World champion Sebastian Vettel is apparently due to sit down with Red Bull team bosses to talk over his decision to ignore messages from the Sepang pit-wall calling on him to park his car in the closing stages of the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The German had dropped out of the points following a brush with Narain Karthikeyan's HRT, before receiving an instruction to park the RB8 with immediate effect. This message was then rescinded, before an even more urgent call repeat the instruction. Vettel, however, decided to ignore all communications, bringing the car home in eleventh place after the luckless Pastor Maldonado dropped out of the points with a couple of laps to run.
“I heard the command and, Of course, you can save the car, but I wanted to see the chequered flag," Vettel was quoted as telling Germany's Auto Motor und Sport
, "I think that's how it should be.”
With team's allowed to change gearboxes without penalty if a car has officially retired in the preceding race, many observers saw RBR's move as trying to gain a tactical advantage, but Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko insists that there was nothing underhand in what it was doing.
“After the crash [with Karthikeyan], the temperature of the brakes rose far above the allowed level," Marko told Bild
, “We called him in purely because the car was no longer safe. It was not a tactical decision.”
Team principal Christian Horner attempted to counter Vettel's claim that he heard the instructions by reporting that the German had had problems with his radio, but photographs apparently showed the world champion being given the same command via his pit board....
Several former drivers, including racer-turned-commentator Marc Surer, claimed that Vettel had done the right thing by bringing his car to the finish, particularly as the call could have been misconstrued as trying to bend the rules - but not everything the German did in the race met with the same approval.
Having already had his derogatory post-race comments about Karthikeyan widely reported [[see story here
], the world champion could face reprisals from the FIA after being filmed making single finger gestures to the Indian while attempting to pass him.
While Vettel has become synonymous with a single-finger gesture after claiming pole position and/or victory, it is a different finger that was raised on this occasion, as the Red Bull man showed his displeasure at having his race ruined by the collision with the HRT. Ironically, it was the RB8's onboard camera that recorded the indiscretion - and not only on one occasion....