Red Bull wing controversy – A decision that didn’t need to be taken
Scuderia Ferrari
Red Bull wing controversy – A decision that didn’t need to be taken
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Jul 2010   |  5:28 pm GMT  |  282 comments

The F1 paddock is abuzz this evening after Red Bull team principal Christian Horner took the decision to take the new front wing off Mark Webber’s car and give it to Sebastian Vettel for qualifying. It has triggered a new row about favouritism, which first reared its head after the pair collided in Istanbul.

The German went on to take pole position today ahead of his team mate by 0.14 seconds.

The difference between the two wings is quite clear, as you can see from these two pictures. The older one (pictured above on Webber’s car in the garage tonight) has a single vane on the outer end plate, the new one (below) has a double.

Another difference is a double vent in the side of the new wing, as opposed to a single vent on the one on Webber’s car. Webber said this evening that the team is still evaluating wings and felt that the new one was probably worth “about a tenth”. These things tend to be the product of many hours in the wind tunnel and significant investment. As as the airflow over the rest of the car is dictated by what comes off the front wing, it is quite a significant change.

Horner: Did he need to choose one driver to favour?

Horner said it was a “difficult decision” to prioritise one driver and one he took based on championship position and performance in practice.

But it is a decision which didn’t need to be taken, in my view, as there was no obvious threat from outside the team to pole position, so better to let them fight it out fairly between them. Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was just under two tenths slower in the final free practice session, but the Red Bulls always step up the pace in qualifying and in the end the margin over Alonso was 0.8 seconds, which is huge.

The downside to the team harmony, by favouring one driver over the other in this way, far outweighs the fractional gain in performance from the new wing. Horner said this evening that they had to run the wing because Adrian Newey was very keen to use it, but in this case surely it could have been argued that it would only have been fair for both drivers to run without it.

Vettel in Practice 3 shortly before the new wing broke (Getty)

The fact that the wing physically had to be taken off Webber’s car and placed on Vettel’s when it had not been either driver’s fault that the original Vettel wing had broken makes it an impossible choice. Better to avoid the choice than create a potentially damaging rift.

And it goes further than that because if Vettel wins on Sunday and then goes on
to win the world championship, the Istanbul and Silverstone episodes will make the public feel that there was a finger on the scales in this championship battle and as we know from the Michael Schumacher era at Ferrari, that doesn’t play well.

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh said that a situation like this “would not happen in our team” and offered his view on it, ” I think if you are in a very strong position then even more cause to be as fair as you are with the drivers,” he said.

“The cohesiveness of the team is such that you don’t need to set up those kinds of tensions and if you are in a strong position you need to be careful to hold it together.”

Inevitably some people will read this and believe that it shows bias towards an English speaking driver, but if the positions were reversed it would still be wrong.

Sometimes the togetherness and morale of a sporting team is more important than a tiny bit of extra performance and this was one of those occasions.

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Mark Webber does seem to be a tad angry ATM – but who wouldn’t be? The team keep treating him like a second class athlete. At the post race press conferences he does a very good job of holding it together, and I think we will only be able to judge his character after this conflagration.


This isn’t about you blokes playing darts at the local pub. Any sport at this level is a business.

Vettel might be preferred, but it’s not because he’s German. It’s because he fits the Red Bull demographic and they’re in this to sell more beverages. Webber by contrast seems to be an uptight guy full of anger.

I loved the story about how Vettel got up in the wee hours last year in Japan and climbed Mt. Fuji *the day after the race* in order to watch the sunrise at 6am!!!

This kid is Red Bull.


Why don’t you guys just answer the question?

Actions speak louder than words. Taking Webber’s wing and putting on Vettel’s car shows who are calling the shots. The Redbull/Mercedes marketing demographic is why the team are behind Vettel before they are behind Webber.

Vettel drives and acts like a spoil brat. If that’s what Redbull and Mercedes marketers want to be associated with then they can keep F1. I am appalled and will not watch the rest of the season. Too much about money and not teamwork and the sport…..

thats what Redbull and Mercedes marketers want to be associated with then they can keep F1. I am appalled and will not watch the rest of the season. Too much about money and not teamwork and the sport…..


Superb win for Mark!

How’s that wing working out for you now Sebastian..?



See reply point 50!


I’m sooooo happy Mark won! 🙂


Whether it’s Alonso/Massa, Hamilton/Button, Webber /Vettel – it doesn’t matter on the team, or driver combination, favouritism amongst two top flight drivers is wrong. Webber is a top bloke too, so it really winds me up when such predictable and obvious favouritism takes place. I expect a lot of people saw the ‘winggate’ scandal coming when Vettel’s broke in practice.


…& why did they bring only one wing per car… huh… why!?!


Because it is so new


Vettel is ahead in terms of championship points. At this stage of the season, and with things being so close, giving Vettel the better opportunity to win the championship is a no-brainer. And I am a Webber supporter. God I hope Webber is able to turn his second position into a win though…

Keep in mind that earlier in the season, Webber was the recipient of actions that assisted him over Vettel (bringing him in earlier etc).


That´s a bad decision by Red bull, Sebastien new spec wing broke they should give him an old one,not Mark´s new wing, if i were Mark i would be furious.

Let hope for Mark´s well being that Sebastien doesn´t run out of spare parts and they have to steal something from Mark´s car again( just for the lol).


Well, Webber needs to realize that he needs more than outright speed to be up on his rival. Imagine Alonso in Webbers’ situation? His persistent whining would have led to an official Spanish Motor Sport chief’s involvement and lodging himself firmly in the Red Bull garage to see his compatriot got the same specification as his team mate!. Webber needs that kind of political support from the Motorsport Australia to stay even and fight it out for the championship.


