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Sebastian Vettel Wins Controversial Formula One Malaysian GP

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Red Bull Racing at the 2013 Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix

Red Bull Racing at the 2013 Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing took home the victory at yesterday’s 2013 Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix, but the win wasn’t a perfect reflection of his performance as radio comments between the triple world champion and Red Bull’s team management show.

His team-mate, Mark Webber, was in the lead in the final stages of the race, thanks to a shrewd switch to dry tires from the intermediates used earlier when there was some rain.

Both Red Bull drivers were then asked to manage the rest of the race, and to conserve tires and fuel in the process.  

This clearly flustered Vettel, who complained to his team that Webber was too slow and should move out of the way.

Eventually, Vettel--perhaps appropriately--disobeyed team orders and charged up to overtake Webber. After a side-by-side tussle on the 46th lap, Vettel was in the lead and was first past the checkered flag.

He apologized after the race, though it’s questionable whether he should be for wanting to win points. For his disobedience, the German youngster took home an additional seven points.

Webber clearly wasn’t happy, commenting post-race, “I think Sebastian has respect for me and I have respect for him, but the situation today was not handled well.”

There was no disobeying of team orders over at the Mercedes AMG camp, where Lewis Hamilton managed to finish third in the race. His team-mate, Nico Rosberg, who finished fourth, was denied permission to attempt to pass Hamilton despite the German believing he had the quicker pace. He was told by Team Principal Ross Brawn that Hamilton was backing off to save fuel at the team's request. Hamilton later said he felt that Rosberg should have been on the podium.

Mercedes AMG at the 2013 Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix

Mercedes AMG at the 2013 Formula 1 Malaysian Grand Prix

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It was a disaster for Ferrari, especially considering the strong performance of the Scuderia drivers during qualifying. Felipe Massa fought back strongly after slipping down the order from his front row start position, to bring home valuable points for fifth place. For Fernando Alonso, who started his 200th Grand Prix at third on the grid, this race will not be one he cares to remember, as it lasted only just over a lap, before ending in the gravel.

By the second lap, Alonso had run into the rear of Vettel as he attempted to overtake the German. This caused damage to his Ferrari’s front wing. On the pit wall, the thinking was to leave him out for a lap or two longer to deal with the damage, in order to change the front wing at the same time as the switch to slicks, which was imminent. But the part failed, consigning Alonso to the gravel trap on the outside of Turn One. He signaled for the marshals to push him back on track but in vain.

It was also disaster for McLaren’s Jenson Button, who was in fifth for much of the race but then lost several positions after a pit stop incident cost him valuable time when his right-front wheel was improperly secured. He managed to crawl his way back to 12th but was forced to retire due to mechanical problems.

Rounding out the rest of the top ten positions were Lotus drivers Romain Grosjean and Kimi Räikkönen in sixth and seventh positions, respectively, followed by Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg in eighth, McLaren’s Sergio Perez in ninth and Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne in tenth.

All drivers now have three weeks to cool off until the next race, the Chinese Grand Prix, in Shanghai.

In the Drivers’ Championship, Sebastian Vettel has moved to the top of the points ladder with 40 points, followed by Kimi Räikkönen with 31 points and Mark Webber with 26 points.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull Racing leads with 66 points, followed by Lotus and Ferrari both on 40 points.
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