‘Multi 21’. It’s the infamous code that will go down in F1 history as one of the worst moments of team orders int the sport. Many F1 fans are aware of the incident itself. However, very few know what happened leading up to it and the aftermath. Turns out, Multi 21 was payback and Christian Horner explained the incident to the Queen!
For the unaware, at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel went against team orders and challenged teammate Mark Webber. The German battled Webber for the race lead and emerged victoriously. However, Vettel’s actions weren’t an isolated incident.
It was retribution for Mark Webber’s antics at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix. The Australian didn’t play the supporting role as Vettel battled Alonso for the World Championship.
Vettel was on the cusp of clinching a third World Championship and needed an incident-free race. Webber wasn’t in the fight but that didn’t stop him getting a bit too racy with the German and squeezed him at the start. Webber’s ambitious start compromised Vettel and the German had to claw his way back up the field to take the title.
Webber’s actions led to Vettel giving him a taste of his own medicine 2 races later.
The aftermath of the infamous incident also happened to coincide at the time when the British government honored Christian Horner with an OBE. The Red Bull team principal attended a lunch hosted by the Queen and the Duke at Buckingham Palace. Surprisingly, Horner actually explained the Red Bull fiasco to the Queen herself!
Speaking to F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast, Horner said:
“I had this bizarre situation, of having to deal with the drivers and then going to lunch with the Queen and Prince Phillippe and explain to her what a Multi 21 was”
“And why our Australian driver was grumpy with our German driver”
“She seemed to show great interest and likened it to horse racing”
Unfortunately, team orders are a part and parcel of Formula 1. While it may upset the fans, teams need to take tough decisions from a strategic point of view.