To my left as I write this blog, waiting to board our plane back to Blighty, sits Johnny Herbert, who for a man who has successfully managed to get his box of chicken nuggets through the x-ray machine and security guards, is unusually unhappy.
I wouldn’t say his face is turning the same shade of red of Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari, but it could be a close run thing at this rate.
Cries of “Bloody stupid rule!” and “Don’t they want racers to race?” punctuate the calm air of the lounge. Any minute now and we’re going to get “It was never like that in my day”, seriously, it’s only a matter of time.
And what has got the ever smiling Herbert in a bit of a tiz this evening? The news, which broke only minutes ago, that Sebastian Vettel didn’t actually finish 3rd in the Mexican Grand Prix, but 5th. Vettel’s crime, depending on which side of the Essex/Hertfordshire border you hail from this evening, is that he moved around in the braking zone, just as Daniel Ricciardo was trying to steam down the inside and pass him in the crazy closing stages of today’s race.
Now, as far as Johnny is concerned, there was still space for Ricciardo. He didn’t have to take to the grass, and as a result, there was no problem. Squeezing, is part of race craft and therefore all part of the game. Forgive me for this, but I’m prepared to play devil’s advocate on this one and suggest that if Seb (and more so his team and team mate) have had issues with drivers dancing around in the braking zone this season, the last thing he should be doing is following suit in the very next race since the FIA decided to forbid drivers from doing just that.
Oh, the irony, that Seb has become the first victim of the regulation more commonly known as the ‘Max Verstappen’ rule. Especially given their previous exchanges, and the fact that only a few laps before, the Dutchman had got him so steamed up, he eventually sent the Race Director an expletive filled message, leaving Charlie Whiting in no doubt as to his thought processes, followed up with another radio message where he was vowing to go and hit someone.
Seb doesn’t strike me as the violent type and as observers, oblivious sometimes to the pressures these guys exist and compete in, we should make the odd allowance. But his rant over the radio was both unnecessary and out of order. Whether it was broadcast over the television feed or not, this was not a time for threats or expletives and as an experienced driver in the sport, Sebastian should have known better.
Verstappen on the other hand isn’t quite so experienced, but he too should have known better and realised that he was either going to have to give Vettel the 3rd place he would have got, had the Red Bull driver not taken to the turf to stay ahead when locking up his brakes, or face the eventual penalty that took his 3rd place away from him anyway. He was advised by his race engineer to give the place away, he wasn’t forced to by the stewards, but he could have saved himself a lot of bother. Saying that, there is a part of me that is very glad Max behaved exactly the way he did, after all, those last few laps were just brilliant!
And the best bit in the end is that the man who completed the trio of 3rd place candidates, will actually get to keep the trophy now, and got to have it presented on the podium too, by his team mate, after everyone else had gone home. Daniel Ricciardo, who turned up in the paddock on Thursday in full Day of The Dead make up, eventually had the last laugh, just as he predicted he would as he gave his interviews after the race.
But back to Johnny Herbert, sat beside me and currently downloading an album or two for the flight home – at last glance it was Slash, Johnny Winter and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, seriously there’s eclectic and there’s our Johnny! Does he think that……..
- Verstappen deserved the penalty for gaining an advantage by cutting the grass
- Lewis and Nico should have got a penalty to when they did something similar at the same corner on the opening lap?
- Seb should be given a further penalty for his comments over the radio?
And the answers:
- Yes, definitely
- Hmmm, you can argue either way but Lewis should have backed off a little rather than emerge from the grass so far ahead. And Nico could have made a greater attempt to get back onto the track sooner, although he didn’t because he knew he’d probably lose second place in doing so. Incidentally as Johnny is explaining this he’s interrupted by someone who disagrees with that viewpoint, but then you’d expect Nico Rosberg himself to take another view. Rosberg, smiling and more than satisfied with the way the race went for him, quickly heads off to enjoy a chat with the Mercedes engineers.
- Totally, you can’t behave like that.
And with that we both head off to the bar for a quick drink, only to find Charlie Whiting himself sat nearby. Cue various versions of Seb’s radio message aimed his way, to be met with a smile from a man who has seen many things in this sport, but not often that. Whether the FIA decide to take matters further remains to be seen, but it possibly wouldn’t be a surprise if they did.
Meanwhile in other news today Carlos Sainz got a penalty for getting closer to Fernando Alonso than he did over dinner in Austin last week. Warranted and had Alonso not kept his foot in, that could have been a nasty moment. And Daniil Kyat also got a penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage, but such is the Russian’s life at the moment, no one sadly is talking about that very much. Shame really, but he’s the one past or present Red Bull driver that hasn’t attracted the headlines today.