Flavio Briatore has hinted that it is now time for Red Bull Racing to start backing Mark Webber in its quest to clinch the F1 2010 crown – as he warned that should the energy drinks-backed outfit continue to support each of its drivers equally, 'they could lose the championship'.
Following last weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Webber holds a 24-point margin over team-mate Sebastian Vettel heading into the final five 'flyaway' races of the campaign – and whilst the German has more-often-than-not been the quicker of the pair, it is the Australian who has been the more consistent on balance, and far less prone to the kind of impetuous errors and lapses that ultimately cost titles.
Following several accusations of favouritism within the RBR camp towards Vettel this season – with Istanbul and Silverstone the key flash-points – eyebrows were raised at Monza when the Milton Keynes-based squad's strategists succeeded in manoeuvring the Heppenheim native two spots ahead of Webber into fourth place in the final reckoning, despite the 23-year-old having lost time earlier on through what it now transpires might have been a self-induced brake issue [see separate story – click here
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner insists there will be no preferential treatment until one of the two men is mathematically out-of-contention to lift the laurels – but Webber's manager Briatore fears that by then, it could be too late.
“Red Bull haven't realised yet that if they continue like this, with Webber and Vettel racing against each other, they could lose the championship,” the flamboyant Italian – still banned from working in the sport under the terms of his 'Singapore-gate' punishment – told La Gazzetta dello Sport
“At Ferrari there is a clear situation with [Fernando] Alonso the team leader and [Felipe] Massa lending his hand. It's not the same with Red Bull, not even with their strategy in the race. They have thrown away a hundred points, Vettel's made all sorts of mistakes. If they don't want to win the championship, this is how to do it.”