Vettel beats Webber in Sepang as controversy brews
Vettel and Webber were wheel to wheel repeatedly in the closing laps before Vettel broke clear. "It looks like you wanted it badly enough. There will be some explaining to do," winner Vettel was told on the Red Bull radio, insinuating he won against team orders.
For Hamilton it was his first podium as a Mercedes driver but he faded at the end as the Red Bulls pulled away. He was holding up his faster teammate Rosberg at the end, but team orders kept Rosberg in 4th.
"Remember this one," says a frustrated Rosberg who knew he could pass the slower Hamilton, indicating you owe me one.
Felipe Massa was fifth for Ferrari. Lotus teammates Romain Grosjean was sixth and Kimi Raikkonen 7th.
"If there's something to say, we need to talk internally," said Vettel.
"The team told me that the race was over and we turned the engines down," said Webber, indicating team orders to hold position, but Vettel was having none of that and passed his teammate.
"In the end Seb made his own decision, he has protection (from team management), and that's the way it goes," said Webber, defeated once again.
Later Vettel has apologized to Mark Webber after defying team orders and overtaking his teammate for victory of the Malaysian GP despite being instructed to hold position behind the Aussie following the final round of pit-stops in Sunday's race.
Following an angry confrontation with Webber before a grim-faced podium ceremony, Vettel told reporters in the post-race press conference: "'I should have behaved today. I made a big mistake."
Webber's displeasure was abundantly clear as he stood alongside Vettel on the podium, telling Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle: "After the last stop the team told me the race was over and we turned the engines down to go to the end. I want to race as well, but the team made the decision which we usually do before the race and say that is how it is going to be and look after the tires and the car and get to the end. But Seb made his own decision today and will have protection as usual and that is the way it goes."
Red Bull boss Christian Horner - who accused Vettel of being "silly" as he diced with Webber for the lead of the race" - has confirmed that a "clear instruction" was given to Vettel to hold position.
Alonso, who roared to an unlikely victory on the same circuit in an uncompetitive car a year ago, started from third on the grid and damaged his front wing when he nudged pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel on turn two as he fought for the lead.
With all drivers starting on intermediate tires following a heavy downpour, Alonso struggled for grip due to his damaged wing and was challenged for second place by Vettel's Red Bull team mate Mark Webber towards the end of the opening lap.
The Spaniard opted against coming into the pits to repair the damage and his race was soon over as the front wing gave way and became wedged underneath his car as Webber overtook him on the finishing straight.
Alonso slid into the turn one run off area and the double world champion was soon making the long and lonely walk back to the paddock.
Vettel now takes over the point lead after two rounds.
Sebastian Vettel (1st): "I messed up today. I would love to come up with a nice excuse as to why I did it, but I can't. I can understand Mark's frustration and the team not being happy with what I did today; I owe an explanation to him and the whole team. I will try to explain to them later. We talk about this situation happening many times and what we will do if and when it happens and normally it doesn't, but today it did and I should have translated the call into action. I got the call and I ignored it. Mark and I are used to fighting each other when we're close, but with the tires how they are now, and not knowing how long they will last, it was an extremely big risk to ignore the call to stay second. We could have ended up finishing eighth or ninth after destroying the tires in those two laps; I put myself above a team decision, which was wrong. I didn't mean to and I apologize. I'm not happy I've won, I made a mistake and if I could undo it I would. It's not easy right now and I owe apologies to Mark and the team."
Mark Webber (2nd): "I think Sebastian has respect for me and I have respect for him, but the situation today was not handled well. It's hard to put your finger on it all now after the race; when we're racing on the limit and pushing as hard as we can, then it's the worst situation for a team. I am sure they are bricking themselves and know that things can go wrong. There's a bit of history to this as well; my mind in the last 15 laps was thinking about a lot of things, but I was happy with the way I drove. I tried to isolate what happened at the end and we got something out of it today, but of course I'm not satisfied with the result. This puts heat on a few people and unfortunately there's no rewind button. I know people want raw emotion from us after these situations and it's there, but we need to remain cool. There's three weeks until the next race, so time for us to work on things."
