London: Formula One drivers have a duty to obey team orders, Lotus principal Eric Boullier said on Friday as the after-shocks of Sebastian Vettel's controversial Malaysian Grand Prix win rumbled on. World champion Vettel triumphed for Red Bull in Sepang after ignoring instructions to stay in second place behind Australian team-mate Mark Webber.
"Team orders are part of the sport," Boullier declared in a preview of next week's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai. Sometimes it seems that emotion takes over, but don't forget that the drivers are paid to work for you, as they are for the company. I don't see any people in the world who could disobey their company and not be sanctioned, or at least give clarification as to why they've disobeyed," added the Frenchman.
"Yes, one of our drivers is famous for doing pretty much what he wants, but when you have 600 people behind you, there is a certain respect you must have for the team."
Kimi Raikkonen, the 2007 world champion with Ferrari, won last month's season-opening Australian Grand Prix for Lotus and is the team's clear number one alongside Frenchman Romain Grosjean. Lotus have favoured Raikkonen already this season by giving him developments ahead of Grosjean, who will get the upgraded exhaust and bodywork package in China that the Finn had in Malaysia.
Boullier said Raikkonen was "clearly chasing the championship" while Grosjean was 'doing well' in coming back from a tough 2012 season. The principal said team orders, once banned but now legal, should not be seen so early in the season when the championship was still wide open.
Red Bull have justified their decision by saying they were concerned about high tyre wear and fuel consumption and wanted both drivers to ease off and make sure of the one-two finish and maximum points.
Vettel, winner of the last three championships, has the number one on his car and the German is now leading the standings again. He apologised to Webber after the race and to team employees at their British factory.