Former F1 racer David Coulthard has backed Red Bull's decision to impose team orders on Mark Webber during the British Grand Prix, although the BBC
commentator admits he can understand why the Australian was left frustrated by the call.
Webber was given the call by Red Bull to hold position in third place during the closing stages of the Silverstone race and to maintain the gap to team-mate Sebastian Vettel ahead, although the Australian ignored his team and instead battled for position to the finish.
Having taken the flag in third place, Webber then hit out at the call from his team, insisting he 'wasn't fine' with the decision taken [See separate story HERE
] – leaving Red Bull to once again deal with the fall-out from its home race just twelve months on from Webber's infamous 'not bad for a number two driver' comment after winning the 2010 race.
However, writing in his column for the Daily Telegraph
, Coulthard – who retains an involvement with Red Bull despite his retirement from active F1 action back in 2008 – insisted the decision to ask Webber to hold position was the right one to take.
“I felt that with a lap or two to go in the British Grand Prix — the Milton Keynes-based team's home race — and with only three points at stake in a battle between second and third, that was a reasonable moment to do so,” he wrote of the decision to impose the orders. “I also felt Ferrari were right to impose them on Felipe Massa at Hockenheim last summer, with the Brazilian basically out of title contention.
“The trouble is, Formula One is too much of a business to be a sport and too much of a sport to be a business. You cannot expect teams who have sponsorship contracts worth millions to risk throwing away valuable points at that late stage of the race. I also believe Red Bull would have imposed team orders on Sebastian Vettel had the positions been reversed. And no, I'm not just saying that because of my connection to their parent company.
“I can understand the disappointment felt by fans who forked out hundreds of pounds on tickets to see a dramatic finale — which, incidentally, they got with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Felipe Massa, two drivers on opposing teams — but, at the end of the day, the team come first.”
Coulthard added that, despite Webber's obvious disappointment with the call, he didn't think it would have a negative impact on his relationship with the team.
“I can understand his frustration,” he said. “Mark is a fighter and is scrapping to stay in championship contention. It would be far more of a worry were he not upset.
“I do not think for a moment that it will affect his ongoing contract negotiations at Red Bull. Owner Dietrich Mateschitz wants a fighter; he wants two guys battling hard for wins. He does not want a pussycat.
“Mark is certainly not that. It was important to him that his fans knew he was not happy about what happened. But he will not let it affect him.”