Abu Dhabi: Rival Red Bull team mates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have been given the nod to race each other full-on for the Formula One title in Sunday’s season-ending grand prix.
Team principal Christian Horner reiterated to reporters at Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina circuit on Thursday that there would be no issuing of ‘team orders’ and no attempt to rein in either driver.
“Our priority is to really go for it, as both our drivers have nothing to lose,” said Horner, whose team clinched the constructors’ title in Brazil last weekend.
Webber is eight points adrift of Ferrari’s championship leader Fernando Alonso while Vettel is another seven behind the Australian. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, the fourth contender, is 24 points off the lead.
Alonso need finish only second to win his third title while Webber would be champion if he leads a Red Bull one-two. However should Alonso retire, the two Red Bulls could be locked in a winner-takes-all battle for the title.
“In that situation, they are both racing for a world championship and I don’t think it would make one iota of difference if we told them not to race each other, which we wouldn’t do,” said Horner.
“They would both be competing for the world championship.
“Obviously they know that to finish first, they need to finish. They can’t not finish. Fernando has scored more points than them going into the race, but ultimately they would race each other.”
If Vettel wins, he would be the youngest ever champion at 23 years old.
Should the title go to Webber, he will be only the third Australian champion and the first for 30 years.
If Germany’s Vettel is leading a team one-two with Alonso third, the Spaniard will take the title unless Webber is allowed through.
Horner said that would be entirely the driver’s choice, however.
“They need to know where Fernando Alonso is,” he said. “The question you are asking is for a driver to give up a grand prix victory in order for his team mate potentially to win a championship.
“And that, we feel, is down to the driver. If he wants to do that, it is going to be a gesture from the driver and not an instruction from the team.”
“To us it doesn’t matter which one (wins),” added Horner. “It would be fantastic for a Red Bull driver to win it, they would both be deserving champions. We’re just going to give it everything we can and see how it pans out.”