It has taken a while, admittedly, but it has been reported that the needle that was so evident between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber at Red Bull Racing in F1 2010 – and conveniently swept under the carpet come season's end – resurfaced during qualifying for last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
Having sped from pole position to race victory around the Circuit de Catalunya this time last year – and having done likewise around the tortuous streets of Monte Carlo just a week later – Webber arrived in Barcelona bidding to produce a repeat performance to turn the tables on his Red Bull team-mate and stop the runaway world championship leader firmly in his tracks.
The Australian duly paced both FP1 and FP2 on Friday, and on his first run in the final Q3 phase of qualifying, he laid down a marker exactly two tenths of a second quicker than Vettel had managed – and well clear of the best non-RBR. Job done, Webber stepped out of his car, but Vettel remained in his.
The reason, muses experienced F1 scribe and former team manager Peter Windsor, was that the young German was preparing to take to the track again – a move that would, he claims, have breached the agreement reached between the two men in Istanbul a fortnight earlier to save tyres given the necessity of preserving as many fresh sets as possible for race day in the new Pirelli era. Writing in GPWeek
, Windsor takes up the story.
'Mark climbed from his car not with a smile on his face but with the Silverstone visage of victory-under-fire,' he wrote. 'For there had been just enough time, after Mark had taken the pole, for Seb to try once more. The tyre guys brought forward another set of softs; the wheel guns clattered; and Seb's Number One began to clear the car.
'Over on the other side of the garage, meanwhile, one Australian racing driver was quietly going bananas, asking his guys why Seb was heading out on another set of tyres when they'd agreed in Turkey that they'd both do [only] one run in Q3 if they were one-two with a bit of margin.
'Mark's engineers conflabbed on the pit wall with the RBR management. There was a discussion. There was a decision. And the nod went to Mark – there would be no second runs. Seb removed his steering wheel and climbed from Adrian Newey's masterpiece.'