Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has confirmed that Sebastian Vettel disobeyed team orders in the Malaysian Grand Prix, but says there was no point asking him to give the position back to team-mate Mark Webber.
Despite the Australian having led for much of the race, after emerging ahead from the opening round of pit-stops, Vettel surged past in the final stages, even though both drivers had been given the instruction to turn down their engines and hold station in a bid to ensure that their tyres made it to the end.
The atmosphere on the podium and at the ensuing press conference was understandably frosty, with Webber clearly feeling that he had been robbed of a rare race win. Vettel attempted to apologise, claiming that he had misunderstood the instruction from pit-wall, but the Australian wasn't about to accept the olive branch, and Horner admitted that there was clearly much to talk about in the days to come.
“Obviously, there's an awful lot of debate about what happened at the end of the race,” he confirmed, “Our position after that final pit-stop was all about managing the race until the end and conserving our tyres, getting the cars to the finish and achieving maximum points. Unfortunately, drivers' interests can sometimes come into conflict with the teams'.
“Sebastian decided to take things into his own hands and race Mark, thankfully making a clean pass and switching the order to the flag.”
As a former driver, Horner can clearly understand the desire to win, but insists that there are times when that has to take a back seat.
“It's frustrating,” he conceded, “F1 is both a team and an individual sport and sometimes there is a conflict between a driver's desire and a team's interest. What happened today is something that shouldn't have happened. It's something that Sebastian has apologised for and it's something that we will discuss internally as a team.”
Despite acknowledging that the race should have been Webber's to win, the Briton later admitted that there was no point attempting to undo Vettel's decision.
"We employ these guys because they are competitive, because they do push each other, because they are very driven individuals,” he told a Sky Sports
interview, “If either was submissive to the other, it's not what we want in a racing driver.