No smiles on podium after Vettel wins Malaysian Grand Prix | News | DW | 24.03.2013
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No smiles on podium after Vettel wins Malaysian Grand Prix

Germany’s Sebastian Vettel has apologized to his Red Bull teammate, Mark Webber after he disregarded team orders to maintain their positions. The victory moves Vettel to the top of the drivers' standings.

After Sunday's race, Sebastian Vettel was unusually contrite for someone who had just driven to victory for the 27th time in his still young career and climbed to the top of the drivers' standings.

"I'm not entirely happy - I think I made a big mistake," Vettel said.

The "mistake" Vettel referred to was the overtaking maneuver that took him past teammate Mark Webber and into the lead 10 laps before the end of the race. The move incensed Webber and didn’t please the head of his Red Bull team either.

"Sebastian chose to take things into his own hands. His desire to win was greater than protecting the 43 points for the team," said Christian Horner, principal of the Red Bull team.

Had Horner had his way, Vettel would have remained behind Webber for the last few laps to avoid any risk of the two drivers not finishing one-two in the race. They only got the order to maintain their positions after their final pit stops – until then, team had given Vettel and Webber the freedom to compete for the lead.

"After the last stop the team told me to turn the engine down. Seb made his own decisions and will have protection as usual," Webber fumed.

The Australian's anger wasn’t lost on his German teammate, who said he had profusely apologized to Webber shortly after the race.

"We should have stayed in the positions that we were in. I didn't ignore it on purpose but I messed up in that situation and obviously took the lead from Mark," Vettel said.

"I can see now that he's upset. I want to be honest at least and stick to the truth. I know that doesn't really help his feelings right now."

Little joy in Mercedes camp either

Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton crossed the line in third, just ahead of his German teammate, Nico Rosberg, who appeared to have the speed to overtake the Briton, but for some reason declined to attempt to do so.

"Nico should be standing here, he had a better race than me. I can't say it's the best feeling being up here but racing is racing," Hamilton said after a race when none of the three on the podium felt he had much to smile about.

Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, who won last year's edition of the Malaysian Grand Prix failed to finish, crashing out on the second lap after his car suffered damage to the front wing when it nudged Vettel's shortly after the start of the race.

Following Sunday's victory, Vettel leads the drivers' standings with 40 points ahead of Kimi Rakkonen on 31, Webber is in third with 26 points from the first two races of the Formula one season.

Red Bull tops the constructors' standings with 66 points, 16 ahead of Renault and Ferrari.

pfd/mz (AP, AFP, dpa)