Sebastian Vettel has stepped away from post-Sepang apologies in the wake of the ‘Multi-21’ affair, suggesting the resulting controversy only frustrated him.
The German appeared contrite immediately after the Malaysian race, when he confessed that the implications of ignoring Red Bull’s team order to settle for second place had “struck me like lightning”. He apologised not only to Mark Webber, but – according to team boss Christian Horner – also to Red Bull’s hundreds of staff at Milton-Keynes. But with the racing adrenaline set to flow again in China this weekend, the reigning triple world champion now insists: “I don’t apologise for winning. “That is why people employed me in the first place,” Vettel said in an interview for Red Bull’s title sponsor Infiniti. “I love racing and that’s what I did.”
Vettel said his apology to Red Bull still stands because he put “himself above the team”, but insists that he “did not mean” to do that. British journalist Bob McKenzie wrote in the Express newspaper: “His words will only inflame the situation”. Vettel indicated that the controversy, which became known as the ‘Multi-21’ affair, frustrated him because it diverted attention from the real story of Malaysia. “I think unfortunately people didn’t see that we worked well on the day. As a team I think we did a very good job with a fantastic result. “I think that’s what people forgot,” said the 25-year-old. “What stuck in their heads was the way the race ended.”
Even Vettel had to acknowledge that the saga will surely continue in the days ahead. John Watson, a veteran commentator and former F1 driver, thinks it will be impossible to ignore within the Red Bull team as well. “The atmosphere in the garage in China will be crap,” he told Sun newspaper. “But if you create the monster then lose control of him, you are going to pay the price. What happened in Malaysia showed that Helmut Marko and Vettel wield the power in the team,” added Watson.
Indeed, on the eve of the action in Shanghai, Marko announced that Red Bull has scrapped the sort of team orders that Vettel simply ignored in Malaysia. “For Sebastian Vettel, that is a belated vindication,” wrote Simon Pausch in Die Welt newspaper. It is also reported that Vettel will keep his bonus prize money for winning in Malaysia.
Bild newspaper said Red Bull pays its drivers EUR 38,200 for every point scored. For a win, the bonus is just shy of a million euros. Second place, in this case Webber, earned EUR 270,000 less than Vettel in Malaysia.
Info: GMM, Image: Red Bull Content Pool