Mark Webber, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2011

Red Bull: Webber made a number two driver again

2011 British GP team reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mark Webber’s famous words at last year’s British Grand Prix – “not bad for a number two driver” – took on a new significance after this year’s race.

Webber refused to heed an order from the team not to try to overtake Sebastian Vettel at the end of the race.

“I wanted points for the championship too and we proved that we can race without making contact,” he said.

Sebastian Vettel Mark Webber
Qualifying position 2 1
Qualifying time comparison (Q3) 1’30.431 (+0.032) 1’30.399
Race position 2 3
Laps 52/52 52/52
Pit stops 3 3

Red Bull drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52
Sebastian Vettel 114.623 110.924 110.838 111.013 111.421 111.692 111.323 110.939 110.51 110.371 110.3 110.165 107.383 128.736 104.617 101.672 101.555 100.102 100.29 99.912 99.317 99.488 99.21 99.048 98.818 98.529 96.102 124.626 97.346 97.756 97.852 97.464 97.884 97.871 97.572 94.551 113.211 95.565 96.247 96.419 97.229 96.853 96.295 96.38 96.633 96.764 96.826 96.782 96.738 97.039 98.385 98.521
Mark Webber 115.759 112.126 111.944 111.713 111.913 112.539 111.653 112.585 111.588 109.988 110.005 108.704 128.194 104.828 102.571 102.018 102.376 100.891 100.253 99.796 99.882 100.179 99.299 98.83 98.897 96.771 121.532 98.086 97.394 97.558 97.519 97.384 98.952 97.643 98.02 97.942 97.469 94.503 115.078 95.674 97.09 95.905 95.717 96.276 96.709 96.358 96.241 95.843 95.665 95.968 97.879 98.436
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2011
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2011

Sebastian Vettel

Missed out on pole position for only the second time this year, as Webber pipped him by 0.032s.

But it looked like business as usual as Vettel took the lead at the start and had an eight-and-a-half second cushion after just nine laps.

The team brought Webber in for his first pit stop before Vettel – that allowed Webber to stay in front of Fernando Alonso, but cut five seconds out of Vettel’s lead.

Vettel was delayed by a rear jack problem at his second pit stop, dropping him to third behind Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

He made several attempts to pass Hamilton, attacking the McLaren especially hard through Woodcote, but couldn’t find a way past and was losing a lot of time.

The team cut his third stint short – just 11 laps – and brought him in for his final stop early, to jump ahead of Hamilton.

This worked, but towards the end of his final stint he was being caught quickly by Webber, partly due to Vettel experiencing another KERS problem on the RB7.

Although the team ordered Webber not to pass Vettel, Webber pressed on and challenged Vettel for second on the final lap.

Vettel brushed off the incident, saying in the press conference afterwards: “I tried to stay ahead. Obviously, we were racing each other. I don?t think there?s anything wrong with that.

“Sure, from a team point of view, if you have the cars quite isolated in second and third, the first car is away, the fourth car is pretty far away as well, so from the team?s point of view, there?s no point in racing and trying to do something stupid because the points for the team are the same, the difference between second and third is not massive, but naturally we try to race.

“What can I say? I was trying to defend my position which I did. I was struggling, Mark was faster. And then there was the chequered flag.”

Sebastian Vettel 2011 form guide

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2011
Mark Webber, Red Bull, Silverstone, 2011

Mark Webber

Webber’s performance at Silverstone leant weight to the theory that Vettel is able to better exploit the hot-blown diffusers Webber is.

With the systems subject to new restrictions at Silverstone, Webber beat Vettel in a straight fight in qualifying for the first time this year (Webber’s previous pole position at Spain came as Vettel had problems with his KERS).

Unfortunately for Webber, the restrictions are set to be lifted at the next race.

He lost the lead to Vettel at the start – Webber said afterwards he felt the right-hand side of the grid offered better grip.

He came under pressure from Alonso but after they pitted together on lap 13 for slicks he was able to pull away from the Ferrari.

