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GP Week : Issue 179
I t was an action-packed Malaysian Grand Prix, with impressive performances from the likes of Marussia’s Jules Bianchi, a fuel-strategising Nico Rosberg, and a hard-pushing Paul di Resta, but when push came to shove there was only one story: the moment where Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders to hold station and pushed past his teammate for the sourest of victories. Mark Webber had delivered a commanding performance for most of the race, managing his tyres and keeping his fellow Red Bull in his wing mirrors, and when the Australian was told by his team to run conservatively to the chequered flag – and that Vettel had been asked to do the same – he made the mistake of believing that the title-hungry German would obey instructions from the pit wall. It was a mistake Webber would come to regret, with Vettel admitting after the race that he had wilfully ignored his team’s instructions before issuing a po-faced apology. But Vettel is not in this sport to obey orders, win fans, or make friends. Formula One’s youngest triple champion is in it to win it, and the loss of respect is small beer when compared to seven world championship points that could prove vital when the season draws to a close at Interlagos. “We’ve discussed the situation with the drivers,” Christian Horner told the BBC in the Sepang paddock. “I’ve sat down with Sebastian and he’s apologised for what happened today, for taking the situation into his own hands. He’s apologised to Mark and he’s apologised to the team. “These things happen. They’re race drivers. They’re hungry, they’re competitive animals, they’re not submissive, and that’s why we signed them to be our drivers. Unfortunately sometimes you get days like today where they take things into their own hands, where for all the will in the world you can tell them till you’re blue in the face – they’re going to do what they’re going to do. Obviously it’s frustrating, it’s something that wasn’t acceptable today from Sebastian, but he’s apologised for it and we’ll move on.” In his post-race comments Vettel played the innocent, claiming the entire incident was a mistake. “I didn’t do it deliberately,” the defending world champion said, “so I didn’t realise I had made a mistake. Only when I came back. But not by everybody’s, but the team’s reaction. I realised. I had a very short word with Mark and then it hit me quite hard and I realised that – language – I fucked up.” By the time the team had released their official press release, Vettel had changed his tune. “I messed up today,” the release quotes him as saying. “I would love to come up withaniceexcuseastowhyIdidit,butI can’t. I can understand Mark’s frustration and the team not being happy with what I did today; I owe an explanation to him and the whole team. I will try to explain to them later. We talk about this situation happening many times and what we will do if and when it happens and normally it doesn’t, but today it did and I should have translated the call into action. I got the call and I ignored it." 22 GPWEEK.com // 22 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> MALAYSIA