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. Tom11 (@tom11) said on 12th July 2011, 3:11

    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?

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 12th July 2011, 4:30

      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.

      • Tom11 (@tom11) said on 12th July 2011, 4:40

        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.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th July 2011, 8:13

      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).

  2. Robbie said on 12th July 2011, 3:21

    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.

  3. Johnny86 said on 12th July 2011, 4:58

    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.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th July 2011, 8:11

      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.

  4. rdpunk (@) said on 12th July 2011, 12:47

    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.

  5. Pockets said on 12th July 2011, 12:58

    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

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 12th July 2011, 13:10

      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”.

  6. Neil said on 12th July 2011, 13:14

    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.

  7. Bäremans said on 12th July 2011, 13:21

    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.

  8. VXR said on 12th July 2011, 16:45

    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!

    • Neil said on 12th July 2011, 19:36

      “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.

  9. JCost (@jcost) said on 12th July 2011, 16:47

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

  10. DaveW said on 12th July 2011, 19:26

    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.

  11. sunnyside said on 12th July 2011, 19:50

    If Webber ignored the orders then it’s the first time in, i guess, a year or so that he’s impressed me.

    I’m afraid for him though that he’s been beaten for two years by a far less experienced team-mate so can only expect to be a well estabished no.2 at RBR now and will faced with such orders again.

  12. Lew Numba 1 (@lew-numba-1) said on 12th July 2011, 21:04

    I gotta say, I think Webber did exactly the right thing. He’s currently 80 points behind Seb, and almost no one can challenge Seb for the WDC right now, so why the hell not take a little bit of a risk and actually RACE?! These guys are the best drivers in the world and if contact occurs, it’s certainly not planned contact. Plus, if any team can afford to lose all of their WCC and WDC points for a race, it’s Red Bull.

    I’m not against team orders or anything, but let the man race! He got himself in a position to battle his teammate, so he deserves to have a go at overtaking him.

  13. Luke Pitman said on 12th July 2011, 21:45

    I think red bull were wrong, Vettel and Webber are both very sensible drivers and they have a huge car advantage and are so far ahead they dont need to worry about points. Plus this has a poor effect on both drivers, Webbers gonna turn up at the next race and think well im not allowed to win anyway. And Vettel must be thinking Mark was clearly faster at the end of the race and outqualified me he deserves 2nd. I really think this was mis management by redbull and will disrupt the rest of there season. Not that i disagree with team orders for example if mcclaren had been in this situation i’d say fairplay right thing to do.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 12th July 2011, 23:41

      I’d like to think they were sensible drivers but Istanbul 2010 is never far away. I’m thinking that’s the view that Red Bull took as a team. It’s a bit tragic they can’t trust their drivers not to crash…but you can’t fault their honesty there!

  14. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 12th July 2011, 23:39

    A good result for Red Bull. Bit of a disaster for Red Bull in the pits but it was bound to happen sooner or later, at least they didn’t do a Force India!

    As for team orders? It’s part of F1. I came into this sport looking at it from a team point of view, not a driver point of view. What suits the team is ultimately what is more important.

  15. celeste said on 12th July 2011, 23:43

    Seriously! Do people and Mark Webber have selective memory?!? How come Mark was ok with team orders when on Turkey 09 was Sebastian the one that was told to “hold his position” and literally that “Mark is faster than you”. (Seb was ahead of Mark at this point on WDC points and even so they protected Mark).

    Is you are gonna attack team orders direct the attack to the team not to the driver, as I know Sebastian didn´t ask his tem to told Mark not to attack and he defended (contrary at what Damon Hill did back on 1998 to Ralph Schumacher on Belgium running for Eddie Jordan).

    Mateschitz has told that this kind of situation are addressed in a meeting before the race, and that’s mean that before the race during the meeting Webber and Vettel both agree with this rules, but on race Webber changed his mind what a lousy team player. And before you go attacking Mateschitz he is supporting Webber and said he will hired him again for next year (I´m a business manager and this blows my mind because I will fired a problematic guy like this on the act).

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 18th July 2011, 22:46

      Celeste, a look at the lap times will show you that Webber obeyed the main point of the team orders, not to pass, but you can’t blame him for showing the world that he could have, despite his PR based statement after the race.

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