Webber had a similar problem to Vettel’s at his second pit stop. He also said he made a mistake at Becketts on his in-lap. This wasn’t his only such error – he also ran wide at Chapel on lap 33.

His pit stop problems left him running behind Vettel, chasing Hamilton. After his third and final pit stop he passed Hamilton on the Wellington straight.

Now came the controversial moment of the race as the flying Webber reeled in Vettel by over a second per lap. According to Webber, the team began telling him to hold position around four or five laps from the end of the race, at which point he was three to four seconds behind his team mate.

Webber ignored the instruction, and around the final laps he tested Vettel’s defences, looking for a way past, even trying the outside line at Woodcote before thinking better of it.

He had to settle for third place in the end, but was unimpressed with Red Bull’s team orders: “The team radioed me about four times, asking that I maintain the gap to Seb.

“But I wasn?t happy with that because you should never give up in F1, so I continued to push. If Fernando had retired on the last lap, we would have been battling for the lead.

“The team was worried about Seb and me crashing because it wanted the points for the constructors’ championship. I understand that, but I wanted points for the championship too and we proved that we can race without making contact.”

Mark Webber 2011 form guide

2011 British Grand Prix

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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

202 comments on “Red Bull: Webber made a number two driver again”

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  1. How come RB’s team orders are ok but when Ferrari did exactly the same thing they got pounded and fined? tsk tsk tsk, double standars here

    1. Because it was illegal when Ferrari did it, and they did it in such a crude way, which just made it worse.

      The rule was changed for 2011 to make it legal.

      But illegal or not, i can’t believe there is anyone out there right now, barring Vettel fans, that dosnt mind seeing cars go single file to the finish.

  2. Overprotecting Vettel just makes skeptics like me believe he really is a fairly one dimensional driver, very fast and self-assured given an open track, seriously mediocre and panic-ridden when there are cars to pass.

    1. You are then suggesting that Alonso is one dimensional too.

      1. No because Red Bull seem to be protecting Vettel when they should be letting him learn on track. Alonso though clearly looks after his own interests in almost obsessive detail – like Schumacher – at every level on and off track. In some ways that shows his talent, knowledge and commitment. I simply think Alonso doesn`t need stuff like getting Massa to give way in such blatant fashion, but that doesn`t make him one dimensional, just a bit over-driven sometimes.

        1. Why all the fuss?
          Webber ignored the order and raced hard till the flag and Vettel was able to hold him off. (Both were locked up and a bit out of shape at the last corner)
          If it was roles reversed it would be a ‘brilliant decision’
          Why risk a load of points over swapping teammates around on the podium?
          Webber was ‘denied’ the chance of 2nd, Vettel was denied the chance of a win with a bust wheel gun.

    2. seriously mediocre and panic-ridden when there are cars to pass.

      Like he was in Spain and Malaysia?

      1. At Spain he passed either on fresh tyres or via the pit. Remind me again what he did at Malayasia in terms of passing anyone under pressure?

        Surely you don’t think he’s done enough yet in Formula 1 to prove this aspect of his driving. That’s the point I’m making. Still at some point Red Bull’s huge advantage must vanish and we’ll find out if he’s improved.

        1. He did have to pass Massa in Malaysia. The thing is, Vettel isn’t there with Hamilton, but with vital moves he’s had to complete, he is getting there. It’s frustrating how if he does do something (multiple times) it’s written off. The solitary occasion this season he doesn’t, he’s suddenly mediocre.

          1. Well, not exactly “getting there” toward Hamilton’s level, but certainly proving himself with regards to racing wheel to wheel.

          2. I don’t think he’s mediocre, far from it. I simply think he might benefit from less protection – which is another way of saying that maybe Red Bull have been trying to avoid any serious competition between him and Webber this season, and if so that might not be in Vettel’s own best long-term interest. Of course it might all be down to Webber under-performing. The team orders to MW hinted otherwise though, that’s the problem.

