As his on-form teammate Italian Daniel Ricciardo closed in, German Vettel was told on the radio to let the quicker Australian past.
When Vettel asked what tires Ricciardo was using, engineer Guillaume Roquelin replied that they were both on the prime but Ricciardo "stopped later than you".
"Tough luck," Vettel hit back. The words of a defeated man.
Two weeks ago in Bahrain, Vettel did let Ricciardo past when instructed, but they were on different strategies.
Still, Vettel admitted on Saturday he has been beaten "fair and square" by Ricciardo at times in 2014.
"Seb's been dominant in F1 for the past four years," Ricciardo commented, "so it's nice to come in and show that I can race at the front."
Shortly after Vettel refused to obey the Shanghai team order on Sunday, Ricciardo passed him.