Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner hopes that the fresh team orders row with Mark Webber at Silverstone does not hurt the chances of the squad renewing its contract with the Australian.
Webber was left fuming at the British Grand Prix when the team instructed him to hold position behind his teammate Sebastian Vettel in the closing stages of the race.
However, despite repeated calls from the pit wall, Webber ignored the instructions and continued to fight Vettel until the checkered flag – although ultimately failing to get past.
Horner has vowed to sit down with Webber to talk about what happened at Silverstone, and he said after the race that he was keeping his fingers crossed that the incident did not have implications regarding a deal for next year.
AUTOSPORT understands that team and driver have been on course to finalize a one-year contract extension that would keep Webber at the British-based outfit for 2012 – although it is not yet signed.
When asked whether the Silverstone incident would change what he thought would be fairly straightforward talks to finalize a deal, Horner said: "I sincerely hope not. "But, at the end of the day, it is about the team. I can understand that sometimes a driver will be frustrated with an instruction, but my responsibility is to ensure the team optimizes its results. And there would have been absolutely no benefit in both cars coming back on a tow truck today if they had gotten together, as we so nearly saw Hamilton and Massa do on that last lap."
Although Horner has faced criticism for the team orders instruction – with him having publicly criticized Ferrari for instructing its drivers at Hockenheim last year – he says that there was no choice but to try to stop his two drivers from colliding at Silverstone.
Asked to respond to recent claims from Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz that the team would never impose team orders, Horner said: "Mr. Mateschitz would not thank us for having both cars in the fence in the last lap, with so many points having got ourselves into a very good position.
"If you look, we also gave Mark an undercut at the first two stops. We did not stop them racing each other at the start. But there comes a point in a race, with two or three laps to go, when you have a lot of points, and both cars on the podium, that it would be absolute stupidity to allow them to keep fighting.
"We saw it get very, very close between the two of them. And we would have looked pretty stupid if they had both ended up in the fence."