  3. I honest to god don’t see what the fuss is about.
    Every single top team has made this decision before regardless of whether team orders were allowed or not. In the last few laps, rather than risk points, finish as.
    If Mark was asked to move over and let Sebastian through then yes it’s problematic, and Webber’s fans would have every right to be frustrated.
    If Mark was asked to stop racing 20 or so laps before the end when he had the opportunity to catch and pass Alonso then yes their would be cause for complaint.
    But what we had was two TEAM members racing each other on the last few laps on tyres that Webber admits were struggling. Mistake’s can happen. Webber has made them, Vettel has made them (Most note-worthy Turkey last year). If the Red Bull’s had collided then they’d be being ridiculed at this point because Red Bull are fighting for two championships this year – constructors, and drivers.
    Webber’s fans appears to be portraying him as the underdog when in actual fact he is in arguably the top car on the grid at the moment, this wouldn’t be an issue if he’d maintained P1 at the start, or kept closer to Vettel in the first two thirds of the race. And there is no conspiracy, the bad luck Webber experienced in the first part of this season doesn’t compare with the bad luck Vettel experienced in the first part of the last season.
    To the casual fan then of course it would be more enjoyable to see them scrap it out but this is all about points, and the longer game. Ferrari appear to have closed the gap and Mclaren can never be ruled out. Allowing Red Bull to fight because the gap is huge at the moment, right now would seem conceited but by the end of the season could be reviewed as foolish.

    1. foolish but noble – which was what Red Bull argued last season

      1. But in my opinion there is a difference between asking drivers to hold position like Red bull did on Sunday and in Turkey 2009, and asking drivers to swap position. As I said, asking team mates to hold position/maintain a gap, whatever, is something that happens all the time. It’s frustrating to watch but it is, and always will be part of F1

        1. I argued the same yesterday, thinking it was a last lap panic, but the fact Webber was warned off Vettel from a long way off isn`t so impressive. For me it throws a huge question mark over whether they`re allowing fair competition between their drivers this season or if more is going on. Given this year is so one-sided, that makes a big difference.

          1. I think with five laps to go Webber was still 4ish seconds behind. This decision has been made by other teams before with a much smaller gap, and with much more of a race still to be run/driven. By the time they were close enough to cause each other problems there would have been 2-3 laps left, noone wants an inter-team collision at this stage. Btw I say this not knowing exactly when the orders started coming through.

  4. Anyone trying to justify Redbull’s decision is not a true F1 spectator. We are here to watch racing, not a procession of F1 cars whose positions are dictated by team orders. F1 fans moan when some tracks (aka, Bahrain et al) doesn’t offer opportunity for overtaking yet find team orders okay. What do we actually want? Personally i find team orders dispicable and shouldn’t be encourage. Every overtaking manoeuvre is risky and that is the reason why the drivers who are noted to be good at it like Hamilton sometimes get to wrong. If the teams cannot trust thier drivers to overtake and/or defend their position well, then those drivers shouldn’t be driving an F1 car. enough said!!

    1. Not a true F1 spectator. Wow. Team orders are legal at the moment, therefore are part of the sport, are understandable in some situations, and are used by many, many teams overtly, and covertly, not just Red Bull. My point is that what Red Bull did isn’t new and they shouldn’t be crucified for doing something that other teams in recent memory have done. Like everyone else I would prefer drivers to race to the finish line but have accepted that this will not always be the case especially while team orders are legal.

    2. Some of the tosh on the web suggests most of these people have just fallen into the Webber/UK media trap and sided with him.
      It wouldn’t have been fair to say ‘let Webber past’ and it wasn’t really fair to say ‘don’t pass him’ but why risk a dumb crash at the end of a race with a certain 2-3 just for the sake of a few points and someones ego. Its not worth it.
      If Webber is ahead of Seb in Germany with 2 to go and Seb reeling him in like a fish, you can be sure there will be no battles allowed, and lets see how Mark, Seb and the fans react. It will be bloody quiet

  5. I wonder how people would react if the radio message had been to Vettel –

    “OK, so, Mark is faster than you. Can you confirm you understood that message?”

    and then Vettel moves over…

    1. It would still be wrong and I’d still be deeply unimpressed with them.

    2. That would be completely nuts and embarresing as well.

      Vettel could hold Webber off, or decide to let him pass without too much trouble to bag a good points haul.

