Mark Webber has admitted that the better man won on the day after being pipped to the top step on the podium in the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang – but he was full of praise for Red Bull Racing's 'sensational' performance and 'beautiful weekend' as the energy drinks-backed outfit launched its bid for F1 2010 title glory in dominant fashion.
Having seen victory slip agonisingly through its fingers in both Bahrain and Australia – when Vettel was robbed by respectively a spark plug failure and a suspected wheel-fixing issue – Red Bull was under pressure to make use of what is by common consent the fastest car in the field this season into a representative result in Kuala Lumpur.
As the driver who had made an audacious tyre gamble pay off to seal a superb pole position in qualifying – and having triumphed on the only previous occasion that he has annexed the top spot on the starting grid in the top flight, at the Nürburgring in Germany last year – Webber was seen as the man to deliver the goods, but that all changed at the start as the Australian's young team-mate slipstreamed past him.
Though the New South Wales native put up an energetic fight over the remainder of the opening lap in an effort to regain his initial advantage, the damage had been done – and from thereon in, whilst the duo would trade fastest lap times during the grand prix, anything Webber threw at him, Vettel had an answer for. It was, quite literally, an outcome that was decided in the space of just a few hundred yards.
“We know these days with the strategy and the way the races unfold that the first part of the race is crucial,” 33-year-old Webber reflected afterwards. “I got a bit of wheelspin at the start and Seb got a tow into the first corner. I didn't know where Nico [Rosberg – fellow front row-sitter] was, so I braked late. Both Seb and I were on the limit to make the first corner. I had a little bit better exit coming out of Turn Two and the fight continued into Turn Four. We had a chat to Christian [Horner – RBR team principal] at the start of the race and he said 'Boys, behave yourselves!' and we did.
“The spirit and the chemistry in our team is awesome, and we fight very hard. You saw that today – it was a good fight between Sebastian and I. It could have gone either way, but in the end he did the job at the crucial stage and deserved the victory. A one-two finish for us as a team is sensational. The cars ran very well and it was a nice comeback for us after a tough few races where we didn't finish as we wanted to. I'd like to be one spot further up, but it's a great result for the team. We executed a beautiful weekend, so well done to Red Bull and also to Renault – the engines were great today.”