Mark Webber made a valiant effort in Korea last week but was bested by his teammate Sebastian Vettel who, with his win, now leads the World Championship points. Interesting to hear rumors that Webber was concerned the team didn’t alert him to the struggles Vettel was experiencing with his tire wear toward the end of the race as the Australian was a few seconds adrift and could have mounted an attack. Rumors being rumors, one could argue that the team did radio Webber and warn him about his tires as well so the big question is, could Webber have mounted an attack had he known of Vettel’s problems? Some say yes, others say no and the conspiracy continues. Or does it?
Red Bull Racing’s boss, Christian Horner, has rolled out the dog-eared “no team orders” screed once again and suggested that Webber is not playing second fiddle to Vettel as the young German attempts to win his third consecutive world title:
“Sebastian has moved into the lead and Mark still has a chance of winning this championship,” Horner said. “I think it would be wrong to impose team orders while Mark still mathematically has a chance of winning. They demonstrated in Korea they race each other fairly, and that is all we ask of them.”
While team orders are now allowed in Formula One, Horner seems intent on suggesting that the team have not used them and will not in the future. This isn’t the first time he’s proclaimed absolute equality amongst his drivers and he’s even taken to criticizing Ferrari for their “Fernando is faster than you” team orders. It’s always easier to say things like this when the delta between drivers is significant on track but as the year grows closer to an end, it will be interesting to see how “equal” they actually are.
No one knows how the team interacts behind closed doors but there have been a few comments from Webber that clearly show he feels that a number two status is being imposed even though the team says they have no team orders or number two status. It’s the same every year, teammates are free to race and as the season comes to a close and the battle is between one driver and a competing team, things get a little dicey. That could play out this year with Fernando Alonso a mere 6 points behind Vettel but then there are no team orders, right?
Maybe the bigger question might be…what does Helmut Marko think?