Red Bull teammates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber battle wheel-to-wheel for the 2013 Malaysian GP victory late in the race. Credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/

F1: Controversy Surrounds Vettel’s Sepang Win


In probably one of the more exciting Malaysian Grand Prix’s in recent memory, the Red Bull teammates found themselves in a head-to-head fight for the win late in the race. It wasn’t the kind of finish Red Bull had intended though when Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders to remain behind Mark. The Australian Webber obviously wasn’t happy at all and showed it after the race but before we dive into this debacle, here is a quick recap of the race!

The race started off with a wet track and all 22 competitors were on intermediate tires. The track surface quickly dried and the rain wasn’t a factor for the remainder of the event. Fernando Alonso battled Mark Webber for 2nd position very early in the race before he made a rookie error making contact with the Red Bull ripping off his front wing which lodged underneath the car. He went straight off the track into the gravel and was forced to retire from the race. Both Force India drivers retired from the race as well due to what the team called, “captive wheelnut failure”. Jenson Button, Daniel Ricciardo and Pastor Maldonado also had issues relegating them all to outside the top 15.

Mark Webber was cruising to his 10th career F1 victory after the final set of pit stops but was told to back off and run conservatively to save the car. Red Bull assured Webber that Vettel would remain behind him. Instead, Sebastian Vettel shocked everyone when he ignored team orders and went for the win. Suddenly, Webber found himself locked into a fierce battle with his teammate with just 10 laps remaining. Team boss Christian Horner pleaded with the 3x champion over the radio saying  “this is silly Seb, come on.”

Their pleas fell on depth ears as Sebastian edged past Mark after a very intense battle. You could see the Aussie flip the bird to Vettel as he went by. Sebastian won the race which is the 27th of his career. Red Bull stated that they were “uncomfortable with the win.” Vettel apologized after the race but it’s pretty easy to say I’m sorry for passing you win you’re the one holding the trophy. Those are empty words…he had plenty of time to give the lead back and was begged by his team not to pass him. Mark Webber was very angry and his distaste for what happened could be seen plain as day when the drivers stood on the podium. Vettel posted this statement on the Red Bull Racing website:  ” I put myself above a team decision, which was wrong. I didn’t mean to and I apologize. 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.”

Mark knows that there will be no punishment thrown Vettel’s way by the team simply because it’s Sebastian Vettel. It’s a shame that the World Champion decided to put himself above the team in a truly selfish act and I can assure you that had Webber been in Sebastian’s position, he would of respected the team’s orders. Vettel will win many more races while Mark Webber’s victories continue to be scare and I think this might be the incident that puts Mark over the edge.

I personally hate team orders with a passion but they are a part of F1 and I accept that. What happened here would be the like Dale Jr. letting Jimmie Johnson lead a lap in NASCAR and then JJ decides to block Jr aggressively and never give 1st spot back to him. Lewis Hamilton was the final driver to finish on the podium with Nico Rosberg 4th and Felipe Massa 5th. Sebastian now leads the standings by 9pts over Melbourne winner, Kimi Raikkonen.

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Tags: Featured Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix Mark Webber Popular Sebastian Vettel Sepang

  • Alitstar

    I don’t understand what’s the big deal. Team politics? Sebastian Vettel is a good driver and he deserve it, right?

    • Bryant Douglass

      You’re exactly right! Politics!

    • http://twitter.com/FunnyHypothesis Jimbo James

      He’s a good driver, yes, but no he didn’t deserve that win. The big deal is that Webber was told to go easy & guaranteed that Vettel wouldn’t try to take the lead; so Webber wasn’t even driving competitively when Vettel took the lead.

      It’s not that hard to understand if you actually watched the race.

  • Nick DeGroot

    Exactly Jimbo. I hate team orders but Webber was assured when he had a 4.5 second lead that he could back off. Now if Vettel had caught Webber on his own and was then told to stay behind him but ignored it, I would of loved seeing Seb defy team orders. He agreed not to pass him though before he backed off but once Mark backed up to him he decides to go by which is really selfish.