I’m officially going to say it:
Red Bull has just screwed up its chances for 2010.
During the past couple of days following the crash at Turkey between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, the team has had plenty of chances to set things right, handle the PR and, perhaps most importantly, handle its two drivers.
I think all that goes out the window today after an interview team boss Christian Horner has done with Autosport. I can only assume he was trying to manage the fallout, but I think he just threw the gasoline on the fire.
Here’s his quotes and a little context:
Although Webber had led the race from the outset, Vettel closed on him just prior to the crash and, in an exclusive interview with AUTOSPORT, Horner said Webber had radioed the team asking if Vettel could ease off – a request Red Bull was unwilling to allow with the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button close behind.
“It was quite clear that with the speed advantage the McLarens had on the straight, it was impossible to fall back into them,” Horner told AUTOSPORT.
“Mark had requested the lap before to ask Sebastian to back off a bit. There was no way you could do that because of the McLarens being right there.”
Horner acknowledged that Vettel had the faster pace at the time of the incident.
“It looked like Mark started to struggle with the rear tyres a bit more – that’s what it looked like on the pit wall,” said Horner. “And Sebastian, between laps 38 and 39, really closed up rapidly to the back of Mark, obviously got a run on him on lap 40 and they both found themselves in a situation they didn’t want to be in.”
He remains confident that the crash has not done irrevocable damage to the intra-team relationship.
“We’re fortunate that both our guys are mature, balanced individuals,” Horner said. “Obviously emotions were running high on Sunday, but they’re both professionals.
“They are probably not going to be down the pub for a drink together, but they will continue to work professionally in the manner that they have done in the forthcoming races. They work for the team at the end of the day and they know what the rules are.”
You can set those last two paragraphs aside. Totally meaningless drivel. Because the way I read this, and the way I’d think Webber would read it: Horner just called Mark a sissy.
Along with throwing Webber under the bus, Horner’s statement essentially amounts to this: “Oh, Mark, you couldn’t handle how fast Seb was so you had to call daddy on the radio and ask to have Seb back off.”
Last I checked, Webber was the one always talking about “man challenges” and other testosterone-fueled activities.
Frankly, if Webber doesn’t react to this, what should we call it, “man-slap,” well, I think it will just prove Webber is the little girl on the team.
Maybe Webber will take the professional road, as he more or less has since Sunday. But I have got to think this will have him fuming.