Time for change at Red Bull

Bayden Westerweller Roar Guru

By , Bayden Westerweller is a Roar Guru

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    Mark Web­ber and Sebas­t­ian Vet­tel can­not con­tinue to be teammates beyond this sea­son, this much is cer­tain fol­low­ing the Malaysia Grand Prix debacle.

    How they will con­tend with being in the same garage for the remain­der of this cam­paign is another question.

    Web­ber has been at Red Bull since 2007.

    Includ­ing his two-year stint when the out­fit was known as Jaguar, this is his ninth sea­son at Mil­ton Keynes.

    Now is the time for a change of scenery, but that doesn’t mean the Aus­tralian is the only one who might not be at Red Bull much longer.

    Sebas­t­ian Vet­tel has won three (con­sec­u­tive) dri­vers’ cham­pi­onships at Red Bull, a feat which will be remem­bered for many years to come, and take a great effort to match.

    How­ever, there comes a time when a rela­tion­ship reaches its sum­mit – Michael Schu­macher was cast aside two years after claim­ing his fifth con­sec­u­tive title with Fer­rari, and the signs were there dur­ing the Malaysia Grand Prix that the Ger­man is test­ing the patience of Chris­t­ian Horner and Adrian Newey a lit­tle too much for their liking.

    In pre­vi­ous sea­sons, the Ger­man has ruf­fled feath­ers with his obses­sive hunt for the fastest lap dur­ing the dying stages of a race, his lat­est refusal to acknowl­edge team orders may have taken mat­ters one step too far.

    Per­haps irreversibly.

    One doesn’t need remind­ing of Turkey 2010, when Vet­tel took it upon him­self to dive down the inside of an unsus­pect­ing Web­ber, a move which ended in tears, fray­ing intra-team rela­tions for the remain­der of the season.

    Those wounds have been reopened with the lat­est incident.

    This early into the sea­son, the fall­out has the poten­tial to desta­bilise the entire outfit’s title defence.

    Horner wasn’t afraid to admit Vet­tel defied the team’s instruc­tion to remain behind Web­ber, remark­ing, “He knew what the com­munca­tion was. He had the com­mu­ni­ca­tion. He chose to ignore it.

    “He put his inter­est beyond what the team’s inter­est was.”

    Horner echoed Webber’s podium inter­view sen­ti­ments, adding, “Obvi­ously Sebas­t­ian… chose to take things into his own hands.”

    An indi­vid­ual who has made no secret of his awe at Vettel’s achieve­ments, his com­ments are telling.

    Even Vet­tel sup­porter no.1 Hel­mut Marko was bemused by the sit­u­a­tion, say­ing mat­ters had “got out of con­trol”, unlike his usual stance in sup­port­ing his pro­tégé irre­spec­tive of the circumstances.

    The worst kept secret in the pad­dock is that the Ger­man wants to one day race for Fer­rari, many see this as an inevitable out­come, and Vet­tel may have taken a step towards the exit door at Mil­ton Keynes sooner than anticipated.

    How­ever, as long as Fer­nando Alonso is at Fer­rari, Vet­tel is unlikely to be there, and should he con­tinue to flout the team’s wishes, he may be forced to look else­where in the interim.

    Else­where could be Mercedes.

    The irony of such a move wouldn’t be lost on Lewis Hamil­ton, after it came to light that the Briton asked Bernie Eccle­stone to secure him a seat along­side Vet­tel at Red Bull for this sea­son, prior to switch­ing to the Ger­man marque.

    Sea­son 2013 is still in its infancy, 17 rounds remain and already the title favourites have a mas­sive headache on their hands, which risks devel­op­ing into some­thing much worse, espe­cially if Vet­tel con­tin­ues to take things into his own hands.