Mike Stevens | Jun 4, 2010

Red Bull's clear-the-air meeting, attended by both Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, has taken place at the team's Milton-Keynes headquarters. The drivers have now issued a statement (quoted from following), finally putting the blame-game to bed.

The meeting followed new developments in the wake of last Sunday's collision of the two RB6 cars while leading the Turkish Grand Prix.

While team figures have backed away from pointedly blaming Webber for the incident, isolated as a scapegoat could be his race engineer Ciaron Pilbeam.

Already heavily criticised by Dr Helmut Marko, Germany's Auto Motor und Sport claims that Pilbeam not only failed to pass on information about the charging Vettel, but actually told Webber to use his overtake button to repel the attack.

Red Bull has said Webber was - unlike Vettel - in a fuel-saving engine mode at the time of the contact, and was also struggling with tyre wear.

And in quotes published by British newspapers The Independent, the Mirror and the Telegraph, boss Christian Horner revealed that Webber asked the team to advise Vettel to back off the lap before the crash.

"There was no way you could do that because of the McLarens being right there," said the Briton.

And team advisor Marko told Bild newspaper: "Mark had radioed the pits to say he was having problems and was slow."

Also slow was his pitstop, 33-year-old Webber claimed after the race, joking that his crew "put fuel in, I think".

According to some German reports, video footage exists of Horner mouthing "pass!" on the pitwall in the moments immediately before Vettel's overtaking attempt.

Niki Lauda thinks German Vettel, 22, is clearly the team's number one driver.

"Whoever thought previously that Webber is the number two was well informed," the triple world champion is quoted by German-language spox.com.

"It was only because the team wanted to influence the race that it got messed up," the Austrian continued.

Red Bull insists that Webber and Vettel are treated equally, but Marko is quoted as saying appointing a number one would be an "easier" strategy.

"But that is not in the spirit of our team," he insisted.

Added Lauda: "In terms of the team, Webber is to blame (for the crash) because they wanted him to wave Vettel past. But that would be team orders and not allowed."

He also points out the current difficulty, with Vettel apparently favoured but Webber leading the World Championship and 15 points clear of the sister car.

"I would be logical for the team to focus on one driver, but usually that would be the one who is in front," said Lauda.

Webber wrote on his Twitter on Wednesday: "Bloody hell guys, thank you for your support. Sport can be amazing sometimes, huh, that's why we love it!

"Head down for Canada," he added.

(GMM)

 

Max Mosley Blames Webber For Collision

As Red Bull drew a line under the matter on Thursday, former FIA president Max Mosley waded into the debate about the collision between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in Turkey.

After a meeting in Milton-Keynes on Thursday, the team issued a statement that included a jovial photo of the teammates with the caption 'Shit happens'.

"I'm sorry for the team that we lost the lead of the race. Mark and I are racers and we were racing," German Vettel, 22, is quoted as saying.

With the blame-game apparently put to bed, Mosley however told the German newspaper Die Welt that he thinks the crash was Australian Webber's fault.

Interestingly, 70-year-old Briton Mosley is a close friend and former F1 ally of Red Bull's Austrian billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz.

Dr Helmut Marko, also Austrian and Mateschitz's right-hand man on motor racing matters, also initially blamed Webber for the lap-40 shunt at Istanbul Park.

"From my perspective," said former long-time FIA president Mosley, "I do not think that Sebastian Vettel should receive the blame for the collision."

"At the time of the accident Vettel was clearly faster than Webber. At this stage he (Vettel) had the right and the duty to overtake."

Red Bull has revealed that Webber was running a fuel-saving engine setting while Vettel was not, and that the Australian radioed the pits to ask the McLaren-pressured Vettel to drop back.

Moreover, the team claims Webber's race engineer Ciaron Pilbeam failed to pass on a radio message warning the 33-year-old not to repel an attack by Vettel, whose tyres were reportedly also in better shape than Webber's.

Marko aside, most of the F1 world said it was Vettel who aggressively turned right whilst alongside the sister RB6 driven by Webber.

"I do not agree," said Mosley, strongly siding with Marko, who along with team boss Christian Horner also attended Thursday's clear-the-air meeting.

Said Mosley: "It can be clearly seen that Vettel had already passed Webber before the collision, and at that time Webber should have given him more space -- especially as they were already on the far left side of the track.

"Now you could argue (about the blame) if it had not been Webber's teammate, but as it was, he (Webber) should have respected his responsibility to the team.

"Remember, both cars were doing almost 300kph, so considering the risk, he (Webber) should have taken a chance to improve his position at another point in the race."

When told by the Welt interviewer that the same rationale also applies to Vettel, Mosley answered: "The crucial point speaks for Vettel and against Webber -- that one driver in this moment was fast, while the other was slow."

Mosley, who speaks fluent German, also said he does not believe Red Bull's apparent desire to see Vettel ahead of Webber amounts to illegal team orders.

"I cannot see that," said the Briton. "Vettel was under pressure from Lewis Hamilton, he was faster than Webber, and to shake off the McLaren he needed to pass the slower Webber.

"Even if this situation was declared to the drivers by radio, this would not be a team order or a manipulation of the drivers' championship, but rather an explanation of a particular situation -- (it is) necessary information for the drivers."

Comparing the situation to Ferrari's infamous place-swapping in Austria in 2002, Mosley said "one was a conscious manipulation of the world championship, the other is the legitimate explanation of a racing situation."

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