Formula 1 is littered with controversies. Name a year or season, and someone will likely be able to recall an instance or scenario during that period.
During the 1980s, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost had their fair share of moments. During the 1990s, Michael Schumacher was the center of all the major incidents. The first decade of the new millennium was rattled by the 2007 Spy-Gate scandal and the 2008 Crash Gate scandal.
And in 2013, it was Multi-21.
Boy, what a race that was! Not for the reasons you might think, but because it very almost caused the imploding of the Red Bull F1 team.
Drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber drove a brilliant race for the team, coming out in the first two positions as they began the final stint towards the finish line. The thing was, Webber was leading from Vettel, and the hot-headed German was having none of it.
He hounded Webber for first place and ignored team orders to hold station behind his Australian team mate. Vettel won the race, but it did not go down well with Webber and the team.
By the time the 2013 season came around, Vettel was already a three-time champion and on his way to becoming a four-time champion.
After Webber completed his second pit stop at the Malaysian GP, the team radioed both its drivers to inform them that they have to keep their positions. To not risk a one-two finish, essentially. Webber, being the lead driver, adhered to the call and detuned his engine for the remainder of the race. Vettel, on the other hand, did not.
He ignored the team's order and did his utmost to pass Webber, until he eventually succeeded in doing so. The team mates came tantalisingly close to making contact on numerous occasions, but by some grace, they didn’t.
After the race, the camera caught Webber telling Vettel (with a stern and agitated voice) that he disobeyed the 'Multi-21' order. A call or code, we later learned, that was for Webber to win the race if he was in a position to do so.
Mark Webber (middle) and Sebastian Vettel (right) on the 2013 Malaysian GP podium. Image: Getty Images
As the final chequered flag dropped on the final race of the 2013 season, Mark Webber had already announced his retirement from the sport. The Australian had failed to win a single race in his final season, whereas Vettel had won a record 13 races that year, including the last nine races of the season.
Webber and Vettel’s relationship would never be the same after the ‘Multi-21’ incident, and the team put more of their support and resources behind his champion team mate.
Webber did not part from F1 entirely. He still makes special appearances as interviewer after a race, and still maintains his good relations with the Red Bull F1 team.
Webber ended his F1 career, having competed in 215 Grand Prix and having won nine of them. Throughout his 12-year tenure in the sport, he took pole position 13 times, appeared on the podium 42 times, and set the fastest lap of a race in 19 events.
Mark Webber. Image: Getty Images