Vettel says ignoring team orders was “indirectly” paying Webber back
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Apr 2013   |  12:09 pm GMT  |  427 comments

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.”

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What I would love for someone to work out is what the results would have been if you factor in that Mark is 10Kg heavier than Seb which equates to roughly 0.3 secs a lap. If you were able to adjust all of thier results over the past 5 years what would be the effect.


It’s not as simple as that

The cars weighed the same with drivers in, so no advantage there

But Vettel’s car had the extra 10kg placed as ballast in the floor which gave a fractional advantage – less that 1/10th of a sec


This is funny – people talk Vettel down and you’re guaranteed a reply from Sebee to argue your point. I’ll try again. Vettel is a brat who never had to race the hard way due to his relationship with Red Bull. No Minardi or crap team drive for him. Straight into Tora Rosso when they were a mid table team. I hope he gets even half the mechanical failures Webber has had in the last few years.


Vettel’s Malaysian move could be read as he falling victim to pressure. Why would I say this? Well, this year, the tires are bigger uncertainties than last year. I think we can expect lots of grand prix winners this year like last year. That means regardless of how good you are or your car, the championship won’t be easy. Then, Vettel decides that 25 is better than 18, wheres alonso states that he has no regrets over not pitting when he had a broken wing. He may have regrets, actually, but he’s hidden them, while at the same time, coming across as diplomatic and professional. Vettel’s diplomacy and professionalism failed him in Malaysia. These two traits may well count a great deal in this year’s championship. Vettel learning to be a bad boy will probably not get him more grand prix wins, though he might do well in selling more of those wing sporting, one-of-a-kind, pseudo individualistic can called Red Bull.


Hello Joe B! That was a very good reply and an evenhanded one, too. I don’t mind my last post being removed – it deserved to be removed! I’m glad to hear that the posters here think before they post, rather than act like spoiled and emotionally handicapped fans who only think in black and white. Go to the BBC F1 forums and you’ll know what I’m talking about. Still, I may be wrong about it, and I accept that possibility. This forum sounds mature and intelligible in “stark” contrast; I like it.

To be honest, I don’t compare F1 drivers. They are all gifted, capable of adapting to different situations, delivering results and carrying themselves very professionally to the best of their ability. Like all humans, they can be vulnerable and volatile at times. They, however, deal with that also to the best of their ability. However, together, they make the sport interesting to watch.

I have nothing against Webber, Button, Whitmarsh, and the good British and Australian people if I allow myself to be fully honest.

I believe one has to read/view what every driver says in their own words fully to appreciate their positions. Media headlines and modes of reporting intentionally or unintentionally highlight and disregard some aspects of the story, leaving viewers to digest the same as axioms.

On the subject of Vettel Vs Webber, I believe RedBull racing is doing an unhealthy job of managing their drivers. Whoever is advising Vettel is doing a bad job also. He’s too young to be making any statements without proper mentor-ship that looks to find the best compromise between his interests and that of the team. RedBull Racing can’t keep luring Webber for his services (while keeping the door open for him to go for a WDC) and back-stabbing him when it matters. I don’t know exactly what his contracts allow him to do, but his publicly surfing disappointments suggests that he’s not happy.

With regards to the Malaysian race, this is my view. RedBull Racing was aware that Vettel was working on a strategy (saving 3 sets of prime tires), which he thought would help him towards the end of the race. It was a smart move. asking Vettel to then hold station sounds stupid if we ignore everything else.

By asking Webber to turn his engine down and assuring him (either explicitly or implicitly) that Vettel would do the same, and then have Vettel doing the opposite is RedBull Racing backstabbing Webber. Vettel definitely played a selfish game here. Vettel the racer took to instinct; Vettel the employee capitalized on the bosses’ favoritism towards him.

3 weeks later, RedBull Racing, intentionally or unintentionally, under-fueled Webber on Q2. If Webber is unhappy about it, I don’t blame him.

So, who’s the villian and the hero here? Irrelevant! This is real life with specters of 0 to 255 shades of gray, and then some. RedBull Racing needs to have a clear boss who deals with drivers. You can’t have Marco or Deimtrich (sorry for the spelling) circumventing Horner (If he’s the boss). If Horner’s the boss, he needs to be clear and assertive, and if drivers don’t pay heed, there should be consequences for the driver. Given Vettel’s recent interview, it looks like Vettel has not only been not warned, but has made his intentions clear of repeating the same actions if needed. Is Vettel a villain for doing so? Maybe. Maybe, he’s just playing his cards right, since the casino owners are ok with it. Is it good for Vettel? Doesn’t sound right! Is it good for F1. Time will tell.

Sorry for the long post. Thanks!


I’m proud to be both British and a Formula One fan, and as much as I supported Hill as a kid I acknowledged even then that Schumacher was the better driver – his talent was truly exceptional. I certainly wasn’t in the minority in my peer group, either.

In all honesty Vettel’s performances and the way he crumbles under pressure are reasons enough for me to question his success. I have no particular fondness for Webber either; and my opinions of both (and the whole grid) are based solely on performance.



