Mark Webber's grid penalty too harsh says David Coulthard

By David CoulthardBBC F1 co-commentator
Webber and Alonso penalised for lift

Rules are rules, but the 10-place grid penalty Mark Webber has ended up with for taking a lift back to the pits with Fernando Alonso after the Singapore Grand Prix was way too harsh.

Obviously, the stewards have responded to the fact that Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had to go either side of Alonso's car as he stopped for Webber to climb on to the sidepod.

They said that was "potentially dangerous". But who were Webber and Alonso putting in danger? In reality, only themselves. And that's what they do every time they strap themselves into their racing cars.

Even then, they weren't in reality under any risk whatsoever.

No grand prix driver after two hours of racing in Singapore - or any other grand prix for that matter - blasts back to the pits flat out.

The safest time on the track all weekend is the slowing down lap. I wouldn't trust a grand prix driver in any other circumstance, but on an in-lap after a grand prix, whatever his mood, he's only doing one thing - bringing the car back in a controlled manner. They're all exhausted and cooling down.

In some ways the stewards had no choice. The rules say that if a driver gets three reprimands in a season, then he is hit with an automatic 10-place grid penalty. But you have to question whether that is a sensible rule.

Vettel wins Singapore GP in style

Of course rules should be followed, but that doesn't mean a bad rule should stay.

It's like the safety-car rule that says lapped cars out of place in the queue can unlap themselves and rejoin the back of the field before the re-start. It just wastes three laps while they catch up and makes the safety-car period go on too long.

Far better to have them pull over, let the faster cars by, and sort out their positions via radio.

Does anyone really think Mark Webber is a liability? He's not spoken about in the same breath as drivers such as Pastor Maldonado or Romain Grosjean, who have a number of controversial incidents on their records.

It's nothing to do with it being his last season and so on. It's just the wrong thing to do.

The same can be said for the boos Sebastian Vettel received on the podium again. People should not be jealous of success. They should admire it.

What makes Singapore so spectacular?

Yes, he's in a Red Bull and he happens to be German not long after another German, Michael Schumacher, won seven titles. But it is for the other teams to emulate what Red Bull are doing.

As Vettel's team-mate, Webber is his reference. He has been a quality racing driver. No-one knows how much the fact he is leaving F1 at the end of the season is affecting his motivation, but I'd be pretty certain he's driving the wheels off the car every time he gets in it.

So we have to acknowledge what Vettel is achieving.

Seb is already a great, but he is only accepted as such reluctantly. If he happens to dominate a grand prix because he is in harmony with a superb car, we should not be critical of that.

Vettel is not the love child of Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz or the adopted son of F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

He is an individual who has been supported by Red Bull. They have brutally cut other drivers who have not fitted the performance mould where he has succeeded.

All the greats have made good and bad decisions about which teams to drive for and part of a driver's skill is to be in the right place at the right time.

Everyone is well aware that a lot of Red Bull's success is down to getting the best out of Adrian Newey, the best designer in F1.

Newey went to Red Bull from McLaren in early 2006 because Christian Horner had the vision to see he was the right guy for the job and how to use him best, I had the relationship with Newey to get the process going and help persuade him to move, and Dietrich had the money.

It was nothing to do with Vettel. He was in the Red Bull driver programme, he earned his chance by his exceptional performances, and he is now exploiting that opportunity brilliantly.

Alonso vows to keep fighting for title

In 2007, Alonso had the chance to join Red Bull for 2008, but he chose not to because he thought Ferrari - who he joined in 2010 after two interim years at Renault - were a better choice.

At the time, it was a sensible decision - Red Bull weren't successful yet and Ferrari were in one of their best periods. In hindsight, obviously Red Bull would have been the right call.

Ferrari have since approached Newey; he chose not to leave Red Bull.

Alonso, who did a great job again in Singapore in a car that is obviously not as good as the Red Bull, is clearly not enjoying seeing Vettel win more championships than he has so far.

But Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel are two of the all-time greats of F1. It doesn't matter how many championships each of them wins; they are equal.

The numbers are irrelevant. As complete packages, Vettel and Alonso are in a league of their own in F1 in the modern age.