Red Bull driver policy: Sporting or stupid?

Christian Horner and Helmut Marko during qualifying for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya on May 9, 2009 in Barcelona, Spain.

Criticism of the Red Bull driver policy is falling on the deaf ears of Christian Horner and Helmut Marko

Nov.10 (GMM) Niki Lauda has equated Red Bull‘s apparent approach to the Abu Dhabi finale this weekend as akin to handing the title to Ferrari.

NEVERS, FRANCE - JUNE 22:  Red Bull Racing Chairman Dietrich Mateschitz is seen in the paddock before the French Formula One Grand Prix at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours on June 22, 2008 in Nevers, France.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Dietrich Mateschitz

Dietrich Mateschitz adamant there will be no team orders in his Red Bull team

The energy drink company’s chief Dietrich Mateschitz has been quoted as insisting it is “never a possibility” that Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber will be asked to swap positions.

“It is a sporting choice, but in the end it is (Fernando) Alonso who will laugh,” Niki Lauda, pointing out another 1-2 result with Vettel in the lead this Sunday will result in the Spaniard winning the title, told ORF.

Even Jaime Alguersuari, the Spaniard driving for Red Bull’s second team Toro Rosso, said the use of a team strategy this weekend is “logical”.

“I’d be very surprised if they didn’t (use team orders),” he said on Spanish radio Cadena SER.

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel during the British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone on June 11, 2010, in Northampton, England.

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel during the British GP

Pedro de la Rosa also thinks Red Bull would be mad to give up the opportunity of its first drivers’ crown.

“Everyone can think what they like, it is my opinion that they will (use team orders),” he said.

Ralf Schumacher does not agree.

“I doubt it,” answered the German when asked if he can imagine Vettel pulling over on Sunday.

“It would mean Webber becoming world champion at Red Bull before him, and defeats within your own team never feel good,” he told Bild newspaper.

So while Mateschitz has ruled out team orders, less clear is what the team feels about Vettel making his own personal decision to help Red Bull Racing.

Red Bull driver policy attracting much attention

Red Bull driver policy attracting much attention

“The drivers race for the team,” boss Christian Horner told Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten .

“Our drivers are team players and know that at stake is the biggest title in motor sport,” added the Briton.

“I don’t think it is a decision I will have to make. Ultimately, if he was in that position, it would be down to Sebastian,” said Horner.

Of course, all the speculation about team orders in Abu Dhabi could prove meaningless given that Fernando Alonso can guarantee a third drivers’ title if he just finishes second.

“The Ferrari should suit the track with its many fast straights,” said former Swiss driver Marc Surer.

De la Rosa agreed: “That is a weak point for Red Bull. It is also why McLaren will be very strong in Abu Dhabi.

“It is a far less suitable circuit for Red Bull than many people seem to believe,” added the Spaniard.

  • Pit Rat

    everyone is talking about it being up to Vettel? what about Webber? the guy can and is able to beat Vettel on merit, not to mention that he would hate to be handed the title by Vettel. i’m sure both Webber and Alonso will give it their bestest best come Sunday, and it should promise an entertaining race, i have a big feeling Vettel will loose the race on his own, he always does when it counts the most…

  • Arthur

    We should listen to Ralf schumacher. His brother was in that position many years ago with Ferrari. He never gave anything to Rubens. But the difference between RedBull and Ferrari is that the Scuderia team would choose the driver most likely to win the title. With RedBull it is their first time to be in this situation and they have shown to favor a driver regardless of its position.

    But this could be a strategy by RedBull to hide its imposition of team orders. We know very well that words have came out from their mouths that they follow rules as it is.

    The situation inside the RedBull garage had escalated the interest in F1. A very intelligent marketing strategy for their core business.