What's more, had Horner elected to ask Vettel to cede to Webber last weekend, then the New South Wales native would now be just a single marker adrift of Alonso – and mentally and psychologically far more secure, with the destiny of the trophy very much in his own hands. As it is, should Vettel replicate his Brazilian dominance in Abu Dhabi, Alonso would be able to finish as low as fourth and still clinch the crown – meaning that Webber will need to aim for victory at all costs, unless Vettel yields. Post-Interlagos, neither of RBR's drivers were giving anything away.
“It would be a help, but it's not the team's philosophy,” Webber mused, when asked if he felt the positions should have been reversed in São Paulo. “It was a good drive by Seb for the win, and that is how it is. The team is going for the position it has always done on the sporting side, and that is how it is.”
When pressed as to whether he expects his team-mate to move aside for him if needed in Abu Dhabi, the 34-year-old conceded only that it 'depends how it is on the last lap' – whilst Vettel, for his part, dodged the question regarding whether he will help Webber if that is what is required, albeit saying enough in his answer to suggest that he will do the right thing.
“I am not sure if I got your question,” the nine-time grand prix-winner evasively replied. “In less than a week's time we unpack the cars and prepare for Abu Dhabi. We have to see if we are competitive. We will try to get everything out of the car and then see where we are in qualifying.
“Obviously in my case it is pretty straightforward. I can try to optimise my result, get everything out of myself and repeat this result and then it depends on where those guys are. For sure you will have to judge according to the situation. One thing is clear – I think both of us know how to act. There have been some moments which we probably don't want to repeat.
“There was a lot of talk before this race, but in the end, the way the race unfolded it was all unnecessary. For me it is straightforward – I go to Abu Dhabi to try to do my best.”
However, just to throw one extra twist into what is turning out to be an enthralling 'will they, won't they' style saga, Mateschitz – at the end of the day, the man who calls all the shots at Red Bull, way above Horner and his controversial right-hand man and unabashed Vettel supporter Helmut Marko – has given his own take on the subject. It does not make for encouraging reading for Webber.
“Let the two drivers race and what will be, will be,” the maverick billionaire businessman told Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung
. “If Alonso wins we will have been unlucky. I predict a Hollywood ending. Worst case scenario we don't become champion? We'll do it next year – but our philosophy stays the same, because this is sport and it must remain sport. We don't manipulate things like Ferrari
In a return broadside in response to Mateschitz's allusion to the Hockenheim team orders row, meanwhile, Alonso bluntly told Spanish newspaper El Pais
that 'Red Bull has spent three months preaching about equality, so now they should continue with the same philosophy' – whilst reflecting that the Milton Keynes-based squad did Ferrari
'a big favour' in Brazil by allowing Vettel to triumph, the Scuderia's
chief track engineer Chris Dyer admits he is 'sure they will not be so generous in Abu Dhabi'.
Perhaps the last word, though, should go to German newspaper Der Spiegel
, which aptly summarises that the double F1 World Champion is 'benefitting from a policy of fair play that his own team abandoned months ago'.
Whatever else you do, don't miss Abu Dhabi.