Fuming Webber left to ponder F1 future
Updated: Monday, 25 Mar 2013 10:10
Mark Webber will use the next two weeks to take stock of his Formula One career as the rift with Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel grew increasingly fractious yesterday.
Webber was left seething after Vettel deliberately ignored team orders to take the chequered flag at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Leading at the fourth and final pit stop 13 laps from home, Webber and Vettel were under instruction to hold station to the line.
Reigning world champion Vettel, however, blatantly defied team principal Christian Horner and went on the attack.
The duo, who previously clashed in the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix when Vettel attacked Webber only to crash out of the race, went wheel to wheel before the 25-year-old German passed the Australian on lap 46.
In the green room, where the top three drivers cool down post race, on the podium and in the main press conference the tension between them was palpable.
Although Vettel apologised it cut no ice with Webber who, when asked whether the situation had made him consider his future with the team, and in F1 on the whole, Webber said: "My mind in the last 15 laps was thinking many things, yes. Many, many things."
As to how Webber will respond to an order in the future should he be in a position where he is chasing Vettel for a win, he said: "That question is not going to be answered right now.
"Let's just say there were a lot of things going through my mind in the last 15 laps of the grand prix, lots of different reasons, not just from today but also from the past.
"We'll see what happens. We've got three weeks before the next race (in China on 14 April).
"Right now it's very early days, it's very raw, but we need to work out how the team best goes forwards from here.
"That's obviously going to be discussed this week. I will be in Australia on my surfboard, the phone won't be engaged, so let's see what happens."
"I know it doesn't really help his feelings right now, but I should have behaved better" - Sebastian Vettel
Vettel, who had initially shown no remorse for his actions when interviewed on the podium, changed his tune several minutes later when he fielded questions in the press conference.
"I can see now he (Webber) is upset, but yeah, I at least want to be honest and stick to the truth and apologise," said Vettel
"I know it doesn't really help his feelings right now, but I should have behaved better.
"As I've said, I didn't do it deliberately. I didn't realise I had made a mistake. It was only when I came back and saw the team's reaction I realised."
Horner claims clear-the-air talks were held immediately afterwards, but there is no doubt Webber will head back to his homeland feeling deeply aggrieved and with his mistrust of Vettel exacerbated.
Behind them Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were also involved in their own team orders controversy, although in this instance the latter obeyed the call from team boss Ross Brawn.
Clearly faster than Hamilton in the final stint, Rosberg twice asked to be let by only for Brawn to tell him to hold station, much to the embarrassment of the Briton who believes he should have given way.
Jenson Button, meanwhile, should have finished at least fifth, only for a pit-stop error by his McLaren crew to ultimately wreck his race from which he retired a few laps from home.
As for Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard crashed out in his Ferrari at the start of lap two after the team opted not to call him into the pits for a new front wing damaged on lap one.