Sebastian Vettel’s blatant disregard for team orders during yesterday’s Malaysian Grand Prix was an indication of the “extremely selfish” streak the very best drivers need, according to ex-Formula One star Gerhard Berger.
Vettel deliberately ignored instructions from his Red Bull pit bosses by overtaking team-mate and race leader Mark Webber on lap 46 at Sepang before going on to claim the 27th victory of his F1 career.
The three-time reigning world champion, whose win sent him nine points clear at the top of the drivers’ classification after two rounds, initially showed no remorse for his actions but later apologised.
The incident has caused a major stir but Berger, who won 10 grands prix during 14 seasons in F1 up until 1997, pointed out what Vettel did was nothing new and feels the 25-year-old German was merely showing the natural instincts that are required to get to the top of the sport and stay there.
The Austrian also believes no one will change Vettel.
“If you remember back in history these things always happen,” he said.
“To be a race winner you need to be very, very talented but to be a world champion, or to be world champion three, four, five times, you need to be extremely selfish,” said Berger, recalling past tussles including the famous rivalry between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.
“What I want to say is these boys have such a big killing instinct. What leads them to three, four, five-times world championships. In these moments they are stressed by the situation, they just cannot follow their brain, they just do what their instincts are telling them,” he told BBC Radio Five Live.
“So of course after the race he is saying he is very sorry about it and that he cannot sleep, (but) I think he sleeps very well because this is his nature.
“But on the other side, this is part of his success. And nobody, no team, no team chief, no team-mate, nobody is going to change it.”
Berger concedes Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has a “hard job” to manage the situation between Vettel and Webber but feels it is not necessarily a bad thing for the team to have two drivers pushing each other on.
He said: “It’s a very good thing for a team to have two strong drivers and sometimes you have to manage it.
“At this stage it’s a hard job to manage this, they are never going to be in love with each other, but at the end of the day over the whole season it’s not a bad situation to have two drivers pushing each other.
“I think the team is playing a very fair role,” the 53-year-old added.
“These are the normal games you play between drivers and teams, it’s part of the success, part of losing.
“I think both are great drivers. We know Vettel is an extreme competitive guy.
“I think maybe he’s the best guy at the moment in the field. He has all the things what you have to be to be the world champion, world champion again and again world champion.”