Christian Horner, Sporting Director: "Before getting into anything else, it was a phenomenal team performance from the car and pit crew today with the pit crew recording fantastically fast stops. We recorded our fastest ever time on Mark's second stop, which is possibly a new best-ever in the pit lane. Obviously there's an awful lot of debate about what happened at the end of the race. Our position after that finial pit stop was all about managing the race until the end and conserving our tires, getting the cars to the finish and achieving maximum points. Unfortunately drivers' interests can sometimes come into conflict with the teams'. Sebastian decided to take things into his own hands today and race Mark, thankfully making a clean pass and switching the order to the flag. 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."
Thierry Salvi, Renault: "It was a tough race. I think we managed well with both engines and fuel consumption was under control throughout. It was easier to control temperatures due to it being wet at the start. I think the set-up we provided worked well. It was quite tight between both engines in the race and they were similar with engine performance."
Felipe Massa (5th):
Fernando Alonso (DNF, Damage):
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal:
Luca di Montezemolo:
Sergio Perez (9th): "This afternoon my engineers sorted out a very good race strategy that enabled me to pass the cars immediately in front of me early on – so thank you and well done for that, guys. Unfortunately, towards the end of the race, my tires began to degrade a bit too much, especially my front left, and we therefore felt it would be too risky to try to drive to the finish on that set. Consequently, we had no real option other than to make an extra pitstop, which caused me to lose position. I still ended up ninth, which is two places better than I finished in Melbourne last weekend, so I think it's fair to say that we can see that progress is being made. In Shanghai in two weeks' time let's hope that that upward trend continues."
Jenson Button (17th): "We drove a good race today. Strategy-wise, we did everything right. We pitted on the correct laps and looked after the tires exactly as we should have done. We'd have finished fifth but for the problem in the pitstop – maybe we'd even have been in the battle for third and fourth. It's very disappointing that we weren't able to demonstrate that, of course. Even at the end we had a chance of scoring a point, but unfortunately I was struggling with my front left [tire] by that stage. It kept locking up, and it was producing such a bad vibration that I think the guys were worried that it might damage the front left suspension if I carried on. However, as I say, apart from the pitstop problem, I think we did a pretty good job. We've made improvements over the past week, and the result of those improvements was that we were more competitive here in Malaysia than we were in Australia last weekend, so there are definitely positives that we can take away with us. Hopefully, in China in two weeks' time, we can continue that steady improvement and score a few more points."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "After having finished only ninth and 11th last weekend in Melbourne, today in Sepang we saw clear evidence that all the hard work we've been doing over the past week has resulted in some significant gains in terms of car development. Obviously, however, we're very disappointed that Jenson lost a hard-earned and well-deserved fifth place, perhaps even third or fourth, as a consequence of a pitstop problem caused by a wheel-gun issue. Jenson did absolutely nothing wrong and reacted correctly to the green light, by the way. Checo, too, put in a solid and plucky performance all weekend, earning his first points for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes this afternoon, and recorded fastest lap at the very end of the race. Clearly, therefore, although as I say we're very disappointed for Jenson, the truth is that he could and should have finished at least fifth – and, although by our own high standards that's not remotely good enough, it plainly shows that we're going in the right direction from a car-development point of view."
Romain Grosjean (6th): "I think we can be quite happy with the result today. It was a tough race, starting wet and finishing dry, but that's what you expect in Malaysia. I spent a lot of time stuck behind Felipe [Massa] in the middle phase of the race and I'm sure if I could have passed him earlier then I would have stayed ahead, but by the end my tires were finished so it was best just to let him through. It's not the result we would have wanted at the beginning of the weekend, but at the end of the day it's more points for the team and we'll try to come back stronger in Shanghai."
