In the wake of the Multi-21 team orders saga in Malaysia and the negative publicity brought about by the whole affair, Red Bull has abolished team orders.
“There will be no more team orders by us,” the energy drink company’s motor sport director Helmut Marko told Germany’s Sport Bild on Wednesday.
Sebastian Vettel ignored the team’s instruction to stay behind leader Mark Webber in Malaysia recently, sparking the controversy.
The saga left team owner Dietrich Mateschitz “very unhappy”, Marko admitted.
The champions will be the focus of much of the media attention, despite Vettel apologising to the team and to Webber after the Malaysian race.
Team principal Christian Horner has said the matter has now been dealt with, and Red Bull’s unusually bland race preview made no mention of the controversy, but it is sure to be simmering still.
Webber, but not Vettel, has been listed for Thursday’s regular FIA news conference at the circuit which will give the Australian a platform to get any lingering grievances off his chest even if the initial fury has subsided.
Meanwhile Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has admitted the Multi-21 saga made him smile.
In the past, it was Ferrari copping the brunt of fans and pundits’ ire for risking pure sporting ethos by manipulating the order of its two cars.
Now, almost three weeks ago in Malaysia, Mercedes and particularly world champions Red Bull were in the spotlight.
“Obviously both teams simply wanted to protect their positions towards the end of the race,” said Ferrari team boss Domenicali, “which is completely legitimate.”
Legitimate yes, but rivals teams – Red Bull included – have often in the past drawn attention to Ferrari’s willing disposition to impose team orders. This time, the criticism was elsewhere.
“I have to smile,” Domenicali told Germany’s Sport Bild on Wednesday, “when I think that in the past we were criticised for our philosophy of putting the interests of the team above all else.”
Referring to Multi-21 in Malaysia, he continued: “I don’t know the facts and the agreements that were made previously. I can only say that I saw one of the saddest podiums of my career.”
Nonetheless, Domenicali’s criticism of Vettel – for ignoring his Red Bull bosses – was muted.
“The fact is,” said the Italian, “Sebastian always brings out the maximum from his car, in a way that Mark (Webber) cannot always do.” (GMM)