David Coulthard column: Every team wants drivers fighting for wins

By David CoulthardBBC F1 co-commentator
Highlights: Vettel ignores team orders to win in Malaysia

Red Bull's Mark Webber earned the right to win the Malaysian Grand Prix. There is no question about that.

He made the right strategic call to stop for dry-weather 'slick tyres' at the right time after a wet start and that put him in the lead.

The Red Bull drivers were told they would race until the last pit stops and then they would be obliged or instructed to hold position.

Sebastian Vettel has come out and for not doing that and for passing Webber to take the lead.

Although he has achieved his goal of winning the race, Vettel hasn't done it in a way that has endeared him to his team, and to use an old expression we used at McLaren, you win as a team and you lose as a team.

Mercedes had a similar situation, although in their case

BBC F1's pit-lane reporter Tom Clarkson asked Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn after the race whether he was disappointed Rosberg had laboured the point over the radio and Brawn came out with a great response, saying: "I'd be disappointed if he didn't."

That sums up exactly what a team wants. Every team wants the problem of having drivers fighting for a win. They don't want pussycats.

This is the downside of having two quick drivers - you have to deal with these issues.

You can micro-analyse it all you want, but Vettel was given an instruction. He disobeyed it. He has recognised it and he has apologised for it.

Vettel is 25 years old. After the race, I was talking with Damon Hill at the hotel. He was reminding me that I upset him a couple of times when I was 24-25.

At that age your priorities are different. I was trying to build a career and Damon was trying to win a World Championship.

Now, I know Vettel has already done that, but you can't cram 40 years into 25.

We had the growing pains of Lewis Hamilton a couple of years ago when nothing seemed to be working and he seemed to struggle to enjoy what he was doing. This is a one-off snapshot of Vettel growing as a racer.

F1 Malaysian GP: Mark Webber 'not satisfied' with Sebastian Vettel

I know people have looked at what Vettel said in his apology and asked whether he meant it.

Those who like him will sympathise and listen to his words. Those who don't will micro-analyse and look for hidden meaning, but at a certain point you have to take people at face value.

You can keep asking the same question, but if someone keeps giving the same answer and saying, "Sorry, I did wrong", you have to accept it. What else would we expect him to say?

He's not going to say: "I did the right thing. I'm bigger than the team. I don't regret it. I'll do the same next time."

Of course there's an element of damage limitation, because that is part of the business of sport, and that's what this is. He has to be humble and either appear to be sincere or actually be it. I would prefer to take him at face value and you have to give him credit for apologising.

It took quite a long time for Michael Schumacher to apologise for trying to drive Jacques Villeneuve off the track in their title decider in Jerez 1997 - he didn't do it until the FIA disciplined him several weeks later.

And to this day Schumacher has not apologised for parking his car in qualifying at Monaco in 2006 to stop Fernando Alonso beating him to pole position.

Schumacher was an exceptional racing driver and he worked for a team that gave him all the benefits of being an undisputed number one, and he exploited that.

The minute they signed an equal - Kimi Raikkonen - he retired, not fulfilled in his career and then came back and tried again. That clearly didn't work as an experiment.

You can go back to Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, and go forward to Alonso and Vettel now. These are great drivers and part of their greatness is their absolute belief that what they are doing is the right thing.

Humility is those who recognise that what they have done is wrong. Some have done that and some have left the sport, or even gone to the grave, with a stubbornness never to say sorry.

In some ways, it's a shame there has been all the controversy, and the awkwardness on the podium afterwards, because there was some real quality racing between Vettel and Webber.

Webber is always at his best when his back is slightly against the wall. He believed he was being supported and you can understand why he is so disappointed.

Given that Webber often wears his heart on his sleeve, it could have been even more car-crash television in terms of the damage to Red Bull as a team. But he made his point.

I wondered aloud during the commentary whether, at the point Vettel finally took the lead, Webber had actually ceded the position. I expected Mark to run Seb right out to the edge of the track, as he was entitled to do, but he didn't.

Did Webber decide he had to give it up because otherwise they were going to crash? I don't know. I haven't seen him yet to ask the question.


Red Bull team boss Christian Horner was asked after the race why he had not told Vettel to give the place back.

I don't know the full extent of the conversations that were had on the radio during the race, but we know Vettel got the coded message to hold station, we did hear Guillaume Rocquelin, Vettel's engineer, tell him to be careful, and we heard Horner say to Vettel that it was getting "silly".

They were clearly trying to manage the situation and they had to make a call about how far they went on the radio in terms of exposing the team to public humiliation.

Brawn was firm but calm and it sounded to me like both 'Rocky' and Christian were firm but calm, too.

If this was a poll of public opinion, you'd probably say Vettel has gone down a few points and Webber has gone up a few.

But this is not a popularity contest.

This is not the first time that team-mates have fought over the same piece of turf, and it will not be the last.

It will blow over like these things do - but there is no doubt that the next time Vettel and Webber go wheel-to-wheel we will all be holding our breath.