Looks like huge swing towards Webber’s WDC from fan opinions. Unfortunately for the wing change, it’s very obvious shown as who’s being favoured. If Webber beats Vettel, what will be the outcome in the Red Bull camp. Just look forward to a good race.


I’m intrigued. Presumably they will have another wing or two made for race day, otherwise if they do have a damaged wing in the race, they would not have a spare. If the car raced with a different spec wing, then would it be disqualified?

Would they be allowed to change the spec of the wing during qualifying if it had been damaged?


James, could you put up a poll to ask users whether Mark Webber should have kept his wing, Vettel should have been given it, or neither should have had it. I think it would give some interesting results.

On f1fanatic they have something similar and 76% of voters say that Mark Webber should have kept “his front wing” as Vettels unfortunately broke.

So far there has been about 1700 votes cast.


So if mark webber didn’t have his team-mate’s old chassis, and had the new wing that he was ment to have he would be a quarter of a second faster!!! christ its bad at that team…..

I agree with Kovalainen’s comments


Sometimes RedBull gives you wings, sometimes it takes ’em away (and gives them to your team-mate) 😀


Ha ha good one!

Best case scenario for the season in my biased (Australian) opinion, Webber wins drivers c’ship, Red Bull pipped at the post by McLaren for the constructors c’ship in the final race. That’ll do me.


cleverest comment so far, by far 😉

well done Rick…


you folks are just plain nuts. I am glad Horner did what he did. This is serious business and if he feels SV is the better bet for the team, then he should take action. He is under no order to provide both drivers with equal machinery.


Mark in now in the acendency, will CH give him priority now?

I doubt it! The wunderkind will still get the best bits.


If you look at it from RBR perspective(a multibillion dollar company), they have invested a lot of money over a number of years to win titles. At this competitive level favoring one driver over the other will give them an cometitive advantage in the drivers champ.chip. The German marked is also very important, and remember that Vettel is a product of RBR for many years.

Vettel does not mind being favored because he thinks he`s better than Webber over a season anyway.

From Marks view this is his best opportunity for title glory, it`s like compeating with Ferrari/Mclaren over a season with a car that is 1.5 tenths slower. I hope he wins. Nobody is stronger mentaly – that is for sure!


I disagree with JA on this one.

If Red Bull were storming ahead in the championship, then OK, but they’re not. So they still need every upgrade ASAP.

Vettel was faster, so naturally he should get it. Had it been the other way round, then of course Webber should have had it.

Also, Webber had his big shunt, and will have taken up valuable time at the factory in the last 2 weeks, otherwise maybe they’d have had 2 wings ready.


How could he have taken valuable time, they didn’t make him a new chassis, they just wheeled out Vettel’s reject & bolted everything up to it? Probably took them a few hours.

Also where was Vettel faster? 0.0xx seconds is nothing more than a gust of wind down one of the straights, & Vettel had 3 low fuel runs to practice his fast laps in free practice 3, whilst the team made Mark do high fuel runs & only let him have one brief run at the end of the session. Then he had to go into qualifying with a wing he wasn’t used to as he hadn’t used it all weekend.


A few hours, not. Webber’s car was rebuilt and is being used as a spare. What about the parts that were wrecked in the crash, apart from the chasis? And all the parts that need rebuilding at the factory, there isn’t an endless supply.

If a team has a new working part, it must be used ASAP, no time to get left behind. I’m sure Adrian Newey wouldn’t be happy if a new part he’d spent time & budget on to get out ASAP was sat doing nothing in the garage, in order to quell driver egos.

I’m not a Vettel fan, but he was slightly faster (even if it’s by .0001 of a second), didn’t trash his car last race, and is leading Webber in the championship, of course he gets it.


this part wasn’t just “sat doing nothing in the garage”, it was removed from webber’s car and given to vettel. this is a fundamental difference in point that a lot of people are missing here, such as pedro de la rosa.

the way i understand it is: they both had the new wing, vettel’s new wing fell off, so they removed webber’s new wing and gave it to vettel.

it does make sense to give the new part to the driver leading the championship (remember mark is 12 points behind), but on a track where by vettal’s own admission the car is so fast (and faster than the opposition), it does not seem worth the risk of destabilising the team further unless this is an unorthodox way of motivating the two drivers.

it almost makes sense if you think of it that way – vettel is like a young prima donna soccer player that cries when he makes mistakes and needs to be coddled to succeed, whereas mark mans up to his mistakes and succeeds when the odds are stacked up against him.


There are more changes among that front wings:

– Flap

– Camera’s support new location


JA spot on as usual. When you’re over half a second clear of the competition why create further tension within the team. Horner is trying to play the public for fools with his explanation… With the spotlight on the team already, why throw fuel on the flames? I only hope Webber summons something extra and rises above his teams obvious bias…


Maybe Red Bull’s market research shows that red bull drinkers prefer Vettel and buy more red bull when he wins…

I wonder how many fans RBR are losing over these controversies. I can understand Vettel supporters and Webber supporters but who is an actual RBR supporter after this and why?


Dieter pays the Bills

Christian has a boss

Ditere wants a return on his young driver program

Not hard to understand from a business perspective…

And Horener cant very well admit to his bosses favouritism..


So, is this a case of ‘red bull gives you wings…if they like you…’? Marketing disaster?! 😛


Webber already has a contract with RBR secured, while Vettle is in the process of negotiating a long term deal, so its obvious he would get the wing. He is the preferred driver and RBR want him.

Webber always had alot to say about other teams, but he is clearly a number 2!

I also noticed Webber complaining to Alonso after quali, seems like Webber should have used the Ferrari – Massa replacement story more to his favour when negotiating with Horner. Bit late now!


Horner is getting well out of his depth as a team boss.

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