Former McLaren driver John Watson believes that Sebastian Vettel should be suspended by his team for a race for disobeying team orders at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
With 13 laps left, Sebastian Vettel overtook his team-mate Mark Webber at the Malaysian Grand Prix and went on to take the top step on the podium. This was despite orders from his team to stay behind Webber. Webber was clearly unhappy with the race result and there was a definite iciness between the two drivers at the podium ceremony.
“The only purposeful way to bring him to book is to say ‘you will stand out one race’,” Watson told BBC Radio 4. “I know that if other drivers in other teams disobeyed a team order they would be suspended or even fired.
“If Christian Horner doesn’t reassert his authority in the team – because he has been totally subjugated by Sebastian Vettel – then his position in the team is not exactly the role it is designed to be.
“The only conclusion I can reach is that Vettel should be suspended for the next grand prix. You can’t take the points away from him and give them to Mark Webber – that’s now history and Sebastian has the benefit of those seven additional points.
“You can’t really fine him. It is almost irrelevant to fine to him.
“So the only purposeful way to bring him to book is to say, ‘you will stand out one race’.”
Boullier is confident that his Lotus team are currently in the top four despite Raikkonen finishing over half a minute adrift of Malaysian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel.
Boullier believes that there will be many different race winners this season thanks to the Pirelli tyres and that Lotus are in the top four F1 teams along with Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull.
“It is a prediction we had after the winter testing,” Boullier explained. “It is going to be very, very tight. I think you can expect – mainly because of the tyre management situation – a different race winner each time.
“But we can say we are definitely in the top four – Ferrari, McLaren, Red Bull and us are very, very close.”
So why weren’t Raikkonen and Grosjean competing at the sharp end during the Malaysian Grand Prix?
“First it was [wet] qualifying and then we did not make the best start ever,” Boullier explained. “After that we lost a lot in the first stint compared to the leaders, especially Mercedes.
“If you then compare the race pace after tha, we were not bad – we were there.
“In Melbourne clearly we had an advantage because again some circumstances during qualifying and Friday practice did not help some teams to get their setup ready.”
Force India have said that they will persevere with their new wheelnut system despite the issue causing the team a double retirement at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
The Silverstone based team were hoping to repeat the double points scoring finish achieved at the Australian Grand Prix just a week before. However both Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta were forced to retire after the Force India pit crew experienced problems with wheelnuts during their pitstops.
“Both cars had the same problem with the wheel nuts and it cost us a lot of time in the pits,” Sutil explained. “We aren’t sure exactly what happened yet so the team stopped the cars to make sure we understand the issue.”
The new captive wheelnut system was in use during the Australian Grand Prix however the temperatures in Malaysia were much higher and it is believed that this is a factor in the problem.
The Force India team now have three weeks to sort the wheelnut issue out before the next race in China.
“We won’t go back to the old part,” deputy team principal Bob Fernley confirmed to Autosport. “We can’t go backwards.
“You need to cure the problem and carry on with your development. Today, everyone’s pitstops are well under four seconds. But it you go back to the traditional route you are plus four.”
Sebastian Vettel may have won the Malaysian Grand Prix but it appears that he has some explaining to do.
Vettel’s team-mate Mark Webber led most of the race however the German driver overtook his team-mate late on. According to Webber after the last pit stop, he was told by the team that the race was over and he just needed to bring the car home. However it appears that his team-mate chose to continue to fight for the race win.
“After the last pit stop the team told me that they race was over and we turn the engines down and we go to the end,” Webber explained. “I won the race as well but in the end the team made a decision – we always say before the race, ‘Look after the tyres and get the car to the end’.
“In the end, Seb made his own decisions today. He will have protection as usual and that’s the way it goes,” Webber added.
A radio message to Vettel at the end of the race said, “You looked like you wanted it bad enough but there will be some explaining to do.”
It was an embarrassing moment for Lewis Hamilton during the Malaysian Grand Prix when the British driver accidentally pulled into the McLaren garage for his pit stop.
The McLaren crew were out in the pitlane waiting for Jenson button when Lewis Hamilton pulled into their pit garage on lap seven. Fortunately the Brit realised his mistake immediately and he drove straight through before pulling into the Mercedes pit box.
“I did a Jenson,” Hamilton said. “He did that a couple of years ago. i am used to driving in the McLaren pits. I don’t know how I got it wrong so I apologise to my team.”
Despite being told to save fuel towards the end of the race, Hamilton finished on the podium for the first time with his new team. Hamilton’s team-mate Nico Rosberg finished just behind.
“If I am honest, Nico [Rosberg] should be standing here,” Hamilton said. “He had better pace. I was was fuel saving for a long, long time.
“But the guys did a great job and I brought it home.
“I can’t say it’s the best feeling being up here but racing is racing.”
Fernando Alonso crashed out of his 200th F1 race in Malaysia.
The Spanish driver, who took victory at the same circuit last year, looked set for a good race having qualified in third. However he damaged his front wing at Turn Two when he nudged Sebastian Vettel as he fought for the lead of the race.
Alonso chose to stay out on circuit with the damaged front wing rather than pit for a new one. Unfortunately the front wing broke and became wedged underneath his Ferrari on the finish straight causing him to slide into the Turn One run off area and see an early end to his 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix.
Giedo van der Garde is hoping for some rain at his team’s home race in Malaysia.
“For the moment it does look like Marussia are a little bit faster than us but coming to Sepang we have conditions that will suit our cars better,” said van der Garde.
“In testing we found that our car performs quite well in the wet and when we arrived here, in the past two days it has rained at 4pm, which is the time the race starts on Sunday.
“So, with good preparation and some improvements to the car, then with some rain, we can expect a totally different picture here in Sepang.”
The Dutch driver will be sporting a specially designed helmet which will be auctioned off for charity after the race.
“At first we thought of putting the Malaysian flag on it,” van der Garde explained. “But then we found out that the tiger is a special symbol of this country so we went with that. The helmet will be auctioned off for charity after the race.”
It appears that Jenson Button may be hoping for rain at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix as it might help the team be more competitive.
“I’d rather it was mixed conditions,” Button told Autosport. “hen we have more of a chance to score points.
“Inters were very good to us in the last race, with P3 in Q2. When you have a quick car, you want it to be dry every day; no wind, calm, but when you don’t have such a quick car you want everything thrown at the field so you have an opportunity.”
The British F1 driver has also acknowledged that McLaren may not be able to compete at the front this weekend.
“It’s going to be another tough weekend,” Button explained. “But this is a circuit where we are a little bit lucky in terms of the bumpiness.
“It’s a lot smoother than the last race, which should help us quite a bit. The car was bouncing around quite a bit in the last race, which doesn’t help the setup. Where it is less bumpy, especially in low speed corners, it should really help us put the car where it should work.
“We won’t be fighting at the front but at least we can get the best out of the car that we have.”
Button also revealed that he doesn’t think Kimi Raikkonen will be victorious in Malaysia.
“Lotus did a great job and Kimi did a great job in the race but a lot of people will have learned from what they did,” Button said. “It’s very different conditions with the heat and the type of circuit.
“I think you will be seeing a different winner here.”