“Multi-21, Seb,” he said, “multi-21”.
As Vettel took a long, hard swig from his water bottle, Adrian Newey looked at the floor, clearly wishing he was anywhere else.
During the race, as he battled with his Red Bull teammate, in a series of radio messages Vettel had been told “Multi-21” and then, as he closed in on the Australian “you need to give him the space, hold position”, at which point the German made his move.
“This is silly, Seb,” came the warning from Christian Horner as the two went side-by-side into turn 1, “yep, that’s good team work,” said Webber as Vettel headed off into the distance. “He was told, he was told,” came the response.
“Good job Sebastian,” the German was told as he took the flag, “looks like you wanted it badly enough, still there will be some explaining to do”.
Indeed there was. While some of the previous cracks in the relationship had been papered over, not least with the use of an infamous photo-shoot, this was a step too far and Webber subsequently left F1 for WEC… his place to be taken by another Australian who somewhat caught Vettel by surprise.
Talking to the official F1 website, team boss Christian Horner has shed further light on this infamous incident admitting that it was basically ‘pay back’ for Webber’s actions in Brazil a few months earlier.
“It was very difficult for Mark to accept at the time that, and I think if he looked back at it now with perspective and honesty, Sebastian was just quicker,” says Horner. “So therefore Mark would use whatever tool he could to try and get under his skin.
“As a team, we were just trying to play a straight bat, but every now and again, you’d get a missile coming in and the situation got tougher and tougher.
“It probably culminated at the end of 2012 when Sebastian was fighting Alonso for the championship and Mark squeezed him up against the pit wall at the start of the race in Brazil, in the championship decider, which ultimately resulted in him getting turned round by Bruno Senna. Sebastian was hugely angry about that.
“There was a hangover of that that led into Malaysia, literally two races later, split by four or five months. You had a situation where you have Mark in the car ahead, Sebastian on new tyres in the car behind. The tyres were pretty fragile, we’re telling them hold position and Sebastian thought ‘F*** you’.”