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March 2, 2021

Formula 1: Vettel wins Malaysian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel ignored team orders as he overtook Mark Webber to win the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang, according to EurosportWebber took the lead early in the race as he jumped Vettel in the pits, and the Australian then led for most of the race.But with both cars’ tyres and fuel running dangerously low the team ordered the pair to back off and cruise to the end of the race – but Vettel simply ignored the directive, going wheel-to-wheel with his team-mate through a series of corners and overtook him late on.In a race which will live in the memory for some extraordinary inter-team conflicts, Lewis Hamilton finished third – but only because Mercedes ordered the faster Nico Rosberg to back off, for the same reasons as Red Bull had told its two drivers to stop racing.

The race was punctuated by a series of radio exchanges, with Vettel complaining that “we have to get [Webber] out of the way – he’s too slow”.And as the pair jousted for position, against the team’s instructions, Vettel was told by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner not to be silly. “You looked like you wanted it bad enough,” the message came through to the world champion after he took the chequered flag, “but still, there’ll be some explaining to do.” Webber was clearly furious on the podium, shunning his team-mate during the traditional champagne spraying, complaining that “Seb made his own decisions today.”He added that he had changed his car’s engine settings as part of the team orders to conserve fuel and tyres when Vettel decided to overtake. Vettel later apologised to Webber for his shocking move. “I messed up today – I apologise for that,” he said; but as the old saying goes, it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission.

Mercedes star Hamilton took third – despite an accidental stop in the pits of former team McLaren – but that was equally controversial as team-mate Rosberg was involved in a protracted discussion over the radio with team principal Ross Brawn about letting him through because he felt he was faster.A clearly embarrassed Hamilton admitted on the podium that, “Nico should be up here instead of me”.Felipe Massa recovered from a horror start to seal fifth place, while his team-mate Fernando Alonso’s race ended after a single lap when his damaged front wing collapsed under his wheels and forced him to slide off into the gravel.

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