25 March 2013
Brundle: Red Bull has lost Webber trust
Former drivers weigh on the debate over team orders at Red Bull Racing following the controversial Malaysian Grand Prix.
Driver-turned-pundit Martin Brundle believes that however Red Bull Racing handles the fall-out from Sunday's team orders affair, it is going to have its hands full trying to get its drivers working together for the good of the team.
Although both Christian Horner and, more surprisingly, Helmut Marko conceded that Sebastian Vettel had broken its code by passing Mark Webber for victory in the Malaysian Grand Prix, they appear to have their hands tied when it comes to 'punishing' the German, as his points cannot be taken away and the team cannot afford to bench him for one or more races in order to re-establish some element of control.
As a result, Webber is always going to feel that Vettel remains the favoured son, and is not going to be as readily disposed to playing second fiddle to the German, as he has on occasion in recent seasons.
"Red Bull have got a huge problem because the next time they're in that situation, if they're one-two and they want to call off the fight with a few laps to go, he's not going to trust anybody,” Brundle said of Webber, "He's not going to trust them that it will all take place, so he will keep racing."
The reason for Red Bull issuing the 'Multi21' message to both drivers was to try and preserve their tyres on the run to the chequered flag, but Vettel insists that he misunderstood the instruction and, possibly believing that Webber was in trouble with his rubber, decided to take matters into his own hands. Webber's body language made his mood clear for all to see on the podium, and Brundle acknowledged how hard it much have been for the Australian not to go further in expressing his frustration.
"He's watched his team-mate win three consecutive world championships in the same car, with the same opportunity he's had, and it must be very frustrating for him," the Sky Sports pundit explained, "Today, he had the edge - he definitely had the ability to win that race fair and square on pace - and he thought he'd been told 'your team-mate won't attack you'.
"He's now having to pull his punches. He really wants to scream and shout and kick and say 'this is outrageous', but he's got to play the team game.”
Using his regular post-race column to dissect the reasoning behind team orders, Brundle charts Red Bull's shift from criticising rivals of obviously favouring one driver over another to seeking to control its own line-up for the greater good of the team, and compared it to similar situations involving Gilles Villeneuve/Didier Pironi at Imola 1982 and Ayrton Senna/Alain Prost at the same circuit seven years later. Red Bull's decision to exercise some degree of order was exacerbated by Webber and Vettel colliding while leading in Turkey in 2010, as the German forced his way past his team-mate under pressure from the McLarens.
“There's historical bad blood between these two great drivers, and as Sebastian said 'we have respect for each other but we're not friends',” he wrote, “He apologised, but I suspect he feels that Mark was less than helpful to him in the championship showdown in Brazil last year, and previously at Silverstone too.”
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