      But the team should not have said more then for them to be carefull not to crash if they don’t want to shun Mateschitz getting out and saying he would always let his drivers race, even if it meant losing out to Alonso last year.

  6. what`s all the fuss about,it`s a team sport.pop and plain,if webber is not happy he can get he own team and race.

  7. Russell Gould
    11th July 2011, 22:34

    I think everyone is missing Mark Webber’s point. If Red Bull are truly looking to maximize their points standing — as a team — would they not want to advance both drivers as far ahead of all other in the points championship? If one looked upon it as an overall optimization problem for the team, they’d have had Sebastian yield to Mark. Really.

    Let the hating begin! ;-)

    1. Exactly!

      And all this really does make you wonder why MW’s performance is quite so inconsistant at critical moments. It’s odd that MW seems to have awesome race pace and solid race craft and yet he seems to be loosing a little time here and there when it really counts.

      Yes, it all looks like the usual cut and thrust of racing but when you have two identical cars it only takes a tiny weeny spanner in the works to change the outcome…

      I don’t remeber Vettel EVER putting Mark under pressure in race conditions when neither car is trimmed back (tyres/fuel saving) with Vettels supposed superior raw speed. Something doesn’t quite add up.

      I have been putting it down to MW’s consistantly bad starts and “bad” qualifying times but if it is in fact a “conspiacy” then it would only need to be a tiny adjustment by the team to achieve the “desired” result and one that can easily be put down to one driver not adapting (by increments) to certain conditions as well as the other.

      I say this because it’s odd that everything seems to magically come right for MW as if he does not have a single problem with ANY aspect of the car/track/conditions/pirellis/racecraft/strategy/etc once SV is in the clear.

      This is just my subjective impression and not based on any hard data. Someone analysing the data may confirm or dispell this impression…

  8. Well, think about this way. How would Vettel feel if Mark passed him at the last lap. Vettel had the option of pitting 1st but the team chose to bring Webber 1st for slick tires, cutting 5s of his 8.5 sec lead. That choice by the team probably cost him the race. He would have felt robbed and rightly so.

    1. Absolutely, though Webber was more in need of tyres to cover alonso- Vettel speeding off was a good thing for webber or he would’ve lost track position.
      Seb had a near 10s lead and by the time he finally got heat into the slicks his lead was barely a second. and as it got drier, alonso got (relatively) faster and faster.
      They could’ve pitted Vettel first for slicks and given him 10-15s on the nearest car

  9. I think things are much simpler…

    Webber likes risk. He can go for it. He likes to fight. He gets paid accordingly. Horner is a manager. He likes risk only when he can calculate it. Letting webber fight with vetted in the last 5 laps was perceived as too risky. Horner gets paid to produce driver winner and constrictor winner. He was incented from the getco to instruct webber to maintain position. He would have done the same if the order of the two drivers was the opposite. The two drivers fighting for one position was too risky relatively to the return it would produce.

    Regardless of that, he, as a team manager, utilizes opportunities to expose other teams’ errors and that explains his criticism of ferrari last year.

    Good day,

  10. Webber did the right thing by attacking Vettel.We have seen too many issue of team orders & finally we found someone who can ignore it.
    The question remain that if the instruction was given 4-5 laps earlier then why did FOM broadcasted it on the final lap?

    1. It’s always broadcast late.

      1. I understand but by that much time with that thing is too much.I guess the one in last year Germany about Alonso & Massa was broadcasted within two laps.

