RBR: Time not right for team orders
14 October 2012
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner insists that Mark Webber will not be asked to give up a potential victory in the Korean Grand Prix, despite Sebastian Vettel's title aspirations.
Speaking to Sky Sports F1 in the build-up to the race in Mokpo, Horner admitted that there was still along way to go in the championship, and there was no need to deny polesitter Webber the chance of a third race win in 2012 after the Australian out-performed his team-mate in qualifying. Vettel, who will line up second on the grid, comes into Korea as the only driver to have recorded back-to-back wins this season, having won in both Singapore and Japan, and took advantage of Fernando Alonso's first lap exit at Suzuka to close to within four points of the Spaniard at the top of the drivers' championship.
Webber, meanwhile, is fifth in the standings, but, despite being 60 points behind Alonso, Horner maintains that it would not be right to tamper with the Australian's title chances, however much of an outsider he may be.
"It's not yet time to look at scenarios like that," the team principal insisted, "Mark is still in the championship, there are 125 points still up for grabs."
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh, who has both Lewis Hamilton and, to a lesser extent, Jenson Button still in with a shout of the title, also said that he expected a 'normal' race from the two Red Bulls, rather than Webber ceding to his team-mate and then 'riding shotgun' for him by fending off all-comers, including current points leader Fernando Alonso, who starts from fourth place, alongside Hamilton on row two.
"I don't think he will, do you?" Whitmarsh asked journalists at a McLaren media gathering, "Well, I don't think he will [do it] willingly!"
While Hamilton will hope to take advantage of any in-fighting between the Red Bull drivers, team-mate Button will have to come through from eleventh to preserve his slim shot at the crown. Although the Korea International Circuit is seldom used between F1 events, the Briton believes that there will be opportunity for him to improve his position.
"As soon as the field spreads out, I think you'll see more overtaking than in previous years," he said, "There's quite a lot of degradation with the tyres, so I think people will be doing different strategies. I'm hoping there's going to be a lot of fighting and overtaking."