Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel says Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber did not “deserve” to win the Malaysian Grand Prix and that his decision to ignore team orders was “indirectly” paying Webber back for a lack of support in the past.
Webber, 36, was leading Vettel, 25, last time out in Sepang when the team ordered both drivers to hold position after the final pit stops. However, Vettel chose to ignore the order and past his team-mate with 13 laps to go to take victory.
Vettel was quoted on Wednesday as saying he will never apologise for winning but it’s important to remember that the German did apologise to Webber several times in the post-race conferences in Sepang.
However, the German did suggest that he was motivated by a lack of support from his Australian team-mate in the past. He said: “I never had support from his side. I have a lot of support from the team and think they are supporting both of us the same way.
“I respect Mark as a racing driver but there was more than one occasion in the past when he could have helped the team and he didn’t.”
The German spent 20 minutes answering questions from the media and when asked if he was paying Webber back for not supporting him in the title-deciding race in Brazil last year: “Probably you could say indirectly so.”
When asked whether he would ignore team orders again, Vettel replied: “I am not sure I can give you a proper answer because in the moment it might be different, but I would probably do the same.
“Had I understood [the coded Multi 21 message] and had I thought about it, reflected on it, thought what the team wanted to do, to leave Mark in first place and me finishing second. I think I would have thought about it and I would probably have done the same thing. He didn’t deserve it.
“There is quite a conflict, because on the one hand I am the kind of guy who respects team decisions and the other hand, probably Mark is not the one who deserved it at the time.”
The Sepang incident has been dealt with internally with Vettel saying that he had not been punished.
He said: “I did speak up and apologise. Sanction, punishment, what do you expect to happen? We dealt with it internally. I did apologise to the team as soon as I could, the whole team, not just the people working here.”
There was speculation about Webber’s future in the sport after the incident in Malaysia, but the Australian, who is on a one-year rolling deal, said he will see out the season and even hinted at continuing on in 2014.
Webber said: “I am definitely keen to finish the season. Obviously a lot of people were questioning that, but that wasn’t something that was in my mind. I am keen to race this year and put forward a very strong campaign and challenge for more race wins.
“Come the summer, I will talk to [Red Bull team owner] Dietrich [Mateschitz] and go from there. If I am driving well and performances are good then we will make some decisions for the future.”
And on the situation in the team, Webber, who is sporting a new-look short haircut in China, said: “Procedularly within the team everything is fine.
“For me it’s not an unusual situation and I’m looking forward to racing here this weekend and getting on with it. When you’re at the front in Formula 1 there’s always stuff going down, so it just depends on how much is going down that you’ve got to manage.”