McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh reckons the favoritism dispute engulfing Red Bull Racing could start hurting the team's performance on track.
Red Bull has been forced to defend its decision to remove a new front wing from Mark Webber's car and hand it to teammate Sebastian Vettel for qualifying for the British Grand Prix. Coming off the way in which the team initially supported Vettel after his collision with Webber in Turkey, before eventually admitting that neither driver was to blame, it has reignited suspicions that Red Bull Racing supports one of its drivers more.
Although Whitmarsh said he was not aware of the specifics of Red Bull Racing's decision, he reckons anything that left one driver feeling as though his teammate had been favored was bad.
When asked if having one driver feeling as though he had been put at a disadvantage could lead to growing trouble, Whitmarsh said: "There are many incidents, either real or imaginary – because both have happened – where one driver has been favored or senses that his teammate is being favored. In those circumstances, it is detrimental to the overall performance of the team, and certainly the individual who feels he is being stitched up, to use your expression."
Whitmarsh felt that controversial actions like swapping front wings between drivers simply served to create unnecessary tensions within a team.
"We try very hard to give the drivers the same equipment at the same time. That's important," he said. "We know both drivers will do everything they can to race hard as ever, and if we expect that from them, then they should expect from us to be as fair and open as we can. That's what we try to set out to do. This weekend we were pushing very hard to bring forward this new floor, and we decided if there was only one, we would not use it for this race.
"I think the cohesiveness of the team is such that you don't need to set up those sorts of tensions. You can't really do that. And if you're in a very strong position then I think you have to make sure you hold it together."
Whitmarsh said the only time in his experience that McLaren had ever had to favor one driver with equipment was last year, when it only had one update package available for its car at the German Grand Prix.
"There was one circumstance that happened last year, but it was done very openly," he said. "We were fighting to bring performance to our car, and we had one set and we put it on Lewis' car. We announced it before the event, were very open about it, but I felt deeply uncomfortable, even in the circumstances where Lewis was a long way ahead of Heikki [Kovalainen].
"Heikki understood and was completely relaxed about it, but I, to this day, didn't feel good in doing that."