In the wake of securing its maiden Constructors’ Championship title at the Brazilian Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing now has the final hurdle to overcome: getting one of its drivers the Drivers’ Championship title.
But the outfit has been quick to refute suggestions that it will instruct either driver to favour the other in respective quests, and it remains convinced that its drivers will do the right thing to support the better-positioned campaigner.
Currently, Mark Webber (8 points behind Fernando Alonso) is the better placed of the pairing in comparison to Sebastian Vettel (15 points behind), and both are mathematically in contention to snatch the championship crown.
Webber himself launched a rather withering assessment of the team’s refusal to back his championship aspirations at Vettel’s expense, and the squad’s tactics have left the team in the situation where, if Vettel is leading the final race at Abu Dhabi with Webber in second and Alonso third, then the Ferrari driver will take the title. But if Vettel cedes the lead to Webber, then the Australian will take the championship.
By contrast, Alonso simply (if one can use such an adjective!) needs to finish in the top-two to guarantee himself the championship, irrespective of where the other title contenders finish.
Rather predictably, Vettel wouldn’t confirm in the post-race press conference if he would cede his chances of race victory at Abu Dhabi if such a situation eventuated, and Red Bull team boss Christian Horner made it clear that the team would not influence the decision from the pit wall.
“We have two drivers that drive for the team, who have had tremendous support and equality this year,” he said after the team’s post-race celebrations where the squad took its fourth 1-2 of the season.
“They both drive for the team and I know that they will both do the best that they can in that situation, should it arise, for the team. Nobody has a crystal ball and nobody can predict what will happen in a week’s time. Both drivers go into the [Abu Dhabi] weekend with a genuine chance of taking the world title.
“They will do whatever is right I am sure, at the end of the day, for the team. I have zero doubt about that. Had that situation occurred today, if Fernando had been ahead, then of course Sebastian would have done what was right for the team.”
Vettel will win the championship if he wins at Abu Dhabi with Alonso finishing fourth or lower, but he also needs Webber to finish in third. Should Webber finish in second place, the pair would tie on 256 points but the title would go Vettel’s way by dint of winning five races as opposed to Webber’s four.
By contrast, Webber will win the championship if he wins in Abu Dhabi with Alonso finishing third or lower.
The rank outsider for the championship, Lewis Hamilton, sits 24 points behind Alonso and needs Fernando to fail to finish in the points – with Webber finishing sixth or lower, and Vettel finishing third or lower – in order to take the championship.
[Original image via Sutton Images]