Speaking ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, Vettel said his decision to ignore team orders at the Malaysian GP and pass Webber in the closing stages of the race was “indirectly” related to past incidents when he felt Webber went against the best interests of the team.
“There was more than one occasion in the past when he could have helped the team and he didn’t,” Vettel said.
Asked if that was why he ignored the team orders, Vettel replied: “Indirectly so.”
The world champion maintained he had not understood the team order to stay behind Webber, even though he acknowledged that the code “Multi-21” _ meaning the No. 2 car stays ahead of the No. 1 car _ had been in use at the team for a long time.
Despite his claims of a mistake, Vettel said he likely would have ignored any further order to give back the lead.
Vettel’s candid comments revealed the depths of the division within Red Bull.
“I never had support from his side (of the garage),” Vettel said. “I have a lot of support from the team and the team is supporting us both the same way.”
The German had apologized to team staff for breaking team rules but laughed when asked if he had been punished in any way.
The relationship between Vettel and Webber appears fractured beyond repair, and it looks unlikely that the Australian will get another contract after his one-year deal expires at the end of the season.
Webber said Thursday that initial reports that he considered quitting immediately in Malaysia were wrong, but said the accumulation of incidents of perceived favoritism toward Vettel led to career options crossing his mind.
“Year by year is how it’s always been for me,” he said, when asked about his future with the team. “During the summer I will talk to (Red Bull owner) Dietrich (Mateschitz) and we will go from there. I have never ever made decisions on my career at this point in the season. I don’t see why I should make any decisions at the moment for my future.”