A week on from the sarcastic post-race comment that saw Red Bull Racing caught up in arguably the most scandalous furore of the F1 2010 campaign thus far, Mark Webber has acknowledged that in wearing his heart on his sleeve, he said too much publicly – as he admits that he 'doesn't want any favouritism, just a fair deal'.
Seven simple words – 'Not bad for a number two driver' – were enough to light the blue-touch paper in the wake of Webber's dominant British Grand Prix victory at Silverstone, and were a clear reference to an incident the previous day when just prior to qualifying, the developmental front wing on the Australian's RB6 had been removed to be fitted onto the sister car of Sebastian Vettel instead, after the German's had broken during FP3.
Already visibly unhappy about the situation in the post-qualifying press conference after being narrowly pipped to pole position with what must have felt like one arm tied behind his back, Webber gave full vent to his emotions the following day, describing his triumph as 'an appointment with karma' and musing that he 'would never have signed a contract again for next year if I believed that was the way it was going to be going forward'.
Following subsequent clear-the-air talks with RBR management and having accepted that the decision was taken based purely on Vettel's superior championship position at the time and was not a measure of preferential treatment towards the man from Heppenheim in the light of the Turkish Grand Prix controversy a month-and-a-half earlier, Webber has conceded that 'things get said in the heat-of-the-moment which, with hindsight goggles on, probably shouldn't have been said' [see separate story – click here
] and has since considerably mellowed his initially furious stance.
“It was a message to my team,” the 33-year-old told British newspaper the Daily Mail
, “[but] it's a fair admission that I put too much out to the world. I would have liked it not to have got out, but it did. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I try to be honest to myself and everyone, and I'm being honest with you.
“I don't want any favouritism, just a fair deal. You need to make sure you don't have any headwinds – you can't afford anything that makes it a little bit harder for you. On Saturday, I was obviously a bit hot-under-the-collar with what was going on. It was a unique situation, because it was the first time we had just one component.
“It was a tricky decision to make [and] I was pretty disappointed by it, but the upshot is that it will go the other way in the future – it just will, even if that's hard for people to believe. He [Vettel] was given the wing because he was higher in the championship than me. Now I am higher, so you can follow the logic.”
Indeed, with just seven points separating Webber and Vettel in the title battle – and both of them palpably keen to overhaul the leading McLaren-Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button over the second half of the season as they bid to claim glory – Webber confessed that incidents like Istanbul and Silverstone may not be the only ones that rock the boat with nine races still to go, and that friction may yet rear its ugly head again as tensions run increasingly high and the stakes get even higher.
“We've got two of us at the front,” the New South Wales-born ace reflected. “It's a sensational problem to have. I could be at the stage of my career when I say, 'It's fine, mate, I don't really care', but unfortunately – or fortunately – I can't do that. Seb and I aren't the best of mates, but that's not unnatural as we both chase the same goal – and who knows, in the next few months, if we're both still racing at the front, things could become more tense between us.”