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F1: Vettel "out of control" - Red Bull

Bryan Edwards

The official word from Red Bull Racing is that Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have "settled" the issue that arose when Vettel ignored team orders in Malaysia and took away Webber's victory. But as always, the devil is in the detail.

Speaking to reporters, Helmut Marko, the man within Red Bull who supports Vettel come what may - even if team owner Dietrich Mateschitz is not on the same page - said that Vettel immediately apologised to Webber and then to the entire team, saying that this was the correct first action to take.

But then, as reported by BBC News, he went on "We told Sebastian to hold his position because we didn't know what the tyre situation was and both drivers need to bring home a good finish for the team. But then came the attack against that strategy and it got out of control. You couldn't control it over radio or anything like that."

So, there we have it.

Sebastial Vettel is, in the words of his own team, out of control.

Martin Brundle reports at Sky Sports in terms that raise an even more serious issue: not only is Vettel out of control, the team have surrendered to his actions. He writes "One big question remained, why didn't the team simply ask him to drop back behind Webber again? I asked Christian Horner this on the way home, and his answer was that 'we had asked him to hold position and maintain a gap for three laps before he overtook, so there was little point in asking him to reverse the move'."

Author Jefferson Galt recently called for Vettel's behaviour to be punished by the team when wrote on his web page "Red Bull should suspend him for at least two races - but make him attend the entire race weekend. Fining him is no penalty: he's got plenty of money. The only thing he will understand is making him stand in the pits and watch his team-mate drive around for a whole weekend."

But the team is apparently doing nothing. The BBC report of the team's comment is this: "Marko continued: "In the debrief afterwards, there was the relevant discussions about the race and then there was a handshake between the two drivers. For us, now, the issue is settled." "

The issue raises questions over Christian Horner's authority as team principle. He seems to be unable to control Vettel, including his off-track behaviour which descended into bringing this team and the sport into disrepute with foul language on the podium last year. Not only does Vettel not respect Horner's authority for transgressions but Horner either has not power to punish him or does not have the will to do so.

This has an impact on the reputation of the team and, ultimately, the brand that is plastered all over it.

Immediately after the Malaysian debacle, Dietrich Mateschitz, owner of Red Bull and, ultimately the team as well as its major sponsor, reportedly sent a text message to Webber expressing his support. And he has said, openly, that Webber is firmly in the running for a seat in 2014 - at Webber's own option, he has been racing on a series of one-year contracts, not a multi-year contract like Vettel's that expires at the end of 2014.