Op-Ed: Red Bull should use World Cup to decide No. 1 driver

We all know that despite the protests — from Christian Horner, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel alike — that Formula 1 teams can never totally balance support for their drivers.

Someone is going to get the slightly better part, the slightly more reliable engine, more time with an updated aero part. Teams can try to balance these things out, but it always will end up with one driver having the advantage.

Sometimes, it’s an easy choice. If you have Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, well, the Brazilian driver isn’t getting the good stuff. If you have Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, well, the Brazilian driver isn’t getting the good stuff.

Wait, is it just that Rubens never gets the favored treatment?

The favoritism issue (and its twin, team orders) obviously has been big news since Turkey, when Vettel and Webber crashed together. The aftermath has been one long PR nightmare for Red Bull.

And, as has been pointed out, that’s pretty shocking because Red Bull used to be the PR kings of F1. Now they seem to be the joker.

And to think, they had an absolutely perfect — I mean so perfect it almost is unbelievable — PR strategy just sitting there waiting for them.

I suspect the “old” Red Bull, the team that didn’t win races and instead focused on branding and getting Red Bull into everyone’s bellies, would have seen and seized this opportunity.

On Sunday, at 2:30 PM time on the eastern seaboard of America, Australia and Germany are playing in the World Cup.

And let me be absolutely clear. The teams are playing each other.

How did no one at Red Bull see this? (Heck, admittedly, how did we at F1B miss it?*) It’s not like the World Cup schedule just came out. It’s not like the team, and I bet the drivers, weren’t talking about the World Cup.

And I bet it’s impossible that Vettel or Webber haven’t made at least one joke to the other about how their country’s team isn’t going to destroy the other’s.

This is the perfect solution to Red Bull’s problems.

Sometime during the past two weeks — and preferably as soon after Turkey as possible — Christian Horner, or even better Dietrich Mateschitz himself, should have held a press conference and said something along these lines:

We recognize we have two driven, competitive drivers in our team. And that’s what we want. And we believe without a doubt one of them will be the world champ this season and we believe Red Bull will win the constructor’s title.

But we know to achieve those goals we have to be very strategic and very targeted in our approach. And so we have thought long and hard about which of our drivers is ouor No. 1.

And we couldn’t decide. They’re both peerless.

But we had to make a choice. And so on June 13th, we will put our decision to a higher authority: the World Cup. Whichever team wins the match between Australia and Germany will steer our team this season. If Australia wins, Mark’s our guy. If Germany wins, it’s Vettel’s team.

And, yes, we have taken into consideration the possibility of a tie. If that were to happen, Mark and Sebastian will themselves hold a sudden death penalty shot match for the right to rule this team.

The press is invited to watch the match with Mark and Seb as well as their own match, if it comes to that.

That’s how the “old” Red Bull would have handled it. And, frankly, it isn’t any worse than how the “new” Red Bull managed things.

* Thanks to reader Girts for pointing out the match in a post earlier today. All blame to me for putting two and two together and getting five, though.

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