After posing in what can only be described as the most-awkwardly staged photo I’ve seen in a while (right), Red Bull boss Christian Horner has moved to offer reassurances that the team will move to clear the air with race-winner Mark Webber over the ‘Wing-gate’ (we’re claiming this one!) fiasco that threatens to split the team in two.
Webber was still fuming that the team elected to strip his car of the new-spec front wing and give it to team-mate Sebastian Vettel – after the German’s own wing had inexplicably collapsed in the final practice session – ostensibly with the justification that his team-mate was ahead in the Drivers’ Championship.
After winning the race, Webber quipped via the team radio: “Not bad for a number two driver!”
In the post-race press conference, the Queanbeyan-born driver urged the team to move forward and work together in the wake of another crisis, and offered a telling warning that he would never have signed a contract extension with the team had he known he would be given second-fiddle treatment.
Now in serious damage control mode, Horner again denied – despite the evidence, many feel – that the team was favouring one of its drivers at the expense of the other, and promised that all parties would meet to sort things out. The Briton was at pains to reminder Webber that he was part of a team effort, and perhaps implied that no individual was greater than the sum of that team…
“Mark Webber has driven for this team for four seasons,” said Horner. “He knows the depth of passion and the depth of commitment that, as an independent team, this team has put in to get two cars at the front of the grid. Mark knows that better than anybody.
“As a team member, he is an important part of the team and he has delivered his bit – as every other individual has today. Of course we will talk about it. If the air needs to be cleared, it will be cleared. But, he has been around long enough to know that as a sportsman difficult decisions have to be made.”
We at Richard’s F1 maintain that a more prudent decision would have been for neither driver to be given the wing at all, purely at the benefit of avoiding such allegations of unfairness.
Horner continued: “We found ourselves in a situation we didn’t want to be in with one wing, that we wanted to run – and whichever side of the garage it was going to go to, one side was going to be unhappy.
“So therefore, I had to apply that logic – and I will stand by that logic. And we will stand by that at the next event, should we find ourselves in the same situation. It was done at very, very short notice. It was done probably 25 minutes before qualifying when we actually found out that the component was runable.
“It was something that Adrian [Newey, the team’s Technical Director] was very keen to run for future development, and that was a decision that was made.
“The fairest way that I could see was to look at championship position – but if that happens at the next race, where I sincerely hope we won’t be in a situation where we will only have one component whatever it may be, the same rules will apply.”
Such a scenario – although unlikely to be repeated, on would hope – were it to occur at the next round, would see Webber favoured on Vettel’s home turf!
Horner was also at pains to play down Webber’s radio transmission, and denied suggestions that the Australian would consider leaving the team after the fiasco this weekend.
“Mark is king of the one liners – as we all know. I think the biggest thing today is that he has won the British Grand Prix and I am more than happy with his drive,” he said.
“Mark has not signed a contract as a number two driver. He knows the lengths that the team has gone to, with the weight difference between the two drivers [Mark being the heavier driver], to try and achieve parity.
“He knows how much we have done to support him. I have no doubt that when he has a chance to reflect on this – yes, lessons can be learned. But looking objectively at it – he as a sportsman will recognise that sometimes difficult decisions have to be made.
“Mark has a contract with us for the future. We’ve provided him with a car that has enabled him to run at the front, win grands prix and challenge for the world championship. I doubt very much that he is going to be walk away from that,” he concluded.
[Original image via AUTOSPORT]