30 May 2011
Briatore: Strange goings-on at Red Bull
Flavio Briatore adds to suggestion that things are not all rosy in the Red Bull garden as Sebastian Vettel takes fifth win of 2011.
Flavio Briatore drew on a fitting Monegasque reference when asked to comment on Mark Webber's fortunes in 2011, suggesting that things were not exactly equal in the Red Bull Racing team.
Re-opening old wounds after a 2010 campaign rife with claims of favouritism towards the Australian's team-mate Sebastian Vettel, Briatore said that he did not doubt the integrity of RBR team boss Christian Horner, but insisted that, when things continued to work against Webber, it begins to look suspicious.
Last season was marred by several incidents involving Webber and Vettel, starting with their on-track clash in Turkey and continuing through 'wing-gate' at Silverstone, when the Australian saw the latest spec front wing taken off his car and added to his team-mate's, despite Vettel having damaged his in practice. That prompted Webber's infamous 'not bad for a number two driver' comment after winning the British Grand Prix, but Vettel - and influential Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko - ultimately had the last laugh as the Australian's title challenge fell apart in Korea and Abu Dhabi, leaving the younger German to claim the crown.
Having decided to extend his Red Bull contract midway through the 2010 season, Webber continues to partner Vettel at the Milton Keynes team, but has had to watch as the German took five wins in six races to open an already unassailable championship lead. The results mask what, until Spain, had been Webber's best-ever start to an F1 season, but the Australian currently lies 64 points behind his team-mate having struggled with various problems, including the team's unperfected KERS system and a botched pit-stop in Monaco.
"I hope Red Bull is a big enough team that it can guarantee the drivers equal cars but, every time something happens, it happens to Mark," Briatore, who continues to have an influence over the Australian's career, told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, "I understand that you need a bit of luck but, if the same number keeps coming up, you wonder what's under the roulette wheel. I don't doubt Horner's honesty, but what's going on sounds strange."
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