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Ten years after 'Multi 21': the mistake Verstappen and Perez should not make

Ten years after 'Multi 21': the mistake Verstappen and Perez should not make

24 March - 10:31


Anyone who thinks Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen are already at each other's throats did not get the time of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. The Red Bull Racing duo had several conflicts with each other, with the famous 'Multi 21' as the low point. That was a decade ago now.

The rise of Red Bull Racing

In 2009, the promotion of Vettel to Red Bull Racing marked the formation of a new duo at the Austrian racing stable. The experienced David Coulthard and Mark Webber had propelled the team upward. However, the Scot retired after the 2008 season, giving the Vettel the seat for the 2009 season. The German proved his talent at Toro Rosso, including a stunning win at Monza in 2008.

As the more experienced man, Webber was expected to be Red Bull's designated front-runner if Adrian Newey's RB5 proved to be a race-winning car. However, it was Vettel who won the first two races for the team before Webber took his first Formula 1 victory in Germany. That season, Vettel finished second in the drivers' standings with 84 points, ahead of Webber, who finished in fourth place with 69.5 points.

Irritation at Webber

In 2010, there was increased pressure on the duo, and subsequently, things started to go wrong for the teammates. The relationship between the two came under increased pressure when they collided in Turkey. Vettel was blamed, even though many believe that the German was, in fact, the main culprit in the crash.

Entering the final race in Abu Dhabi, Webber was in the best position, second in the drivers' championship on 238 points, with Vettel third on 231. Fernando Alonso needed to be beaten, with the Ferrari driver on 246 points.

For Webber, the race at the Yas Marina Circuit ended with deception. After finishing fifth in qualifying, Webber got stuck in traffic after his first stop. Overtaking proved to be tricky after all, meaning an undercut attempt failed. Alonso, with Ferrari only focused on Webber, made the same mistake. But Vettel, who stayed out longer from pole, was able to win the race and, miraculously, the championship too.

Afterwards, the focus was on the squandered championship for Alonso, but Webber too saw a dream go up in smoke. He then failed to make an impression in 2011, while his teammate dominated that season. Webber made no friends that season too, ignoring team orders at Silverstone not to overtake Vettel. Also in Brazil in 2012, as Vettel tried to fight his way to a third world title, Webber momentarily forgot what 'Multi 12' meant, the signal to leave his teammate in front. At the start of that race, Webber also defended fiercely earlier, forcing his teammate towards the wall as a result.

Vettel strikes back with 'Multi 21'

All this pressure and tension came together when the two were in action at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix. The RB9 once again proved to be a rock-solid car, and arriving at the second race of the season, Vettel started from pole and Webber from P5. However, Webber's strategy worked well, giving the Australian the race lead. Vettel chased the lead from P2 but was then told 'Multi 21', the message that both drivers should hold their current positions.

Vettel, however, disregarded the message and continued to attack Webber. Mark Webber was furious after the race, almost refusing to go to the podium, but he joined anyway. Once on the podium, he first lashed out at his teammate in the cooldown room, only to leave no stone unturned even on the podium: ''He thinks himself more important than the team, but will be protected as always.''

Webber got it right. Although Vettel initially apologised, he retracted it just one race weekend later. He cited the previous incidents as the reason for his disobedience, and no one within Red Bull seemed to hold him to account.

The only one who heeded Webber's displeasure was the late Dietrich Mateschitz. He was keen to find out from Webber what happened, having also seen that Red Bull's owner had done Red Bull's image little good. Webber talked to Mateschitz about his future within Red Bull and eventually decided that 2013 would be his last year in the sport. Webber would not win another race that year, making his final win in F1 dating back to 2012 when he won the British Grand Prix.

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