Controversy is swirling after the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix at the circuit of Sepang, as Team Red Bull took both first and second place (Sebastian Vettel edged out Mark Webber for his 27th Formula 1 victory). But it wasn’t supposed to end that way.
Webber left the final pit stop of the day in the lead, and Vettel was right on his heels in second place.
According to the BBC, the German racer was told to continue running in second and bring home the one-two finish for the team. But with 13 laps remaining, Vettel took it upon himself to make things happen and passed his teammate.
Webber still finished in second, but there was clear tension between the men after the race on the podium (h/t The Guardian), as neither shook hands, embraced or even made eye contact after the race.
Vettel is the three-time defending F1 world champion (2010, 2011, 2012) and accepting second place is not something the ultra-competitive racer was ever truly going to consider.
Despite his intense desire to win at all costs, Vettel was remorseful about his actions after the event and apologized to the media (h/t The Mirror).
While most racing fans hate the idea of being told to just be happy with a teammate’s win and a second-place finish, this is Formula 1 racing, not NASCAR. Vettel had the better car Sunday, but the fact that he was more worried about individual accomplishments instead of team success will be a mark against the veteran going forward.
Team Mercedes cohorts Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg finished in third and fourth, respectively, after also being ordered to keep their positions coming out of the last pit stop.
Unlike Vettel and Webber, though, these teammates followed orders.
Team Ferrari’s Felipe Massa took fifth place, while teammate and crowd favorite Fernando Alonso crashed on the second lap after breaking his front wing.
The victory gives Vettel the points lead for the 2013 F1 championship, but with only two races completed, it's far too early to call him the favorite to repeat, especially with his actions on Sunday.
All results via Crash.net.
1. Sebastian Vettel: Red Bull-Renault
2. Mark Webber: Red Bull-Renault
3. Lewis Hamilton: Mercedes-Mercedes
4. Nico Rosberg: Mercedes-Mercedes
5. Felipe Massa: Ferrari-Ferrari
6. Romain Grosjean: Lotus-Renault
7. Kimi Raikkonen: Lotus-Renault
8. Nico Hulkenberg: Sauber-Ferrari
9. Sergio Perez: McLaren-Mercedes
10. Jean-Eric Vergne: Toro Rosso-Ferrari
11. Valtteri Bottas: Williams-Renault
12. Esteban Gutierrez: Sauber-Ferrari
13. Jules Bianchi: Marussia-Cosworth
14. Charles Pic: Caterham-Renault
15. Giedo van der Garde: Caterham-Renault
16. Max Chilton: Marussia-Cosworth
17. Jenson Button: McLaren-Mercedes
18. Daniel Ricciardo: Toro Rosso-Ferrari
Retired: Pastor Maldonado: Williams-Renault
Retired: Adrian Sutil: Force India-Mercedes
Retired: Paul di Resta: Force India-Mercedes
Retired: Fernando Alonso: Ferrari-Ferrari
I should have behaved today. I made a big mistake. It's not a victory I am proud of. It should have been Mark's. Obviously it is very hot and if there is something to say we need to say it internally.
After the race, a dejected Webber told Sky Sports about how Team Red Bull would protect its marquee driver:
It is still very raw. I was completely reassured twice that we were not going to abuse the cars on each other.
It is very hard for everyone to understand the whole situation. There are a lot of people that think they understand the whole situation, but unfortunately it is not possible for them to understand everything.
There were a lot of things on my mind in the last 15 laps of that Grand Prix to be honest, so if the medicine is enough we will see. But Seb made his own decision today and will have protection as usual and that is the way it goes.
Team Red Bull’s boss Christian Horner told Sky Sports about the incident:
We let the drivers race until the final pit-stop. At that point, the drivers' interests became bigger than the team's.
While the day was full of mishaps, veteran driver Alonso took to Twitter to let everyone know that it is a long season with plenty of time to make up the ground many lost Sunday:
Now that the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix is out of the way, the next event on the series schedule will be the Chinese Grand Prix (April 12-14). For more information on the next event, check out the race’s official website.