x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Vettel makes his point on the track

Sebastian Vettel hits claim that Red Bull-Renault are emotionally favouring the young German as he topped the timesheets in both practice sessions.

Sebastian Vettel hit back at Mark Webber's claim that Red Bull-Renault are emotionally favouring the young German as he topped the timesheets in yesterday's practice sessions ahead of tomorrow's Brazilian Grand Prix.

Webber on Thursday had suggested his pursuit of the Formula One title this year had been "inconvenient" to Red Bull after the team had not moved to make him team No 1; he is 11 points off top spot in the title race, with Vettel 25 behind, with only a maximum of 50 to be won.

Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, dismissed Webber's comments, insisting the Australian had received the team's full support.

It prompted what appeared to be a heart-to-heart between the two men on Thursday outside the team's hospitality unit in the paddock at Interlagos, with Webber in particular quite animated.

Now Vettel has had his say, notably via one comment aired on the German television station RTL in which he said: "If Mark needs help then he should take the medical car."

It further underlines the divide that exists between the drivers and seems a clear indicator that Vettel will not aid Webber's cause at any stage.

Asked specifically if he felt the team were emotionally rooting for him, Vettel said: "No. Obviously, a lot of things have been said or written.

"Everyone has his own opinion, but for me we both have the same chance every weekend to do well.

"The team supplies us with a very good car and that's ultimately the situation that you want to be in, having a car where you can win races and fight for podiums.

"I'm enjoying a lot what I'm doing and I'm very proud and happy to be in the position I am now, and happy to be in a team like I am."

Vettel also feels he has had the rougher ride this year in terms of mechanical issues.

He suffered a spark-plug problem that dropped him from first to fourth in Bahrain, a wheel failure that pitched him into the gravel in Australia when he was leading and a blown engine while also leading in Korea in the last race.

It was also Vettel who came off worse when he and Webber collided in Turkey, as he retired while his teammate managed to keep going after spinning off, eventually finishing third.

"I think I've had lots of ups and downs this year, but if something has broken then it has tended to break on my car," Vettel said.

"But do I think there is any conspiracy in the air? No, it's the last thing I think about."

Vettel had the edge on Webber in Sao Paulo on the track yesterday as the Red Bulls dominated free practice at the Interlagos circuit. The German clocked a lap of 1min 12.328secs in the first session and then lowered his best to a 1.11.968 in the second 90-minute period.

Webber was a tenth off Vettel's pace, with championship leader Fernando Alonso almost half-a-second adrift in third place.

The Spaniard, who leads Webber by 11 points in the championship, had to stop his Ferrari on the track in the first session due to engine problems.

Lewis Hamilton, who is 21 points adrift of Alonso, was fourth-quickest.