Triple world champion Vettel had been told to hold position behind teammate Mark Webber after the pair had completed their final pit stops at Sepang. But he overtook the Australian to take the victory, despite team boss Christian Horner telling him over the radio his behaviour was “silly”.
Watson, who raced for the likes of Brabham and McLaren during the 1970s and 80s, believes Vettel’s actions undermined Horner’s authority within the team, and a one-race suspension is needed to put the 25-year-old in his place.
Watson told BBC Radio 4: “If Christian Horner doesn't reassert his authority in the team — because he has been totally subjugated by Sebastian Vettel yesterday — then his position in the team is not exactly the role it is designed to be.
“The only conclusion I can reach is that Vettel should be suspended for the next Grand Prix. You can’t take the points away from him and give them to Mark Webber — that’s now history and Sebastian has the benefit of those seven additional points. You can’t really fine him, it is almost irrelevant to fine him, so the only purposeful way to bring him to book is to say ‘you will stand out one race’.”
Webber and Vettel’s relationship has been particularly fractious since they crashed into each other while disputing the lead of the 2010 Turkish GP. And Watson said Red Bull will face a real battle getting the pair to work together.