Kimi Raikkonen (7th): "Although the car felt very good on Friday, yesterday and today have been pretty difficult. Since Saturday morning it has not been behaving as we expected for some reason, especially in the wet where we really struggled for grip. It was a tough race and I lost part of my front wing at the start which didn't help, but at least we scored a few points which is better than coming away with nothing. If we can get the car back to how it was in Australia then I'm sure we'll be at the front again."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "It's not been the best day for us, but when you take into account our qualifying positions and the difficult start for both drivers I think the points we take for sixth and seventh is a solid result. Unfortunately with the conditions today we didn't see the full potential of the car, and the time we lost at the start was always going to be difficult to catch up. To finish within a reasonable distance of the leaders was a good effort from both drivers and also the team in terms of our strategy. With a normal weekend I'm sure we can expect some stronger results."
James Allison, Technical Director: "This weekend feels like a case of what might have been. We had a car on Friday which looked extremely promising, but unfortunately that didn't translate into the sort of result we'd expect. Qualifying tenth and eleventh – particularly in the wet – was not an ideal start, with the consequence that within seven laps we were around thirty seconds from the front. Our progress thereafter was actually quite respectable so it's frustrating to have lost touch with the race at such an early stage, but I'm confident we'll be delivering some stronger results in the coming races."
Riccardo Penteado, Engine Support Leader: "A double points finish today for the team after some good racing. Sepang is a hard challenge for the engines with high top speeds needed for the straights and low speed drivability for the hairpin turns, plus managing the fuel consumption is tricky considering the changeable weather. We moved to a second engine this weekend to give more flexibility later in the season – looking at how tight things are at the front having this margin could be useful later on."
Lewis Hamilton (3rd): "That was a fantastic job by the team today. They worked so hard over the winter and to achieve a podium at the second race of the season is a nice reward, particularly here in Malaysia at one of our home races. I have to say big congratulations to Nico. He drove a smarter and more controlled race than me this afternoon and deserved to finish where I did. The team made the call for us to hold positions and we both respected that. The race was tough, we were fighting hard with Red Bull and went aggressive on our fuel strategy but they were just too good today. Third and fourth places is still a great result for us however and just increases our motivation to keep pushing and close that gap."
Nico Rosberg (4th): "It was a great day for us as a team and we can be very happy of our performance here this weekend. It was a good feeling to be competitive and to be able to set fastest lap times during the race. Thanks to all of you at the team for all the hard work, results like these are very well deserved. Of course, it was disappointing for me having to hold position but I understand the team's decision to safeguard our positions and to make sure that both cars got to the end with a strong team finish, especially in light of the tough times behind us. There are a lot of races to go and our performance today makes me look forward to fighting for more podium finishes in the future."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "This weekend was another step in the right direction for the team. We had a pretty good car today, certainly on the option tires it was very good, and the team made the right calls on strategy. On the third set of dry tires, the hard compound, we didn't quite have the balance and that's where we fell back. We had a heavier than expected fuel consumption during the race and as we got towards the end, we had to take some measures to ensure that both cars finished. We asked Lewis and Nico to hold position and both drivers respected that. Whilst it was tough for Nico and I fully expect him to be disappointed, we have now got a car we can fight with and that there will be plenty more opportunities to achieve good results this season. We've got to concentrate on keeping up the pace of development but we can take pride in achieving our first podium of the season and my thanks to everyone here and back at base for their commitment and hard work."
Toto Wolff, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "We achieved a very good result for the team this weekend and to score some solid points is very satisfying. We have continued to show an upward performance trend although there is still work for us to do to close the gap to the leading cars even further. Both Lewis and Nico both drove extremely well today. Tough decisions have to be made sometimes and it was important for us that both cars finished the race and we scored some solid points. Congratulations to everyone here at the track, and back at Brackley and Brixworth for our first podium of the season, and we will keep pushing hard to make sure that more will follow."
Nico Hulkenberg (8th): "I feel quite well rewarded going home with four points after my first race of the season in a new team and with a new car. I am quite happy with how it went, especially at the start of the race when we were quite quick on the intermediates. But then I was stuck in traffic and couldn't find my way past other drivers. I think eighth was well deserved, considering I had to fight and push a lot today. I think the potential is there, and now we have to work on a few details."
