Just as the action on-track reaches fever pitch with this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix, so temperatures are rising off-track, too, with chief F1 2010 World Championship protagonists Ferrari and Red Bull Racing trading caustic verbal blows.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told the BBC
that he would find it 'frustrating' were Fernando Alonso to clinch the drivers' crown this season, contending that 'we've obviously worked under the auspices that team orders have been illegal' – a clear inference to the controversial German Grand Prix back in the summer, when Ferrari blatantly manoeuvred Felipe Massa out of the race lead so that his Spanish team-mate could take the victory and the seven extra points that went with it.
Alonso is currently embroiled in a fierce scrap with Horner's drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel for title glory, and off the back of a double Red Bull retirement and the two-time F1 World Champion's triumph in Korea last time out, it is the Oviedo native who sits atop the standings heading to Interlagos, some eleven points clear of his Australian rival and 25 ahead of the German. In a barely-concealed jibe, Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has acerbically suggested that with the performance margin RBR have had in 2010, the destiny of the laurels should really have been decided some time ago.
“When you consider the car Red Bull have had this year, in my eyes it's a miracle that we are fighting for this title at all,” the normally rather more reserved Italian told German news agency SID
. “If we had that advantage, the championship would be decided already.”
It is important to remember, however, that there remains a third team still in the reckoning to claim the trophy come season's end, with McLaren-Mercedes very much within striking distance of the top of the constructors' table, Lewis Hamilton only 21 markers adrift of Alonso in the drivers' chase and defending world champion Jenson Button just about clinging in there, too.
As his two counterparts exchange insults, though, the Woking-based outfit's team principal Martin Whitmarsh is continuing to play the diplomacy game, refusing to get drawn into an increasingly bitter war of words and preferring simply to laud what he describes as a magnificent campaign, full of unpredictability and unexpected twists-and-turns – and one that he insists should not be overshadowed by the team orders row or criticism of certain teams' interpretations of the technical regulations.
“I have lots of private views on the outcome,” the Englishman told a special pre-Brazil Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes Phone-In Session. “If anyone other than a McLaren driver wins the championship it will be very frustrating, [but] I am not going to cast aspersions on what others have done. We run our team as we wish to, and we understand the rules in one sense.
“It may well be that other teams have a different view on that, but at the end of the day Red Bull have produced a fast car and have been highly-competitive all year and Ferrari, you've got to give them credit regardless of the team orders debate and all those other things. They have gone from being really struggling mid-season to looking very competitive, and Alonso is a formidable competitor.
“We shouldn't detract from what is probably one of the greatest F1 championships in our history with issues about what teams did or didn't do during the course of the year. It has been a fantastic championship, and there are genuinely a number of contenders from three different teams competing for this championship.
“We've had three one-twos, some great moments and some struggling moments. Red Bull have had some moments of triumph and tragedy, and so have Ferrari and that has moved around during the year. I hope the last two races see McLaren resurgent and dominant and scoring two one-twos. It would be a nice end to the season.”