Thanks. I know you all do an amazing job moderating the site, and it seems to have gotten (rightfully) more popular over the last year or so, which makes your job even harder. I appreciate the edit above.


I recently had the honour of meeting Chrissie Pellingham world ironman champion. She talked about the “rawness” of sport and how important that is. Sadly now, sport is about win at all cost. Probably down to cash. Sad isn’t it?

Wellington on the other had reminds me of snooker players who call a foul on themselves, a far cry from footballers “simulating” and pointless team order spats in F1. The thing that brought it home to me most was this. Wellington said she shared her training, nutrition and hydration plans with her competitors. Not just her team mates but ALL the top competitors. Why? Surely that’s suicidal to give away such trade secrets. Not if you want to be THE best, something you can only be by beating everyone else when they are at the top of their game.

I’d prefer a sport without team orders but that isn’t going to happen. Vettel’s disrespect of direct instructions and his woeful handling of the fallout is shocking to me. What a hateful little man. World champion? Not in my eyes


I’ve got one more comment that I will make on this issue and that is….. If they were really racing would Webber have left the door open on turn 3….. or more to the point, now that they will really be racing in the future would he close the door on Seb and run him off the track like ever other top driver would….. and at the end of the day it would be SV’s fault for putting his nose in a hole that was never there……?


Vettel is just a spoilt brat – a child in my view. He does not have a handle on his emotions, how to act and behave and I am seriously starting to question his ethics and moral responsibilities.

I understand that winning is a good instinct to have, especially in motor sport. But winning is not everything, you may look good on paper and statistics but you become a legend because of your driving skills and more importantly for the person that you are.

Senna was an awesome driver and an even better person. He was amazing on track but a gem off track. Sure there issues between Senna and Prost but there was always respect and no sense of entitlement. Schumacher for all his iciness, is an awesome racer and he proved 7 times with different teams, but even then he was always respectful and he did respect team orders even though he was the favourite.

Vettel needs to remember that being a better person is what will define his legacy and such childish behaviours will not get him very far. His motto is ask for forgiveness and not permission. But if the apology is fake and he will do it all over again, what’s the use. He is allowed to get away with it and that’s why he does it….



“I think I would have thought about it and I would probably have done the same thing. “


“Has he learned from it? I’m sure he has. Would he do it again? I think he’d think twice but I think as he explained yesterday there is an awful of history between those drivers. “

Come again?


I think you can kiss that Ferrari contract goodbye. If Vettel had both done what he did and said what he said to the press, Ferrari would sack him in a heartbeat. Fair to say you can’t name another top team that would put up with this crap.


A misguided move by Sebastian. He just re-ignited a larger fury on what was supposedly yesterday’s news. Vettel should have just stayed quiet and let the subject die down. People would have (probably) eventually come to their senses and moved on.

I still can’t take it against Seb for “stealing” the win — winners do what they have to to win. But clearly these comments are the words of a spoiled petulant boy. I personally think, that Seb needs to go through that one (or two) horrid season wherein he will not come out the winner in order to test and build his character (similar to what Schumacher experienced in ’97, Alonso in ’07 and Hamilton in ’09). Because from the looks of it, everything came good for Sebastian too soon that he spits the dummy out at the slightest hint of trouble.


Bit of a clarification on the “Mark didn’t deserve it” comment. Q&A with Vettel:

Q: Had you understood the team order properly, would you have obeyed it?

SV: I am not sure if I can give you a perfect answer on that question. Of course there would have been a conflict, as I am the type of person that respects the team’s decisions, but probably I would have thought that Mark wouldn’t have deserved it at that time.

He was saying had he got the call to give the place back, he would have thought it was undeserving. This is on the back of him saying he had faster during the race. So it seems Vettel thought he did deserve to be ahead and not Mark when order was given.


Again, all this as well as several other problems would be solved if we got radio communications out of the cars and helmets and restricted communication during a race or practice or qualifying or any time, to what teams can put on a 1m x 1m board and dangle over the track wall. Let drivers be drivers. Let drivers figure out what’s going on and control their driving. Teams can strategize and plan and prioritize all they want before contracting drivers, before starting seasons before races — any time. But once cars are on the track, leave the drivers alone.


Easy way to fix this. One car per team. Split it down the middle.


Germans are not bad people , just focused on winning and being better. I still think Mark now has the edge mentally and may now have a chance to beat the contradicting man .

Christian Stewart

Who would have thought that Vettel would become the new Pironi of the sport?

A their worst, Prost, Senna and Schumacher never reached such duplicitous depths.


Hi James,

In your previous article on the Malaysian GP strategy calls you wrote “The race turned on a very odd decision: the team’s decision to pit Vettel early on lap five to change onto the new medium tyres was very much out of character.”

I direct you to the latest comments from Seb:

Q. “Going back to earlier in the race, was the decision to change to slicks at the first stop your call, or was it made by the team?”

SV: “It was my call. I came on the radio at the beginning of the lap saying that it looks pretty dry. At the end of the lap I felt it was the point of crossover and I thought I would come in and take the risk, because I thought it was dry enough.”

The moral of the story is that Seb was behind Mark due to his own decision.

