Sebastian Vettel Disobeys Red Bull Team Orders To Take Malaysia Win
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By:   |  24 Mar 2013   |  1:46 pm GMT  |  1,138 comments

Sebastian Vettel has won a tense Malaysian Grand Prix after edging out Red Bull team mate Mark Webber with a close move late in the race, after Webber had been told to turn down his engine and drive to the finish.

As Vettel attacked on lap 46 of 56, the pair almost collided several times, but the German squeezed through for the win.

Vettel apologised to Webber, but the Australian did not say that he accepted it, instead commenting that Red Bull management “protects” Vettel. Team boss Christian Horner meanwhile confirmed that Vettel had “taken things into his own hands” and disobeyed orders.

It was Vettel’s 27th career win, equalling Sir Jackie Stewart, but it was not one to celebrate as Vettel acknowledged,

“I did a big mistake today,” he said. “I think we should have stayed in the positions that we were. I didn’t ignore it on purpose 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.”

But on a day when likely main title rival Fernando Alonso scored no points after crashing out on the second lap, Vettel knew that with the difference between first and second place at seven points, he did not want to gift them to Alonso.

The spat overshadowed all other stories from the day, including Lewis Hamilton taking his first podium for Mercedes in third place. Here too there was some controversy as Nico Rosberg was told not to pass Hamilton in the closing stages as the Englishman struggled with fuel consumption. Unlike Vettel, Rosberg obeyed.

After a pre-race downpour the Grand Prix begun in intermediate conditions and looked from the out-set to be a strategically dominated race that would be dictated by the cross over point to dry tyres. And this came to fruition when Vettel pitted a lap too early and handed the race lead to a fast starting Webber.

The Australian had made a contrasting start to last weekend and found himself in second position by the second lap. This was helped by the damaged Ferrari of Fernando Alonso that tagged Vettel in to turn 1 and subsequently had his front-wing fold underneath him at the same point on the following lap. That put the Spaniard out of the race and dented his Championship hopes at an early stage.

On a drying track, Vettel pitted for slick tyres too early. By staying out Webber jumped him and led from Vettel after the first set of pit stops they were joined for the battle of the race lead by the Mercedes pairing of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. And it remained in that order until the final ten laps as Vettel and Webber came very close to the pit wall, with Vettel coming out on top. It is the 27th race win of his career, moving him in to the World Championship lead, and putting him on a par with Sir Jackie Stewart.

In an eventful race that harked back to the Summer of 2010, Vettel asked his Red Bull team to move Webber out of the way as he was “too slow” and there was a very cold atmosphere between the Red Bull drivers as they took to the podium. It is sure to be a result that will divide opinion, with some saying that this is the kind of determination you need to be a multiple World Champion and be ranked amongst the greats.

After being within a couple of seconds of one another at the mid-point the two Mercedes cars dropped back from the Red Bull pairing and got involved in their own battle in the closing laps. Interestingly, Rosberg also asked to be let past and take this place but he was firmly told by Team Principal Ross Brawn to maintain position and bring the cars home.

There was an amusing and slightly ironic moment for Hamilton when he stopped in the McLaren box at his first pit stop. Luckily for Mercedes he did not lose too much time.

Behind the top four was another strong performance for Felipe Massa and the sole Ferrari.  He had a relatively quiet race after losing out at the start and dropping back from his second place start. He had aimed to complete the race in three stops – contrary to the four of the cars ahead – but was forced in to a late stop when he had a lot of space to drop back in to.

Lotus had a contrasting result to last weekend with Kimi Raikkonen spending much of the race stuck behind a number of cars and becoming frustrated. Nevertheless, he ended the race in seventh place – just behind team mate Romain Grosjean – and gained some vital points for the Enstone squad.

Completing the top ten was Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez and Jean-Eric Vergne with all three having a good race. Hulkenberg was one of Raikkonen’s main competitors and illustrated good pace throughout. Perez, meanwhile, had a lonely race and chose to pit on the penultimate lap for a set of medium tyres to claim the fastest lap.

