Evaluation of the rift at Red Bull Racing continues apace as the F1 season prepares for its first 2013 race on European soil, with more than one paddock observer claiming that Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel will come together on track again.
The pair infamously clashed after the Malaysian Grand Prix, where Vettel defied team orders to hold station, passing Webber with a handful of laps to run to take victory. The fall-out has rumbled on ever since, with questions being raised over who exactly has control of the team, and whether Webber would be tempted to walk away from both RBR and F1. Vettel, meanwhile, has gone on to add victory in the Bahrain Grand Prix, strengthening his hold on top spot in the championship after four rounds.
Webber has vowed to see out the season per his current contract, but is not expected to make life easy for his team-mate should the pair find themselves disputing the same piece of track.
"Seb has proved he can't be trusted so, from now on, Mark must view him as just another enemy," 1980 world champion Alan Jones, who will be the FIA's driver steward in Barcelona this weekend, told Britain's Guardian
Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz says that there will be no team orders in future, raising the prospect of another on-track clash to mirror that between the two drivers in Turkey during the 2010 campaign.
"I can imagine Webber will think 'I did the right thing and was prevented from winning that race and now I find myself with a team-mate who doesn't obey team orders and doesn't receive any sanction or penalty - so why should I bother obeying team orders?'," driver-turned-pundit John Watson mused on BBC Sport
"There will be occasions where Webber and Vettel will be running in a one-two situation. What authority does the pit wall now have to control certainly one of its drivers but most likely both of them?
“I think the team have shown incredible weakness by not penalising their number one driver and they have now created a rod for their own back. They have, in effect, let him run roughshod over the authority of the team principal. Red Bull have opened Pandora's box. The whole Malaysia thing has been swept under the carpet. I don't know how long it can stay there. I suspect we will still see ructions at races later in the year."
It has often been perceived that Webber has been the victim on team politics that work in Vettel's favour, and so-called Red Bull 'advisor' Helmut Marko did little to quell that suspicion – or questions about who really runs the team - when he decided to give his version of the RBR hierarchy.
"I am a director of Red Bull Racing alongside Christian and Mateschitz," he apparently told Spain's El Confidential
recently, "Whatever happens in the team comes to me and, if necessary, I take it up to the owner - so I take the final decision."