• Last Updated: March 24 2013, 14:34 GMT

Reigning Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel apologised after blatantly disregarding Red Bull team orders to claim a controversial Malaysian Grand Prix victory.

Vettel claims Malaysia victory

Mark Webber held sway over team-mate Vettel following the fourth and final pit stop and at that point the call went out to the duo to hold station to the chequered flag.

Vettel, however, had other ideas and instead went wheel to wheel with Webber for more than a lap, even ignoring a call from frustrated team principal Christian Horner who said: "This is silly Seb. Come on!"

Despite that warning, 25-year-old Vettel bulldozed his way past Webber to triumph for the 27th time in his F1 career.

It was reminiscent of German compatriot Michael Schumacher at his most callous as the seven-times world champion earned renown for his underhand tactics, along with his brilliant driving.

The friction that followed between Webber and Vettel in the green room, where the drivers cool down post race before taking to the podium, and in the interview on the podium itself, was palpable.

Vettel initially described it as "a tight battle", admitting he was perhaps "too keen too soon" with his move on Webber given the tyre strategies of the duo, but did not appear to regret anything he had done.

Webber, however, pulled no punches, saying: "Seb made his own decision and will have protection, and that's the way it goes."

By the time the pair reached the main press conference room several minutes later, Vettel decided to show remorse for his actions.

"As you can see I'm not entirely happy. I think I made a big mistake today," said Vettel.

"I think we should have stayed in the positions we were. I didn't ignore it on purpose, but I messed up in that situation and obviously took the lead.

"I can see now he (Webber) is upset, but yeah, I at least want to be honest and stick to the truth and apologise.

"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.

"I had a very short word with Mark, and then it hit me quite hard and I realised that I f***** up."

There has never been any love lost between the pair given previous on-track incidents, initially in the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix when Vettel crashed out after trying to pass Webber for the lead.

Then in the 2011 British Grand Prix Webber was told to hold position by Horner towards the end of the race when he had the pace to pass Vettel.

Despite the apology from Vettel, there was a look of fury on Webber's face throughout the entire press conference that added to the tension.

Asked whether the situation had made him consider his future with the team, and in F1 on the whole, Webber replied: "My mind in the last 15 laps was thinking many things, yes. Many, many things."

As to how Webber will respond to a team order if 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. 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."

Horner sat down with both men post-race in a bid to try and iron out the differences, but clearly still has work to do.

"We've conducted a debrief and I've spoken to both drivers, and Seb has apologised to both Mark and the team," said Horner.

"It wasn't right what he did, he accepts that, and he has said if he could wind the clock back he wouldn't do it again."

Explaining why Vettel was not ordered to give the place back, Horner added: "Do you honestly think if we'd told him to slow down and give the place back he would have done so?

"There was no point in even trying because he had made it quite clear what his intention was by making the move.

"He knew what the communication was, but he chose to ignore it. He put his interests beyond what the team's position was."

Remarkably, behind the feuding Red Bull pair, Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg showed how team orders should be carried out.

Rosberg, like Vettel, was told to hold station by team principal Ross Brawn on two separate occasions as the German was becoming frustrated by the fact he was quicker than Hamilton.

Brawn was adamant he simply wanted to bring the cars home in third and fourth, without any risk of losing the 27 points available.

Hamilton, however, made it clear he was embarrassed by the call as he said on the podium: "If I'm honest it's Nico that should be standing here.

"He deserves to be where I am. Obviously the team thought, with the position in the championship, it was logical to stay in the positions we were in.

"I have to offer big congratulations to Nico because he drove a much smarter and much more controlled race than I did."

There were many other incidents, notably a second-lap crash involving Fernando Alonso as a loose front wing broke off, forcing him into the gravel as Ferrari opted not to pit him at the end of lap one.

The Force India duo of Paul Di Resta and Adrian Sutil both retired with front-left wheel-nut issues, whilst McLaren's Jenson Button was robbed of fifth place when a dodgy pit stop dropped him a lap down.

Behind the leading quartet, Ferrari's Felipe Massa was fifth, ahead of Lotus pair Romain Grosjean, last weekend's Australian Grand Prix winner Kimi Raikkonen, Sauber's Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez in his McLaren.


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