Red Bull denies team orders imposed in Malaysia

OCTOBER 3, 2016

Red Bull denies team orders imposed in Malaysia

Red Bull has denied its drivers were ordered against racing to the chequered flag in Malaysia for the team's first one-two since 2013.

After Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg ran into trouble at Sepang, Daniel Ricciardo and teammate Max Verstappen had a brief battle but then appeared to hold station to the finish.

"I thought we were going to have 'Multi 33' there at one point," Mark Webber, the former Red Bull driver who was at the centre of a Red Bull team orders storm in Malaysia in 2013, said on the post-race podium.

But when asked if Verstappen was actually free to race Ricciardo, the young Dutchman insisted: "Yeah, for sure.

"The team said we were free to race -- but of course in a clean way. I think that's what we did."

Less clean was Rosberg's pass on Kimi Raikkonen, as the German fought back from a first-corner spin to ultimately finish on the podium and extend his championship lead to 23 points.

Mercedes slammed the stewards for imposing a penalty, with Niki Lauda calling it "completely stupid" and Toto Wolff saying it is "total nonsense".

Wolff added: "We decided a few months ago that we want harder racing without penalties when a situation is not 100 per cent -- and now this!"

And Lauda joined those who were highly critical of Sebastian Vettel's first-corner move, which had shunted Rosberg into his spin in the first place.

"This was a mistake that should not happen to a four-time world champion," he said.

Red Bull's Verstappen even called German Vettel an "idiot", while Rosberg revealed that the Ferrari driver had apologised after the race.

But Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene was siding with his driver.

"I will stick with what Seb says and call it a racing incident," he said.

F1 legend Lauda, however, was not willing to be so forgiving.

"Vettel is in crisis," he is quoted by Italy's Corriere della Sera. "When Verstappen did it at Spa he called him a madman but today he did the same thing."

(GMM)

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