While McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton might be loose-lipped with his allegations that Red Bull are using outlawed black arts (i.e. a front wing that’s out of compliance) to leave the competition in their dust, the brass at Red Bull don’t seem overly bothered by the young Brit’s sniping, at least not to the extent that they would dismiss the possibility of retaining Hammy’s services at some point in the future.
It’s well known that Red Bull has locked world champ Sebastian Vettel into a long term contract, but the tenure of his team mate Mark Webber isn’t so assured. Whenever Red Bull Honcho Chris Horner is quizzed on the subject, he gets markedly vague.
Ditto, Red Bull advisor (and former F1 pilot of days gone by) Helmut Marko, who recently told Sport Bild, when asked about a possible contract extension for Webber, “First we have to see how the season goes for Mark and what he decides.” That’s hardly a testament of boundless enthusiasm. On Wall Street, or at the World Series of Poker (or have I repeated myself?), this is known as a hedge.
The team can pay lip service to maintaining driver parity all they like, but clearly Webber is the de facto number two in the Milton Keynes camp, and it seems likely that Red Bull will keep him on board only so long as there’s no one better on the drivers’ market.
There have been rumors lately, of course, that all is not well in Woking, and, should this year’s McLaren turn out to be an underachiever to the extent that last year’s was, Lewis Hamilton might be in a contract-breaking mood pursuant to finding a new ride.
Said Marko about the possibility of poaching Hammy from their Woking based rivals, “Definitely with his aggression and his speed, Hamilton must always be a topic. Our philosophy is to have the quickest drivers together in our team.” How do you like them apples, Mr. Webber?
Is this a plan that would ever come to fruition? I would hope for Red Bull’s sake, hiring Hamilton is merely their plan B, to be used in case of Vettel’s jumping ship to join Ferrari (about which he still harbors boyish daydreams). For, as everyone knows, every first rank team must have a diva, but only one. Having two generally spells disaster. Remember Senna and Prost at McLaren? Hamilton and Alonso, also at McLaren? (I detect a trend.)
Most teams are much better served by having a brilliant driver paired with an excellent driver. Brilliance generally steals the show, but if brilliance suffers a puncture, or a blown engine, excellence should generally be proficient enough to take up the slack and bring home the trophy.
This was generally the program in place at Ferrari during the Schumi era, and also at McLaren once Alain Prost left the team and Gerhard Burger became Senna’s number two. Likewise, I would say it’s also the operative playbook at McLaren with their current Hamilton-Button line-up, as well as at Red Bull with the Vettel-Webber duo. Why would Red Bull rock the boat?