• ‘Would I go for a drink with Sebastian Vettel? Definitely not’
• ‘We don’t want the German anthem played in Hockenheim’
Mark Webber was in a fighting mood after his victory in the British grand prix at Silverstone yesterday, describing his dominance in the race over his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel as “an Australian response, a little upper cut”, adding: “You do your talking on the track.”
The rivalry between the Australian, who has been with Red Bull Racing since 2007 and his German fellow driver, who joined the team in 2009, has intensified this season, with Webber criticising the team management for a perceived preference towards Vettel. Webber said prior to yesterday’s race that he would not have signed a contract extension at Red Bull had he known Vettel would get preferential treatment, although the team have denied that Webber is their No2 driver.
Asked if he stood by his comments, Webber said yesterday: “Absolutely. I said after the race that the team was put in a unique situation. It was the first time that had happened. I really find it hard to believe that will happen again because the team don’t operate like that. That’s why I have signed, because they normally don’t operate like that.
“I was a bit disappointed how Saturday went. I am more than happy with where I am next year once we have some discussions this week. I’m sure everything will be fine. When you have two pretty driven individuals like the two drivers they have that obviously takes some controlling. It’s a good problem to have in many ways.”
Webber was asked after his victory at Silverstone whether he would go for a drink with his team-mate, who came in seventh. “Definitely not,” the Australian replied. “I’d say it’s a healthy rivalry. I suppose we can relate it to a State of Origin situation. Once you cross that line it’s all about what you’ve got to go and do.
“After the match you might catch up a bit. It’s as good as it can be in the situation. There have been a lot of team-mates over the years at this level who don’t see eye to eye and that comes with the territory. But if Seb was in the ocean and he was struggling, he was drowning, I would be out here having a crack at saving him. It’s not that you actually hate each other’s guts. It’s just that he’s one of your rivals, you want to beat him and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
The Australian’s victory for the Milton Keynes-based team yesterday disappointed the crowds, who were keen for a British win, but Webber was pleased with his first place on the podium at the track where Vettel took the flag last year. He said: “I had a good start against Seb and got on the inside and took care of business from there. To win especially the British grand prix, it’s a real blue ribband event. OK, it’s not Monaco, but it’s not a million miles away.
“They’ve been racing there for 60 years at the same track. It’s really the Lord’s of motor racing in terms of the real history of the event. It was a special race to win after Monaco. It was nice to do it having led every lap.”
Looking ahead to the next race of the season, on 25 July in Hockenheim, Webber added: “We don’t want the German national anthem played in Germany. We know that. We’ll do what we can.”
The McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh believes the fallout at Red Bull will prove to be a distraction within the team, which could benefit the British duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.
“You have to think carefully about decisions,” Whitmarsh said. “Drivers are immensely competitive people, so if they perceive something is not even-handed or fair, then you are going to have some trouble. There is always a potential tension with two drivers in the same team fighting for a championship.
“We’ve experienced that a few times, it’s difficult, but I have to say that so far I think we are in reasonable shape in that regard. But I think if your drivers aren’t working together then it is one more distraction you could do without.”
“We have to concentrate on our situation,” Whitmarsh added. “A lot of people speculated on the relationship between our two drivers, and the fact is it hasn’t been a news story yet, although people tried to make it one. I hope there are cracks and divisions in all our competitors and they all fall apart, but I am not going to rely on it. We have to make our car quicker and try and win the championships that way.”