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Old wounds reopen at Silverstone

NEWS STORY
11/07/2011

One year after Mark Webber openly mocked his team for its apparent stance on driver status, the Australian has re-opened the debate.

Taking victory at Silverstone last year, rather than whooping with joy and congratulating his crew, the Australian sarcastically said; "not bad for a number two".

In the weeks and months that followed the team's dirty washing, be it real or imaginary, was done in public. In an attempt to allay fears that Sebastian Vettel was the chosen one, the Austrian outfit tried every trick in the book to resolve the row which threatened to destabilise it be it 'clear the air' talks or cheesy photographs (above).

In the final stages of the championship Webber was one of the few real threats to Vettel's (and Alonso's) title hopes until he threw it all with an unforced error in Korea.

Going into the new season, all appeared well, with the team insisting that both drivers were equal, even though speculation in the paddock insisted otherwise.

As Vettel raised his game, learning from the mistakes of 2010, Webber faltered, only really convincing in the last few races.

On Saturday, the Australian took pole, his second of the season, setting up what many hoped might be his first win of the season and the start of a revival.

Leapfrogged by his teammate at the start of the race, the Australian persisted and in the final stages was battling Vettel for second as Fernando Alonso disappeared into the distance. Then, no doubt prompted by memories of Istanbul 2010, when the two clashed, consequently ending all hope of a 1-2, the Australian veteran was told to "maintain the gap", to fall in behind his teammate and settle for third.

Speaking after the race, Webber reopened the old scars whilst admitting that he had no intention of obeying the instructions given. Asked how he felt about, and if he agreed with its use, he replied: "I am not fine with it. No. That's the answer to that.

"If Fernando retires on the last lap we are battling for the victory so I was fine until the end," he continued. "Of course I ignored the team as I want to try and get another place. Seb was doing his best and I was doing my best. I don't want to crash with anyone, but that was it. I tried to do my best with the amount of conversation I had. One-way conversation obviously as I wasn't talking too much back. There was a lot of traffic coming to me, but I was still trying to do my best to pass the guy in front."

Asked if he still felt like a "number two", he replied: "Not really. I just want to race to the end, so with four or five laps to the end, they started to chat to me about holding my position. Of course, they want the points, but I also need to try and get some more points as well."

Not wanting to see a repeat of last year's media circus, especially at a time when there is frenzied speculation as to who will sit in the second Red Bull next year, team boss Christian Horner attempted to calm the situation.

"We did not want to see our drivers in the fence at some time in the last two laps, which is how it would have ended up," admitted the Englishman. Mark is not out of the championship race but we could not afford to risk losing points. Mark should be fine with that, he is a team player. Second and third is a very strong result.

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