Red Bull Racing has been accused of betraying 'a curious mix of naivety and cynicism' in its handling of the now infamous Turkish Grand Prix collision between team-mates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in Istanbul just under a fortnight ago - and the Milton Keynes-based squad's subsequent stage-managed attempt to patch over the cracks has been branded 'spectacularly unconvincing'.

The drama erupted when, under increasing pressure from the hounding and seemingly faster McLaren-Mercedes' of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button directly behind him, Vettel went for a move on Webber heading towards Turn Twelve shortly beyond two-thirds distance of the 58-lap race.

Having pulled half-alongside the sister RB6 and holding the inside line for the upcoming left-hander, the young German then inexplicably jinked to the right and into the Australian's car, sending himself into a spin and pitching his team-mate off the track. The upshot was retirement for Vettel and an extra pit-stop and consequently delayed third place for Webber - and vital points cast carelessly aside.

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However, of more interest in the immediate aftermath of the grand prix was the reaction of team principal Christian Horner and the energy drinks-backed outfit's motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko, a close and trusted confidant of Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz. Whilst the vast majority of paddock observers blamed Vettel for his impetuosity in the manoeuvre, these two took a different view, and publicly expressed their opinion that Webber could - and should - have given the Heppenheim native more room.

For a team to condemn the actions of either of its drivers in public is a sin, but to do so and blame the wrong one whilst appearing to comfort the guilty party is cardinal. Though RBR has since back-tracked, issuing a statement to the effect that Vettel and Webber have now 'cleared the air' and a cringingly-staged photo to accompany it [see separate story - click here] - and Horner has conceded that Red Bull 'was wrong' to take sides [see separate story - click here] - ex-grand prix ace David Kennedy likens the PR stunt to trying to lock the stable door after the horse has bolted. The damage, he opines, has already been done.

"One of the entertaining aspects of F1 racing is watching internecine squabbling between team-mates," the 57-year-old wrote in the Irish Independent. "It's a testament to the perverse nature of humanity that we are often at our happiest watching strangers bicker and scuffle. The halcyon days of F1 coincided with unseemly rows among the likes of Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet at Williams, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna at McLaren and, more recently, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso - another McLaren pair that were at loggerheads.

"Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are both very personable, hard-working young men at the very top of their game, who are tigerishly competitive and totally co-operative with each other. To place the blame for what happened on lap 40 of the Turkish Grand Prix at the door of either Vettel or Webber is to miss the point. The situation should never have been allowed to develop between the drivers, and having done so, Red Bull management showed a curious mix of naivety and cynicism in how they dealt with the problem in the media.

"Red Bull is a racing team dedicated to the promotion of a fizzy energy drink. By contrast, Williams and McLaren are examples of race teams dedicated to winning motor races and which have marketing departments dedicated to finding them the money to do just that. There's a subtle difference there, which might explain the slightly unusual comments from some of the Red Bull personnel following the contretemps in Istanbul.

"Webber - as befits a tough Aussie who is also a leading member of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association and, as such, a prominent campaigner for safe racing - gave Vettel the absolute minimum amount of room and no more. He was tough but entirely fair. The trouble for Vettel was that he was hard on the left-hand side of the circuit, off the 'grippy' racing line and fast approaching the corner. He simply couldn't wait to get over to where Webber was on the part of the track where the cars had been laying rubber throughout the weekend.

"Webber looked positively shocked as he headed to the podium, and speaking to the press afterwards, he implored them to 'dig further' for a full explanation of what went on, the inference being that there was an agenda in favour of Vettel. Dr. Helmut Marko clearly blamed Webber, while Christian Horner was positively equivocal in his support of the Aussie.

"It's unfair to claim that they went out of their way to 'knobble' Webber, but what is clearly damning of their management skills is the way an integral member of the senior decision-making cabal was so quick to condemn Webber for not giving Vettel more room. As if Webber - who had started from pole position for three successive races, had out-qualified Vettel four-three for the season, had won the previous two races and shared the lead of the world championship - should suddenly step aside and say 'after you, Claude'.

"I don't think there was anything sinister about the way Red Bull managed the situation during the race, but the public comments from Marko suggested that there are some in the team who would definitely prefer Vettel to win and that it is entirely inconvenient for them that Webber is currently so competitive.

"Engineering-driven companies like Williams or McLaren - which have had their own in-house spats over the years - nonetheless wouldn't care who won in their cars as long as they won the championship, but with Red Bull one can't help feeling that the image of a 22-year-old floppy-haired, happy-go-lucky kid winning the title would suit more than a doughty 32-year-old.

"Having made a mess of it on Sunday afternoon, Red Bull have since stage-managed a very slickly-presented but spectacularly unconvincing clear-the-air meeting between the drivers and management, complete with whimsical 'throat-shaking' photos of the drivers. Beautifully sugar-coated it was, too, but the genie is out of the bottle now.

"Make no mistake, war has been declared. Battle lines have been drawn between Webber and Vettel who, as decent people and proper professionals, will maintain an air of co-operative civility until the next on-track showdown. When it happens, as it surely must, the manner in which each driver reacts to the situation will be fascinating to see. If one should back down, the other will have scored a massive psychological blow. If neither gives way, carbon will fly..."