@Hohum: unfortunately, this sort of thinking won’t get us anywhere as it’s just something you could apply to most teams where one driver appears to be dominating his teammate. F1 is not a world in which full disclosure is imaginable as the game is based on the whole technology advances secrecy pact of the high end automobile industry. I call it being over-sceptical. You’re more than allowed to think so though. I just tend to try and not see more than seems reasonable. You could then go ahead and say they have some “magic fairy dust” button that Vettel activated at the start of the British Grand Prix as he left Webber snoozing on the start line. Obviously, you can question it but it seems to be beyond the realm of logics to believe that Vettel is a fabricated poppet driver whose dominance is earned not by winning but by crushing his teammate’s true speed talent. “For sure”, the F1 world is one where dirty little games are played but it would make no sense for Red Bull to go at such lengths to make their young driver come out the winner over their older driver. In the end, it’s about Red Bull establishing their name as a proper sports legacy name (again, I’m not claiming they necessarily are: it’s about the psychology of marketing in order to sell).
I can, however, point out to Vettel’s thirst for wins combined with the level of maturity and zen attitude he’s been showing us this season to demonstrate that he would not accept to be the team’s product only. His negotiations for his contract renewel with the team says it all: he signed up earlier this year for the same length of time Red Bull could sign Newey up for. You can bet one of Vettel’s contract clauses includes the possibility of leaving without notice should Newey for some reason not be able to design the RBR car in the future.
So I don’t think extra advantages are being granted to Vettel over Webber or that Webber is being stripped from certain things in order for Vettel to keep winning (I’m talking of particular mapping Webber would be completely deprived of, not a certain wing of course). However, Vettel is quite picky with whom he chooses to work with and he does tend to keep a very close eye on any engineering updates/advances which might be a slight advantage he could have over Webber.
I’ve learned that F1 can make anyone a bit paranoid (not that I’m saying you are!), and that you have to put things a little bit back into perspective. But perhaps, who knows, Red Bull made a big bucks agreement with the Top Gear time keeper to get their golden boy’s time down on the show’s track?… Just kidding!
@LL & @Hohum: (both your remarks “inspired” the following paragraph) I don’t want to give away information about myself or what I’ve done/do too much on here but take it from me, Red Bull are not in F1 (or any other major sport business for that matter) to sell drinks. They sell the brand, not the content of their famous little blue and silver can. Far from other major companies who’ve had to branch out and branch away from their initial star product, Red Bull’s strategy is quite different (and it explains their immense success in just a little over two decades’ time). Their first product just is that energy drink we now all know. But that’s it: the drink is just their first product, it’s not their pillar and never was meant to be once Mateschitz put the whole shabang into “global overtake” mode (very early on in the adventure). Basically, Red Bull is going to adapt very easily to any market in order to sell (whatever is wanted, the latest big money raker) once they are properly part of the trusted brands horizon. This is exactly what they are working on currently by stepping out of the sponsoring arena and stepping into the major player one. At the moment, F1 is the only sports adventure in which they own a winning team and they are not going to play with fire doing silly dirty things. Once these would come out, it would mean the end of years and years of branding.
Also, Red Bull are going to drop you if you’re not a team player when it comes to associating your success with belonging to the “fun team”, too greedy for cash and looking into expanding your career beyond extreme sports and into “celebrity ventures”. They were not afraid to drop one of their major sport stars who has the ideal following for their canned beverage because of this just a short while back (although a deal is still officially on the table, but that deal package is out of the question for this other golden boy so it’s more a kind of a fake deal so that Red Bull gets to part their way with him without taking any guilt and keeping their hands clean PR-wise). They would drop Vettel like an old dog would fart without warning you if he decided to go living la vida Lewis and demand a serious increase in pocket stash.
Thus, colour me surprised if they would even attempt at properly rigging his teammate. It would make no sense regarding their branding strategy and the decades of work and money that have been invested into it. The logics of the company do not mash with personal favouritism to its extremes. Red Bull is committed to making a lasting name for itself, not to stand by their man/men like only a politician’s wife could/would. It’s business with a dream to sell (to be fun while seriously competitive: enjoying your life while getting the most out of it or combining the laid-back face of hedonism with the hunger for the best of capitalism), everyone in there except the three big bosses are not indispensable, period. And that is understandable from a business point of view.
@Enigma: fully agree. Their team order really appears for me to have been a decision based on ensuring the team would even further increase their lead and not have some sort of 2010 crash revival. Obviously, it appears they don’t fully trust their drivers (and it would be easy to argue they don’t have to fully trust them but would rather take the PR heat of a team order over a points loss and thus 2010-like incident with the media debacle that would come with it and the psychological pressure that could translate to for Vettel, especially after the less than satisfying pitstop he had: they’re still afraid Da Finger Boy is going to suddenly abandon the magic Zen-Yoga spaceship he’s found after his WDC title and drop back into Heated Hothead Land where he was last year). I also don’t think it was a matter of making sure Webber wouldn’t get those 3 extra ones over Vettel.
Of course, this was a blow for sportsmanship and racing. It was fun to see Mark ignore those orders though! You go, Canberra Milk kid…
EDIT: as an addendum, I’d like to add my own personal opinion on the KERS question that birthed this thread (to birth a thread, oh my, is it showing that I’m posting on here due to insomnia?). That KERS system of RBR: not reliable, not good. We’ve seen it for quite a while now. He could have been allowed by the team to continue using it to defend against Webber but not have full KERS. It’s become RBR’s pet peeve, their KERS battery. Not fully loaded, overheating, etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that that Vettel ignored team orders to stop using KERS once Webber was closing in. Or that they didn’t dare to tell him to stop using it and instead decided to ask Mark to back off.