Webber's warning: British duo are on collision course

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The Independent Online

Mark Webber believes it is only a matter of time before McLaren team-mates Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have a similar incident to the one he had with Red Bull partner Sebastian Vettel in Turkey, when they collided while fighting for the lead. The Australian, speaking ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone, believes McLaren have done a good job of projecting team unity thus far but in his opinion – and the Australian is nothing if not honest – there's more to the British pair's relationship than meets the eye.

"They've been working very hard with smoke and mirrors with Lewis and Jenson at McLaren," said Webber. "They get on, but if they are always racing at the front it's inevitable that something is going to happen, because of what's at stake and because both are hungry drivers. Our whole team learned from the incident in Turkey. It was a new experience for us. But 80 per cent of the grid would give their right arm to be in a similar position, with two guys fighting at the front. It's unlikely to happen again."

Webber, however, did not totally discount the possibility of another similar crash – as he knows well, this is a very high stakes game and who knows what might happen if the pair of them were fighting for the world championship heading into the first corner at Abu Dhabi in November? But he says that he is getting on just fine with the young German who, walking from his wrecked car in Istanbul, made the finger twirling gesture that was intended to indicate that he thought his team-mate was crazy.

"Seb and I are pretty good. If he was drowning in the ocean I'd go in and save him. But it's totally natural that there will be rivalry. If you are like Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen at Lotus there isn't so much at stake right now, but look at Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell, when they were at Williams in the '80s. They were both at the front and were both trying to win, and there was healthy rivalry. It's not possible in that situation to have a beautiful fuzzy relationship because the other guy is your competitor."

While not discounting Ferrari, Webber expects the strongest challenge to Red Bull on Sunday to come from the two Brits at McLaren. "We know Jenson and Lewis will be there, that's totally obvious. We know that. But it'll be a top four at least, because Seb and I will be there too, for sure.

"I'd be very happy to win the British GP. It's a prestigious event. I know the home crowd will be rooting for Lewis and Jenson, but I've always got on pretty well with the British fans."

He says he has no ill effects after the spectacular back-flip he performed last time out in Valencia, after hitting the back of and being launched by Kovalainen's Lotus.

"I'm over that, let's move on to Silverstone. A bit of whiplash. Knew straight away that I'd hit my big toe pretty hard. But I didn't even know I was upside down. It happened so quick. I was very mindful that I should let go of the wheel, but I wanted to keep my arms in the car. It definitely takes two to have that accident. I've been in his [Kovalainen's] situation, with Minardi, and I learned that if you fight the quick guys you always lose more time. But everyone's entitled to have a fight. I thought that was co-operating, then I realised that he was gonna defend.

Webber will race a replacement chassis this weekend. In the old one, under repair at Red Bull, his number one mechanic, Mark Lenton, left a poignant note: "You gave me the best day of my life, and also saved my mate."