Webber to consider future after controversy

ROBERT GRANT
Last updated 15:12 25/03/2013
Fairfax Australia

Mark Webber is unable to hide his frustration when teammate Sebastian Vettel ignores orders to hold station in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel
Getty Images
UNEASY RELATIONSHIP: Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel on the podium after securing a one-two finish for Red Bull in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

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Mark Webber has returned to Australia to consider his future as the corrosive atmosphere within his Red Bull Formula One team hits an all-time low.

Webber accused Red Bull of protecting teammate Sebastian Vettel after the German disobeyed team orders and passed the Australian on Sunday to steal victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Vettel was contrite later, admitting: "I f....d up" but Webber was furious and immediately returned to Queensland to think about his future.

He said he would cut off all contact with the team during his break.

"I think it's very early days right now. It's very raw, obviously, and we need to work out how the team goes best forwards from here," Webber said.

"That's obviously going to be discussed this week. I will be in Australia on my surfboard - the phone won't be engaged. We will see what happens.

"This puts heat on a few people and unfortunately there's no rewind button."

The situation was reversed two years ago when it was Webber who defied team orders in an attempt to pass Vettel at the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

At the time, Webber said: "Of course I ignored the team as I want to try to get another place."

The pair also clashed at the Turkish GP in 2010 and the Japanese GP in 2007 when Vettel was driving for Red Bull's sister team Torro Rosso.

Vettel apologised for not respecting the team orders but, when asked if he was now considering his future with the team, Webber said: "My mind, in the last 15 laps, was thinking (about) that.

"(I was thinking about) many things, yes - many, many things."

The major question now is how untenable is Webber's position in the world championship team.

He was all but called a choker after failing to win the world title in 2010 by team adviser Helmet Marko, who also claimed Vettel's brilliance had psyched Webber out.

Webber was sceptical whether Vettel would be admonished by the team because he will "have protection as usual".

Vettel's determination was already felt when he told the team via radio in mid-race that "Mark is too slow - get him out of the way".

But Webber stood his ground at the time and Vettel was rebuffed by Horner immediately after his passing move when the team boss told him "this is silly".

Behind the pair, Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg obeyed an order to stay in fourth behind Lewis Hamilton although he had the faster car and was clearly frustrated afterwards.

However, Hamilton said the situation was wrong and his podium place belonged to Rosberg.

The drama began when Webber returned to the track from his last pit stop just ahead of Vettel and said he then went into engine-conservation mode, as instructed.

To his surprise, Vettel attacked two laps later, denying Webber a 10th career victory and chalking up a 27th for himself.

"I turned the engine down and was reassured twice that we would not use the cars against each other," Webber said.

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Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion, and former driver Martin Brundle both said any trust that had existed between the two Red Bull drivers would have evaporated, creating a dilemma for the team.

- AAP

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