Sebastian Vettel is on pole position for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix.
But team mate Mark Webber could be starting from the coveted P1 had Red Bull team principal Christian Horner not taken a controversial decision to take the team’s new front wing off Webber’s car and put it on Vettel’s.
Did Horner make the right call?
Red Bull brought two of their new front wings to Silverstone. But the first was broken when it failed on Vettel’s car during final practice this morning.
After practice the sole remaining example of the new design was taken off Webber’s car and put on Vettel’s. Horner explained his reasons for doing it:
After this morning’s incident we only had one new spec front wing available for qualifying, which Adrian [Newey] was very keen to run; not necessarily because it was better, but because it offered a new direction to look at.
Therefore it came to me to make a difficult decision as to which car it went on. A situation like that is not ideal and it doesn’t happen very often. It went to Sebastian based on Championship position, his performance in P3 and the drivers’ feedback on the different front wings from yesterday.
Leaving the new wing in the garage for the sake of fairness between the drivers would have been senseless – in F1, you have to seize every advantage you can lay your hands on.
But it’s easy to see why Horner’s decision will be seen as favouring Vettel. Vettel may be 12 points ahead of Webber in the championship – but he only moved ahead of him in the last round.
And while Horner points to the difference between them in P3 as being part of the reason for the decision, the gap between them was very small. Vettel was just 0.034s faster, Webber having spent the early part of the session running a higher fuel load due to losing track time with a car problem.
The team’s drivers have been very closely matched this year – they have won the same number of races and are almost inseparable on single-lap pace.
Their immediate rivals are not likely to take points off them this weekend. Having brought two wings to the track surely the reasonable thing to do would have been to let each driver keep one for the weekend – particularly given they are so evenly matched on performance.
Red Bull faced accusations of favouring Vettel after the Turkish Grand Prix, when they blamed Webber for a collision between the two which was widely perceived to have been Vettel’s fault.
This is not a new dilemma. The pace of development in F1 is so fast that teams often have to choose between which driver gets a development first.
It remains to be seen whether Red Bull will have another new front wing ready to put on Webber’s car in time for tomorrow’s race.
Who should have got the new front wing?
- Neither (8%)
- Mark Webber (79%)
- Sebastian Vettel (13%)
Total Voters: 2,440
2010 British Grand Prix
Image (C) Red Bull/Getty images