In the fall out from Saturday’s decision by Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner to take the sole remaining new front wing from Mark Webber’s car and give t to Sebastian Vettel, he has said that he acted alone after consultation with the team’s technical chief Adrian Newey.
“There has never been any pressure from Red Bull to favour one driver over the other,” he is quoted in the Telegraph today. “I didn’t have a conversation with Helmut [Marko, Red Bull's motorsport adviser] or anyone from Red Bull regarding the decision to give Sebastian the wing. It was purely a technical decision, which I discussed with Adrian.
“My one regret is that I didn’t have time to discuss the issue with Mark personally prior to qualifying as I’m sure that would have given him a more balanced understanding.”
Horner is right to express regret about this, as a decision of such significance does require than expectations are well managed on both sides. But drivers have marketing appearances to do in the gap between practice and qualifying as well as strategy briefings and it’s a shame that the issue wasn’t addressed there.
Because expectations weren’t managed on Webber’s side he became very angry when he lost the pole to Vettel by a tenth of a second. Clearly in the aftermath of the Istanbul collision some assurances were made to him about his position in the team and he signed a new contract for 2011 on that basis.
The team was thinking from a technical point of view, to use the front wing at all costs. As Vettel was the leading driver in the championship at the time, he was given the wing.
A coin toss, or even better, using the same old spec front wing on both cars would have been the fairer way to handle the situation. Having observed Newey over many years he is the most competitive person in F1 bar none, including the drivers. As a result he can be quite uncompromising and the more you find out about this situation the more you feel that Newey considers Vettel the better driver.