There were some notable retirees apart from Alonso as both Force India cars had a troubled day with a number of long pit stops before retiting both cars.

Jenson Button was having a very promising performance for his struggling McLaren team in fifth place when he also retired late in the race.

Finally, Jules Bianchi continued his impressive start to the his rookie season by ending the race in thirteenth place and thirty-four seconds ahead of Charles Pic behind.

1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1h38m56.681s
2. Mark Webber Red Bull + 4.298s
3. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes + 12.181s
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes + 12.640s
5. Felipe Massa Ferrari + 25.648s
6. Romain Grosjean Lotus + 35.564s
7. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus + 48.479s
8. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber + 53.044s
9. Sergio Perez McLaren + 1m12.357s
10. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso + 1m27.124s
11. Valtteri Bottas Williams + 1m28.610s
12. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber + 1 lap
13. Jules Bianchi Marussia + 1 lap
14. Charles Pic Caterham + 1 lap
15. Giedo van der Garde Caterham + 1 lap
16. Max Chilton Marussia + 2 laps
17. Jenson Button McLaren + 3 laps
18. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso + 5 laps

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Who runs Red Bull racing? I would say Vettel does after displaying such disgusting behaviour last week!

He is an amazing, awesome, incredible driver and someone I have always admired and respected,………Sorry, not any more!



Consider this situation. Hamilton is leading the championship by 8 points over vettel with 1 race to go. Mark is 8 points behind vettel. 4th and below have no chance at the championship.

Webber, Vettel, Hamilton have all made their final pit stops. Webber leads over Vettel by 2 secs, Vettel over Hamilton by 1 sec. Would Red Bull still issue the order to ‘maintain’ position, or let Vettel pass. They would lose the championship if they maintained position.

Vettel has to pass Webber, to win. But if webber gets passed by Hamilton in the process, they lose anyway. What happens?


Racing is about winning not playing second fiddle and allowing someone else to win or holding people up inentionally, whatever the case may have been in this race whomever was faster on the day was the won that should win, the who Team Orders needs to be banned period.

If Vettel was not, then he needs to work harder to make sure he is the next time, how can you be the best in the world if you need someone else’s help to get the win.


Justice would be if Vettel’s car breaks in China because he didn’t preserve it as much as he could have if he held position.


Forget Webber. This is a test as to Horner’s authority being defied or obeyed. Either he is in charge or someone else is. Or even worse, there is chaos. Horner needs to sit Vettel out a race and assert himself. The very most it could hurt the team is 25 Constructor’s pts if the test driver fails to score any. That is less than the team will suffer if Webber doesn’t help out for the rest of the season. It works many ways. Mark could let Alonso, Nico, Lewis or Kimi easily sail through when team strategy calls for him to hold them up so Seb can build a gap for few laps before he pits. Or he could just punt Seb off the track in a race. Horner must assert his authority and mend team morale.

Besides RB seems to have a car that will win the Constructor’s title easily again. Who knows, perhaps Buemi will impress when he is given a real car?

Either way, without a fully cooperating Webber, the team will suffer more than just 25pts loss throughout the very large remainder of the season.

Will Horner be bullied by Marko and Vettel? Will he allow himself to be defied openly? Who is in charge at Red Bull? We shall soon see.


Hey James. At this time, the response count is at 1,101. What’s the record on this forum for most responses to one of your articles?

I dare say that you would need an article claiming Vettel had more ‘raw pace & talent’ than Hamilton to beat that surely 🙂


If James ever did put up an article saying that Vettel had more raw pace & talent than Hamilton he might get 1200 three letter responses – some starting with ‘W’, the rest starting with ‘L’ 😉


1,200 for a piece on Alonso Massa team orders in Germany 2010


So who does have more raw talent 🙂

Only joking, thanks James.


