Red Bull Racing has issued a statement with team principal Christian Horner talking (in a carefully-worded way) about the Webber-Vettel incident in Turkey:
“We had a unique situation during the Turkish GP where the first four cars were separated by two
seconds, with Mark (Webber) having led every lap until lap 40. The race was the fastest of the season to date with all four drivers pushing each other extremely hard. On lap 38, Mark changed his mixture setting based on his fuel consumption to a slightly leaner mode, which had an average lap time loss of about 0.18 seconds, whilst maintaining the same revs. Sebastian had conserved more fuel than Mark during the race and therefore was able to run in a slightly better mode for an additional couple of laps. On lap 38 and 39, Sebastian’s pace picked up and he closed right up to the back of Mark while under considerable pressure from Hamilton behind. After a very strong run through Turn 9, Sebastian got a run and strong tow and moved to the left to pass Mark. Mark held the inside line and adopted a defensive position, which he is entitled to do. When Sebastian was three quarters of the way past, he moved to the right. As Sebastian moved to the right, Mark held his position and the ensuing result was contact that resulted in Sebastian retiring, Mark damaging the front-end of his car and the team losing a one two finish. Ultimately both drivers should have given each other more room.”
Analysis: Hamilton being right with them was not new. He had been there for 40 laps. This was not, therefore, added pressure for the team. Horner does not explain why Webber turned down his engine. Was he told to do do? There is no reason why Webber should have given Vettel more room to pass. He gave him enough. Vettel messed up the move. The question that might have been more interesting is: Was the lap on which the incident occurred the last one available to Vettel for such a move? That might explain the apparent desperation.
“What we expect from our drivers, as team mates, is that they show respect for each other and allow one another enough room on the race track. Unfortunately neither driver did this on Sunday and the net result was an incident between the two. During the previous six one-two finishes we have achieved, there have been many incidences of close racing between our drivers and they have previously always abided by this understanding.”
Analysis: This ignores the fact that Webber respected Vettel by not closing the door on him.
Regarding Vettel’s figure gestures suggesting that Webber was mad: “The adrenaline was flowing and obviously there’s a great deal of frustration when you’ve just crashed out of a race. It will be discussed and I am certain that the air will be cleared before Canada.”
Analysis: Vettel will need to apologise.
“Ultimately we win as a team and we lose as a team and on Sunday we lost as a team, as a result of our two drivers having an incident. Having looked at all the information it’s clear that it was a racing accident that shouldn’t have happened between two team-mates. After looking at all the facts that weren’t available immediately after the race, Dr. Marko also fully shares this view.”
Analysis: Dr Marko should not have said things after the race.
“Our priority as a team is to finish first and second, irrelevant of the order. The Turkish GP was the
closest race of probably the last twelve months with significant pressure coming from both of the
McLarens. Sebastian’s pace improved from lap 37 onwards and he appeared to be the faster of the two Red Bull drivers. Had the incident not have happened, I believe we would have achieved a one-two finish and a maximum score for the second race in succession.”
Analysis: The pressure at that point was no different to the previous 40 laps. The drivers do not share the team’s priority. Their priority is to be World Champion and it is naive to think that any F1 driver worth his salt would back off and let his team-mate through until the situation is hopeless. Clearly that was not the case for Webber.
“With the pace of the McLarens and with it looking like Sebastian was the quicker of the two Red Bull cars, the priority was to win the race. With intense pressure from Hamilton behind, who was in a McLaren that had a significant straight line speed advantage, it would have been impossible to back Sebastian off. Therefore it was acceptable to us for him to attempt an overtaking manoeuvre.”
Analysis: Could Vettel really have gone on longer with a richer fuel mix? And was Hamilton any bigger a threat than he had been all afternoon?
“Neither driver was given any instruction to change position. There are no team orders within Red Bull Racing, other than that the drivers should race each other with respect.”
Analysis: The drivers were given instructions of another kind, otherwise that would not need to be said in such a carefully-worded way. One wonders what instructions were given.
“We’re a very strong team and we will sit down and discuss this openly with the drivers in order to
learn from what has happened and avoid a situation like this arising again. One of the strengths of
Red Bull Racing is the team spirit here, which has contributed to the performance that we have achieved so far this season. The drivers are both intelligent individuals and this issue will be resolved prior to the Canadian Grand Prix.”
Analysis: Perhaps it would have been better to do this after the race in Turkey. Unfortunately Vettel had left the track in Istanbul before the debriefing.
“I have spoken with both drivers, who are both disappointed with what happened. They recognise that they represent the team and so are not only disappointed for their own loss, but the loss of points for the team who put in so much hard work before the race.”
Analysis: The team does not always come first. The drivers are ultimately out for themselves.
“Both drivers, as has always been the case, will continue to be given equal treatment. The Turkish
Grand Prix has been a costly lesson for both drivers and we are confident that this situation won’t happen again.”
“Dietrich (Mateschitz) has spoken with both drivers following the incident. He has always supported both drivers equally and summed it up by saying, ”Shit happens… we shouldn’t talk about the past, but concentrate on the future. The fact is that we not only have the fastest car, but also two of the best and fastest drivers”.
Analysis: Looking at the past is not such a bad idea. Those who ignore the past are condemned to make the same mistakes again.