Esteban Gutierrez (12th): "P12 is an ok result, but Ideally we would have liked to finish in the points. At the end of the race we lost time because we stayed on the same set of tires for too long. We tried to change the strategy and I did my best. That was all we could do at that stage. Overall the weekend is a step forward and we need to keep working and put everything together to achieve points."
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: "We are happy about this result, because we had an unexpected difficult weekend. However, we were able to improve step by step. We now have a better understanding of those areas in which we have to improve. This will help us to exploit the full potential of the car."
Tom McCullough, Head of Track Engineering: "Both drivers handled the difficult intermediate conditions at the beginning of the race well, and communicated well with the engineers on the pit wall to get the right tires at the right time. It's good to get the first points on the board. We've got a lot of good data to analyze, which will help us to be even stronger in Shanghai."
Adrian Sutil (DNF, Wheel nut): "An early end to a race that promised so much for us. Both cars had the same problem with the wheel nuts and it cost us a lot of time in the pits. We're not sure exactly what happened yet so the team stopped the cars to make sure we understand the issue. It's a shame that this happened here because we had a very quick car today and I felt very comfortable as the track dried out. We have to stay positive, keep our heads up and remember that there are plenty of races left where we can make up for the disappointment of today."
Paul di Resta (DNF, Wheel nut): "It's frustrating to come away with nothing given how competitive we have looked all weekend. We saw an issue at Adrian's first pit stop when I was sat behind him, which cost me about 15 seconds, and then I had the same issue with the wheel nut at my second pit stop. As a precaution the team chose to retire the car. The good news is that we have the performance in the car, but this is definitely a missed opportunity because we had the potential to score a lot of points today. We will go away, take this on the chin, and come back fighting in China."
Dr. Vijay Mallya, Team Principal: "A very disappointing end to a weekend where we have shown tremendous pace with both our cars. We made it safely through the opening laps in the damp conditions and the track came to us as we switched to dry tires with Paul being one of the fastest cars on the circuit. Unfortunately things went wrong in the pits when we experienced an issue with our captive wheel nut system at the first stop, which resulted in major delays for both cars. The issue occurred again at the second stop and it became apparent we would not be able to solve it during the race. As a precaution we were forced to retire both cars and will have a full investigation. It's frustrating, but sometimes these things happen in racing. We will take the positives of the strong car performance and look to put things right next time out in China."
Valtteri Bottas (11th): "I had a good start but then I drove off the dry line racing van der Garde and ran wide dropping to the back of the field. Once the track started to dry I was able to start overtaking a few cars and I had a good, clean race. The team did a great job with the strategy and with a few more laps I could have started attacking for a championship point. We maximized what we had today but I trust in the team that we can now continue working together to improve."
Pastor Maldonado (DNF, KERS): "The intermediate tires made the start of the race very difficult as it was very slippery, particularly in the first sector. We had a good strategy to pit earlier in the race and opt for the dry tires. I made a small mistake on braking into Turn 11 which forced me to run wide and damage the front wing slightly. After a new set of tires, the pace in the second stint was good, but unfortunately my race ended early after a KERS problem forced us to retire the car. We will now work hard to prepare as best we can for the next two flyaway races."
Mike Coughlan, Technical Director: "After running wide on the first lap, Valtteri drove a great race to fight back through the field and finish just outside the points. We ran different strategies with both cars with Pastor needing to pit early for a new nose after running wide on lap 15. We then had a KERS problem on his car which meant he had to stop out on track as a precaution. The team are now investigating this. Overall we feel our performance has improved since Melbourne, but we still have work to do."
