"Anybody that thinks there is a conspiracy here against one or either driver doesn't know what they are looking at," said Horner who labelled any such suggestions as being "complete rubbish", adding: "Forget conspiracy. It is all about trying to get two cars to finish as high as we can."
Even so, it left onlookers wondering whether or not this latest series of débâcles in Shanghai hasn't proved to be the final straw for Webber.
Even as the driver stood by the trackside next to his three-wheeled car waiting for a pick-up, rumours swept the media and Internet that Webber is poised to announce a five-year deal in the World Endurance Championship with Porsche.
While not supported by any official announcement - and the middle of the Chinese GP would certainly be very strange timing indeed to unveil such a startling high impact announcement - it goes to show how pervasive the feeling is that Webber is done with F1 in general and Red Bull in particular and can't wait to head off to new pastures in the near future.