Red Bull driver tensions rise over wings
10 July, 2010
Jul.10 (GMM) Mark Webber was furious after qualifying second for the British Grand Prix at Silvesrtone. Red Bull brought only two examples of a new front wing design to Silverstone, and on Saturday morning Sebastian Vettel’s broke during the pre-qualifying practice session.
The team took Webber’s front wing off the sister RB6 and fitted it to Vettel’s car before the young German secured pole position for the race. The previous specification was used by Webber, who qualified a tenth off Vettel’s pace.
The story emerged immediately after qualifying, when Australian Webber refused to put his arm around Vettel for the usual post-parc ferme qualifying pose for photographers.
And the 33-year-old’s demeanour had not improved in the press conference, when he surmised that “the team is happy with the result”.
Webber also did not stop for his usual talk with television interviews in the paddock.
Team boss Christian Horner said as recently as Friday afternoon that Webber and Vettel are treated “with transparency and equality”, receiving “equal priority and treatment”.
“I think the most important thing for any driver is to know that he’s getting equality of equipment and priority,” added the Briton.
But straight after qualifying Horner had to fend off claims that Vettel is being crudely favoured over Webber. The RB6 is the runaway dominant car at Silverstone, but in morning practice one of two examples of a new front wing specification broke on Vettel’s car.
The other new wing was fitted to Webber’s car, so – based on “championship position and the performance in FP3″ – it was taken away from the Australian and given to Vettel, team boss Horner explained whilst surrounded by reporters after qualifying.
23-year-old Vettel, 12 points ahead of Webber in the championship but trailing the lead of the McLaren drivers, went on to secure pole position with the wing.
Within memory of the team’s handling of the teammates’ Istanbul crash, Webber was visibly furious on Saturday afternoon, surmising that “the team is happy with the result”.
Horner said the 33-year-old should not be angry. “He knows there was no malice in the decision, no manipulation. Unfortunately we found ourselves in a situation with only one front wing of a certain specification.”
He added, “There was not really a laptime difference between the (new and old) specifications, but there was a slight difference in characteristics, with one driver expressing a slight preference for those characteristics,” said the Briton.
Horner confirmed that Vettel preferred the new wing, but admitted that the decision might make it appear that the young German is being favoured.
“You don’t always want to, but sometimes you have to take a difficult decision, and today that decision went with Sebastian,” he said.