Webber-Vettel crash highlights chink in Red Bull armour
The Turkish Grand Prix threw up an interesting situation for the two championship leading teams, McLaren and Red Bull.
At the moment when Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel made his move on team-mate and race leader Mark Webber, they were level on points in the championship. With Webber in fuel-saving mode, and Vettel clearly quicker, he was always going to go for it.
Then it becomes interesting. Webber left just enough room for Vettel to ride alongside him, albeit on the dirty side of the track, which would make the Turn 12 hairpin difficult. And Vettel clearly moves right into Webber, one can assume to give himself more of a chance to slow down in time for the corner, and to get round it.
Should Webber have moved? Not necessarily. He is entitled to hold his line. But Vettel was not wrong to turn into Webber. Had he not, he would have run on at the hairpin and probably dropped to fourth behind the chasing McLarens.
But he would have still been in the race and still scored points for himself and the team.
It was also a sign of aggression from Vettel, an “I mean business” response to Webber being the main man in Barcelona and Monaco as he tried to squeeze him across the track. There was no love lost between the drivers at that point and at the time it was clearly a case that the team should be re-branded ‘Red Bull Raging’.
But why had someone not warned the drivers before the incident? As there is no refuelling during races, the teams fill as light as they can to try and gain an advantage at the start of the race, and we often hear calls to “save fuel” towards the end once cars are in a reasonable points scoring position.
But if you do that with Webber, knowing Vettel is close behind, they should be advised. In the case of Vettel, why was he not told to pass down the pit straight, rather than into Turn 12 where they go from 200mph to just 60mph in no time at all?
Why did Webber’s engineers not tell him that Vettel was closing and about to pressure him and to not get into a daft battle? Webber could have ran wide or got on the power late coming out of the corner. But these are two drivers fighting for their first world championship, clearly they are not likely to yield.
Red Bull have since blamed Webber for the incident by saying the cars should never have been in that position, but ultimately the team did not protect the drivers from the inevitable moment when racing instinct kicks in, and therefore the team has to accept a collective blame. And it is something that Christian Horner and Helmund Marko have arguably now done.
Red Bull must get a grip of the situation before they lose it. They have been on pole in all seven races -and should have won all seven but for mechanical failures, poor strategies, and crucial mistakes as seen in Turkey.
McLaren have the momentum going into Canada, a circuit they should do well at. Red Bull need to sit down and discuss what happened between the drivers to ensure it does not happen again. They also have the experience to get their drivers to work well when they need to, certainly more so than Red Bull.
When put under pressure there are cracks in the Red Bull armour and if they continue to grow in the next few races, they could blow their chances of victory which would be tragic after the hard work and effort so far.