The Red Bull wing incident today at Silverstone has been the takeaway talking point of the day. Even though Sauber’s Pedro de la Rosa made it to Q3 and bested Mercedes GP’s Michael Schumacher, the real tongue-wagging has been Red Bull’s alleged favoritism of their driver Sebastian Vettel.
A decision to give the remaining new front wing to Vettel instead of his teammate Mark Webber has landed team boss Christian Horner in a bit of a controversy as discussed here. If that were the end of the story, perhaps we could all get some sleep but in a rare trash-talk moment, main rival McLaren’s team boss Martin Witmarsh has chimed in with his thoughts on Red Bull’s decision:
“There are many incidents, either real or imaginary – because both have happened – where one driver has been favoured or senses that his team-mate is being favoured.
“In those circumstances it is detrimental to the overall performance of the team – and certainly the individual who feels he is being stitched up, to use your expression.”
“We try very hard to give the drivers the same equipment at the same time. That’s important,” he said. “We know both drivers will do everything they can to race hard as ever, and if we expect that from them, then they should expect from us to be as fair and open as we can. That’s what we try to set out to do.
“This weekend we were pushing very hard to bring forward this new floor, and we decided if there was only one, we would not use it for this race.
“I think the cohesiveness of the team is such that you don’t need to set up those sorts of tensions. You can’t really do that. And if you’re in a very strong position then I think you have to make sure you hold it together.”
I think cohesiveness is a key to any team and for some reason I have this nagging feeling that former McLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen may have a different interpretation of Whitmarsh’s piety regarding equal treatment of his drivers. If memory serves correctly, there was only one piece of new kit available last year and it was used on driver Lewis Hamilton’s car instead of Heikki Kovalainen’s. Apparently Whitmarsh still recalls that day as well:
“We were fighting to bring performance to our car, and we had one set of kit and we put it on Lewis’ car,” he recalled.
“We announced it before the event, were very open about it, but I felt deeply uncomfortable, even in the circumstances where Lewis was a long way ahead of Heikki.
“Heikki understood and was completely relaxed about it but I, to this day, didn’t feel good in doing that.”
So in summation, Whitmarsh feels Red Bull made a bad call and suggests that they would never do something similar at McLaren although they did do something similar last year and he has used the situation to suggest he still has misgivings about it. Makes you wonder why a person would comment at all on the situation doesn’t it? You have to appreciate the McLaren motivation model to understand it. This could only have been better if it were Ron Dennis talking.
Good on McLaren I say, keep the mind games going. Unsettle your opponent (not that this would unsettle Horner) and seek a chance for retribution. Earlier this week Horner made a comment about McLaren’s “love-in” with the two drivers banging on about what great friends they are. I love F1.