Sebastian Vettel took a controversial victory in yesterday’s Malaysian Grand Prix as the reigning world champion ignored his team Red Bull’s instructions to back off and hold station behind teammate Mark Webber towards the end of the race, overtaking the Australian after a tense battle between the two.
Webber, who had obeyed the team’s instructions and was nursing his car to the flag with just over ten laps of the 56-lap race to go, clearly felt robbed of the win.
“I want to race as well, but in the end the team made a decision, which we always say before the race is probably how it’s going to be — we look after the tyres, get the car to the end, and in the end Seb made his own decisions today and will have protection and that’s the way it goes,” Webber said on the podium.
Rosberg left fuming
Red Bull were not the only team to court controversy on Sunday and Lewis Hamilton claimed what he himself admitted was an undeserved maiden podium for Mercedes, after a frustrated Nico Rosberg, who was clearly quicker in the other silver car, was asked to hold back by the team.
“Remember this one,” Rosberg told his team over the radio on the slowing down lap.
The race, which started in wet conditions following a pre-race shower, was dominated by the battle between Red Bull and Mercedes, once the chaos of the early laps had settled down, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso making a rare mistake that spelled an early end to his race.
The Spaniard made a quick getaway from third on the grid, squeezing past teammate Felipe Massa but made contact with Vettel’s Red Bull at the tight turn two and damaged his front wing, spearing off the track at the end of the start-finish straight when the damaged wing broke off and wedged itself under his Ferrari.
Behind the top four, Felipe Massa scored some valuable points by taking fifth for Ferrari. The Brazilian, who had started on the front row, had a poor start but staged a solid recovery, bolting on a fresh set of tyres near the end of the race which allowed him to move up the order.
Next up were the Lotus duo of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, the Finn unable to repeat his win from a week ago, after starting tenth and struggling on the damp track in the early laps.
Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg, McLaren’s Sergio Perez and Jean-Eric Vergne in the Toro Rosso rounded out the top ten.
Following yesterday’s win Vettel jumps into the lead of the drivers’ championship with a total of 40 points. Raikkonen’s seventh place finish sees him drop a place but the Finn heads to the next race in China just nine points behind his German rival. Alonso’s non-finish, meanwhile, drops him to sixth in the title race, 22 points behind Vettel.
Thanks to their one-two finish this weekend, Red Bull lead the constructors’ championship ahead of Lotus and Ferrari, who are both tied on 40 points, with Mercedes a further three points behind.