That cheeky little German! Sebastian Vettel once again proved in front of everyone, including his own team that his needs come first ahead of every one else’s. The reigning and triple world champion disobeyed direct orders from his team to stay behind Mark Webber in the 2013 Malaysian GP to emerge as the race winner.

Red Bull had come clear before the start of qualifying that their cars are marginal on tyres at best, and would struggle to finish the race need they race hard all the way. The team’s early call to ask the drivers to take it easy and hold positions while running ahead of the field was duly justified, as they’d risk running out of tyres and ruin the chance of a perfect 1-2 result.

Vettel had other ideas, obviously. Ordered repeatedly to maintain a three second gap behind Webber to protect the tyres (these modern F1 cars would eat up their tyres more running closely behind another car’s wake/turbulence), Vettel threw ethics to the wind and went for the win. The gap disappeared, Webber who had turned his engine down caught unawares. Cue panic in the team.


The two RB9s went round turns one, two and three mere inches from each other, Webber defending as hard as Vettel was attacking. Suddenly it was the 2010 Turkish GP all over again, with flashes of disaster for the team. It made a good spectacle, no doubt, but had they touched, the drivers and the team would both be fools.

The tension among the Red Bull bosses were clear to see, unable to handle their rebellious star driver. “This is silly, Seb, come on!” pleaded Christian Horner, only for Vettel to take it up another notch and make a dangerous lunge inside Webber, cutting him off into turn one. So he got the lead, forcefully, and stayed there till the end of the race.

Webber couldn’t mount a reversal as his tyres weren’t up to their best by then – Red Bull’s worries proving accurate. They were lucky that the Mercedes pair behind them had decided to cruise to the finish. Had they not, both Webber and Vettel, now saddled with no tyres left, would have been easy pickings and Red Bull would have lost an easy 1-2 result.


Red Bull may have gotten maximum points this weekend, but it was far from a perfect result. Mark Webber was visibly livid on the podium, and duly spoke his mind at the post-race interview with Martin Brundle.

“I want to race as well but in the end the team made a decision. We look after the tyres, get the car to the end. Seb made his own decisions today and will have protection as usual and that’s the way it goes,” said Webber publicly, making everyone in the Red Bull team cringe and leaving others in disgust.

The only issue for Webber is, the high horse he seems to be standing on is a really short one, as he himself has been guilty of forsaking direct team orders to stay behind Vettel. Given such commands in the 2011 British GP (remember the “maintain the gap” debacle?), he went for it anyway. The difference here is that he never managed to overtake his stricken teammate whereas Vettel yesterday did.


Such bitter betrayals among teammates have been seen before of course. Didier Pironi pulled a similar stunt on Gilles Villeneuve in the 1982 San Marino GP to tragic consequences, and Ayrton Senna’s shameful move on Alain Prost in the 1989 instalment of the same race was seen as the precipice of their legendary rivalry.

How Webber will react to Vettel’s treachery is yet to be seen, but the team harmony between the two Red Bull drivers is now non-existent, and sure enough they will be taking points out of each other from now on. Anyone remember Alonso and Hamilton duking it out in 2007? Neither of them won the championship that year, did they?

So what do you think of Vettel’s on-track behaviour and Webber’s off-track demeanour? Voice it out in the comments section below.