Sebastian Vettel apologises after defying team orders to win 2013 Malaysian GP
Sepang victor ignored instruction to hold position behind Webber
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 25/03/13 12:42pm
Sebastian Vettel has apologised to Mark Webber after defying team orders and overtaking Webber to win the Malaysian GP. .
A chastened Sebastian Vettel has apologised to Mark Webber after defying team orders and overtaking his team-mate for victory of the Malaysian GP despite being instructed to hold position behind the Aussie following the final round of pit-stops in Sunday's race.
Following an angry confrontation with Webber before a grim-faced podium ceremony at Sepang, Vettel told reporters in the post-race press conference: "'I should have behaved today. I made a big mistake.
"It's not a victory I am proud of. It should have been Mark's."
Reiterating his apology to Webber on several occasions thereafter, Vettel stressed he didn't "mean to ignore the strategy".
"I think it's not an easy situation for me," he added.
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"Obviously I'm the black sheep right now. Obviously I put myself in that position so, as I said, all I can say is apologies to Mark. I know that right now, obviously, having just come out of the car, it's probably difficult to explain everything but the pass was deliberate, obviously I wanted to pass him, you could see that, otherwise you wouldn't even try, but I didn't mean to ignore the strategy or the call. I made a mistake, simply."
Both during the press conference and in a subsequent interview for Sky Sports F1, Webber pointedly refused to confirm he accepted Vettel's apology before talking cryptically of "taking my medicine" during the upcoming three-week break before the Chinese GP.
"It is still very raw," said Webber. "I was completely reassured twice that we were not going to abuse the cars on each other.
"It is very hard for everyone to understand the whole situation. There are a lot of people that think they understand the whole situation, but unfortunately it is not possible for them to understand everything.
There was a heated exchange on the podium with Martin Brundle's questions.
"There were a lot of things on my mind in the last 15 laps of that Grand Prix to be honest, so if the medicine is enough we will see."
Webber's displeasure was abundantly clear as he stood alongside Vettel on the podium, telling Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle: "After the last stop the team told me the race was over and we turned the engines down to go to the end. I want to race as well, but the team made the decision which we usually do before the race and say that is how it is going to be and look after the tyres and the car and get to the end.
"But Seb made his own decision today and will have protection as usual and that is the way it goes."
Red Bull boss Christian Horner - who accused Vettel of being "silly" as he diced with Webber for the lead of the race - confirmed that a "clear instruction" was given to Vettel to hold position.
"We let the drivers race until the final pit-stop. At that point, the drivers' interests became bigger than the team's," Horner told Sky Sports F1.
Instead, Vettel opted to attack Webber as the Australian returned to the track following his fourth and final stop just in front of the sister RB9. What followed was breathtaking wheel-to-wheel action which culminated in Vettel overtaking Webber for his 27th grand prix victory - and the most controversial.