Webber: Red Bull favour Vettel

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The Independent Online

There is an intriguing subplot to the intense world championship battle that will be fought out this weekend: who is in a position to help whom, and will they actually do it?

Jenson Button is already helping Lewis Hamilton to an extent, taking a more adventurous role in choosing which new parts to run (something which didn't help him in the rain in Korea), while Felipe Massa, in his home grand prix, will obviously be obliged to help Alonso all he can since team orders aren't illegal in a title-concluding battle.

At Red Bull, however, they clearly aren't going to ask Sebastian Vettel to help Mark Webber, who has 11 points fewer than Alonso after his poor race in Korea but 14 more than Vettel. Logically, it would be helpful at this late stage for the young German to ride shotgun for his elder stablemate. But that's not Red Bull's way, and it's not hard to sympathise with the view that Vettel deserves his own chance of glory. But Webber has suggested that the team are emotionally supportive of Vettel, just as they have been since he caused the accident that lost them the Turkish Grand Prix.

"Technically everything's been very, very good," Webber said of his treatment by the team for whom he has won four races, as opposed to Vettel's three this year. But he was less charitable about the emotional support.

"It's obvious, isn't it?" he said trenchantly. "Of course when young, new chargers come on to the block, that's where the emotion is. That's the way it is. Which is absolutely fine, because I've had a great opportunity and a great car to go and do some great things in this year. I've got favourites in life, too. That's human nature."

It seems unlikely that Red Bull will lose the constructors' championship, which they lead with 426 points to McLaren's 399 and Ferrari's 374, but Webber voiced concern that they run the risk of letting the drivers' title slip through their fingers.

"Of course you increase your risk of that happening if you race each other. But it's not my decision and what I think is not that important to how we will probably go about it. You'd need to ask the people who run the team.

"It's a tough question and a tough situation to know how you would do things," he admitted, while pondering what he might do were his and Vettel's positions reversed. "There's a lot of really good people at this team and there's no getting away from the fact that we would love to win some championships this year."

And, for the first time, he touched on a point many others have made. Like Massa in 2008, 2010 might just be Webber's one big chance. "We're at different parts of our career as well, so it's not as easy as some might imagine," he said. "For different reasons here and there, obviously Seb's never led the championship this year and I have, so, whatever happens in all the races we've had, we've now got two races to go and that's what the scoreboard says."

The circus has rolled into Interlagos and the stalls are all set up, so it was appropriate that a couple of clowns appeared. One was an obscure prosecutor in Brazil's Special Criminal Court who threatened Massa with a jail term of up to six years for defrauding the public were he to hand the lead to Alonso. Good luck with that one, Paulo Castilho.

If there were awards for stupidity, that would vie for title honours with former Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger's disparaging suggestion that Webber tried to take out championship rivals after his crash in Korea. Such comments are either intended to remind the world of a has-been's continued existence, or indication of a hidden agenda. In Berger's case, since his comments came on the Red Bull-owned Servus TV station, one might conclude he was trying to destabilise Webber. Good luck with that one, too.