Does anyone know why webber went onto the hard tyre for the last stint? Do you think maybe he was betting on getting out in front of Vettel, and therefore would hold P1 and be on the more durable tyre?

If he new the battle was on to the finish, maybe he would have put another set of the medium’s on. Did he have another set to use?


Yes. New hard tyres for last stint.


Watch out for more broken team orders this year from da Red Bull camp.

Good for us fans as more dramas will unfold. Ron Howard, wait wait don’t release Rush yet – get it updated.

Will Ferrari be in this situation as Massa has improved? Then we’ll have 2 teams blazing, I don’t mind at all though.


Gunning for that movie to be released – should be awesome – but at this rate 2013 could be a good deal more…interesting 🙂


i just hope that the gloves can be taken off now. those who champion vettel are themselves are choosing to ignore the reality of what actually happened.

they can’t comprehend that vettel has stated in public, ‘I IGNORED THE TEAM INSTRUCTIONS’. i mean it can’t be clearer than that. as for the poster who claims that webber ‘chopped’ vettel at the start in brazil he also needs to also undergo a reality check. numerous camera shots/angles will prove that webber moved onto the racing line and vettel was not even level with webber’s left rear wheel.

the only thing that red bull can do to even start to repair the damage is to sanction vettel with a one race ban. will they do it? no. webber will still be the patsy. vettel is simply a cheat.



You are not alone. It is difficult to understand the number of people defending Vettel when Vettel himself pleads guilty and then use irrelevant ‘propositions’ from years by to defend him.

I really cannot see how RB will ban Vettel. Vettel is not a cheat though. He is someone with ruthless ambition who if needed, would walk over anyone close to him ( I didn’t say mother in case I offended someone) without any second thought.

Nice guys finish second. He probably will win 4th WDC however he is damaging his image. Does he care? Probably not, just like Schumacher.

People fail to understand its not about Webber. Vettel would do it to any team mate.



Has Vettel actually come out and said that now? If so could you give us the link, just so we can see it with our own eyes. His actions didn’t bother me half as much as his lies afterward.

I can’t see Red Bull giving Vettel a race ban, but you’re right; it would be an idea 🙂



my comments in my first reply to you about Vettel supporters was not aimed at you….just in general


No worries Mike, and just so you know I wasn’t doubting what you said 🙂

I have actually read this before – and it’s still the ‘I didn’t mean to’ that galls me – but from reading your original post I had the impression – and hope – that Vettel had actually dropped that and taken responsibility for his actions without the lies.

I have since read a couple statements by Horner. You’re right; Vettel won’t get banned and there are no winners. Not Mark, not Vettel, and certainly not the fans or the team. Sad day for everyone 🙁

Vettel said ‘I could undo it I would’.

I wonder James – just hypothetically – if Vettel went to the FIA (or whoever) and said strike my result from the record, what do you think they would they say?


How is this direct from the Red Bull Racing website. Good enough??

Quote by Sebastian Vettel

“I got the call and I ignored it. 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. I didn’t mean to and I apologise. I’m not happy I’ve won, I made a mistake and if I could undo it I would. It’s not easy right now and I owe apologies to Mark and the team.”

As i have said in others posts, i just cannot understand why Vettel supporters don’t want to accept it that he ‘messed up’. …….right they now are actually doing more harm than he did!….although they can have an opioion.

He will not get banned. It will be kept behind closed doors like it should be now. No winners here


Just imagine the reaction…if it was schumi instead of hamilton


There really is no middle ground in this affair. Vettel clearly was in the wrong and acted dishonestly and dishonorably.

Webber had the measure of Vettel all day. He had the lead right up to the point where RBR told both he and Vettel to turn down their engines and cruise home. Again, both drivers were told this. Webber respected the RBR directive and Vettel did not, attacked and got past Webber.

It was not a fair fight as Webber’s engine was turned down and Vettel’s was not. That is the reason that it can be said that Vettel stole the victory from his own teammate. It is that simple.

