Karthikeyan Moves On, But Will Vettel?

The events which followed the torrential levels of rain in the Malaysian Grand Prix at the front were largely of surprise. With the first two men in the Malaysian winner’s circle in Alonso and Perez not having been expected to finish the race there, there was also surprise with Sebastian Vettel.

The reigning world champion was in the process of lapping the HRT car of Narain Karthikeyan on lap 48 of the 56-lap race when he moved in front of the HRT too early and the two cars touched, puncturing the German’s rear tyre. Vettel waved his hand in fury as the rubber from the damaged tyre began to throw itself over the track. The time lost to the incident was severe and Sebastian Vettel retired from the race.

Vettel's damaged rear tyre destroyed any hope of points

His reaction of the race, without naming anyone, contained some words which were unexpected of the cheery polite champion:

“Like on normal roads, you have some idiots driving around. It seems there is also one driving here,” the Red Bull driver said.

Karthikeyan defended himself from the comments and also stood up for those at the lower end of the pecking order:

“I had to jink to get out of it and unfortunately he was there. What else I could I do? Some of these guys when you get lapped, they just try and bully you so much, it’s not fair. I won’t mention names but sometimes they overtake you and they want you to go off the road.

With this car it’s a big task to qualify and to finish is a big task. We’re a small team. We don’t want to be a hindrance but doesn’t give them the right to bully you. This is not right”

India's first F1 driver was disappointed with Vettel's reaction

In the following days, Karthikeyan expressed his surprise at the attention the tussle had got in the press, whilst also wishing that the pair could get away from the incident and leave it in the past:

“I am amazed by the reaction in the media, but I think everyone has to calm down now. I think we have to deal with it in a mature way and forget about it. At the end of the day, you don’t want to get in the way of other drivers – and when you are driving a slow car and being a backmarker you cannot afford to do these things.”

He gave a negative reply when asked if he would seek out Vettel to speak to him at the next race in China, feeling that it would be pointless to do so:

“What’s the point?” he said when asked if would speak to Vettel. “He has done his bit, and I have done my bit. We just have to respect each other. He will be running at the front, and we are not going to run at the front. Both of us have to get on with our job.”

Still unhappy with Vettel’s “idiot” comment, he used the other active champions as an example to follow which he felt Vettel was not doing:

There are five other world champions on the grid who have been through a lot, and been through bad times, but none of them reacted like that,” he said. “In my opinion it was a racing incident.”

No regrets says Sebastian Vettel

Vettel himself says he has no regrets over his remark, but was also keen to show that what he had said had been in the heat of the moment:

“Sometimes 10 minutes after the race is enough to wind down, sometimes not. On Monday (after Malaysia) my mood was back to normal. I was able to tick it off and look ahead when I had slept over it. I lost a solid fourth place, so that’s disappointing. “Sometimes you let the emotion show and I don’t think someone should be ashamed about that.”

He showed a similar reaction after colliding with his team-mate Mark Webber at the 2010 Turkish GP

Sebastian Vettel sits in 6th place in the Driver’s Championship, seventeen points off the surprise lead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. It is not a gap to worry about at this stage, with Ferrari unlikely to hold on to it for long. Red Bull have been suffering as they adapt to the loss of last season’s exhaust-blown diffuser, something which helped in their dominance over the past season.

Webber is leading Vettel in the championship and the early signs are this could a season in which the young German re-learns what it’s like to not be constantly at the front, much like Lewis Hamilton did for parts of 2009. It will be interesting to see how the usually-polite man comes back from his own personal Malaysian downpour as the season continues in China next week.

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