Was Red Bull right to impose team orders?
Red Bull Racing, Silverstone and controversy have seemed to go hand-in-hand for the past two seasons in F1, with 2010's 'number two driver' episode now echoed by the team orders row of last weekend's 2011 British Grand Prix – but were the runaway world championship leaders right to adopt the stance that they did?
Debate has rumbled on in the wake of the race, after Mark Webber – having surrendered his pole position advantage with a poor start when the lights went out – hauled himself back into play in the closing stages and homed right in on second-placed team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
Clearly champing at the bit to secure himself a psychological boost by getting one over on the driver who has dominated him throughout the opening half of the F1 2011 campaign, the Australian was swiftly ordered by his team to hold station and not to attack.
Predictably, he was less than amused, choosing to ignore 'probably four or five' messages over the pit-to-car radio [see separate story – click here
] – and the instruction brought back memories of Webber's unequal situation at Red Bull last year, when he felt so marginalised within the team that he felt compelled to very publicly describe his Silverstone success as 'not bad for a number two driver'.
Not for the first time, the energy drinks-backed outfit's team principal Christian Horner has been forced to defend the call that was made, arguing that 'we did not want to see our drivers in the fence in the last two laps, which is how it would have ended up' and stressing that 'we could not afford to risk losing points' since 'my responsibility is to ensure that the team optimises its results' [see separate story – click here
] – with the infamous Istanbul coming-together of just over a year ago clearly still vivid in the Englishman's mind. He added that Webber 'will be free to race for wins in the future'.
So what do you make of the latest driver hierarchy furore to engulf RBR? Was Horner justified in telling his drivers not to fight, or was Webber unfairly hard done-by (again)?