Mark Webber believes that the seemingly strong professional relationship between McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton will come crashing down before the end of the season - and hopes that he and Red Bull Racing will be their to capitalise.
Contrary to suggestions at the start of the year, Button and Hamilton have happily co-existed at Woking, each winning two races and taking McLaren to the head of both championships as the campaign moves into its second half. Hamilton currently heads the drivers' standings by six points from his team-mate - with Webber's RBR colleague Sebastian Vettel a further three points adrift in third - but the Australian insists that harmony cannot continue with both drivers in the hunt for the title.
"They are working hard to put a bit of smoke and mirrors up, but those two are racing hard," he told reporters visiting Red Bull's Milton Keynes base in the run-up to this weekend's British Grand Prix, "If you are always racing at the front, inevitably it's going to come."
Webber's comments echo those of BRDC president, and 1996 F1 world champion, Damon Hill, who hinted that the McLaren pair's relationship could 'boil over' as they strive to win on home soil.
"I don't want the headlines to be 'Hamilton and Jenson are going to hit each other this weekend', that's not what I'm saying," Webber insisted, "What I am
saying is that [a breakdown of relations] is inevitable given what's at stake. They are both hungry, both driven."
The 33-year old, who has also won two races this season, talks from personal experience, having seen his relationship with Vettel become edgy following their clash in the Turkish Grand Prix which handed a 1-2 result to McLaren. Although he admits that things have improved since the immediate aftermath in Istanbul, there is unlikely to be a complete rapprochement
while both are chasing the championship.
"If I'd got no competition about me, no fire and desire about me, I'd get on with Seb like a house on fire," Webber conceded, "If he's drowning in the ocean, I'd go in and help him out, but It's not easy to have a beautiful, fuzzy, warm relationship when your teammate is clearly a competitor.
"We don't hate each other's guts, but it is totally natural. You look Jarno [Trulli] and Heikki [Kovalainen], where there's not much at stake, and they are going to get on better, but, if you look at [Nelson] Piquet and [Nigel] Mansell in the Eighties, when they were are at the front and both trying to win, there is going to be a competitive rivalry."
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner shared Webber's opinion, telling Reuters
that 'it will only take one small incident for things to flare up between the McLaren drivers'.