x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Alliance between Red Bull teammates is the key

Quick, closely matched teammates are frequently a recipe for friction in Formula One, but Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel are united.

Christian Horner has overseen progress at Red Bull.
Christian Horner has overseen progress at Red Bull.

BARCELONA // With articulated lorries shuffling around as Formula One folk prepared for a brisk dash to next weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, the Barcelona paddock was hardly the ideal location for a celebratory photograph. Team spirit, however, overrides such trifles and it burns brightly right now at Red Bull Racing. Quick, closely matched teammates are frequently a recipe for friction in Formula One, but Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel are united as much by mutual respect as they are by a raging desire to beat each other and that much is often evident in their post-race demeanour.

"Mark was in a league of his own today," said Vettel after finishing a distant third in Spain. Always the sign of a balanced human being, grace in defeat. Having two proper racers under the same roof is a boon for team morale and Webber was swift to pay tribute to what Red Bull has achieved. "Today's victory marks the culmination of a fantastic effort by the whole team," he said. "It started with everybody being out of position as a result of the delays we experienced getting back from Shanghai, but they all came in to the factory to work during the recent bank holiday and their eyes are almost popping out of their heads as a result of the hours they've put in at the track this weekend.

"It's just boom, boom, boom everybody is tuned to the same channel, pushing hard." Christian Horner, the team's sporting director, added further perspective. "Mark drove faultlessly today," he said. "It was a great performance. And you have to bear in mind that the floor used on his car was still part of a carbon fibre roll this time last week. That's testimony to how hard the guys are working and how quickly they are transforming drawing board designs into actual components. We are only in the second year of the current F1 regulations, so they remain relatively immature and we are still finding reasonable gains."

Barcelona's fast, sweeping curves were always expected to play to Red Bull's strengths, but the Monaco Grand Prix next weekend will be a useful barometer of the car's true versatility. "We have taken a very good step this weekend," Horner said, "and it will be interesting to see how we get on in Monaco. "It wasn't our strongest circuit last year, but we'll be going there determined to address last season's weaknesses."

In the immediate aftermath of yesterday's race, Webber launched his helmet into the appreciative crowd in the main grandstand an extravagant flourish of a kind rarely seen. Why had he done it? "As with our mechanics," he said, "the spectators sometimes get a raw deal, too." Always the sign of a balanced human being, grace in a victory. sports@thenational.ae