Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany celebrates his victory in the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang. AFP photo
World champion Sebastian Vettel incensed Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber Sunday as he pulled off a risky overtaking move to snatch victory in a pulsating but contentious Malaysian Grand Prix.
The German ace went wheel-to-wheel with Webber late in the race, earning a stern rebuke from team principal Christian Horner, before emerging in front and taking his 27th race win.
Former world title-holder Lewis Hamilton was third, claiming his first podium spot for new team Mercedes, after his frustrated stablemate Nico Rosberg was ordered not to overtake as they duelled in the closing stages. Ferrari's Felipe Massa finished fifth, stealing the limelight from Fernando Alonso after the two-time world champion went out on the second lap with a collapsed front wing. France's Romain Grosjean was sixth, outshining his Lotus team-mate and last week's winner Kimi Raikkonen in seventh, with Nico Hulkenberg, Sergio Perez and Jean-Eric Vergne rounding out the top 10.
Webber and Vettel exchanged words in the team garage and the Australian was stony-faced during the victory ceremony, spraying little of the customary champagne. Later, Vettel offered a profuse apology to his team-mate. Both drivers had been told by their team to hold their positions until the end of the race.
"I'm not entirely happy -- I think I did a big mistake," Vettel said. "We should have stayed in the positions that we were in. I didn't ignore it on purpose but I messed up in that situation and obviously took the lead from Mark. "I can see now that he's upset. I want to be honest at least and stick to the truth. I know that doesn't really help his feelings right now."
A heavy tropical shower in the hour before the race greased up the track to such an extent that several cars including Webber's slid off in the pre-formation drive. Massa dropped back off second place and Alonso damaged his front wing on the Red Bull of pole-sitter Vettel at an otherwise ultra-careful start.
Conflict of interest
"As far as the drivers are concerned, we let them race up to that last pitstop and then from a team's perspective, with the issues we've had this weekend, we wanted to control the race and manage the tyres to the end of the race," said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. "But at that point the drivers' interest became bigger than the team's and they took it into their own hands to start racing each other which was obviously uncomfortable for us.
"We'll sit down with them and discuss it as a team. They've raced each other hard before. They are very competitive. They are both race car drivers, It's difficult."