Red Bull Racing are set to retire the controversial “Multi-21″ directive after a dramatic Formula One Grand Prix at Sepang, Malaysia, where defending world champion Sebastian Vettel ignored the team instruction to hold station and made a daring pass on teammate Mark Webber in the latter stages of the race to claim victory.
After the finish to the 2nd race of the 2013 F1 season, “Multi-21″ became a viral sensation by briefly turning into an international trending topic on Twitter, as well as spawning numerous memes on the Internet. A website even offered T-shirts sporting the directive for sale.
Speaking on SkySports’s F1 show, team principal Christian Horner revealed the full meaning of “Multi-21″ as well as its counterpart, “Multi-12″.
“Multi-21 means car two ahead of car one. Multi-12 means car one ahead of car two,” explained Horner. “It’s not complicated. It’s not that difficult to translate, but both our drivers in the last three races have failed to understand both of those messages. I think we’re going to give up on that code. We need to probably try something else.”
Horner also took the opportunity to defend the team’s decision to instruct Webber and Vettel to maintain their positions during the last 13 laps of the Malaysia Grand Prix.
“Team orders happen up and down the grid,” said Horner. “They have happened for as long as Formula One has existed.
“Our biggest concern was managing that race to the end with the issues that we’ve had earlier in the week. We could see that we weren’t the best in terms of making the tyres go the longest.
“When you’ve got drivers fighting each other in the slipstream, that’s where you do the most damage. Our primary concern was making those cars last the end of the race on those tyres without needing to make another stop. That was our overriding desire after that final pitstop.
“Nothing that we did wasn’t within the regulations. Sometimes as a purist, you want to see the drivers race, and actually the show they put on was fantastic. It was great wheel to wheel racing. But when you’re steering the ship and your responsibility is to the 600 people. They don’t get paid on what the driver does – They get paid on what the team’s constructor finish is. The responsibility is to make sure the team achieves its maximum job, it’s maximum potential, its maximum points.”
Despite defying team orders however, Horner believed Vettel was truly repentant of his actions, and the matter is considered resolved from the team’s perspective.
“He’s gone against the wishes of the team and he’s taken that risk and he’s accepted what he did was wrong. He’s apologized to the team, he’s apologized to every single member of staff for his actions because he recognizes the team is vitally important.
“Being part of a team is a crucial aspect to be able to challenge for those championships. I think he learned an important lesson from the weekend. People often forget, the kid’s only done 102 races. He’s 25 years of age. He’s massively hungry, he’s massively motivated. He’s still going through a learning curve as well.
“Drivers have always never been sat particularly comfortable with them. The truly driven , the truly competitive ones, it’s a tricky thing to deal with. Sebastian has won 27 races. He can sniff a victory.”
“I wouldn’t say it’s been fully put to bed. It’s been addressed with the drivers and as far as the team’s concerned, it’s a closed book and we’re focused on the Chinese Grand Prix and the challenges ahead of us.”