…but of course, it is now very difficult to judge when Seb is telling the truth 😉


Also, James, could you please provide your opinion on Vettel and his actions and what you think it reflects about him both as a Formula 1 driver and an individual? (I’m sure many would like to know).


I’m surprised by his comments yesterday, he went further than he needed to in terms of ‘news management’, but it shows the depth of feeling and it shows that he feels he’s in a very strong position within the team. It’s clear that there is no trust between him and Webber.

He put himself ahead of the team in Malaysia and, although his instinct was to apologise after the race, he’s now toughing it out.

It’s made him a much more interesting and extreme character, which is good news for the wider appeal of the sport

He speaks to Bernie quite a lot, so I’d be interested to know whether Bernie suggested how he should play it this weekend.


He’s certainly extreme, but my question was loaded in that I’m interested in whether he has any integrity left?


1. disobeys team orders

2. says he ‘f*cked up’

3. apologies to the factory

4. says he doesn’t care and will do it again

5. ?

What’s he doing? He seems massively compromised now imho.


That i don’t like, he is Bernie’s little protected student.


Whoa … just shut up about it. Normally Seb is a very good interviewer, knows how to give decent answers without really giving anything away. But man, I think he would’ve done better just taking a crap in Mark’s seat, rather than saying what he said.


James, (or anyone else), just a question and apologies if it’s been raised above:

Why can’t the team directly control the engine mapping of the car from the pits to ensure both drivers are following the correct fuel settings?

Whilst I understand this would not prevent RBR from stopping SV from overtaking, they could throttle him back as discipline.

I just don’t understand this kid – he is an employee of RBR – all they need to do is put it in his contract that he must obey team orders then terminate if he disobeys.. there’s a lot of very good drivers out there who could put that RB9 around the track.

Seriously, I don’t expect Horner or Marko to budge but Mateschitz must be fuming – I wouldn’t be suprised if Vettel didn’t last out the season at the rate he’s going.. anyway my question above if anyone has the knowledge/time.

Thanks very much – love the site James and the quality of the contributions. Bravo.


To answer your question at the top, it’s not allowed in the rules to change the car from the pits via telemetry


Thanks – well that gives F1 management’s perspective on what should happen: driver’s should decide, not teams, which is interesting.

Just talking with others it seems Vettlel’s ego is just out of control now, but the issue for RB is that they’ve spent millions building him up and pampering him that he now thinks of himself as a golden child, impervious to any direction, much like Hamilton until his current ‘waking up’ phase. Vettel might be two years away from this stage, by which time Webber will be watching F1 sitting on the couch with his dogs, rolling is eyes as Vettel says he’s ‘matured now’, and how he ‘realizes how lucky he was’..


Can we add a little more historical context here please…

Do we recall when Vettel ran up the back of Webber in Japan? I suspect that Webber and Vettel havent seen eye to eye since then…


Webber had a few four letter words to say that day, but when Vettel went on to win in Monza in the STR the following year I think Webber had a bit of respect for him.

I think the point where their relationship started to go south was after Turkey in 2010.


*I think the point where their relationship started to go south was after Turkey in 2010.*

Hmmmm, yeah. That probably didn’t help 😉


Vettel speaks about not having support from Webbers side of the garage.

Thats strange isn’t it.

When was the last time anyone saw Helmet Marko on Webbers side of the garage, even speaking to Webber or even clapping if Webber won anything.

This i think lays one of the biggest issues. The camp has always been divided and Marko is the reason. Webber cannot ever have 100 % support of the team as long as Marko is there.


Few points:

1. It’s obvious that Vettel does not regret his actions from Malaysia. His apology rings hollow since he admits he would do the same again

2. Equally certain is that Webber will leave Red Bull at the end of this season if Vettel still drives there. I forget if he has already extended his contract. In his mind, the episode probably illuminates what Vettel can get away with

3. Red Bull will not punish its best bet for the WDC. Punishing him will mean disadvantaging him and also the team, and could cause a whole lot of other complications (both drivers leaving at the end of the year), and there’s no guarantee that sanctions will teach him a lesson (ask Schumacher)

4. Vettel knows this too so will continue to do as he pleases. Horner and co. need to abolish team orders to avoid being further embarrassed, since now both drivers are likely to do as they please. We could see a repeat of Turkey 2010.

5. We all love this drama! Bring it on!


I hope Vettel gets what he asked for in Brazil if it’s a WDC winning race!


This debacle is now truly overblown. But I like it very much when Vettel says he’ll do it again. Well at least Vettel is brave to say he’ll do it again as when the helmet is on and no one can see his face he’ll be a beast! That I like very much.

Mind you I support Webber and he too better break team orders if needed. I blame Marko and hold him responsible for the deep seeded problems between Vettel and Webber.

Massa had better follow suit but in Ferrari one must constantly remember it’s the team. Enzo is still spiritually well and alive.


Vettel has been advised by Schumacher, or someone like him, how to play mind games. You have to feel sorry for Mark. The reason why Mark behaved in certain manner in the past is most likely because Vettel has got RB behind him. I don’t remember Mark being in a war with any other team mate in the past.

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