Did Vettel really misunderstand Red Bull team orders in Malaysia?

Sebastian Vettel celebrates on the podium after the Malaysian GP

Sebastian Vettel celebrates on the podium after the Malaysian GP

It has emerged that there could be truth in Sebastian Vettel’s claim that he didn’t deliberately ignore team orders in Malaysia last Sunday.

Indeed, after happily celebrating the Sepang win initially, the German’s face only turned to thunder once Mark Webber angrily repeated the order-code ‘Multi-21′ as they prepared to go onto the podium.

“I talked to him (Webber) and he came straight to the point. That was when it struck me like lightning,” Vettel told Formula 1’s official website.

Germany’s Sport Bild claims Vettel might really have overlooked, misunderstood or minimised the significance of the Multi-21 order — which may have been sent to the drivers by way of a digital display message on the steering wheel.

Helmut Marko with Sebastian Vettel at Sepang before the race

Helmut Marko with Sebastian Vettel at Sepang before the race

Helmut Marko said on Austrian Servus TV: “We have this certain code – the 21 – which was told by the race engineer on two occasions. There was no response.”

Elsewhere, the team orders scandal triggered by Sunday’s events rolls on.

Bernie Ecclestone has chimed in, saying that if he was a reigning triple world champion like Vettel, he also would have ignored the order.

“I’d probably do exactly the same as Kimi Raikkonen did when he came back and they gave him some instructions. I’d say ‘I know what I’m doing’,” said the Formula 1 chief executive.

Peter Mucke, a former mentor of the once rising Formula BMW driver Vettel, agrees: “A driver who wants to win the world championship must be uncompromising.

“Racers are selfish and will be so even in a team sport,” he told Der Tagesspiegel newspaper.

Mark Webber

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel at the post race press conference in Malaysia

The saga has even spilled into an argument between Christian Horner and Flavio Briatore, after the controversial former Renault boss accused Horner of losing control of Red Bull and being “weak”.

Briatore had told Italian radio RAI: “Christian didn’t even have the strength to get on the podium because they’re terrified with a driver in charge instead of the team manager.”

Red Bull hit back in a statement: “A weak team principal would be unable to steer a team to three consecutive world championships and oversee and manage the extensive teamwork that goes into this achievement — while managing two talented racers.”

At the same time, Briatore backed away from the controversy, insisting his comments were misinterpreted because he has “a lot of respect” for Horner.

“As a team principal, I think Chris has done an excellent job not only for Red Bull, but for Formula 1 in general, and he is still undoubtedly doing so,” he said.

  • marina

    Is Briatore an italian?
    Did Briatore “won” the last title for Alonso fixing a race in Singapore 2008?
    Is Briatore Webber’s manager?
    Has Briatore any credibility?
    Answers : yes, yes, yes and NO!

  • Konstantin

    He understood it, but just like me when my wife requres something i dont want to do – process it selectivelly :-) BS – he understood everything!!!

  • Ronnie

    SV understood everything, EVERYTHING. He went for the jugular because he’s a racer. And he’s good. The only way MW is going to counter this is to RACE. As for Briatore – no credibility – he shoots his mouth off before engaging brain. He has to negotiate another contract for MW if that’s what they want, with guess who – the man he’s calling weak. Well there goes a negotiation point!

  • Ronnie

    SV also lied, and he also ignores team orders to save the car in order to get records like fastest laps and circuit records. That’s just who he is. What a talent. Love him or hate him – he doesn’t care – he just wants to win. We are all the better for having his magnificent driving to watch. Lewis as well. The other talent in the field has to match them or get out of the way.

  • Liam

    Is mayonnaise an instrument?

  • Ed

    Vettel misunderstanding orders is the worst crap I have heard in this week.

  • Odd Lord

    What a load of crap.. didn’t understand.. strange. i thought SV was regarded as one the more intelligent driver along the field..

    Anyway F1 lost at least one fan last week.. Im done with the whole charade they are putting up.. sometimes i feel that F1 is more rigged then FIFA .. (notice also the small difference in the acronyme lolz)

    People who say it is only fair what SV did are retarded, because they were not racing.. at least.. MW was not due to instructions..

    a fitting penalty in my eyes would be to put SV in a Torro Rosso for 2 races and let vergne and ricciordo drive his hungry heidy those two races. that will teach him!

    pof course they will not give Seb any penalty.. or a 30min preech should be a penalty..