Jean-Eric Vergne (10th): "It's good to finish in the points, but it's a shame that a mistake in the pits cost us so much, as I could have done something better. So, overall I feel rather frustrated. But I'll take the point gladly. After these first two races, we now have a short break before we go racing again and we must use that time to take a close look at how we performed and where we can do better, because there is certainly a lot of room for improvement, as both these two races have been missed opportunities. On the positive side, again today, once we got over our problems I had a good race pace and managed to make up a lot of places."
Daniel Ricciardo (18th, Retired): "I compromised my race even before the start when the conditions were very slippery, aquaplaning off at Turn 3. I managed to keep going, but I went across the gravel quite fast and damaged the floor. That probably played a part in my problem at the end. I got a reasonable start and made up a few places and was pretty pleased with the first couple of laps. But I did not have the pace to keep the Lotuses behind me and stay in the top ten, even though the switch to dry tires was well timed. Like I said, I think the damage on that opening lap affected my overall performance all race long."
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "An eventful race with the field starting on Intermediates. We timed our switch to slicks well on both cars and Daniel made up a few positions straight away. The midfield battle was very fierce and we had one car at the front, Daniel, and one at the back of this group, Jev. Unfortunately, we had a poor release from Jev's pit stop and he collided with a Caterham which cost us a lot of time, as we had to pull him back for a new nose. The Stewards have fined us for a dangerous release from a pit stop and we agree with their decision. After that, Jev did a good job to fight back and get into the points ahead of that midfield group, which is quite an achievement on a dry track. The fact our race pace was satisfactory was the most positive point of the race. In Daniel's case, he went off on the lap to the grid and raced with a damaged floor, so taking that into account and how it affected his car, his performance in those circumstances was also positive. Unfortunately, we had an exhaust issue on his car in the closing laps and decided it was best to retire him in the pits. In general, our race performance was good, but we are too slow in Qualifying. We have to find a way of improving on Saturday afternoons, so that we give ourselves a better start on Sundays."
Charles Pic (14th): "Off the line I had a great start and was up with Giedo for the first few laps while the track was wet enough for the inters. The team called me in to change onto the medium tires for the first stint in the dry but as I was coming in to the box I saw Vergne being released right in front of me and I couldn't avoid him as I was turning in and there was nothing I could do to avoid their mistake. The guys did a brilliant job to change the nose and the tires and I was out again after losing about 25 seconds – that's the sort of thing the pitcrew train for and it paid off in that first stop. It's such a shame that incident happened as we could definitely have finished better if it hadn't happened. It may have cost us a place and while that's frustrating it's also positive to see how well everyone reacted and to see that we didn't stop pushing, on the pitwall or in the garage. We stopped another three times after that, going onto the hard compounds for two stints and the mediums for the last thirteen laps and the car felt pretty good throughout the whole race. I was able to push right to the flag and without the pitlane issue I'm sure the final result would look different."
Giedo van der Garde (15th): "I had a really good start, really strong and the car felt great on the inters for the first stint. Just when the conditions were going from wet to dry I heard over the radio that I had a front left puncture but it was exactly at the time we were coming in to switch to the dry tires so it only cost me a little bit of time. I came back out on the mediums and was running well in 17th with really good balance. From there the race was ok. The rain that had been forecast didn't come so we didn't have another chance to show what we can do on the inters and that's a shame as I'm definitely quick on those tires, but the car felt much better on both the medium and the hard compounds we put on in the second and third stops than it had yesterday. I didn't have the same oversteer problems I had in FP3 or qualifying but we still have work to do to reduce oversteer on entry into the corners and we'll look at that again in China. We're also going to work on improving our setup options for qualifying, maximizing every run in the practice sessions to help us get the most out of the car on Saturday afternoons and that will definitely help us put in a stronger showing in quali. I also want to say what a good job the boys did in the stops. It was pretty tight with Chilton each time but I stayed ahead of him after good work on the pitwall and really strong work from the pitcrew. When we finished I thanked them on the radio, and after the race Tony Fernandes told the whole team how proud he was of the work he'd seen today in the stops. He's right – the boys are pushing hard and it's good to see the efforts we're making in the car are the same across the whole team."
