Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner has revealed that Mark Webber asked for Sebastian Vettel to "back off" from him the lap before their collision in the Turkish Grand Prix.
Vettel was attempting to pass Webber for the lead approaching the final corners on lap 41 of the race when contact between them left Vettel with race-ending damage and dropped Webber from first to third, handing McLaren a 1-2 finish.
Although Webber had led the race from the outset, Vettel closed on him just prior to the crash and, in an exclusive interview with AUTOSPORT, Horner said Webber had radioed the team asking if Vettel could ease off – a request Red Bull was unwilling to allow with the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button close behind.
"It was quite clear that with the speed advantage the McLarens had on the straight, it was impossible to fall back into them," Horner said. "Mark had requested the lap before to ask Sebastian to back off a bit. There was no way you could do that, because of the McLarens being right there."
Horner acknowledged that Vettel had the faster pace at the time of the incident.
"It looked like Mark started to struggle with the rear tires a bit more – that's what it looked like on the pit wall," said Horner. "And Sebastian, between laps 38 and 39, really closed up rapidly to the back of Mark, obviously got a run on him on lap 40, and they both found themselves in a situation they didn't want to be in."
He remains confident that the crash has not done irrevocable damage to the intra-team relationship.
"We're fortunate that both our guys are mature, balanced individuals," Horner said. "Obviously emotions were running high on Sunday, but they're both professionals. They are probably not going to be down at the pub for a drink together, but they will continue to work professionally in the manner that they have done in the forthcoming races. They work for the team at the end of the day and they know what the rules are."