Vettel: I got the call, I ignored it, I’m not happy I won, I f*cked up, I apologise
24 March, 2013
Team orders, or rather the ignoring thereof, were the main talking point after an exciting but tense Malaysian Grand Prix, where the world witnessed Red Bull teammates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber slug it out wheel-to-wheel for the lead of the race which Vettel eventually grabbed and went on to post his 27th Formula 1 race victory.
It emerged shortly after the race ended that Vettel defied a specific orders from the pit gantry not to challenge Webber, which the triple world champion ignored much to the consternation of his team.
Vettel was contrite after the adrenalin was back to normal levels and declared, “I messed up today. I would love to come up with a nice excuse as to why I did it, but I 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,” admitted the Vettel.
“As I said, I didn’t do it deliberately so I didn’t realise I had made a mistake, only when I came back but by not 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 I f*cked up.”
“Mark and I are used to fighting each other when we’re close, but with the tyres how they are now, and not knowing how long they will last, it was an extremely big risk to ignore the call to stay second. We could have ended up finishing eighth or ninth after destroying the tyres in those two laps; I put myself above a team decision, which was wrong.”
From the moment Webber stepped into the podium room he was visibly aggrieved. Immediately challenging Vettel and saying with reference to a team order: ”Multi-21, Seb. Multi-21.”
On the podium Webber continued, ”In the end, Seb made his own decisions and will have protection as usual. I turned my engine down and as we know he’s a quick pedaller.”
Team principal Christian Horner tried to diffuse the situation, “Sebastian decided to take things into his own hands today and race Mark, thankfully making a clean pass and switching the order to the flag. It’s frustrating. Formula 1 is both a team and an individual sport and sometimes there is a conflict between a driver’s desire and a team’s interest. What happened today is something that shouldn’t have happened. It’s something that Sebastian has apologised for and it’s something that we will discuss internally as a team.”