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’.”
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.”
Mark Webber confirmed that he had telemetry and KERS issues during the 2013 season opener in Melbourne. However McLaren have said that they believe the issue stems from somewhere in the Red Bull garage rather than a fault with the ECU.
A post-race inspection by McLaren Electronic Systems has pointed to an issue with the garage. Talking to Autosport, the Managing Director explained, “There was an issue with Mark Webber’s data system in the garage during the formation lap. The ECU on the car was fine.
“We regret any disruption caused to Mark’s preparations for the start of the race and will continue to work with the team to prevent any recurrence.”
Having qualified on the front row of the grid alongside his team-mate, Mark Webber eventually finished sixth at his home race in Melbourne. According to the Australian, he suffered from telemetry and KERS issues which did not help his race.
“We had a lot of telemetry issues on the grid and absolutely no idea what the car was doing in terms of KERS, in terms of clutch and all sorts of stuff,” Webber revealed. “The guys were quite nervous with that and I was too. We didn’t really have much of an idea in terms of getting information back to the pits.
“We lost KERS as well for the majority of the first half of the race.
“We had a very difficult first pitstop. It was slow. We ticked a lot of boxes in a negative fashion in the first half of the race. But it can go like that.”
However Webber acknowledged that even if he had not had gremlins during the race, it was unlikely he would have won the race.
“Today, even if we’d got everything right, we were probably going to get outdone by two-stop people,” Webber said. “The race would’ve been very, very difficult for us even if we’d had a smooth day.
“Fair play to Kimi and his guys. You’ve got to take your hat off when someone outperforms you.”
Mark Webber insists surgery over the winter period will not affect the start of his 2013 championship campaign.
A few years ago, the Red Bull driver badly broke his leg in a mountain cycling crash, and since then he has raced with a 38 centimetre titanium rod on board. The rod was removed over the winter period.
“The leg’s no problem at all,” Webber, 36, told reporters last week at Jerez. “I’m probably a little bit behind on condition but not much. I’ll be ready to go for Melbourne, I’m clearly on target so that’s all fine.
“At one point it was a little bit stiff but it’s normal. It will be fine. When the adrenalin’s going, it’s zero problems,” he insisted.
Recovered from an operation to remove a forty centimetre rod from his once badly broken leg, Mark Webber on Tuesday said he is ready to hit the track in 2013.
“Now I’m back into it (training) properly,” said the Australian.
But, back with Red Bull for another season, the 36-year-old also turned his attention to some recent criticism fired at him by the outspoken Dr Helmut Marko.
Marko, openly fonder of the team’s triple world champion Sebastian Vettel, aimed jibes at Webber’s alleged dips in form and struggles to cope with pressure.
Asked about that, Webber answered: “Look, everyone at this level has their own agendas and it’s been evident for a long time now that I’ve never been a part of Marko’s.”
Mark Webber looks set to struggle to keep his Red Bull race seat beyond 2013.
Granted just a one-year contract for a seventh consecutive season at the team, the 36-year-old Australian is already on notice by Red Bull’s tough Dr Helmut Marko.
Now, Austrian Marko has made clear Red Bull was not happy with Webber’s driving at the 2012 Interlagos finale, when teammate Sebastian Vettel was fighting for the title against Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
Indeed, Flavio Briatore – still involved with the management of Webber’s career – said after Brazil: “The only one who helped Ferrari was Webber.”
Marko confirms: “Mark was not optimally cooperative in Brazil.”
Germany’s Sport Bild reports that, while Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne are obvious candidates to succeed Webber, Marko is also keen on Nico Hulkenberg.
German Hulkenberg, 25, has signed just a one-year deal with Sauber for 2013, and has also been linked with a potential 2014 move to Ferrari.
Marko confirmed: “A few years ago he was on the list of candidates for our junior team, but Nico already had a main sponsor (Dekra) with which he didn’t want to separate.”
There is pressure on Mark Webber to perform in 2013, Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko insists.
“Mark knows what we expect of him,” Austrian Marko – the main link between team owner Dietrich Mateschitz and the Christian Horner-led F1 team in Milton-Keynes – told Germany’s Sport Bild.
Australian Webber, who openly admits that Marko is closer to Sebastian Vettel, has only a one-year contract with Red Bull Racing. Now 36, he has been with Red Bull since 2007.
“For four years Vettel and Webber have driven together in our team,” Marko said. “Sebastian was runner-up once and champion three times. The statistic speaks for itself. There is no reason to think the balance of power will change,” he added.
If Webber is not retained beyond 2013, he could retire. He says finding the right time to go is important.
“I haven’t been there yet but it is going to be a very difficult moment, no question about it,” Webber is quoted by GP International magazine. “Now I have a lot of wisdom it’s about dropping that into your whole skill set and performing better.
“But there comes a point where even that’s not enough to keep you at the front. And that’s when you need to stop,” he said.
Red Bull driver Mark Webber has escaped with a reprimand after he missed a weight check during US Grand Prix qualifying.
The Australian driver was under investigation by race stewards after he missed a weight call towards the end of the first qualifying session.
Race stewards have given Webber a reprimand but no further action will be taken. This means that the Australian driver will start the race in third place.
A statement from the stewards reads, “The driver failed to proceed directly to the FIA garage for weighing when signalled to do so. However upon realising the error, the team brought the car back to the FIA garage immediately.”
If – as is expected – the 2012 title battle goes down to the wire, Mark Webber is not sure he would put his money on his Red Bull teammate.
With a 10 point lead over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and the faster car, Sebastian Vettel is the overwhelming favourite to win his third consecutive drivers’ championship late this month. But according to Webber, who like Vettel also races the RB8, the 25-year-old German should be worried if bad weather is forecast for Sao Paulo.
“Sebastian needs dry weather there,” the Australian told Austrian Servus TV this week. “He can also drive in the rain, but Fernando is very strong. And it can be wet in Sao Paulo.”
Another factor, he said, is the nature of championship showdowns, and the often tumultuous contests that take place at Interlagos.
“In Sao Paulo there is always some drama,” said Webber.
Indeed, he tipped the 2012 finale to be “very dramatic”.