Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel made clear on Wednesday that his apology to Red Bull for ignoring team orders at the Malaysian Grand Prix did not extend to any remorse about winning.
“I told the team straight after that ‘I apologise for putting myself above the team which I didn’t mean to do’,” the 25-year-old German said in an interview for team title sponsor Infiniti ahead of Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.
“There’s not much more to say really. I don’t apologise for winning. I think that’s why people employed me in the first place and why I’m here. I love racing so that’s what I do.”
Vettel was told to stay behind leading Australian team mate Mark Webber at last month’s race at Sepang, with both drivers asked to ease off to save their tyres and fuel to ensure a one-two finish.
Webber was incensed when Vettel disregarded the instruction to hold position and overtook, giving his team mate the cold shoulder after the race once he had reminded him of the coded instruction ‘Multi-21’.
Team principal Christian Horner has explained that ‘Multi-21’ refers to car two (Webber) preceding car one (Vettel). The order ‘Multi-21’ would have been issued in the other one-two scenario.
The spat between the team mates, whose rivalry has had some notable flare-ups over the years including a collision in Turkey while fighting for the lead in 2010, is likely to be still simmering this weekend despite the team trying to move on.
Vettel said the Malaysian controversy had taken attention away from what was a great performance by the team at Sepang.
“Unfortunately, people didn’t say that we performed well on the day,” he said. “As a team I think we did a very good job and got a fantastic result.
“The whole race I think we worked excellently well with the tyres etc so I think that’s what people forgot. Obviously, what stuck in their heads was the way the race ended.”
Vettel was open-minded about Sunday, “We learned quite a bit from the first two races. China will be different again… I think we are still in the learning process.”