People can agree or disagree with team orders, but at the end of the day, it is the WCC that trumps the WDC. Always. Every place in the finishing order of the WCC means millions of euros for next year. F1 is a team sport pure and simple and if the drivers do not respect that, the system will break down and the entire team will lose those millions of euros and the prestige that a WCC brings.

With all that said, it would be great if the fuel and the tire situation were such that allowed for racing the entire race distance. Strategy is great for all concerned and it is undeniably one of those things that makes F1 the pinnacle of motorsport. However, having nearly 20% of the race run under “conservation mode” does not serve anyone except the teams and their WCC ambitions. The fault does not lie with the teams though. They are simply doing their job. The fault is squarely on the shoulders of F1.

The fans deserve better.


James do you know why williams were the only team to run the options only they seemed to have a good strategy with fewer stops than other teams. why did nobody else try this?


As sad as it is for Mark (I am a big Webber fan) perhaps there is a silver lining here ….. Banning team orders failed (the teams just found ways of concealing them) but if enough doubt is seeded in the minds of each driver that their team mates might NOT follow team orders then they won’t either… The “TEAM” might not like it, but every parent knows without repercussions for poor behaviour there is no incentive not to repeat. Will Webber really follow team orders in future ? Can Seb trust that Mark will ? Mark obviously can’t trust the Seb will. Therefore no more RBR team orders. Done !


Only person Vettel defeated yesterday was himself. I really hope that later this season Vettel needs Webber to help him for the championship, and that Mark gives him a big fat middle finger in the mirror.

Mark the whole world is behind you, even if you don’t win a championship you will be remembered like Moss as being a great driver but a greater man. This is surely Vettels “Jerez 97” moment, something that Schumacher never lived down.

Horner’s tone after was awful, “the driverS decided to race”, no only one driver decided to race, Mark was the bigger man and let it go. “Seb this is silly” is something a teacher says to a school child throwing a tantrum not a team boss to a professional racing driver and employee of his company.

What really told for me was that of all people even Helmut Marko found it difficult to defend Sebastian’s actions.

Compare all that to Ross Brawn’s management at Mercedes, he was clear, authoritative and gave no doubt as to what was going to happen. Time will tell if the same would have happened if the boot was on the other shoe. Fair play to Hamilton (who has been guilty of spitting the dummy over team mate issues himself) for admitting the place should have been Rosberg’s and thanking him for being a man of integrity and doing what his boss tells him. I hope the situation arises where Hamilton can repay him.

This has livened things up a bit though!


OMG!!! DO NOT compare Webber(or any driver racing today) to Sir Sterling Moss!! Please!!! Non of todays drivers are good enough to even carry his helmet to the car for him.

Simillarly, those comparing Vettel to Senna because of their ruthlesness, please refrain from comparing the 2


Hello James,

My comment posted yesterday at 9.42pm is still showing as “Your comment is awaiting moderation”. Is this normal? There are certainly no banned words in the comment. Thanks.


No, just a massive backlog of comments, literally 1,000s!

Sorry, it will be modded soon


Definitely a big one James 🙂

Out of curiosity, what it the all time record for the biggest response to one of your articles?


1,200 for the Alonso Massa team orders story in Germany 2010


Regardless of your opinion this whole episode is great for F1, Bernie must be rubbing his hands with glee!

The amount of comments here and at other F1 websites are way way way above average after a race. The extra interest it will generate for the season will be significant.

I think it’s great, a refreshing break from the boring stuffy corporate image F1 has these days. A good inter-team rivalry with parties saying what they think and the juicy prospect of it all blowing up at RBR is just what F1 needs! 🙂


Exactly, woulndt surprise me if Mr. E had a hand in this and all our posturing is useless because they are all laughing behind the scenes.


