Red Bull motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko has proudly claimed that Red Bull Racing's bold and some argued stupid decision not to follow Ferrari's example in switching the order of its drivers around at Interlagos earlier this month has been justified by the events of Abu Dhabi, reasoning that had the team done so, Fernando Alonso would now be the F1 2010 World Champion.
There was much speculation just over a week ago as to whether or not RBR would ask Brazilian Grand Prix leader Sebastian Vettel to cede to pursuing team-mate Mark Webber, in deference to the Australian's greater shot at the coveted crown. Had they done so, Vettel would have headed to the Abu Dhabi finale 22 points adrift of Ferrari's Alonso, and all-but out-of-contention.
Many argued that by not orchestrating a switch, Red Bull was in effect committing drivers' title suicide, in leaving both of its drivers too far behind Alonso to overcome the Spaniard in a normal race situation – but then, Yas Marina transpired to be anything but a normal race.
With Webber off-form and Alonso finding his efforts frustrated by a misguided strategy call from his team and a determined Vitaly Petrov, Vettel was able to storm to victory and with it the world championship trophy – a trophy that, had he yielded to his team-mate in São Paulo, neither of them would have succeeded in lifting as circumstances ultimately played out in the Middle East.
“If we had changed the positions in Brazil, Vettel would not be world champion,” asserted the controversial Marko, whose unabashed support for the German at the expense of Webber this season has been much-criticised, and who celebrated up on the podium with his young protégé after the race in the UAE.
The result did not go down well in all quarters, however, with 2008 title-winner Lewis Hamilton – who also had a very outside chance of prevailing this year – suggesting that Vettel was aided by Red Bull enjoying 'some extra help' on Sunday from Renault duo Robert Kubica and Petrov, as the McLaren-Mercedes star found himself delayed by the Pole and an infuriated Alonso proved unable to pass the Russian rookie. RBR is powered by Renault engines.
“I guess that's what happens when you have a couple of other team-mates,” Hamilton quipped.