By Ros Satar
F1 Malaysian Grand Prix:
Vettel (GER) 1, Webber (AUS) 2, Hamilton (GBR) 3
Chilton 15, Button Ret’d (17), di Resta Ret’d (21)
Team orders this early in the season made for a bad tempered end to the Malaysian Grand Prix, where only two of the four Brits in the field managed a finish.
Things went from bad to worse as a “catastrophic wheel nut failure” meant that both Force India drivers had to be retired.
Button’s day also was marred by issues in the pit.
Having been surprisingly competitive their down-beat predictions since Australia, Button had been contending for a podium, albeit on older tyres.
Button came in from 4th position, and the front tyre was not secure as he pulled away.
McLaren engineers had to push him back and correct the issue, with Button losing 10 places by the time he re-joined the pack.
Despite having made a couple of places up, that troublesome front left tyre was locking up and the crew feared suspension issues and retired him with just 2 laps to go.
Red Bull Team Principal, Christian Horner, had given the drivers instruction to hold stations, take care of the tyres and control the race from there.
Vettel took it upon himself to challenge Webber, initially being defended away before finally getting the better of the Australian.
Horner chastised the German over the radio, as Webber made his feelings very clear with a gesture from his car.
Meanwhile things were no better for Mercedes with Hamilton being told to save fuel.
His team-mate, Nico Rosberg, asked repeatedly to be allowed to pass, before being told by Team Principal, Ross Brawn, that Hamilton could go a lot faster and was being asked to save his fuel.
Hamilton was left to coast around for his first podium for his new team, ahead of Rosberg who sardonically told Brawn to “remember this one.”
Hamilton said later: “I have to say big congratulations to Nico.
He drove a smarter and more controlled race than me this afternoon and deserved to finish where I did.
The team made the call for us to hold positions and we both respected that.”
Feelings run much deeper at Red Bull as Horner made it very clear that both his drivers’ interest had become bigger than that of the team.
Webber: “Team told me race was over & we turned engines down & go to end. Seb made his own decision and he will have protection as usual”
— Andrew Benson (@andrewbensonf1) March 24, 2013
The third F1 Grand Prix will take place in China, 12-14 April.