What is it about Silverstone and Red Bull? After last year’s debacle with the new front wings (removed from Webber’s car to put on Vettel’s after Vettel damaged his, for those who don’t remember), Webber’s subsequent victory and “not bad for a number two driver” radio response, Red Bull must have been hoping for an incident free weekend.
Unfortunately (well, for them at least), that wasn’t to be the case. What with the new blown diffuser regulations and the “negotiations” behind the scenes, this was anything but a quiet weekend for the team from Milton Keynes. It’s hard to feel too much sympathy though, especially as it was entirely of their own making.
With Webber chasing down Vettel towards the end of the race and, it must be said, gaining at a fair rate of noughts, the viewing public must have thought they were in for a treat. The two Red Bull drivers scrapping for second place towards the end of a hugely entertaining British Grand Prix? Brilliant.
Then, just as Mark Webber had closed on his young German team mate, we heard the radio call from Christian Horner: “Mark, you need to maintain the gap, maintain the gap”. In other words, don’t even try it son.
While this may not have been surprising for many fans, it was very disappointing. Red Bull have made great play of letting their drivers race. We at Badger have lost count of the number of times Christian Horner has been interviewed saying that there are no team orders.
Now (or did we always know?) it turns out this is only true up to a point, which is the point at which Mark Webber starts to challenge Sebastian Vettel. The claim to having no team orders is one that all teams would like to make, mostly because it’s popular with the fans. Red Bull seem to want it both ways; to portray a team who are happy to let their drivers race but, when it comes to it, be able to insitute team orders.
None of which, in this instance, detracts from the fact that it was probably the sensible choice. In fact, it’s not really the decision we have any problem with, it’s the fact that they want to have their cake and eat it. There was no advantage for the team in letting the drivers race.
This, however, doesn’t make the decision right. For a team who have so publicly claimed to have a relaxed attitude to racing, it smacks of duplicity to claim one thing and do another.
Is Christian Horner honestly telling us that they’d have told Sebastian Vettel to maintain the gap to Mark Webber? We at Badger don’t think so.
In a way, that’s understandable – Vettel is after all the World Champion, is young and is a driver the team presumably hope to retain for many years to come. Webber is possibly in his last season and isn’t going to be world champion. So far, so obvious. Nevertheless, as is so often said about political scandals, “it’s the coverup that gets you”. By trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the viewing public, Red Bull are doing themselves a disservice. Either be like Ferrari and don’t apologise for it, or be like McLaren, who only use team orders when absolutely necessary.
We at Badger just want Red Bull to own up or man up. Either, or both, will do.