Mark Webber knows the score - both literally and figuratively - when it comes to securing Red Bull Racing's undivided attention in its pursuit of the Formula One world championship, but that did not prevent him from suggesting that the time might be right to back him after his second place in the Belgian Grand Prix.
The Australian's hopes of winning the race from pole were scuppered when his RB6 bogged down at the start, allowing front row partner Lewis Hamilton escape into a lead he would not lose, despite two rain showers and an off at Rivage, but Webber used a combination of luck and skill to recover to second spot, limiting the damage to his championship hopes, despite Hamilton re-establishing a three-point advantage at the head of the standings.
Spa-Francorchamps had not been a circuit where Red Bull expected to shine, so Webber was particularly pleased to have come away with a solid haul of point, especially as three of his title rivals - RBR team-mate Sebastian Vettel, McLaren's Jenson Button and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso - all failed to add to their tallies. The Australian is now 28 points - more than that awarded for a race win - ahead of Vettel, with Button and Alonso further back still, prompting him to suggest it was time for team boss Christian Horner to put all his eggs in one basket.
"Red Bull have a good trophy cabinet, but not one like McLaren's - McLaren have won many championships, so they have a pretty good trophy cabinet - so it depends on how hungry we are to try and do that," he reasoned in the post-race press conference, "I think it's too early, at the moment [for the team to back one driver] but, having said that, maybe there is a different strategy compared to McLaren. I'm not sure - it's still too early at the moment, but not far away, I would say."
Both McLaren and Red Bull have made public the policy of giving both their drivers an equal chance of winning the title, and all four feature among the leading quartet of point scorers after sharing race wins between them but, with Button now 35 points adrift of team-mate Hamilton, the title battle may soon become a two-horse race, no matter how hard those involve try to deny it.
"You've seen, in the last few races, how quickly things can change, so we still have a long way to go," Hamilton insisted, "There are still many points to be grabbed by any of us drivers who are fighting for the championship. Clearly, for me, my closest rival in the championship is Mark in terms of points, but I still think the championship is open, although obviously we want to make sure that that's not the case after another few races."
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, meanwhile, continued to back Vettel's title candidature, despite the German suffering another nightmare race after punting Button into retirement.
"[Hamilton and Webber] may have broken away a little bit from the rest of the pack with the other three title protagonists not scoring today, but it's still too early to be contemplating [backing one driver]," he told Reuters
, "There are 150 points still available and I think that all five are still in this championship with the way that the points scoring is. The gap's quite deceptive and Mark knows the numbers as well as anyone else. He's realistic enough to know that things can change very quickly, and it would be a foolish person to rule Sebastian out at the moment - but he's in a great position."