Red Bull Racing has conceded that it was wrong to pin the blame on Mark Webber for the clash with teammate Sebastian Vettel in Turkey last weekend, with the team now believing their coming-together was simply an "unnecessary" racing accident.
In a press release Q & A issued by the team on Tuesday to try and defuse the controversy surrounding the team, team principal Christian Horner cast further light on the events building up to the incident.
Having had two days to analyze the crash and the circumstances surrounding it, Horner said that all factions of the team – including Red Bull's motorsport advisor Helmut Marko – now believed both drivers should share the blame for what happened. This stance is in contrast to comments made by Marko immediately after the race, where he wholly blamed Webber. That statement prompted considerable controversy with fans and the media, especially because it was Vettel who had turned right into Webber's car as he tried to pass him.
"Ultimately, we win as a team and we lose as a team and on Sunday we lost as a team, as a result of our two drivers having an incident," said Horner. "Having looked at all the information it's clear that it was a racing accident that shouldn't have happened between two teammates. After looking at all the facts that weren't available immediately after the race, Dr. Marko also fully shares this view."
Horner revealed that two laps prior to the incident, Webber had turned his engine down to try and conserve fuel, which cost him 0.18sec per lap.
"On laps 38 and 39, Sebastian's pace picked up and he closed right up to the back of Mark while under considerable pressure from Hamilton behind," explained Horner. "After a very strong run through Turn 9, Sebastian got a run and strong tow and moved to the left to pass Mark.
"Mark held the inside line and adopted a defensive position, which he is entitled to do. When Sebastian was three quarters of the way past, he moved to the right. As Sebastian moved to the right, Mark held his position and the ensuing result was contact that resulted in Sebastian retiring, Mark damaging the front end of his car and the team losing a 1-2 finish. Ultimately, both drivers should have given each other more room."
Horner said that talks planned with the drivers would clear up several issues relating to the race, including Vettel's actions when he got out of the car (pictured), where his gestures indicated he thought Webber had been "mad" for causing the crash.
"The adrenaline was flowing and obviously there's a great deal of frustration when you've just crashed out of a race," said Horner. "It will be discussed and I am certain that the air will be cleared before Canada."
He added: "We're a very strong team and we will sit down and discuss this openly with the drivers in order to learn from what has happened and avoid a situation like this arising again. One of the strengths of Red Bull Racing is the team spirit here, which has contributed to the performance that we have achieved so far this season. The drivers are both intelligent individuals and this issue will be resolved prior to the Canadian Grand Prix."
Although the fallout from Red Bull's handling of the events has heightened suspicions among fans that Vettel is the team's preferred driver, Horner remained adamant that both drivers would continue as equals.
"Both drivers, as has always been the case, will continue to be given equal treatment," he said. "The Turkish Grand Prix has been a costly lesson for both drivers and we are confident that this situation won't happen again."
When asked for Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz's thoughts on the matter, he said: "Dietrich has spoken with both drivers following the incident. He has always supported both drivers equally and summed it up by saying, 'S*** happens...' we shouldn't talk about the past, but concentrate on the future. The fact is that we not only have the fastest car, but also two of the best and fastest drivers."
Such has been the level of criticism aimed at the team that Horner has also written an open letter to fans on Red Bull Racing's website forum explaining the outfit's situations.
"We now have to regroup," he said. "We are a strong team and we'll sit down and discuss what we can learn from this incident. We have immense team spirit here at Red Bull Racing, both Sebastian and Mark are intelligent individuals and we will have the situation resolved before we go to Montreal.
"And, finally, as I have always pledged, both drivers, will continue to be given equal treatment. The Turkish Grand Prix has been a costly lesson for both drivers and we are confident that this situation won't happen again.
"We still have a long way to go this year until Abu Dhabi and whichever Red Bull Racing driver you're behind in the fight for the World Championship, I hope we – and they – can count on your support."