Red Bull: Webber made a number two driver again

2011 British GP team review

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):

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2011drivercolours.csv
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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202 comments on Red Bull: Webber made a number two driver again

  1. Commendatore (@commendatore) said on 11th July 2011, 17:54

    Christian Horner is the biggest hypocrite. A fact that now we all are aware of.

    I wasn’t against last year’s Ferrari use of team orders and the same goes for this year. Why? Because team orders existed since the very beginnings of F1 and are an inevitable part of the game (that’s why I was glad the ban was lifted).

    If you don’t want to see team orders at all, that you must demand that F1 goes from “2 drivers per team” to “1 driver per team”.

  2. xabregas said on 11th July 2011, 18:04

    After what happened to Ferrari after last year´s German GP wasn´t expecting RB to do the same, i couldn´t believe what Webber was been told on the radio, it made me laugh a lot.
    So it took only a few GP´s to see the other RB face.
    I´m one of those who believe in team orders so i understand what RB did to Webber but now we have to assume that Webber must forgot about his chances to be WC this year, RB will never let him be this year.
    Big, big slap Webber took in his face, lets wait and see how this is gonna end.
    So is Webber going to stay in RB next year??

  3. HoHum (@hohum) said on 11th July 2011, 18:45

    Let’s look at it from Marks point of view, if he loses second place in the championship by one point where is the blame to be laid, poor driving skill, early unreliability, or team orders. It is almost impossible for Vettel to lose the championship but Webber is vulnerable only due to reliability issues and needs every point he can fairly get. History will only remember the final result.

  4. tobinen (@tobinen) said on 11th July 2011, 18:53

    I can’t see what the fuss is about tbh. Team orders are legal. Much as i’d’ve liked to see them race to the flag, you can’t blame the team for playing it safe

    • Neil said on 11th July 2011, 19:01

      “Team orders are legal”

      What if they made two-footed tackles legal in football, it’d be ok when we see players legs being broke in half?

      No thanks.

      The rule makes it legal yes, the act itself still isn’t ‘right’

      • tobinen said on 12th July 2011, 13:00

        Exactly Neil. ‘Right’ and ‘legal’ are 2 different things. Unfortunately only ‘legal’ matters in F1.

  5. hey (@hey) said on 11th July 2011, 20:07

    If you look at this dispassionately then it is quite simple to see that Red Bull were well within their rights to make sure that they didn’t lose 33 points because of their drivers crashing in the final few laps…

    …so they should have just told Seb to let the faster car through.

    Or was that not an option?

    • Todfod (@todfod) said on 11th July 2011, 20:45

      so they should have just told Seb to let the faster car through

      I would love to see that happen… but we all know that there is no way Seb will be asked to move over.

      • DVC said on 12th July 2011, 6:05

        Well, they said Vettel’s car was without KERS, so it was crippled, it would have made sense to let Webber through. He could have got further up the road, and been in a better position to take advantage had Alonso had a problem in the closing laps.

        That would have been a use of team orders that could potentially benefit the team rather than an individual driver.

  6. tag605 said on 11th July 2011, 21:42

    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

    • Neil said on 11th July 2011, 22:33

      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.

  7. David BR said on 11th July 2011, 21:48

    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.

    • bearforce1 said on 11th July 2011, 23:12

      You are then suggesting that Alonso is one dimensional too.

      • David BR said on 12th July 2011, 0:02

        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.

        • 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 12th July 2011, 0:12

          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.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 12th July 2011, 15:41

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

      Like he was in Spain and Malaysia?

      • David BR said on 12th July 2011, 23:08

        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.

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 13th July 2011, 14:37

          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.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 13th July 2011, 14:39

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

          • David BR said on 14th July 2011, 0:31

            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.

  8. Sam said on 11th July 2011, 21:54

    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.

    • David BR said on 11th July 2011, 22:22

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

      • Sam said on 11th July 2011, 22:42

        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

        • David BR said on 12th July 2011, 0:08

          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.

          • Sam said on 12th July 2011, 0:41

            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.

  9. 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!!

    • Sam said on 11th July 2011, 23:07

      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.

    • 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 12th July 2011, 0:21

      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

  10. Arch said on 11th July 2011, 22:28

    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…

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 11th July 2011, 22:31

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

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th July 2011, 14:50

      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.

  11. comedy69 said on 11th July 2011, 22:30

    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.

  12. Russell Gould said on 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! ;-)

    • Dirk said on 12th July 2011, 0:25

      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…

  13. Mahir C said on 11th July 2011, 23:51

    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.

    • 91jb12 (@91jb12) said on 12th July 2011, 0:15

      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

  14. Stamos said on 12th July 2011, 2:16

    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,

  15. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 12th July 2011, 2:42

    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?

    • DVC said on 12th July 2011, 6:09

      It’s always broadcast late.

      • wasiF1 said on 12th July 2011, 11:03

        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.

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