Sebastian Vettel Mark Webber
Is there truth in those car numbers for Vettel and Webber? Gerhard Berger certainly thinks so…

While Sebastian Vettel continues to grow in stature with each passing result in 2011, Mark Webber is continuing to slip into a more subordinate role.

That’s certainly the view of former F1 driver and team principal Gerhard Berger, who had the privilege of being Vettel’s team boss when the 23-year-old drove for Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2007-2008.

And Vettel has “succeeded on all counts”, according to Berger in quoted published in the Welt newspaper.

“He wanted to be the youngest champion, the first for Red Bull, he wanted to be better than his teammate Mark Webber.”

Berger holds grave fears that Webber – who qualified a poor 18th ahead of today’s Chinese Grand Prix – will become the Eddie Irvine or Rubens Barrichello of the Red Bull team, referring to the drivers who were cast in supporting roles during team-mate Michael Schumacher’s reign at Ferrari.

And while Webber has rather pointedly rejected suggestions that his prospects are heading down that path, Berger disagrees.

“It looks like it,” he continued. “Sebastian was already faster last season but in the mid-season had a little slump. Now there is a huge gap between them. The roles are clear.”

And while the majority of the team – including Vettel and star designer Adrian Newey – have had their contracts extended until the end of the 2014 season, Webber is still out-of-contract at the end of the year, with team figures saying they will only enter into negotiations later this season.

  Mark Webber
Some might suggest there are greater forces at play behind Webber’s poor results this year, particularly given Vettel is widely acknowledged as the ‘golden child’ in the Red Bull Racing camp… [LAT]

“[It must be] difficult to cope mentally,” Berger empathised.

“When it’s not going so well, the pressure is great, from the team, the fans, the media,” he added.

And can Webber turn it around and get back into decent form?

“The time will come when Webber wins races again because he is an excellent driver, but overall the picture is Vettel as team leader, absolutely,” Berger said, playing devil’s advocate.

[Other original images via Sutton Images]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.