Sebastian Vettel does not believe Mark Webber is leaving Red Bull and Formula 1 because their relationship was untenable after their Malaysian Grand Prix dispute.
Webber announced on Thursday that he would switch to Porsche’s World Endurance Championship and Le Mans program next year, as was first mooted in the weeks following the Red Bull teammates’ Sepang spat.
Vettel passed Webber in contradiction of team orders in the closing stages of the Malaysian race, taking victory on a day when Webber looked dominant. But when quizzed about Webber’s motives at Silverstone, Vettel said he doubted that the team orders flashpoint was a factor.
“I think we’ve probably had enough talks about Malaysia. I think both of us were not happy with what happened but I don’t think that these sorts of things change the world from today until tomorrow,” he said. “I think equally we had different opinions three years ago in Turkey [where they collided] and we had a successful time after that.”
The world champion said the relationship with his teammate was far better than the media portrayal.
“I have enormous respect for him on the track as a driver,” Vettel insisted. “I think off track, a lot of it has been hyped more than it should have because there hasn’t been that much going on.
“As a fact we are not best friends and probably never will be. That was reason enough for you [the media] to get excited in the past but it is not a reason for us to try and change it all costs.”
Vettel admitted that after five seasons paired with Webber, any change would feel strange.
“When you move on to the next year knowing what to expect you don’t really think about it; whereas now we are in a little bit of a different position,” said Vettel. “I would not say you are afraid, but it is unknown. Surely whoever comes in is new to the team in a way, so it will be difficult to know what to expect. So in that regard, it is much easier when you know who is racing with you, and the team knows who the drivers are for next season.”
Kimi Raikkonen is among the favorites to take the ex-Webber Red Bull seat. Asked if he had a good relationship with the Finn, Vettel replied: “Yes. I am sure he will answer in the same way with less words. But I think we get along.”