Dietrich Mateschitz has spoken out for the first time on the latest row to engulf Red Bull Racing in F1 2010, insisting that any notions of favouritism within the team are unacceptable, that Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel will continue to be encouraged to speak their minds and fight it out on-track and most importantly of all, that 'the pits must not interfere'.
The past week has all-round been a public relations disaster for Red Bull Racing, and therefore also for the energy drinks brand itself of which Mateschitz is in charge. The simple act of removing the developmental front wing off one car at Silverstone to place it onto the other ahead of qualifying has erupted into arguably the greatest media furore of the season to-date, with Webber very publicly contending that he had been consigned to the role of a 'number two driver' and Vettel responding that 'sometimes you get to know people better and see their true faces' in response to his team-mate's indignant outburst.
That the Australian and German are no longer the best of friends is indisputable, but nor, Webber has stressed, are they enemies, and subsequent 'clear-the-air' talks with team principal Christian Horner – whose decision it was to swap the wing over, based upon Vettel's superior championship position at the time – have eased tensions somewhat at Milton Keynes. Mateschitz is adamant that they must not
be allowed to flare up again in such a manner.
“If you ask me today who will be champion, I say one of our two drivers,” the Austrian billionaire told the Kleine Zeitung
newspaper, “but the pits must not interfere, because then problems begin in earnest. We do not have a number one and a number two driver – this philosophy is not in-keeping with my understanding of racing. Both drivers have cars to exactly the same standard. The problem with the new wing at Silverstone was the first exception.”
Conceding that it is 'not our style' to tie up Webber's and Vettel's tongues and restrict their freedom-of-speech to the standard PR drivel prevalent in F1 these days – reasoning that 'everyone can tell the truth, which is one of the highest virtues of Red Bull' – Mateschitz added that nor would the pair be prevented from duelling it out wheel-to-wheel on the circuit, despite the catastrophic consequences and loss of a likely one-two that ensued from just such an open approach in the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul two-and-a-half months ago.
“Our two drivers know that they have to beat the other and they still need each other to take away as many points as possible from the competition,” underlined the 66-year-old. “You cannot just program a champion. We are talking about racing – the image of blood, sweat and tears is not by chance.”