Webber pole, Vettel shotgun?
TEAM ORDERS? Two Red Bulls on the front row for Korea 2012 - but will team mate Sebastian Vettel (right, and leading the championship) force pole-starter Mark Webber (left) to ride shotgun for him? What do you think? Image: AFP
Author: ALAN BALDWIN
YEONGAM, South Korea - McLaren's Jenson Button dismissed, with a broad smile and theatrical nod, Red Bull rival Mark Webber's chances of winning Sunday’s Korean F1 GP.
Australian Webber will line up on pole on with team mate and double Formula 1 World champion Sebastian Vettel alongside.
Vettel is four points behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso on the Drivers’ log with five races remaining and 56 points ahead of Webber.
NOT THE QUICKEST
Asked whether he expected Webber to “ride shotgun” for the German, allowing Vettel to pass and build up an advantage while keeping others behind him, McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said he doubted it.
"I don't think he will, do you?" asked Whitmarsh. Button, sitting on a stool alongside, nodded vigorously to the assembled reporters.
"I do," said the driver. Whitmarsh, however, added: “Well, I don't think he will willingly.”
McLaren has Lewis Hamilton, fourth in the standings and 42 points behind Alonso, third on the grid and directly behind Webber. With Vettel on the “dirty” side of the track, and Webber not always the quickest driver off the grid, Hamilton will be looking to strike early.
So-called “team orders” are legal in F1 but Red Bull has so far resisted imposing them – or had no need to use the ploy.
Button will have to play a more strategic race after qualifying 11th at a track where overtaking has not been straightforward in the past although the DRS zone, in which the rear wing can be manually operated for more straight-line speed, has been extended in distance.
Button said: "As soon as the field spreads out I think you'll see more overtaking than in previous years. There's quite a lot of degradation with the tyres so I think people will be doing different strategies.
"I'm hoping there's going to be a lot of fighting and overtaking."