Do Red Bull Racing have a learning difficulty? Was there really nothing that they could take home from the ridiculous airing of dirty laundry that went on after the two Red Bull pilots came together in Istanbul?
Although Red Bull management, through Christian Horner, came out and said they don’t play favourites, that lie was exposed when they unnecessarily pulled the newly developed nose and front wing off Mark Webber’s car to give it to Sebastian Vettel for qualifying for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The new wing is reputed to give about a tenth of a second advantage over the old one—which Webber was reduced to—and to no one’s surprise, Vettel out-qualified Webber by about one tenth of a second.
The drama began when Vettel’s new front wing failed and came perilously close to causing a spectacular crash. The decision was made, according to Horner, based on the comparative position of the two drivers in the championship. For the record, Vettel was third on 115 points, Webber fourth on 103 points.
Webber was reportedly and understandably furious at the decision, but maintained his professionalism by not venting his feelings during the post-qualifying press conference, despite giving every impression of someone who was seriously peeved.
Webber’s disappointment had another element as he believed that he would be seriously disadvantaged by being on the dirty side of the grid. He probably changed his opinion of that after the first corner of the race.
Webber got an absolutely brilliant start and instead of sticking to the clean side of the track and exploiting the better grip, Vettel decided to move over and try to intimidate his teammate into giving up the first corner.
History tells us that Webber did not yield, and that Vettel was pushed wide only to rejoin and clip Hamilton’s front wing and pick up a puncture to his right rear tyre.
Webber went on to win unchallenged, whereas Vettel gamely battled his way back through the pack to finish a creditable seventh. But that wasn’t the story of the day.
Things are not good at Red Bull. Webber’s sullen attitude at the press conference was replaced by defiance after the race had finished. There was a telling radio exchange between Webber and Horner in which they both apparently forgot that the media was listening.
As the team congratulated him, Webber retorted with, “Not bad for a No. 2 driver.” Horner, obviously running out of patience replied with, “Perhaps you can smile now then,” or words to that effect.
The tensions will obviously continue for some time and can only really jeopardize the chances of either driver winning the championship—and that, in case the team has forgotten, is what the game is all about.