Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel have buried the hatchet after a season long duel for supremacy in the Red Bull team.
The duo, who looked at times as though they were shaping up to reprise the bitter Senna/Prost team rivalry of the 1990s, have revealed that they spoke at length during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend and put their differences behind them.
Webber also revealed that once the competition was over, and Vettel emerged victorious, it was important for him to drop his competitive guard and bow down to the younger man’s achievement.
Vettel backed up Webber’s sentiments, “It was important to clear things up, it did us both good.”
Webber pushed Vettel harder this season than either of them or the management, imagined he would. Vettel was unlucky not to have 75 points on the board after three races due to reliability issues and Webber capitalised on his frustration winning Spain and Monaco. Vettel needed to bounce back and in Turkey went for a pass on his team mate for the lead, which led to them colliding as Webber didn’t give him room and Vettel lost control of the car.
That incident wasn’t handled well by the management, who sent out mixed messages, blaming Webber for the accident, but then rowing back on their position after a public outcry. A month later at Silverstone Vettel had a front wing failure in practice and a decision was taken to give Webber’s wing to the German, who went out and took pole. In the race the next day Webber forced his way past his team mate at the start and in trying to fight back, Vettel cut his tyre on Hamilton’s wing and lost ground. Webber cast himself as “a number two driver” that weekend and restated his sentiments near the end of the season, in Brazil, that the team favoured Vettel.
“It’s normal, when we have such an important thing at stake, that there are going to be times when it will be on the edge,” explained Webber this week.
“And that’s part of the journey – that’s sport, that’s what happens. You have these micro-battles which happen. Of course the media can make it a lot bigger on Monday or Tuesday compared to what it was, and that’s something which we can’t control.”
Many paddock observers felt he went too far by stirring it up again in Brazil and his magnanimous words here appear to be a peacemaking gesture to Vettel and the team, aimed at ensuring that a curtain is drawn over the problem side of 2010 and that next year goes ahead as planned with Webber and Vettel team mates again.
There have been suggestions that his position in the team might be untenable, but Red Bull need him to defend the Constructors’ Championship next year and there is no other obvious strong candidate for his seat.
Webber said he will be aiming to take Vettel’s title next year.