  • Bec

    Could’ve been worse, ‘Multi 21′ could have turned an exciting race into the Mercedes bore fest.

  • Kimster

    Do we really want to see F1 like this weekend where team orders decide the outcome of the race. I’m sure people were sitting on the edge of their seats going wow, fantastic, look at Rosberg following Hamilton – I can’t watch this all year long. Pathetic. F1 should be about wheel to wheel racing and the best man should be the winner. Has innocent Mark never ignored team orders before? Now he and his daddy is very vocal. Isn’t mark the one who let his friend Alonso eased through in the last race last year which almost cost RBR and Vettel victory? RBR still voiced their dissapointment with him for making it so easy – where’s the loyalty Mark. Anyhow, for those who think Vettel has done wrong, I hope they change the rules so that the team mate running in front from lap one must remain station till the end of the race. Seems like this is how you like your f1. For me, I want to see racing no matter who

  • Konstantin

    @ Kimster. I want to see that F1 too. But still, overtaking a car that has turned down rev by a team order is like a dirty win to me…

  • marina

    @Konstantin
    Why MW did not turn the rev back on and race Seb?
    Was he expecting another team orders for that?

  • coefficientf1

    Flavio Briatore = Shit for Brains!!

    How that cheating imbecile has the audacity to preach on F1 management best practice is beyond me. The guy is a relic of the old boys club era of F1. Out of touch and ancient! If he returned to F1 paddock he would be the village idiot and the funniest thing would be his own arrogance would preclude him from realising that fact.

  • JPSmoove

    One person that we know barks and carries out team orders very well is Briatore! He just tells his drivers to crash the car. Anyway, what a media spin this is. Give them a few days and it’ll be that he got interference on his radio. Like MW said, “Vettel will be protected”. But we’re all idiots, we’ll tune in to the next race and as soon as the race happens in Austin, TX. I’ll spend $$$ to go and see this clown race. What else are we going to do…watch NASCAR! But at least those guys fight when they get #@!$#! over!

  • Kimster

    Good point Marina and fully agree. Instead he decided to show Vettel the middle finger. Probably knew he would never catch Vettel.

  • Apex Assassin

    Who cares?

    Vettel v Webber was the highlight of an incredibly lame race.

    Don’t blame Vettel, blame Pirelli for bringing unusable tyres to the 2013 season.

  • mightyK

    Isn’t that what everybody says after an incident such as this? What took him 4 days for the inevitable?

  • Hawk

    Funny thing is that all of you are right. It depends on how you look at it. However underhand it all happens to be, it was up to MW to race SV. did you notice that Nico overtook Lewis twice in the same place but Lewis overtook him again? in otherwords by the time Ross became worried that he might lose their highest points score in a year, Lewis was also doing a lot to help himself. and his car was not racy, actually the fuel warning came on lap 37/56 well before his last pitstop. This MW never did. why? coward perhaps? MW with the hard compound should have hounded SV to race end! Why did he sit back and start crying? why would he expect Horner to give him free wins? I am quite positive that with his limping car Lewis would not have complained if Nico overtook him successfully inspite of team orders. because he is used to JB not respecting team orders and try to overtake him and then he fights back, on the track like a man. in most cases he has come out on top. bottom line if you are my teammate and you prefer to race let’s race! nothing for free! stop whining old man and what wont break you will make you stronger. start racing him. at least you are not in Massa’s position where he will not be allowed to race his teammate.

  • McLarenfan

    Load of excrement as it was stated by an Aussi he will be protected and Marko has done his mind twisting job again.

  • Puuma41

    Misunderstand? Absolutely not! Vettel demonstrated arrogance so breathtaking that the points should be reversed for him and Webber for the Malaysian GP – consider it a new “F1 Arrogance Rule”. Hamilton, based on what he said afterwards, would undoubtedly agree to point reversal between him and Rosberg – consider it a new “F1 Elegance Rule”. Or at the very least, do what “Carlos” suggested in Turun Sanomat – that Red Bull ice Vettel for the next GP and use Heikki Kovalainen instead.

