Mark Webber took out his frustration with his Red Bull employers by cruising to victory in the British Grand Prix on Sunday.
The 33-year-old Australian, who had accused his team of favouritism after a new wing was removed from his car and fitted to that of teammate Sebastian Vettel’s, reopened the feud which has simmered between the two men all summer.
“Fantastic guys — not bad for a number two driver,” Webber said pointedly to Red Bull chief Christian Horner, on the team radio as he celebrated his third win of the season.
Webber, who stormed past pole-sitter Vettal at the start, later admitted he was furious with the team’s actions.
“I wasn’t happy. I’m sure we’ll have some decent chats. I don’t think it should happen,” he said.
“Honestly I would never have signed a contract for next year if I believed that was the way I thought it would be going forward.”
Webber made a dazzling start from second on the grid, storming past his German team-mate Vettel going into the first corner.
Webber’s win, the fifth of his career, lifted him back into contention for the world championship after a barren spell since winning the Monaco Grand Prix in May.
He is now third on 128 points, behind title-race leader Briton Lewis Hamilton on 145 and Briton Jenson Button, the defending champion, on 133.
“The car was faultless. I made a good start and I was very keen to hold my corner and it worked out for me,” said Webber.
Horner told the BBC that Saturday’s “difficult decision” was made on the basis of the fact that Vettel was ahead in the championship at the time.
“Mark is by my maths ahead on the points, if we ever found ourselves with one component we’d act differently at the next race,” said the team chief.
“It’s a very good problem to have, to have two such competitive drivers, and as a team we’re doing our best to give them the same components week in, week out.
“Whether it’s Sebastian or Mark, the important thing was we had one of our cars winning.
“Mark is a competitive animal, he’s pushing very, very hard, and sometimes difficult decisions have to be made, but I think we did the best we could, we won the race, and Mark should be very happy with the work he did today.”
Vettel and Webber had already clashed at the Turkish Grand Prix earlier in the season.
On Sunday, Vettel suffered a first corner puncture before fighting back to seventh place.
“From my point of view he had a better start. I moved to the right to try and defend but he was already there. I knew that because I couldn’t see him in the mirror and I knew he didn’t stall,” an emotional Vettel told the BBC.
“Then he was there so there was no point doing something stupid. The race is longer than just one corner. It is a shame I couldn’t fight him then but it is good for the team and I am happy for the team.
“Obviously I focus on myself and so does he I guess. Especially after what happened in the past people have different opinions, I have opinion, I have my experiences and sometimes, good and bad, you get to know people a little better and see their true faces. So I think I have learned my lesson and focus on myself.”
Home-favourite Hamilton finished second for McLaren 1.3 seconds behind Webber, but 21.3 ahead of third-placed German Nico Rosberg in a Mercedes.
“That was a good job done, and a great reflection of all the hard work that the team have put in,” said Hamilton.
“It’s great to hang on to the lead in the championship and there is a long way to go yet.”
Hamilton’s McLaren team-mate Button came home fourth after starting 14th on the grid and was just six-tenths of a second behind Rosberg at the finish.
Brazilian Rubens Barichello finished fifth for Williams ahead of Sauber driver Kamui Kobayashi.
Vettel was followed home by fellow Germans Adrian Sutil of Force India and seven-time champion Michael Schumacher in the second Mercedes.
Another German, rookie Nico Hulkenberg, finished tenth in the second Williams. — AFP