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GP Week : Issue 179
After a podium so sombre it looked more like a funeral, the world’s media was treated to the most awkward post- race press conference since the Ferrari team orders scandal in Hockenheim 2010. Two Red Bull PRs tried to make it into the green room to chat to their drivers between the podium and the media grilling, but their way was barred by FIA officials dedicated to ensuring that what we were given was the real reaction, and not tailored PR spin. Mark Webber stormed into the press conference room with a face like thunder, followed by an embarrassed-looking Sebastian Vettel and a stern Lewis Hamilton. When the microphones were switched on, Vettel was asked to explain his decision to ignore what had been a clear set of instructions from the team for their two drivers to hold position until the chequered flag. “Towards the end I feel I had quite a strong pace and obviously at the very end on a new set of medium tyres had a bit more speed and it was a close fight,” Vettel said. “But I think... yeah... as you can see I’m not entirely happy. I think I did a big mistake today. I think we should have stayed in the positions that we were. “I didn’t ignore it on purpose,” the race winner continued, “but I messed up in that situation and obviously took the lead which, I can see now he’s upset, but yeah, I want to be honest at least and stick to the truth and apologise. I know that it doesn’t really help his feelings right now but I think other than that, obviously a very good race for the team. We handled the tyres I think pretty well today. To sum it up, apologies to Mark, obviously now the result is there but... yeah, all I can say is that I didn’t do it deliberately. “Obviously we talk about these kind of things before we go into the race and it’s not the first time we race each other,” Vettel concluded. “I think the difference in pace at the end probably wasn’t fair because he was trying to save the car and the tyres and, as I said, I did not ignore that but I should have been aware, to be honest. Obviously then took quite a lot of risk to pass him and that was the end of the race then.” Webber was in no mood to tolerate what was a very weak justification from his title- hungry teammate. “I was happy with how I drove today,” the Australian driver said. “I think it was a very good team result. We went into the race a little bit worried about how the race would unfold for us as a team in terms of performance. You still have to drive the grands prix these days at eight-tenths – it’s not like the old day when grand prix drivers are driving flat out and leaning on the tyres like hell – because the tyres are wearing out. So it’s not the most satisfying thing for us as grand prix drivers these days – but it’s the same for everybody. “I got myself into a position where we were controlling the race. I was being told the target lap times, again in relation to how the tyres are. Obviously Seb and Lewis came back to me at one point in the race, I responded and lifted the pace up and got away around the stop. And then we had a pretty good situation tee’d up towards the end of the race. And then after the last stop I thought that it would be interesting how the team would deal with it and I was ready for a sprint to the end. “The team obviously rang up and said ‘the race is... the pressure is off now. We need to look after the tyres to the end. Basically don’t fight each other,’” Webber explained. “I turned the engine down. We have some codes in terms of getting the cars to the end. In the end I’m happy with how I drove and... yeah it doesn’t... yeah, emotions are... probably not the best time to talk at the moment.” Webber’s unwillingness to talk was further demonstrated when Press Association journalist Ian Parkes asked the Red Bull racer “when you have a teammate who does ignore team orders, does it make you consider your future with the team, maybe even in Formula One?” Webber’s response? “My mind, in the last 15 laps was thinking that many things, yes. Many many things.” Redefining ‘mistake’ ... that press conference F1 >>> MALAYSIA 25 GPWEEK.com // 25 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: