Webber and Button playing mind games?

Start, Turkish GP 2010

Start, Turkish GP 2010 

 © The Cahier Archive

As the world championship run-in comes down to the nitty-gritty with just three races left to run, it seems defending champion Jenson Button and series leader Mark Webber are indulging in some psychological warfare.

It's slightly surprising in that Webber and Button, not to mention their respective fathers Alan and John, have always displayed a healthy mutual respect. Last year, as Button clung to an increasingly tenuous advantage in the second half of the season, Webber called across the paddock to the departing Buttons at a late season race, "Come on, when are you going to sort it?"

Button recently opined that 34-year-old Webber's experience is a plus on one hand but potentially added pressure too, as you realise you might not get another chance to take the sport's top prize. He added, "It certainly wasn't easy for me at the end of last year..."

Whenever Webber refers to Button, it's usually by the pally 'JB' label, so it was a bit of a surprise to hear the Australian's evaluation of the championship battle post-Suzuka.

"As we've seen this year, five of us are capable of winning races - well, four in the dry..." Webber said, before adding, "Jenson's had a few races in the wet conditions but in the dry conditions it's been four of us who can win. I need to win again in the future. I'm very confident I can do that."

Button may well have been a touch miffed at Webber obliquely suggesting Jenson is incapable of winning in the dry, and has hit back by saying that he thinks Vettel will pip Mark to the crown.

In the event of Red Bull supremacy at the remaining races, Button ventured, "Vettel has to beat Mark twice more to be on the same points. Going into the last race with equal points, I'd say Vettel has the legs in qualifying and over three races would have the advantage over Mark. If those two cars have the advantage over everyone else, there won't be pressure on Vettel and he will do it."

Webber has acknowledged that he needs to win again in the last three races and is confident of being able to do so, while Vettel has said that if Webber manages it, "we are all in trouble."

Webber has a 14-point advantage over both Vettel and Fernando Alonso. One of the advantages of having the points in the bag is that you can afford to be a bit more physical on the circuit. Not in terms of deliberately taking an opponent off - although it has been known - but simply leaving your car there in a situation where a contact is risked, instead of backing off, which you have to do if a finish is imperative.

Webber's problem, however, is that if he tangled with either Vettel or Alonso in the remaining three rounds, the uninvolved contender stands to benefit massively, not to mention the McLaren drivers, who are perhaps being written out of the battle a little prematurely by some commentators.

It is a more delicately poised end to a season than has ever been known, so don't bet against a few more mind games before November 14 in Abu Dhabi...

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Stories:: OCTOBER 13, 2010