July 13, 2010
Last weekend at Silverstone, Red Bull introduced a more aerodynamic front wing on Webber and Vettel's cars. Webber — the guy who went flying through the air at Valencia — had the fastest car in pre-qualifying practice and looked to be the favorite to grab the pole until Vettel broke his front wing in practice. Red Bull only had two of the new wings, so instead of making Vettel go back to the old one, Vettel got the new one that Webber was using, according to The Australian.
So Red Bull are now a team at war. Eyewitnesses say that even the mechanics on either side of the garage were taunting each other by the end of the race, Webber's mechanics waving the front wing at Vettel's team, blaming them for failing properly to screw the German's wing on Saturday, which resulted in this extraordinary controversy.
The tension in the team is palpable. As Vettel's pit crew looked on glumly, Webber's mechanics cavorted in the paddock and one threw his arm around the Australian and said simply, "You know how we feel about this."
With the new wing, Vettel got the pole, and Webber settled for second. However, Webber didn't back down as the two screamed off the start line, holding his ground against Vettel and forcing Vettel to back off. Vettel ended up getting hit by Lewis Hamilton and puncturing a tire, forcing an unscheduled pit stop at the end of the first lap.
Webber went on to win the race handily, as he wasn't really challenged for the lead. Vettel was relegated back in traffic for the rest of the race. After the win, Webber is now third in the points standings, ahead of Vettel.
But given the actions of Red Bull F1 — during SPEED's coverage of the race it was mentioned that the decision was made from Red Bull team headquarters in Austria — Vettel is obviously Red Bull's No. 1 driver despite the fact that Webber just signed a one-year contract extension.
Webber, who at 34 is 11 years older than Vettel, said that he never would have signed his contract extension if he knew that this was the way that things would be handled.
In an interview with Formula1.com, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner wasn't asked about the events of Silverstone (it's unclear if the interview took place before or after the British Grand Prix), but when asked about Webber and Vettel staying with the team for 2011, Horner gave the politically correct answer:
"I think it's very important. I think both drivers are well known to the team and they are a very competitive line-up. They push each other very hard and extract the best out of each other, so from a team point of view it's a very positive partnership and we're delighted they'll be going into a third season together."
That was a bit of a contrast to his reactions after the race when asked about why Vettel got Webber's wing.
Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, is ready for the rough ride, although the tough questioning last night over why Webber was almost sacrificed for his team-mate exasperated him. "By the way, we have just won the (bleeping) grand prix," he said.
Yes Christian, you did just win the British Grand Prix. It just may not have been the guy that Red Bull wanted to win.
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