Australia’s last Formula 1 World Champion Alan Jones believes that his compatriot Mark Webber “obviously had good reason” not to disclose his shoulder injury to Red Bull Racing as the 2010 title chase drew to a close.
In an exclusive interview with Richard’s F1, the 1980 champion believes that only Webber is fit to judge if he made the right call to withhold disclosing his shoulder injury – sustained when he fell off his mountain bike after the Singapore Grand Prix – which preceded his falling from first to an eventual third in the title race, won at the final round by team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
Jones’ remarks conflict with those of Webber’s manager, Flavio Briatore, who believes that the Australian should have either told the team immediately when his injury became apparent or not have disclosed the injury at all, rather than leaving the revelation to emerge in his year-ending book, Up Front.
“I honestly don’t know (if he did the right thing by not disclosing the injury at the time), because I don’t know the circumstances by which he’s employed,” Jones told Richard’s F1.
“There’s only one bloke who knows that, and that’s him.
“You can speculate all you want until the cows come home, but that’s got nothing to do with me or anyone else,” he added.
“I don’t know the politics within the team, and he obviously had good reasons to do it.”
Indeed Jones may be right, for at the time Webber was still battling with team-mate Vettel for outright support from Red Bull as the title chase drew closer to the finish, and he may have well been aware that any display of weakness – or an incident that could have compromised his championship bid – could have resulted in the team’s focus being shifted to Vettel.
It is also well documented that Vettel enjoyed the support – which Webber seemingly did not – of the influential Red Bull advisor, Dr Helmut Marko, who was himself a close ally of team owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
But regardless of the end result in the championship, Jones contends that Webber (and all Australians, for that matter) should be proud of his efforts in the 2010 season.
“He had a terrific season,” Jones continues.
“The end result wasn’t what we [Australians] all wanted – Mark would be no exception in holding that opinion!” he added. “[But] to win the amount of Grands Prix that he won and to lead the championship as he did, I think he had a wonderful season. He may not have become World Champion, but that’s certainly no disgrace, that’s for sure.”
Jones – who is actively involved in raising funds for the Australian flood victims [see separate story, click here] – is also looking forward to the 2011 season, which will see a host of new rules, including the return of Pirelli tyres, the reintroduction of KERS, and the deployment of adjustable rear wings to assist overtaking.
“One thing is for sure: the same old teams will be at the front – they’re not there by accident,” Jones said.
But he also believes that the latest rules shake-up could also mix up the running order in the sport.
“In other ways, it (the rules changes) may give the new teams, the lesser teams, a bit more of a chance to catch up. It’s going to be interesting, I’m actually looking forward to this year.”
Click here to read our first interview with Alan Jones.
[Original image via Sutton Images]