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Red Bull laughs off team orders

2011-11-28 09:53

SAO PAULO, Brazil - Formula 1 champion team Red Bull scoffed at suggestions that it manipulated the Brazilian GP to hand Mark Webber his first win of the 2011 season at the last race.  

Team boss Christian Horner told reporters he was astonished that double World champion Sebastian Vettel finished the season-ending race, let alone in second place, after Red Bull advised him of a gearbox problem.

'THERE WAS AN ISSUE'

The fact Vettel set a number of fastest laps after allowing Webber to go past 30 laps into the 71-lap race aroused suspicions in the media room but Horner said there had been no deception.

"Of course there will always be people that have theories but categorically there was an issue," he said. "How on earth that gearbox got to the end of the race is beyond me. I'm grateful that it did and that Mark ended up a deserving winner.

"If anybody thinks that was concocted in any way I can absolutely hand-on-heart guarantee you, based on the blood pressure that was on the pits wall... it was a genuine issue."

Webber had started second on the grid, alongside Vettel who had taken his record 15th pole of the season and was chasing a 12th win of the year.

The Australian's last victory was in Hungary in August 2010 and Red Bull was eager for him to end the year as overall runner-up but his chances looked dim until the gearbox problem surfaced.

Vettel said he made clear to the team on the radio he could not keep the lead with the problem, or even be sure of finishing, and was willing to let Webber through to ensure the team still won the race.

SENNA COMPARISON

The 24-year-old said he felt like the late Brazilian great Ayrton Senna, who famously won at Interlagos in 1991 with a McLaren whose gearbox failed progressively so that he ended up negotiating tight corners in sixth gear.

At the end of that race Senna had to be lifted from the car suffering from exhaustion and Vettel recognised the comparison was somewhat exaggerated.

"Obviously it was totally different for him, he was Brazilian and he still managed to win the race," he said.

"I was forced to push in areas where I was allowed to, in the corners, but as soon as I went on the straight I obviously had to shift earlier."

Horner said that by the finish the gearbox was operating right on the limit.

"There must be zero oil left in that gearbox because it literally went off the scale in those last five laps," he said. "We were glued to the data to see if it was going to make it to the end."

Reuters