Conspiracy theories are great fun, but that’s about it. There is a school of thought – particularly amongst his staunchest fans – that Mark Webber is consistently hampered by his team. They point to poor strategy decisions, two recent gearbox change penalties, and just about anything they can find. They want – nay, need – to find something other than the simple fact that Sebastian Vettel is quicker on the whole.
That’s not to say Webber is not a great racing driver – he is, without a doubt – it’s just that suggestions that Red Bull would hold back one of their drivers in a season that is so competitive are absurd. Anybody with sense can see that. After all, why pay the man millions of dollars a year just to hold him back? Why not employ Alguersuari, say, for much less, and make it clear he’s there to back up Vettel?
I will no doubt be told that things are not ‘black and white’ but, when one takes a step back from the emotional attachment of a favourite driver, things are often very clear indeed. There is no doubt the Red Bull has had its wings clipped after the FIA ordered the team to modify its engine mapping. It’s far more sensible to surmise that Webber, perhaps, has been affected more than Vettel by the obvious change in performance. Perhaps, also, he is not as able to adapt to the Pirelli tyres in this second half of the season?
Another thing: if Webber is being hampered, surely he would know? I can’t imagine he would take kindly to being told that the team were changing his gearbox to screw his chances in qualifying, and neither can I imaging that a driver who we know was actively courted by Ferrari for next year would re-sign for a team that is constantly holding him back. Especially one as pragmatic and straight-talking as Webber.
The conspiracy theorists need to step back and take in the bigger picture. Webber is clearly very happy at Red Bull; if he was not given a fair crack of the whip I doubt he would be so.