Sebastian Vettel says he would ignore team orders again if it meant winning a race
However, German insists he misunderstood 'multi-21' instruction
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: April 11, 2013 5:13pm
Vettel - I'd do it again
Despite apologising for disobeying team orders to win the Malaysian GP ahead of Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel has admitted he would act in the same way again.
Having apologised to the team in person at their Milton Keynes base in the wake of his controversial victory at Sepang two weeks ago, the reigning World Champion declared on Wednesday he wouldn't "apologise for winning" and insisted twenty-four hours later that, in an identical situation, he wouldn't have acted differently.
"In the moment, it might be different, but I would probably do the same," the three-times title winner confirmed during a heated and fiery press conference at Shanghai ahead of round three of the 2013 season.
Admitting that he wouldn't have obeyed an instruction from team boss Christian Horner to give back first place to Webber, Vettel added: "Mark didn't deserve that. The bottom line is I was racing, I was faster, I passed him, I won."
Done and dusted this most certainly isn't with open civil warfare seemingly declared at Red Bull.
"I never had support from his side. In terms of my relationship with Mark, I respect him a lot as a racing driver but I think there was more than one occasion in the past when he could have helped the team but didn't," continued Vettel in a stark insight into the disharmony at the heart of the Milton Keynes outfit.
Webber - Relationship is 'strained'
So was Malaysia 2013 payback for last November's race in Brazil when Webber challenged Vettel for position in the German's title decider against Ferrari's Fernando Alonso?
"Probably you could indirectly say so."
So much for any hope Red Bull might have had about settling the simmering row between Webber and Vettel once and for all, with Thursday's remarkable press conference only serving to add plenty of explosive fuel to the fire rather than dousing the flames which ignited two weeks ago in Malaysia.
"I don't think we've seen this sort of open animosity between team-mates since the days of Senna and Prost at McLaren," observed Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz.
Nor perhaps had the press corps seen this side of Vettel - feisty, defiant, aggressive - on such public display before either.
Dismissing claims that he ought to have faced sanctions from his employers as the "stuff of dream land", Vettel continued to insist that although he was sorry for disobeying an order that he now admits he would ignore again, he had failed to understand the meaning of the now-infamous 'multi-21' instruction.
"I didn't mean to ignore the team's order. I got a call on the radio which I didn't understand but which I should have understood. That's why I have apologised - because, with that action, I put myself above the team. That wasn't my intention, although whether you believe me or not is up to you.
"I apologised to the team because the last thing I want as a team member is to disobey a team order. My intention as a racing driver was to win the race and I don't apologise for winning the race."