McLaren set to pounce as Red Bull fumble
1 June, 2010
Jun.1 (GMM) With the Red Bull-fight raging, it is easy to overlook that the whole episode was triggered by the major step forward made by McLaren in Turkey.
The entire F1 paddock had predicted another race of utter dominance from the energy drinks-owned team. But although Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were leading at Istanbul Park, it was the pressure applied by the chasing Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button that revved up the urgency of Vettel’s ill-fated overtaking move.
“We were quicker than the Red Bulls,” said Button. “It’s amazing how much of a leap we’ve made. We’ve bridged the gap and the rest have stayed back.”
It is suggested that the success of McLaren’s F-duct on the long straights of Turkey has clouded the overall improvement to the MP4-25 car.
Red Bull tested its own version of the straightline speed-boosting innovation in Istanbul, and will test it again on Friday in Canada after the team decided not to qualify or race with the immature system.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner is busily sorting out the internal teammate crisis at present, but he is also expecting another hard fight from McLaren at the forthcoming races.
“We’ll bounce back in Montreal and Valencia, but those are two tracks that are going to play to (McLaren’s) straightline advantage,” he admitted.
Joan Villadelprat wrote in his latest column for El Pais newspaper: “The Mercedes engine, the most powerful on the grid, is another element playing in the favour of McLaren.”
And Ferrari test driver Marc Gene wrote in El Mundo: “We must applaud the British team. They did a great race and the one-two was no accident. Their improvement has been remarkable and their jump has surprised everybody.”
Meanwhile after the lost tempers and the blame game, Red Bull is now moving to put its championship campaign back on track in the ten days before reconvening in Canada for the next Grand Prix.
Turkey not only staged a crash between teammates Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel whilst leading, it triggered a hotbed of intrigue as fingers were pointed and garage divisions were revealed and strengthened.
Australian Webber, now the clear championship leader but at odds with both his team and his apparently favoured teammate, indicated he wants to patch up and move on. “We’ll probably have a difference of opinion about what happened until we go to our graves, but we’re both adults and we need to find a way of racing together that doesn’t compromise the team,” he wrote in his column for the Australian newspaper Daily Telegraph.
A Red Bull source told the Independent that a calm-down meeting had already been held in Turkey, but that is at odds with reports that Vettel left the circuit early.
“We had a detailed meeting and everyone had their say. There was no way that feelings were going to be allowed to fester. The matter is now all talked through,” said the unnamed source.
Speaking to Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper, former McLaren driver David Coulthard warned of the dangers of an internal conflict.
“It is a fact that within a racing team, it’s the worst possible scenario,” the Scot said, recalling his collision with Mika Hakkinen in Austria in 1999, where afterwards the Finn “did not want to talk to me”.
But “You need to sort out these messes before the next race, otherwise it just continues to be a distraction,” said Coulthard. “The team’s task is to get the drivers to talk it through.”
At the same time, Red Bull’s nearest title rival McLaren is attempting to use the saga to its advantage.
“If they don’t kiss and make up it means they won’t be sharing information as much at the next race,” said Jenson Button. Offering advice to the warring Red Bulls, he added: “It’s about owning up and moving forward. If they can’t do that, it will play into our hands.”
And Lewis Hamilton took a dig at Webber and Vettel by pointing out that he and Button did not collide when they similarly diced for position in Turkey. “That’s why we are world champions. I am proud to have him (Button) as my teammate,” said the Briton.