Sebastian Vettel move stirs up Red Bull team orders controversy
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The 2013 Formula One season may be only two races old, but it has already conjured up a new 'team orders' controversy that has divided opinion and prompted tragic memories. Sebastian Vettel's ill-planned decision, taken in the heat of the moment, to ignore his Red Bull team's order to stay second behind Mark Webber in last Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix has stirred up the eternal debate about the sport's true identity is it racing between teams or individual drivers?
Does it matter that German Vettel, 25, has visited Milton Keynes and apologised to team members after saying sorry to Webber and, reportedly, shaking his hand during the team's traditional de-brief following the race at Sepang?
Does it matter that Webber has, allegedly, accepted the apology and moved on, in the process confirming he will stay with Red Bull and race again as Vettel's team-mate in the Chinese Grand Prix on April 14?
Does it matter that Bernie Ecclestone, the sport's ancient commercial ring-master, ensured that his predictablem comments of approval for Vettel's aggression were widely aired? Ultimately, in each case, no, it does not matter.
The well-used excuses trotted out this week by the Red Bull team chief Christian Horner, referring to the competitive instincts of racing drivers, deserve little time.
It is his job to control his drivers. In an interview with Sky Sports News broadcast on Thursday, Horner revealed: "He's (Vettel) said he can't turn back the clock but he's accepted what he did was wrong.
"He's apologised to the team and to every single member of staff for his actions, because he recognises the team is vitally important and] being part of the team is a crucial aspect to being able to challenge for those championships."
There was no mention of disciplinary action and no suggestion, as former F1 driver John Watson had suggested this week, that Vettel should be banned.