First crashgate, now winggate…

Are Red Bull favouring Vettel over Webber?

When you read the papers, watch the coverage and link back to what happened in Turkey, it would seem so. But are they really? I don’t think so. Are they naive? Very much so.

History shows that the driver who is ahead in the championship is the one who gets the better treatment. This is etched in the roots of Formula 1, all the way back to the 1950s. Red Bull were simply following this premise, the driver in front gets the best the team can offer.

Unfortunately, Vettel was only in front of Webber by 12 points. Coming up to the halfway mark of the season, that was just not enough of a lead to justify a major change of direction into focusing on one driver. Yet Vettel was in front, so by Red Bull’s own standards, they gave him the new front wing, straight off Webber’s car. Had Mark been in front in the championship, he most likely would have kept the wing. If he hadn’t, then it would be obvious, but we’ll never know.

Should Red Bull have gone down this path however? Not on your life. It was a total PR disaster, one which is going to pull the team apart. Had the crash in Turkey not happened, or the comments afterward not been made, they may have been able to cover any talk of favouritism. But after those events, for the sake of 0.1 seconds, they should have kept the wing on Luscious Liz, rather than Randy Mandy.

The fact is that Vettel was unlucky. The mounting failed and his wing was damaged. It may have been repairable had he not driven back to the pits with it hanging down. Yet bad luck plays a part in F1, and as he had the failure, the option should have been to leave the good, new wing on Mark’s car. It would have settled, rather than instigated, talk of favouritism. But Red Bull’s policy of giving the championship leader the better components should the situation arise when there is only one, has blown open a team, and possibly could hurt their title aspirations.

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