Sebastien Vettel and Mark Webber Return for Chinese Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will be under fierce scrutiny as they return to the Red Bull team garage at this week’s Chinese Grand Prix following a furious team row in Malaysia. The reigning world champion and his aggrieved Australian teammate are said to have called a truce after Vettel’s controversial late pass for victory at Sepang, but relations are likely to be uneasy at best.
Webber admitted he considered his future in the sport after Vettel ignored orders to stay behind his front-running stablemate, who was on deteriorating tyres, to snatch one of the most contentious wins of recent years.
Webber was seen giving the middle finger to Vettel after his risky overtaking manoeuvre. After an angry exchange in the garage and an awkward podium ceremony, the German apologised profusely. But whether that has cut any ice with the feisty Webber, and whether Vettel is prepared to make amends by returning the favour, could become clear in Shanghai – act three in what has already been an intriguing campaign.
Kimi Raikkonen was the surprise winner at the season-opener in Australia, and Lewis Hamilton was also tipped into a team orders row in Malaysia when Mercedes told Nico Rosberg not to challenge his teammate for third.
Red Bull will face questions about possible punishment for Vettel, even after team principal Christian Horner insisted Webber was not about to quit and that the affair had been put to rest.
Red Bull’s conflict has largely overshadowed those of other teams, with Mercedes telling Nico Rosberg not to overtake third-placed Lewis Hamilton despite the German’s protestations he was the faster car. Heading into this Sunday’s race in Shanghai – where Hamilton is the only two-time winner and Rosberg the defending champion – team boss Ross Brawn had denied the team orders indicated Hamilton was the de facto No 1 driver in the team or that he was given any such promise when making the move from McLaren.
“In the contractual negotiations we had with Lewis, never was the issue of who was No 1 or No 2 ever mentioned from his side,” Brawn said.
“He wants the same equipment, the same opportunity and that is great that he has that confidence and that approach that he doesn’t want favouritism, he just wants parity and that is why Lewis felt a little bit awkward about the situation.”
Another intriguing teammate fight is at Ferrari, where a revived Felipe Massa is sustaining his challenge to the undisputed No 1 Fernando Alonso. Massa has qualified ahead of Alonso in the past four races: the United States and Brazil at the end of 2012 and now Australia and Malaysia this season. Should he do so again in China, it will be the first time in Alonso’s F1 career that he had been out-qualified by a teammate five times running. Alonso, though, had usually got the better of his teammate on race day, and will be aiming for another strong performance in China to make up for his non-finish in Malaysia, with expectations high of a title challenge this season.
McLaren, which was well off the pace in the opening two races looks to remedy the teething problems of its new-look 2013 car. The team is also in dire need of better results from its drivers.
The three-week break between Malaysia and China came at the right time for McLaren, which believes it will produce a car in China which is more consistent in its performance across various levels of fuel load and tire degradation.
“The engineers, designers and mechanics, too, have worked tirelessly and painstakingly to unlock the car’s potential, and we feel confident that we are starting to turn the page,” team principal Martin Whitmarsh said.

All yes on the Red Bull Team in the Chinese Gran Prix.
All yes on the Red Bull Team in the Chinese Gran Prix.

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