Sydney: Even catching a few waves on his surfboard back home in Australia might not be enough to assuage Mark Webber's fury at the way his team mate Sebastian Vettel stole victory from him at the Malaysian Grand Prix. Three-times world champion Vettel was forced to make a grovelling apology after ignoring team orders for the Red Bull drivers to keep their positions by overtaking Webber with 10 laps remaining of Sunday's race.
The 36-year-old Australian, who finished second in a Red Bull one-two, made his displeasure absolutely clear on the podium and said he would be considering his position during a spell of rest and recuperation on the Queensland coast. The incident laid bare once more the issue of his place at the team he has raced for since 2007, alongside Vettel since 2009.
Webber has always maintained that he should be his German team mate's equal in the race for the world title but often suspected that was not the case. "They know that I need 100 per cent support," he said at the launch of the RB9 in February. "You cannot fight for world championships with 90. You need 100 ... we're going in to 2013 with this in place and I'm comfortable with that."
At the same event in Milton Keynes, team principal Christian Horner offered public reassurance that would be the case. "For us it doesn't matter which driver wins so long as it's a driver in one of these cars," he said. "As a team we will do the very best we can to support both drivers." Sunday's incident clearly gave Webber plenty of food for thought.
"There were a lot of things going through my head in those closing laps," he said. "Not just from today, but from the past as well." Among the "things" Webber might have been thinking about were the incident at the Turkish Grand Prix in 2010 when he and Vettel collided, knocking the German out of the race and denying the Australian, who was leading, the victory.
He might also have been thinking about that same year when he won the British Grand Prix despite having had the new front wing of his car handed to Vettel and commented "Not bad for a number two driver" over the team radio. He might even have been thinking about Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko's decision to say in an interview with Red Bull's own magazine this year that while Webber could win races, he struggled to handle the pressures of a championship challenge.
Horner is past master at smoothing these matters over, in public at least, but Webber's comment about Vettel at Sepang was instructive. "Seb made his own decisions and will have protection as usual," he said.
Webber, who turned down an offer from Ferrari to stay with the team on a one-year deal, has plenty of time to think about his future at Red Bull and perhaps even in Formula One with the third race of the season in Shanghai not until April 14.
"This time tomorrow I'll be catching a few waves on my surfboard and reflecting on everything that's happened," he said. "I hope the weather's good."
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