Vettel justifies Sepang defiance, hits back at Webber

By Chris Lines, AP, 11 April 2013
© AP Photo/Mark Baker

Sebastian Vettel intensified his fight with Red Bull teammate Mark Webber, saying the Australian hurt the team in the past so he did not deserve consideration in the Malaysian team orders affair.

Vettel revealed at the Chinese Grand Prix on Thursday that his decision to ignore team orders and pass Webber in the closing stages of the Malaysian race was "indirectly" related to past incidents when he felt Webber went against the best interests of the team.

"There was more than one occasion in the past when he could have helped the team and he didn't," Vettel said.

Asked if that was why he ignored the team orders, Vettel replied: "Indirectly so."

The world champion maintained he had not understood the team order to stay behind Webber, even though he acknowledged that the code "Multi-21" -- meaning the No. 2 car stays ahead of the No. 1 car -- had been in use at the team for a long time.

Despite his claims of a mistake, Vettel said he likely would have ignored any further order from the team to give back the lead.

"I would have thought about it and would probably have done the same thing because Mark doesn't deserve that."

Vettel's candid comments revealed the depths of division within Red Bull. Asked whether there was trust between him and Webber, Vettel said, "I would not call it trust to be honest, we have a professional relationship.

"I never had support from his side (of the garage), I have a lot of support from the team and the team is supporting us both the same way."

The German had apologised to team staff for breaking team rules but laughed when asked if he had been punished in any way: "There are lots of marks on my back," and "What do you expect to happen? Make a suggestion."

The relationship between Vettel and Webber appeared fractured beyond repair, and it looked unlikely that the Australian would get another contract after his one-year deal expires at the end of the season.

Webber said on Thursday that initial reports that he considered quitting immediately in Malaysia were wrong, but said the accumulation of incidents of perceived favouritism toward Vettel led to career options crossing his mind.

The events in Malaysia also raised speculation about the position of team principal Christian Horner, as they showed Vettel can ignore instructions with impugnity.

Vettel, though, denied he effectively outranked Horner.

"That is not right," Vettel said. "He is the boss, he is in control of all the employees and is leading the team."

Vettel's latest comments in the fallout from Malaysia only heightened speculation about who might replace Webber at Red Bull next season. Mateschitz and his right-hand man Helmut Marko had been quoted in the past week saying Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen was among the candidates, but the Finn would not be drawn on the suggestion.


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