Sebastian Vettel v Mark Webber: Truce over at Red Bull as Webber fumes at Vettel's grand theft

German apologises after stealing race from team-mate, having ignored Red Bull orders

Sepang

It should have been a celebration not just of a timely Red Bull one-two that catapulted the team from Milton Keynes to the top of both the drivers' and constructors’ world championships, but also of Sebastian Vettel equalling Sir Jackie Stewart’s tally of 27 grand prix victories.

Instead, the triple champion's controversial success when he ignored team instructions to overtake his team-mate Mark Webber became a public relations grenade for the team and exposed the German's ruthless desire to win at all costs. It also tore apart the fragile truce that has existed between Vettel and Webber since 2010.

After Vettel had defied team orders that instructed him to remain behind his Australian team-mate, who had driven beautifully while doing as the team management had asked in conserving his tyres and fuel, and had stolen the victory, Vettel realised the magnitude of his duplicity and was smart enough to offer what initially sounded like a contrite and convincing apology.

"At the end I felt I had strong pace and on a new set of medium tyres I had a bit more speed and it was a close fight," he began, "but I did a big mistake today. We should have stayed in the positions we were in. I didn't ignore the order on purpose, but I messed up in that situation. I took the lead from Mark, which I can see now he is upset about, but I want to be honest and stick to the truth, and to apologise.

"I took quite a lot of risk to pass him and I should have behaved better. It doesn't help his feelings right now. Apologies to Mark and now the result is there, but all I can say is that I didn't do it deliberately."

This was a race that was as much about radio messages from team to driver and vice versa as it was about the on-track action, which at time became very fraught in several instances, not just between the Red Bull drivers but all down the field. As early as the 29th lap Vettel was tearing a page from the Fernando Alonso phrasebook and demanding that Red Bull make Webber move over. "Mark is too slow, get him out of the way," he instructed. Later, as he repeatedly challenged Webber, against orders to hold station, team boss Christian Horner beseeched him to back off. "This is silly, Seb," Horner told him, just as Vettel forced his way to the front with a precarious move on the 46th lap.

For several corners the two Red Bulls ran inches apart, as Webber fought back. But after Vettel was able to pull away, Horner warned him: "You've got a lot of explaining to do, Seb."

So Vettel knew perfectly well what he had done, long before Webber's angry expression and manner on the way to a subdued podium, and his comments there.

The spat has opened up all the old wounds that were inflicted when the two of them collided while fighting for the lead of the 2010 Turkish GP, or the incident in the British GP that season when, having won the race in a car that lacked the new front wing that only Vettel was allowed to use, Webber had declared sarcastically over the radio, "Not bad for a No 2 driver."

As he stood po-faced on the podium, the Australian made his feelings clear to commentator Martin Brundle: "We had the right strategy early on, and then it was just really controlling race and getting it all in place. Then after the last pit stop the team told me the race was over so we turned the engines down, then the team changed that and Seb made his own decisions today."

His emotions at their most raw, the frustration he has long harboured about the way he is sometimes treated within the camp welled up and he could not resist adding: "He'll have protection as usual," inferring that team director Helmut Marko would once again excuse his protégé's action. "It's still very raw at the moment."

Vettel's defence, and his reference to himself as "the black sheep now," sounded as lame as the comment Horner mustered.

"They've never been the best of mates and they are never going to spend Christmas together, but there is a respect between the two of them and I'm sure with a little time to reflect we'll quickly move on from this."

Webber sat listening to all the cant, clearly neither fooled nor pacified, and did not deny that over the remaining laps he was minded to consider his future with the team, and perhaps even in Formula One. "My mind was thinking many things," he said. "Many, many things."

There had been drama right from the start when the race began on a wet track and saw Fernando Alonso run into the back of Vettel in the second corner. Ferrari gambled on keeping their man out for the handful of laps before dry weather tyres would be feasible, but his damaged front wing broke on the second lap, pitching him off the road. Vettel pitted a lap too early for slicks, handing the advantage to Webber, who then controlled things until the controversy on the 46th lap.

Further back Mercedes team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg battled throughout to third and fourth places respectively, but a loose wheel ruined a fine drive by Jenson Button and left Felipe Massa to salvage fifth place for Ferrari ahead of Lotus duo Romain Grosjean and Melbourne  winner Kimi Raikkonen.

 

Get Adobe Flash player

 



Arts & Entertainment
A stranger calls: Martin Freeman in ‘Fargo’
tvReview: New 10-part series brims with characters and stories

Arts & Entertainment
Shaun Evans as Endeavour interviews a prisoner as he tries to get to the bottom of a police cover up
Review: Second series comes to close with startling tale of police corruption and child abuse
Sport
Raheem Sterling and Luis Suarez celebrate during Liverpool's game with Norwich
football Another hurdle is out of the way for Brendan Rodgers' side
Arts & Entertainment
Schwarzenegger winning Mr. Universe 1969
arts + entsCan you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
Portrait of Queen Elizabeth-II by David Bailey which has been released to mark her 88th birthday
peoplePortrait released to mark monarch's 88th birthday
Arts & Entertainment
The star of the sitcom ‘Miranda’ is hugely popular with mainstream audiences
TVMiranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
Life & Style
The writer, Gerda Saunders, with her mother, who also suffered with dementia before her death
healthGerda Saunders on the most formidable effect of her dementia
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes looks on during his side's defeat to Everton
footballBaines and Mirallas score against United as Everton keep alive hopes of a top-four finish
Sport
Tour de France 2014Sir Rodney Walker on organising the UK stages of this year’s race
Arts & Entertainment
Jessica Brown Findlay as Mary Yellan in ‘Jamaica Inn’
TVJessica Brown Findlay on playing the spirited heroine of Jamaica Inn
News
YouTube clocks up more than a billion users a month
mediaEuropean rival Dailymotion certainly thinks so
Arts & Entertainment
The original design with Charles' face clearly visible, which is on display around the capital
arts + ents
Arts & Entertainment
‘Self-Portrait Worshipping Christ’ (c943-57) by St Dunstan
books How British artists perfected the art of the self-portrait
News
People
News
Sir Cliff Richard is to release his hundredth album at age 72
PEOPLE
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter: The man who could have been champion of the world - and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him

The man who could have been champion of the world

Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter and the Bob Dylan song that immortalised him
Didn’t she do well?

Didn’t she do well?

Miranda Hart lined up for ‘Generation Game’ revival
The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

The Middle East we must confront in the future will be a Mafiastan ruled by money

In Iraq, mafiosi already run almost the entire oil output of the south of the country
Before they were famous

Before they were famous

Can you guess the celebrity from these British Pathe News clips?
Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is genius

Martin Freeman’s casting in Fargo is a stroke of genius

Series is brimming with characters and stories all its own
How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players