McLaren vow not to favour any one driver

Silverstone: McLaren strive to give their drivers equal treatment at all times, team boss Martin Whitmarsh said as rivals Red Bull were accused of favouring Sebastian Vettel over Mark Webber on Saturday.

McLaren have champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton in their lineup -- an apparently harmonious partnership that Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said earlier in the week was a “love-in” sure to end in tears.

“We try very hard to give the drivers the same equipment at the same time. That’s important,” Whitmarsh told reporters after a British Grand Prix qualifying session that left Hamilton fourth and Button 14th for their home race.

The two are currently first and second in the standings respectively, with Vettel and Australian Webber third and fourth.

“We know both drivers will do everything they can to race hard as ever, and if we expect that from them, then they should expect from us to be as fair and open as we can. That’s what we try to set out to do,” added the Briton.

“This weekend we were pushing very hard to bring forward this new floor (for the car), and we decided that if there was only one we would not use it for this race.

“I think the cohesiveness of the team is such that you don’t need to set up those sort of tensions.”

Red Bull triggered a furore after locking out the front row of the grid, with Vettel on pole ahead of Webber.

Vettel had damaged his car’s new-design front wing in final practice and the team took the only other available example off Webber’s car and gave it to the German for qualifying, leaving his team mate with an older one.

Fair And Open

Horner explained that the drivers’ championship positions had been a key factor, as well as the fact that the German had stated a clear preference for the new wing on Friday while Webber sounded less keen.

“I’m not commenting on what happened there and what their equipment is, but all we try and do is be as far and as open as we can with the drivers,” said Whitmarsh.

“There are many incidents, either real or imaginary -- because both have happened -- where one driver has been favoured or senses that his team mate is being favoured,” he continued.

“In those circumstances it is to the detriment to the overall performance of the team, and certainly the individual who feels he is being stitched up -- to use your expression.”

Whitmarsh said he was still uncomfortable about an incident last season where Hamilton had a new floor to his car while then team mate Heikki Kovalainen continued with an older version.

At the time Hamilton was in a much better championship position, although McLaren were out of both title chases, and there was only floor available.

“We were fighting to bring performance to our car, and we had one set of kit and we put it on Lewis’ car,” he recalled.

“We announced it before the event, were very open about it, but I felt deeply uncomfortable, even in the circumstances where Lewis was a long way ahead of Heikki.

“Heikki understood and was completely relaxed about it but I, to this day, didn’t feel good in doing that.”

Bureau Report