SEPANG, Malaysia Sebastian Vettel’s 27th victory in Formula One didn’t bring him much admiration, and he even had to apologize for it.
Vettel, the three-time defending series champion, ignored team orders Sunday and overtook fellow Red Bull driver Mark Webber toward the end to win the Malaysian Grand Prix after being told to stand down and cruise to a 1-2 finish.
Vettel’s move left Webber fuming and had team officials publicly admonishing Vettel. Vettel apologized and said he didn’t realize he had been told to hold back.
“Mark should have won,” said Vettel, who now leads Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen by nine points in the standings. “I made a big mistake today, and we should have stayed in the position. I messed up in that situation and took the lead from Mark and can see now he is upset. Apologies to Mark. The result is there, and all I can say is that I didn’t do it deliberately.”
Webber refused to acknowledge Vettel after the race and said he had been told by the team to keep a slower pace to save the tires to the end.
“Seb made his own decisions, and he will have protection as usual, and that’s the way it goes,” Webber said. “It’s still very raw at the moment.”
Vettel’s decision to ignore orders was made more glaring by the fight for third place between Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. In a similar situation, Rosberg was told repeatedly not to pass Hamilton, and he obeyed — giving Hamilton his first podium finish with his new team.
“I don’t feel spectacular sitting here. Nico deserved to be where I am right now,” Hamilton said. “Obviously, the team thought for position in the championship it was logical to stay in the position we are in. I say congratulations to Nico. He drove a much smarter and controlled race than I did.”