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MARCH 24, 2013

Webber feels slighted as Vettel ignores team orders

Mark Webber was visibly upset and displeased on the podium in Malaysia today, when his Red Bull-Renault team mate Sebastian Vettel took the victory today after passing Webber late in the race after the team had told both drivers that they were in control of the race and to cruise to the finish in order to save the cars and preserve their engines for the next race.

On lap 43 Vettel made his final stop for tyres, and then Webber, leading the race made his final stop the next lap and got out just ahead of his team mate.

At this point Webber pulled a slight lead on Vettel, and the pair were nearly 10 seconds ahead of the Mercedes GP pair of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. With a Red Bull Racing 1-2 at hand the team radioed the pair to switch their engine setting to a conservative setting, and in a pre-race strategy, signaling to the drivers to save the engines and to hold station to the finish without battling each other.

Vettel continued to push though, and attacked on the main straight, nearly squezing each other into the pitlane wall. Other the next few corners the two battled and nearly touched - at one point Team Principal Christian Horner got on the radio and said, "This is silly Seb, come on..."

In the end Vettel took the lead and the victory.

On the cool down lap Vettel was told by Horner on the rain, "Good job Sebastian, it looked like you wanted it bad enough - still, there will be some explaining to do."

In the post race interview, Vettel said, "I think obviously it is very hot today, and I think if there is something to say we need to talk internally, but for sure I think we both enjoyed that. Of course I am standing in the middle now so I enjoyed it probably a little bit more - but, yeah, we have plenty of time to talk about it."

Meanwhile Webber said, "I was really just controlling the race, and getting everything in place towards the back end of the race. After the last stop, obviously the team told me that the race was over and we turned the engines down and we go to the end, so I won a race as well, but in the end the team made a decision which we always say before the start of the race is probably how it is going to be. We look after the tyres, get the car to the end. In the end Seb made his own decisions today and will have protection as usual, and that's the way it goes."

Then asked if he was surprised when Vettel passed him, he said, "Yeah, well I turned my engine down and started cruising on the tyres,and then the fight was on. Anyway, we know he is a great pedaler, but I was disappointed with the outcome of today's race."

Later after the race, Vettel apologised, saying ""At 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, but I did a big mistake today."

"I took the lead from Mark, which I can see now he is upset about, but I want to be honest and stick to truth, and apologise. It doesn't help his feelings right now. Apologies to Mark and now result is there, but all I can say is that I didn't do it deliberately."

"We should have stayed in the positions we were in. I didn't ignore it on purpose but I messed up in that situation. I took quite a lot of risk to pass him and I should have behaved better."