Vettel apologises to Red Bull staff, row over Marko insists
By Berthold Bouman
Sebastian Vettel has apologised in person to Red Bull Racing’s staff members for ignoring team orders during the Malaysian Grand Prix last weekend. The triple World Champion has also spoken with his team colleague Australian Mark Webber, who was visibly upset during the podium ceremony at Sepang International Circuit.
Team Principal Christian Horner said, “He’s apologised to the team and to every single member of staff for his actions, because he recognises the team is vitally important and being part of the team is a crucial aspect to being able to challenge for those championships.”
Vettel celebrates after winning the Malaysian GP – Photo: Red Bull Racing
And he added, “He’s said he can’t turn back the clock but he’s accepted what he did was wrong.” Webber was leading the Malaysian Grand Prix when his team told both drivers to stay in the same position, take it easy and finish the race in the same order, as there were concerns about fuel consumption and tyre wear. Vettel ignored the team order, overtook Webber after a sensational battle for the lead, but Horner told Sky TV Webber should have won the race.
“It was the intent of the team that Mark should win that race,” Horner admitted. About Webber, who after the race hinted he would ‘reconsider’ his position at Red Bull, Horner commented, “He’s big enough to know that there was no malice, no intent from the team to create any situation like that. He’s in a car that’s capable of winning Grands Prix and hopefully going for a championship so I’ve got no doubt that Mark will see out the season with us.”
Today stories emerged that Vettel indeed might have missed the message, a code named ‘Multi-map 21’, which actually means car 2 (Webber) has to finish ahead of car 1 (Vettel). But Red Bull Team Advisor Helmut Marko rubbished the idea he might have missed it . “We have this certain code — the ’21’ — which was told by the race engineer on two occasions. There was no response,” the Austrian said.
Helmut Marko and Sebastian Vettel – Photo: Red Bull Racing
He further commented, “We told Sebastian to hold his position because we didn’t know what the tyre situation was and both drivers need to bring home a good finish for the team. But then came the attack against that strategy and it got out of control. You couldn’t control it over radio or anything like that. Sebastian the racer came out and took the lead.”
Also Horner could be heard on the team radio saying, “This is silly Seb, come on,” but there was no answer. And last but not least, saying Vettel accidentally ignored the order to stay behind Webber, cannot be true, as he would never have apologized when he hadn’t been aware of the radio messages. You simply don’t apologise for something you didn’t do.
Marko insists the issue has been settled now, “They don’t have to be completely on the same page but it must be a solid working partnership,” he said. “Sebastian apologised in the press conference and I think that was the first correct step to make. There was a debrief afterwards with the relevant discussions about the race and then there was a handshake between the two drivers. For us now the issue is settled.”