If he didn’t have a hand in it before, he will have now 🙂


Bizarrely out of all the comments made the one above (by Martin) has sort of the point I was going to make. The problem that RBR had on Sunday with one of their drivers disobeying an order was caused by the team. RBR should have allowed their drivers to race. They should trust them to race. I am assuming both drivers want to finish so they’ll do their best not to end their own race before the end of the race. An order like the one given to SV on Sunday is fine if MW had a chance to win the WDC and SV hadn’t or if RBR were in with a chance of winning the WCC and to reduce the risk of not winning it told both drivers to hold station. RBR management made a mistake. And when MW knew he was under attack why did he not change the engine settings and defend better or even if it was too late for that chase after SV?


Again, was it a “Team Order” or a mutual pre-race agreement made by all parties? Mark has certainly made it clear with his communications to Seb after the race that it was a mutual agreement by all parties.


the competitor in me claps Vettel.

The human in me doesnt like it.

I just hope next time that engine is used it goes pop with him leading a comfortable race with a couple of laps to go.

The big winner to day is Red Bull they got a 1/2 and 3 weeks of headlines. There marketing team would of been rubing there thier hands together.


Open declaration – I’m Australian and I think Webber was ‘dudded’. It seems to me that he’s played the team game when it’s been Vettel in front.

But the real problem is team orders in F1. And specifically it’s this: F1 is now one of the sports where you can bet on who wins and who places, etc. If we have teams ordering their drivers not to race each other, the potential is always there in future for a manipulated result in order to profit from a wager.


If you mean a team might manipulate the result in order to win a bet, I doubt it.

Ethics aside, unless they’re going to bet a million dollars on one of their drivers, for most of these teams any winnings would be chicken feed compared to their annual budgets.

I suspect that all F1 staff are prohibited from betting on anything related to F1 anyway.

There have always been team orders in F1 for as long as I can remember, whether it be plain or in code.

The problem on Sunday was Vettel taking things into his own hands (and yes Webber’s done it too). That’s something that the team has to deal with.


I think the chances of a rigged outcome for betting purposes are low. But 10 years ago people would’ve said the same thing about international cricket. How about a spot bet on who’ll finish last, or which team member will finish ahead or behind the other? Non-betting sanctions haven’t worked in other sports, why will they work in F1? And at the top end it’s not about sportsmen or women or teams betting on outcomes, it’s about bookmakers corrupting sportsmen/women/teams in order to secure a preferred outcome.


That’s a good couple of points you make.

It would be a shame if F1 ended up with a bad reputation like the cricket (it has a bad rep for enough as it is), but now that you put it like that I suppose it’s probably inevitable 🙁

If it does come to that, then at the very least I hope they have the good grace not to get caught.


Also an Australian, Webber should have known better than trust Seb. To quote an old Australianism “don’t get angry….get even”.


Seems my earlier post was deleted by the mods…

Surely one is permitted to write “Boo, Hiss”?

If this is the case, I humbly apologise for the transgression. I didnt mean to do it and will have to carry this with me the rest of my life.

I’ll try again.

Poor show (the guy who won the race).

Poor show (the team that came 3rd & 4th).

I also said that I felt for Lewis as he stood on the podium. The man was obviously embarrassed to be there under the circumstances. He had the class to thank Nico etc. Lewis scored a few points with me last night.


You probably used banned words somewhere in original post


It appears I owe you another apology James. My original post was not deleted. It’s exactly where I left it. Response #100.

Again, sorry.

Note to self, put brain into gear before putting mouth into action 😉



I really shouldn’t laugh though, I’ve done the same thing myself 🙂


Hi James,

What’s the general consensus in the paddock in regards to Vettel disobeying team orders and robbing Webber of the win? Turkey 2010 it was pretty much unanimous that Vettel was at fault for the incident, what is it like this time around?


Surprise and great interest in how RBR management deal with it, or even if they do anything.


Thanks for the insight! What about the perception of Vettel given he ignored the pre race strategy? Has the opinion of the paddock generally thought less of him or vice versa?

