Despite increasing fears that Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel's fierce internecine scrap could end up costing Red Bull Racing the F1 2010 World Championship crown, Christian Horner has re-asserted that there is no question of one of the pair being asked to support the other over the remaining three races of the campaign.
Whilst Webber extended his overall advantage in the title standings courtesy of the runner-up laurels in the Japanese Grand Prix, it is Vettel who is inarguably the man in-form out of the two of them, having outpaced the Australian in each of the last two races, and the young German's sublime Suzuka success – leading home a dominant RBR one-two – enabled him to close to within just 14 points of his team-mate in the chase for glory. Should the results in Korea and Brazil next up on the calendar mirror that of last weekend, then the duo would enter the Abu Dhabi season finale absolutely level on points.
Red Bull has been rocked on several occasions this year already by the prickly issue of driver favouritism, with many believing that although the energy drinks-backed outfit would be happy if either of their two drivers lift the ultimate laurels, on the basis of what was witnessed in Istanbul and at Silverstone, they would be rather happier if that driver is Vettel.
After the Heppenheim native crashed out of the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps on the resumption from the summer break – whilst his New South Wales colleague conversely kept his head to snatch second place – it was hinted by Webber that with a 28-point margin over Vettel at that stage, the Milton Keynes-based squad might henceforth be best-served by looking to throw its weight behind one driver in an effort to stave off arch-rivals McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari.
Team principal Horner, however, has revealed that notwithstanding the evident potential for it to all end in tears – just ask either Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso to cast their minds back to 2007 – no such method will be adopted.
“It's not correct, as we've always said, for us to favour one driver over the other,” the Englishman told the BBC
>. “The team will support both drivers as equally as we can.”
“It will be very, very tough, but there is a good chance for both of our drivers,” he added, speaking to redbullcontentpool.com
. “It's fantastic that we have two drivers still competing in the drivers' championship, and we will give both drivers as good a chance as we can to win it.”
The first acid test as to just how strong that chance is will come in the inaugural Korean Grand Prix next weekend, with the Korea International Circuit in Yeongam County an unknown quantity for every team and driver – and one that Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko worries could expose the comparative breathlessness of the Renault V8 in the back of the Adrian Newey-designed RB6 [see separate story – click here
]. Horner, however, begs to differ.
“Looking at the track layout you would have to say, with the longest straight on the calendar, that section [one] is going to be tough for us with the package that we have,” the 36-year-old conceded, “but then sectors two and three have quite a lot of corners and fast-flowing corners, so hopefully they should suit our chassis strengths more.
“With the strengths and weaknesses that we have, we should be competitive but again, you take nothing for granted. We have to do our homework and we have to keep working hard. Obviously we are very focussed on that race.”
What do you make of the Red Bull 'no favouritism' stance – should they back either Webber or Vettel at this stage of proceedings and with everything to lose, or is Horner right to keep all of his options open? Have your say in our poll right here