Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner has dismissed suggestions that the team's decision to give Mark Webber a chassis recently rejected by Sebastian Vettel is a sign of favoritism within the Milton Keynes outfit.
Webber's huge accident in Valencia has forced a chassis shuffle for this weekend's British Grand Prix – with Webber taking chassis number 3 for Silverstone. This is the same one that Vettel ditched after the team discovered problems with it after Monaco.
Although that move prompted comments from fans on Red Bull Racing's own website suggesting it was evidence of the team hindering Webber's title challenge, Horner insists that such claims could not be farther from the truth. Speaking at Silverstone on Thursday, Horner said the chassis had been completely repaired – and that tests conducted at the factory showed it was in perfect shape.
"Chassis, at the end of the day, are brackets that effectively components are bolted to, and the chassis has gone through a rigorous R&D and stress tests," said Horner. "We are 100 percent confident that the chassis, both chassis, are in equal condition.
"If we were favoring one over the other, you could do it in different ways. If you look at it objectively, Sebastian is in the car that Mark raced in Bahrain at the first GP, and so effectively all they have done is swap chassis. During the course of the year, both drivers – nine out of 10 times – get to drive all the chassis that you have produced so they are just like any other component. There is nothing special; there is nothing secretive about them. They are effectively a bracket that you bolt bits to."
Horner confirmed that the damage to chassis number 3 had been around the front suspension pick-up point – and also that the team would now be working on a fifth car in the wake of Webber's accident.
"We initially hadn't planned to build a fifth chassis but now we have lost one then, yes, inevitably, the fifth one will come on stream at some point," he said.
Vettel was also sure that there would be no lingering problems for Webber – despite the difficulties he encountered with the car earlier in the year.
"There is nothing wrong with it," he said. "The chassis at the point it was changed was cracked, but since then it has been repaired so it is fine."
When asked if the car, which he had nicknamed "Luscious Liz," was being unfaithful to him in Britain, Vettel said: "I don't know if he [Webber] gives any names to his cars. It is an exclusive right – so it is only valid for me."