The 2011 British Grand Prix sparked immediate controversy, after Mark Webber was told to “maintain the gap” to Sebastian Vettel by his team, even though Mark Webber was capable of overtaking Sebastian Vettel. Last year, Webber beat Sebastian to the flag, and remarked “not bad for a number two driver.” Since Sebastian Vettel started winning races at Red Bull, there has always been the notion that he is number one in the team, and Webber is the secondary concern. The British Grand Prix confirmed that Webber is indeed the number two at Red Bull for 2011.
Although team boss Christian Horner says that Webber is “free to race for victories,” the chances of the team allowing Webber to pass Vettel are zero. Mark Webber will only win a race this year if Sebastian is out of the race or too far behind to challenge for the victory.
Webber has claimed that he is “not fine” with the team orders, and that he “ignored them,” after the team asked him four or five times not to attack Vettel. If Webber is so openly opposed to the team orders, he needs to be somewhere else. Unfortunately for him, Red Bull is Vettel’s team. Vettel has the car set up how he wants, he gets priority over Webber on multiple fronts.
Webber, in my opinion, should not race for Red Bull in 2012. If he wants to retire after this year, fine. If he wants to keep racing, he should go somewhere where he will be treated with more respect, and can have more control within the team. Earlier this year, Eric Boullier of Renault showed potential interest in Webber, which I think is a great option for both Renault and Webber. Webber would gain more respect in a more balanced team, and Renault could have a killer line up if Kubica is on form to race competitively in 2012.
He recently claimed that he is “free to race” with Vettel, but I’m sure that he know’s he is number two, and has no chance of winning the title at Red Bull. If Red Bull win the driver’s title, it’ll have Sebastian’s name on it.