  • Flash Flaherity of the Long Ski

    Just like quarterbacks in football are allowed the latitude to change bench calls to react to field conditions, drivers should be allowed to take pit wall advise and directives in context to what’s happening in the car. The driver is there for both his own interest and the teams, and that should be recognized and accepted. Thus, the driver should be held responsible for finishing as high in the order as he is capable, even against team mates, using all of the information he is provided and getting from the car itself. If he fails, he should be held accountable for that failure. Team orders to set the finishing order are the same as game fixing, and should be prosecuted as such. Only in F1 is setting the outcome of an event by commandment from management considered legitimate. This acceptance is truly harmful to the image of F1 as a legitimate sporting venue.

  • fools

    the answer to the article is yes, the picture says it all. close up topic please. Move off this article topic already Yalla. Your promoting trolls and shit talkers.

  • fools

    @marina your incorrect.

    Briatore has won multiple WDC’s. He is a very credible F1 team owner and manager which is why he meets with Bernie to this day. Is still a Billionaire which your not. Still manages Alonso and Webber. He also just recently had a meeting with Horner and took a picture revealing they did before the season began.

    Briatore didnt fix anything. Alonso won his WDC in 2005 and 2006. What are you smoking crack ?

  • tinto

    After three years in a row with RB and their golden boy champions and no hopes for the years to come for other team/players due to RB and Vettel’s competitiveness, it is understandable why so many guys on this/other forums behave so dirty… Ethics gents, stick with them, no matter your mind or mouth may have to say. Otherwise, you are going to endure many years from now on till a new champ is coming up, never Webber, for sure.

  • delfino

    hahahahaaaa OMG what a load of pure crap! So that’s the story that the Red Bull PR team came up with? Do they really expect anyone to believe this utter bullsh*t? Those cheaters are obviously trying to sweep this embarrassing story under the carpet and then pretend like nothing ever happened. Instead of being a man and coming forth and admitting that he deliberately robbed Webber’s victory because he’s an egotistical little douchebag, Vettel is hiding behind this ridiculous excuse! Disgusting and absolutely pathetic! F**k the whole Red Bull team! Dirty dogs and liars!

  • Eddy

    I have lost all respect for Vettel and Red Bull. They’re by far the worst team in F1. And this excuse is the worst excuse I have ever heard.

  • Hooters

    Just another Red Bull lying cheating situation. 4th year in a row. Next they will say they never had a secret ride height adjuster even though they were caught with it.

  • Bert

    May the best man win….Not the one who was “made” to suppose to do it. Otherwise, where is the sence in all of this ?

  • McSerb

    Misunderstood ? Well, if you believe he is the most stupid champion in the history of formula 1 then maybe there is a chance he misunderstood.
    @marina, I think you know very well that your comment about turning the revs up again is ridiculous. Webber was on the harder tire (slower but longer lasting). If Mark had been racing, Sebastian would have been forced to scrub his softer rubber to catch up with him and then would no longer have quicker tires to overtake with. By ignoring the code Vettel caught up with Mark without any damage to his tires so he was able to use the faster tires to overtake. At that point he would have been quicker even with the same revs. But you knew that yourself, right ? You are just using cheap tricks to justify your favorite drivers actions.

  • I n I

    It’s been said that the drivers already knew they were supposed to hold their positions after the final pitstop. Therefore, Vettel knew long before then what the team strategy was. He just didn’t like being in P2 after that final pitstop.

  • F1Passion

    The thing I’m most disappointed in is that Mark didnt smash Vettel in the head with his helmut when Seb took his helmet off. He should have beat the crap out of Vettel and then said sorry, I didnt mean it. I misunderstood what I was supposed to do.

  • B@rney

    Who gives a rat’s patootie whether Vettel misunderstood or deliberately disobeyed? He’s the defending WDC and he can’t yet know he won’t be needing those seven points — last year he won by less than half that margin — so he never should have been asked to let them slip away.

    It’s Horner needs raked over the coals, not Vettel.

    Webber makes a solid contribution to RBR’s WCC tally but he simply doesn’t have the chops to win WDC. And if he recoils at being labeled a #2, I would offer him one piece of advice: SHUT YOUR GOB AND DRIVE FASTER, YOU NONG!

  • chris

    Should be interesting to see if Marko, does just enough not to get fired, but little enough not to help Vettle. Anyone who thinks Vettle did not understand the instructions given by the team is delusional. Vettle is a punk, and an arrogant one at that. Let him race Tony Stewart and try that shit. Vettle wouldn’t last a second.