Sebastian Vettel drives to win. It's a big reason why he is the three-time reigning Formula One champion, and it's a big reason why he is a terrible teammate.
This was all vividly apparent as Vettel captured the Malaysian Grand Prix.
As the Los Angeles Times' Dan Loumena reports, it was supposed to be teammate Mark Webber who took the checkered.
With 10 laps to go, Vettel was told by his crew to let Webber win the race. Loumena reports that Webber said he was given the directive to slow down to save the tread on his tires.
Vettel, apparently, could not put his competitive drive to rest to follow through on his directive, and he passed Weber to take the checkered.
Understandably, Webber was less than thrilled. Loumena passes along this quote from Weber: "Seb made his own decisions and he will have protection as usual and that's the way it goes. It's still very raw at the moment."
For his part, Vettel, in another quote provided by Loumena, was contrite after the race:
I made a big mistake today and we should have stayed in the position. I messed up in that situation and took the lead from Mark and can see now he is upset. Apologies to Mark. The result is there and all I can say is that I didn't do it deliberately.
In an article by The Guardian's Paul Weaver, Vettel hinted at the fact that he did not hear the instructions.
It is a little hard to believe that Vettel would not have heard the instructions, or that his crew would not have made it clear that he needed to ease up as he geared for the pass.
However, it is not all that hard to believe that the ultra-competitive Vettel was exercising a bit of selective hearing. Vettel is out there to win, and his focus on this goal could certainly lead him to not accepting any instructions to race for second.
While this kind of situation is understandably terrible for team chemistry, don't expect Vettel to pay a price for it.
As Webber himself tells it, Vettel "will have protection." He has had far too much success for the Red Bull team for anything else to happen.
You can get a feel for that in this quote by team owner Christian Horner, again provided by Loumena:
It's frustrating. Formula One is both a team and an individual sport and sometimes there is a conflict between a driver's desire and a team's interest. What happened today is something that shouldn't have happened. It's something that Sebastian has apologized for and it's something that we will discuss internally as a team.
Reading between the lines, this tells me the team is not thrilled with the action, but they aren't going to blast Vettel, nor will they hand down any serious punishment to their prized team member.
What is far more likely is that Webber will be the one looking for a new team at season's end.
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