best driver and the 3rd to apologize to 4th.