  11. Keith, I know you don’t have time to get around to reading all of these comments and don’t want to add to pointless speculation, but it is fairly obvious Vettel has had more of an advantage over Mark while Mark has ‘struggle to get to grips with the tires’

    Ok sure, but Mark had no problem with them this weekend. Do think there is any possibility they are in uneven equipment of running uneven engine mapping (Particularly at the start of the year, look how slow Mark was at Melbourne) to make sure Vettel wins?

    1. I never considered that any team would slow down one of their drivers but recent revelations about the effect enginemapping has on downforce in corners and how teams have been changing the mapping for qualifying to increase downforce to a degree that might damage the engine if used for a full race length shows that the technology to favour one driver in qualifying is there. Watching the qualifying battle between the redbulls Ive always thought the extent of favouritism was reflected in the time they were sent out, that is Seb set a time with Webber a lap behind him, if Webber was faster Seb went out and managed to shave a few thousands of Webbers time but Webber did not have time to go out again. I thought that was it, Seb given an extra chance if Webber was faster, now I don’t know, Seb could be sitting in the garage with the OTB set to “max +”, if his time stands he has nothing to do, if Mark is faster he goes out with more downforce and goes faster again. The engines get re-mapped for the race and Vettel out front will have less tyre wear than Mark, better cooling for his KERS and will use his excellent skills to romp away with the race, meanwhile Mark battles with the McLarens and the Ferraris taking points of them and adding points for Red Bull. Seems a bit paranoid doesn’t it, especially after the team have made so many pronouncements about letting their drivers race and treating both equally.

      1. It has been shown there is no real truth in that anymore though “the let the drivers race”.

        It was also fairly concerning to me that Ciaron was on the radio asking Mark to slow down behind Seb. I always assumed something like this could never happen due to the fact that Mark had people completely on his side within the team. But it seems even his own race engineer was asking him to keep the gap.

    2. I do endeavour to read all the comments that get posted on the site. The days of me able able to reply to all of them are long gone, however!

      No, I don’t believe Red Bull are giving the drivers unequal equipment (with the exception of situations like Istanbul, where they only had one example of a new upgrade available).

      1. I just think Seb might be the first among equals.

  12. After reading everyone’s comments I think I still have to side with MW here when he says that order wasn’t necessary…while I do understand there are times for team orders, and for me they are when orders shouldn’t be necessary as the driver should know his role when the time comes and he is mathematically out of it, I feel this needn’t be one of those times. Too early in the season and SV with too big a lead for Red Bull to be robbing us fans of racing.

    I appreciate SV’s sentiment that he had no problem with MW racing him, yet I wonder if that is SV’s way of saying MW is no threat to him, and I also will assume that if MW had pulled off a pass SV would have had a different attitude about MW’s behaviour, especially since he was disobeying an order.

  13. Keith please!! Dont provide a link to a poll when some one disagrees. These poll results are flawed anyways . For eg. Last year i remember a poll where majority of the voters thought that Hamilton deliberately slowed Alonso behind the SC.Regarding this issue, I am not saying that i disagree with you. I am just saying that you shouldnt treat these poll results as a bottomline.

    1. Actually I posted so that anyone who hasn’t seen it yet has the opportunity to vote.

      I reject your claim the results aren’t representative. It’s consistent with past results on similar polls and also from what I’ve seen on other sites.

  14. I know I’m going to look stupid but what Red Bull did was right for the team, just not right for the sporting spectacle. It makes sense to tell them to not go at each other in case there is a crash and then there’s no points for anyone or a smaller share. I mean, would you rather be 2nd and 3rd or 6th and 7th? It’s so hard to work out. Would Webber of crashed into Vettel? Does the team have that little faith in either of there drivers to do the right thing? This is where I’m torn. It was right for the team but they’ve denied themselfs good press and upset someone who when they did last year, nearly won the drivers championship. Only time will tell if there are repercussions to this, hopefully it means we see Webber get red mist for red bull.

