Red Bull emotionally favour Vettel, says Webber
Mark Webber charged Red Bull with emotionally favouring Formula One team mate and title rival Sebastian Vettel on Thursday and said his own championship challenge had been "inconvenient".
In a meeting with reporters before what could be a title-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix, the Australian measured his words carefully with lengthy pauses that were as telling as the often resigned replies.
"You still seem to feel that the team isn't fully behind you?," it was suggested.
"Technically, everything's been very, very good," Webber, second in the standings and 11 points behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso with two races remaining, replied after heavy reflection.
Pressed about the emotional side, he countered brusquely: "It's obvious isn't it?
"Of course when young, new chargers come onto 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 this year, and I have done that," continued the Australian. "I've got favourites in life. I've got people I like to be with. That's how it is. It's human nature."
In a separate session with reporters, team principal Christian Horner rejected the charge of favouritism while acknowledging that team advisor and Austrian owner Dietrich Mateschitz's right hand man Helmut Marko was close to 23-year-old German Vettel.
"I would have to understand what Mark was meaning by those comments because he's had tremendous support from the whole team," said Horner.
"I think he's probably referring to the support of Helmut Marko of Sebastian Vettel but that doesn't influence the way that the team operates, the way that it supports its drivers.
"We've given Mark the tools to get the job done, all his race victories have been achieved in Red Bull cars.
"I'm sure Mark would love the team to say 'Yes, after whatever point in the year your team mate will now be your rear-gunner'. But Red Bull is about giving both drivers the opportunity."
Vettel is 25 points behind Alonso after an engine failure while leading the previous race in South Korea robbed him of the overall championship lead that was in his grasp after Webber had crashed out.
The double failure left Webber still the front-running Red Bull contender but the team have made clear that Vettel will not be expected to help him until his own chances are snuffed out.
Webber was criticised after Korea by former racer Gerhard Berger, who suggested on a Red Bull-owned television station in Austria that the Australian had tried to take out rivals after his mistake by allowing his car to slide back across the track.
The Australian denied that, said he was 'absolutely' surprised by the comments being broadcast but added he had a thick skin.
"When you're up for a world championship, they don't hand them out like Commonwealth Games medals," he declared. "It's a tough thing to get and I realise you're going to have a few headwinds here and there. That's part of it.
"I think it's been a great year for Formula One, a lot of people have locked onto it for various reasons," continued the driver on a brighter note.
"I think I wasn't supposed to be in the hunt at all, so it's been maybe quite inconvenient, but I've enjoyed every minute."
Horner said that was not the case and pointed out also that due to the Korea crash Webber would have a new chassis and car floor for Sunday's race while Vettel would not.