The owner of Red Bull-Renault has denied allegations of favouritism within the team, insisting Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel are equal. Suggestions of preferential treatment were raised after a controversial decision at the British Grand Prix. The Red Bull garage decided to remove an upgraded front wing from the car of Webber, the Australian, and hand it to Vettel after he damaged his own wing in free practice.
"This philosophy is not in keeping with my understanding of racing," Dietrich Mateschit told Kleine Zeitung, a German newspaper, when asked if Red Bull have a No 1 driver. "You cannot just programme a champion. Our two drivers know that a) they have to beat each other, and b) they still need each other to take away as many points as possible from the competition." Speculation has been rife that an intense rivalry exists between the pair after a collision at the Turkish Grand Prix in May.
Vettel tried to duck up the inside of Webber on the 41st lap only for the cars to collide. The German driver was forced out of the race and waved his finger at Webber who dropped back to third. Mateschitz maintains he was not consulted on the decision at Silverstone and said: "The pits must not interfere, because then the problems begin in earnest." Webber and Vettel have a chance to resume hostilities at the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim this weekend with Vettel racing in front of his home crowd.
While Michael Schumacher has long been the hero in his homeland, the seven-time champion, 41, has yet to get on the podium 10 races into his comeback after three years out and Vettel has emerged as Germany's main man. Schumacher won for Ferrari on his last appearance at Hockenheim in 2006, but Vettel will be the best placed to finish first out of the six German drivers on the starting grid at the weekend.
Once nicknamed "Baby Schumi", Vettel grew up just half an hour from the circuit and proved his pulling power at the weekend with a drive through his home town Heppenheim. According to Red Bull, more than 120,000 turned out. "I wouldn't say I feel pressure from it [racing at home]," Vettel said. "It adds an extra bit of motivation and then probably you find that extra tenth [of a second] going around the track. "I went once with my father to see a free practice... in 1993 or 1994," he added of his Hockenheim past. "I got goose bumps straight away." * Agencies
Winners of the first 10 races and Grands Prix to come Date Grand Prix Winner Mar 14 Bahrain Alonso Mar 28 Australian Button Apr 4 Malaysian Vettel Apr 18 Chinese Button May 9 Spanish Webber May 16 Monaco Webber May 30 Turkish Hamilton Jun 13 Canadian Hamilton Jun 27 Europe Vettel Jul 11 British Webber Jul 25 German Aug 1 Hungarian Aug 29 Belgian Sep 12 Italian Sep 26 Singapore Oct 10 Japanese Oct 24 Korean Nov 7 Brazilian Nov 14 Abu Dhabi