  15. Er, as a Webber fan I’m entirely fine with the call from Horner. Was of the understanding that teams used to let the drivers race till the last pitstop? Though now I suppose perhaps you’ve got a shot at it till the last drs zone. If you can’t get by there, then dont bother. But I certainly wouldn’t call it a number 1 and 2 driver argument. Perhaps if it was Vettel chasing, and Webber defending, and Webber was told to let him pass. There’s quite a difference in telling someone to give up a place, and maintaining status quo

    1. Now we are in difficult tactical days, we cheered Jenson Buttons restraint to look after his tyres so as to be fast at the end, we jeered Hamilton for ruining his tyres to early, some of you anyway. My point is if the team tell a driver to conserve his tyres to “let the race come to you” and he does this whilst his teammate drives faster and wears his tyres out, is it fair to ask him not to pass his teammate when the “race comes to him”.

  16. The thing that dosn’t sound right from Horner, was that this order was made to preserve the best team result, and as another poster said, the best result actually would have been Mark finishing infront, to make a bigger gap to 3rd place Alonso.

    Horner said he didnt want to risk both cars finishing in the fence, well, since team orders are legal, he could have told Vettel to let Webber go by, and thus diminish the risk of them crashing.

    This order was about maximising Vettels points in the championship, despite being close to 100 points ahead, thats where the problem lies. Redbull have tampered with the drivers championship while claiming it was about the constructors championship.

    It smells of austria 2002.

  17. Arguing about team orders is useless, since FIA allowed them. And allowing them was nothing else than adapting the rules to the reality. They have always existed, only now they are out in the open. So this controversy now, is somewhat misplaced.

    Although I can understand that fans of Webber feel seriously let down by RBR this weekend.

    I fully agree with people who moan RBR’s hypocrisy.
    Personally, I don’t believe a single word from them anyone. Putting screens in front of their garage during winter testing. Putting some guys around the car on the grid before a race. Issuing team orders, when Horner was the loudest critic of Ferrari’s TO last year…
    All that made me lose a lot of sympathy for a team that I otherwise valued a lot as one of F1’s recent success stories.

  18. It’s a team sport. Team orders are legal. Why is everyone so upset?

    Did someone also say that Vettel’s STR was the equal of the Red Bull car that year? They wished!

    1. “It’s a team sport”

      Yeah, it’s also one of the worlds biggest spectator sports, and we, the public, are being robbed of that because buisness came first. I think you’ll be hard pushed to find many of the 600 million viewers watching it to see wether a particular teams out scores another team at a given race.

      People watch to see drivers racing for the same piece of tarmac.

      If i want to see buisness men out doing each other, i’ll watch dragons den.

      “Team orders are legal”

      …and that makes it ok?

      Anyway, like i said in a previous post, the problem at Silverstone was that Redbull interfered in the drivers championship. Creating a ******** lie that it was about the constructors points. Since team orders are legal, they had every right to tell Vettel that Webber was much quicker, to let him go, and hey-presto, they dont crash. They help Webber minimise the impact of Alonso’s win on his own championship, and Vettel still finishes over 90 points ahead of him, and Redbull themselves pickup the exact same amount of points.

  19. I’d love to see Kami Kobayashi in RB with Vettel! What a blockbuster it would be!

  20. I disagree with the emphasis Keith is putting on this. Webber was not “made” a #2 driver “again” here. This is plain vanilla team orders to protect points. We can argue about whether it’s bad for the sport or if it was just overraction by the team, but it’s not about Webber per se. More to the point, Keith’s presumes that the same order would not have come if Vettel were behind. That may or may not be the case, but it’s not in evidence and not at issue.

    That said, it was a terrible and disappointing thing for RBR to do, however legal. I am sure that the non-hardcore U.S. fans FOX is courting with these annoying tape-delayed and truncated broadcasts were repelled by this sad turn.

    1. Yes Dave I also disagree with the word “again” but no argument with the point made.

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