JULY 15, 2010
Red Bull: Priority goes to championship leader
Red Bull Racing has held clear-the-air talks with Mark Webber following the Aussie’s British Grand Prix win in controversial circumstances at Silverstone last weekend.
Webber was incensed by the decision to give his new specification front wing to team mate Sebastian Vettel after the German damaged his own in the final session of free practice on Saturday morning.
Webber thrust inside Vettel into the first corner from second on the grid and went on to score a dominant win, his third of the season, while Vettel was delayed by a puncture after first lap contact with Lewis Hamilton and finished seventh. On his slowdown lap Webber said on the team radio, “Not bad for a No2 driver…” and later stated that he would not have re-signed for Red Bull in 2011 if he had known he was to receive such treatment.
After a meeting at the team’s factory on Wednesday, Red Bull Racing has made it clear that if anything like the single component debacle happens in future, priority will go to whichever driver is leading in the championship. Going into round 11 at Hockenheim -- Vettel’s home race -- Webber has a seven point advantage over his young team mate. Team principal Christian Horner and technical chief Adrian Newey, meanwhile, are known to be frustrated over favoritism accusations, believing that they have gone to extensive lengths to try to ensure equality between their two drivers.
After the meeting, Webber put the following statement on his website explaining his feelings and his reactions last weekend, under the heading ‘Respect runs deep at Red Bull Racing:’
"My disappointment on Saturday after qualifying spilled over into Sunday but it was simply due to the fact that I, along with every other driver on the grid, wanted the best possible chance of success. Sebastian received the newer front wing for reasons which were not clearly explained to me until Saturday late afternoon. Obviously I can see why a team may at certain points have to favour a driver with more points in the championship, if there are only enough resources to fully support one of us.
"We've already debriefed the race weekend at the factory and have cleared the air. It's now understood that, should we face this unlikely dilemma again, preference will go to the championship points leader."
"Of course things get said in the heat of the moment which, with hindsight goggles on, probably shouldn't have been said. Formula One is a highly charged and fiercely competitive arena where emotions and adrenalin do run high from time to time like in many sports, and my comment on the radio after the race was an example of Australian sarcasm - either at its best or worst depending on how you choose to take it.
"But rest assured, under the helmet I was massively rapped about winning one of the most prestigious events on the F1 calendar and Red Bull Racing's local race. It's a home race of sorts for me; I only live 40 minutes down the road and the UK and Buckinghamshire in particular has been home to me for the past 15 years, so Silverstone and the British GP are both very special to me.
"Christian Horner and I have known each other for many years; we're friends and have a strong mutual respect which continues and extends to other activities, such as our GP3 team and interest in finding and nurturing young racing talent.
“The team has produced an awesome car and has come a long way in a short space of time. There are more than 500 people at the Red Bull factory at Milton Keynes and I know that each and every one of them share the highs and lows that Sebastian and I experience during the season. The support we both enjoy is phenomenal and on Sunday evening many of them joined us at Christian’s annual post-race party and celebrated our win in style.
"The respect within the team extends to the drivers. I know I have a very good driver as a team-mate and I wouldn't want it any other way. We share information freely in team meetings and contribute to the development and improvement of our cars. Seb and I are not enemies, we're just two drivers that are pushing hard and want to do the best for ourselves and the team, it's as simple as that.
"The British Grand Prix was a wonderful result for myself and the team; however time moves fast and looking in the mirror for too long doesn't prepare us for Germany. We've moved on."
Webber is currently 17 points behind Lewis Hamilton’s championship lead - one second place under this year’s scoring system - and Red Bull Racing trails McLaren by 29 points in the constructors’ battle, with a 43-point maximum haul on offer at each race.
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