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal: "Having both cars finish the first two races, including our home race in Malaysia, is a fair reward for the efforts the whole team has put in, considering where we are performance-wise at this stage of the season. Both drivers again had very good starts and they were running well for the first part of the race. The incident Charles was an innocent victim of in his first stop was a real shame as that seriously hit his chances of fighting against Bianchi, but the team reacted very well and I'm proud of the efforts everyone has put in here and in Melbourne, in races that we knew would be tough. Although the general reliability of the cars has been better than a number of bigger teams ahead, we're still having to deal with a number of pretty intense situations that are affecting our ability to control the finer details of our races. This time we had issues with our intercom failing, which prevents communication between engineers, our telemetry froze at certain points and the timing software went down which meant we weren't able to accurately map how the race was unfolding. These things go on behind the scenes and while they don't directly affect the performance of the cars they don't help, so we'll make sure we have fixes for each of those in China. Overall, with the strategy we've employed for 2013 and in preparation for 2014 and beyond we knew the first few races of this season would be tough, but we're not going to deviate from the plan. Even though we're running a hybrid car for the first three races we're still close to where we want to be and the updates we have coming will pay dividends. We have a long-term goal, one that is built around the whole group we are part of and one that is realistic, sustainable and which will see us right in the mix in the long run."
Jules Bianchi (13th): "Obviously I'm delighted to finish 13th today, after 15th in my first race last weekend. I hope this is a trend we can continue! It was not an easy day though as we made life more difficult with a not so good start and opening lap and this really hurt the first part of my race. The lap time was really coming towards the end of the first stint but I was stuck behind the Caterham and unable to do much with it. After 18 laps or so I was able to get back into position and from then on I was very happy with my progress. It was nice to have held off Maldonado and to maintain the gap for so long. This shows we have the car to fight with them in the future. There are some things to learn from and improve after today and the weekend generally, but we have also made more progress already since Melbourne and we need to keep pushing. My thanks to the Team for a lot of hard work and more to come between now and China."
Max Chilton (16th): "I'm slightly disappointed with today because it seemed so many things were against us. First, the start didn't work well and I lost a lot of time on the opening lap. That setback and being stuck behind the Caterhams really defined my race, which is tough to take because you know instinctively that the blue flag period is going to come much sooner in the race. The car performance is there and so is my pace, but there's some work to do to bring all of that together and maximize every part of the race, including how we manage the blue flag phase. I'm sure that focus will ensure we can come back stronger in China. A good job by the Team this weekend as it has not been an easy time."
John Booth, Team Principal: "As is typically the case, the Malaysia Grand Prix delivered its unique mix of challenges for us to contend with today. The shower we had before the pitlane opened certainly produced some tricky conditions on the way to the grid and there were a few nerve-wracking moments once we got there in terms of tire decision, particularly as both drivers had been aquaplaning in Turn 3. We didn't enjoy the best of starts and opening laps, however Jules did a good job to stay with the Caterham ahead. Once we had moved to dry tires we were unfortunately stuck again behind Van Der Garde, however some good strategy from the engineers and pitstops from the mechanics allowed him to break free with effect from the second stint and make better progress whilst looking to the gap to the cars in front, which had been compounded by being held up for so long. For the rest of the race we were looking like we were going to enjoy a good battle with Maldonado until he unfortunately retired, which left Jules in a free air gap to endure a lonely stint. He did a great job once again and a 13th place is most welcome at this stage of the season. Max unfortunately came out worst on the opening lap and also had to queue in the first pitstop, which lost him time. At various times he showed he had the pace to beat both Caterhams but unfortunately he hit the blue flags earlier and then at the end he was held up by Ricciardo a lap ahead and lapping slowly in the Toro Rosso. Once again we can be happy with the progress we are making however whilst the midfield is still in striking distance it calls for a big push over the next three weeks with the development of the car. Realistically, we know we need a few more tenths to be able to really race with them."
Results (56 laps)
Fastest lap: Perez, 1m39.199
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