Personally, I think RBR management won’t do much, slap on the wrist for Vettel and/or a change in lead car in one of the races but that’s as far it will go and the circus will roll on as it usually does.

By the way, enjoying your work with OneHD in Oz as always!


Does anyone else think this didn’t play out exactly as Vettel intended? Bear with me.

I may be giving him too much credit (if that is the right word in this scenario) but I suspect his plan was to avoid racing with Webber at the end altogether and hence avoid the vast majority of the fallout that they are having to deal with.

The consensus seems to be that they were told to stop racing 2 or 3 laps before the last pit stops with Webber 4 or 5 seconds in front and with notionally preferential treatment in terms of pit stop timing because of that fact.

At this point Webber turns down the power and Vettel is given the opportunity to pit first, presumably to help maintain the gap to the Mercedes.

Instead, Vettel takes the opportunity to reel in all of Webber’s lead while hes slowing down and in the pits.

I reckon his “plan A” would have been to come out ahead of Mark instead of behind him ,perhaps an obvious statement, but the difference is then that Webber is in the position of either accepting hes been hung out to dry and settle for second or go 100%, against team instructions, to try and be in a position to be close enough to pass Vettel in the last few laps when his hard tyres theoretically may have given him an advantage over Vettel’s worn out mediums.

Webber is then the one who is recklessly risking the 1-2 finish and Vettel walks away without nearly as much flak.


Yes I agree, but instead of “this didn’t play out exactly as Vettel intended?” I would say, “this didn’t play out exactly as Red Bull intended”.

I have no doubt that they have the agreement that after the last stop they hold station, I just think they assumed that would it be Vettel. Had Mark been the one behind I can’t help but think they would have been a bit more forceful with their instructions.

It will be interesting to see what happens, I doubt anything will. If this was in a lesser team I could see him being dropped for a race as punishment for his petulance but this obviously would be detrimental to Red Bulls title aspirations so wont happen.


To be fair to WEB, he is a perfect no. 2 driver for VET. But I don’t see him winning in the RBR for as long as he gets hounded by mind games by his own team mate.


James i am a little unclear about something, hope you find the time to reply to me. Am I wrong or are the team not allowed to push a driver back through the pitlane. But we saw Toro Rosso do it along with McLaren. McLaren’s was quite a distance, and while I do understand that the car had to be moved as it was in the middle of the pitlane, Im not clear if they were allowed to work on the car and send it back out again.


They may push the car, the driver may not reverse


How can anyone like Vettel be ranked as highly as a team “mate” to Webber. He is no more than a liar lucky enough to be in the same car as Webber. Vettel’s high ability and low morals have been on display for the world to see once again. What are the chances of seeing a rear guard action from Webber now should it be required in the races to come. A BIG FAT ZERO??? I should think all of Red Bull’s rivals are licking their lips. Karma is a funny old thing and I would assume the guilt’s are weighing heavily upon the shoulders of one Mr Vettel. Punishment enough? I think not because all arsholes need a very short memory just so they can go on loving themselves and as such, Vettel will soon have wiped this from the memory banks. Luckily F1 fans around the globe will be booing his podiums for years to come to help him remember his worst day. I hope Webber gets to bring out his “not bad for a number two” in the not to distant future after passing the number one a few laps from the flag. That would be nice to see…..


Do you really think Vettel feels guilty at all? My guess is he doesnt give a damn, he got the points and that cant be undone, like Mark said, theres no rewind button. ALl the apologizing and posturing on the podium was just that, posturing. He made a desicion that HE’s happy with, and thats all he cares about.


He feels guilt alright. You only have to look at the body language during the huge gulp in the drivers holding room post race. Poor old Adrian Newey didn’t quite now how to handle the awkwardness of it as opposed to Webber who could barely keep it civil. I’m sure Vettel and all his support team have it justified as the decision of a world champion, but as I said, the booing at his next podium will soon remind him of what he has done.

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