The extent of the rift between Red Bull Racing duo and F1 2010 title rivals Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel has been further in evidence in Brazil this weekend, with the former describing his strong form as 'quite inconvenient' to the Milton Keynes-based squad's aspirations – and the latter acerbically claiming that if his team-mate requires help, then he 'should take the medical car'.
Accusations of emotional favouritism towards Vettel within the Red Bull camp have been rife this season, with flashpoints such as the Turkish and British Grands Prix only serving to add fuel to the fire. In Istanbul, RBR team principal Christian Horner and the team's controversial motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko – confidant to owner Dietrich Mateschitz, and a man widely-perceived to be pro-Vettel and anti-Webber – left observers' mouths agape when they publicly accused the Australian of being at fault for a costly collision for which the vast majority held the German squarely responsible.
Debate flared up again at Silverstone, when after a new developmental front wing was removed from Webber's car to be fitted to Vettel's prior to the final stage of qualifying – quite possibly earning the 23-year-old pole position – the New South Wales native went on to win the race the following day, and on the slowing-down lap promptly declared over the pit-to-car radio and for all-and-sundry to hear, that his performance had been 'not bad for a number two driver'.
Battle lines were drawn, and on the basis of the pair's most recent outbursts, the uneasy relationship between them is as thorny as ever, with a psychologically battered Webber palpably frustrated by Horner's refusal to ask Vettel to back his bid for glory in the light of his favourable position in the standings heading into the final two races of the campaign.
In an astonishing attack and damning appraisal of his position within the team on the eve of this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos – and with some even surmising that Red Bull would rather see neither of its two drivers lift the crown if blue-eyed boy Vettel cannot claim it – he again let that frustration show.
“F***ing obvious, isn't it?” the 34-year-old fired back, when asked whether he felt his team was fully behind him and whether he had received equal treatment this year, before adding that 'technically, everything's been very, very good'. “We're at different parts of our careers. I'm an old stager and when young, new chargers come onto the block that's where the emotion is. That's the way it is, which is absolutely fine. I've favourites in life, I've got people I like to be with – that's how it is. It's human nature.
“I don't think I was meant to be in the hunt at all [in 2010], so it has been maybe quite inconvenient – but I've enjoyed every minute of it. I've had a great opportunity and a great car to go and do some great things this year, and I have done that. Whatever the way we go about trying to win the championship, we'll see on the Monday after Abu Dhabi if it was the right way.
“I have a chance of winning the championship, I've won four races, I've had nine podiums – it's been a sensational year for me. There are a lot of really good people at this team and there's no getting away from the fact we would love to win some championships this year. I can still put the icing on the cake and I'd love to be able to do that, [but] if we don't, the sun still comes up on Monday morning.”
Assuredly not amongst those favourites to whom Webber refers are Vettel or Marko, who has been the principal stumbling-block in his efforts to lift the laurels, and speculation is mounting that the man from Queanbeyan will walk away from Red Bull come season's end regardless of the outcome and his 2011 contract.