They spent five years together as teammates in a partnership that was as acrimonious as it was successful, but it seems Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel are doing their best to bury the hatchet in the first F1 season with neither at Red Bull Racing since 2006.
The up-and-coming German and veteran Australian had a testy relationship as teammates, with Turkey 2010, Silverstone the same year and Malaysia 2013 the biggest flash points in a partnership that won four straight constructors’ championships and four consecutive drivers’ titles, all for Vettel.
In the final race of his first season in the World Endurance Championship in Brazil last year, Webber had a big crash at the final corner while lapping a backmarker, and Vettel told Gazzetta dello Sport this week that he’d checked in on his old sparring partner.
“These days I’m not Mark’s best friend and neither is he for me, but we are on speaking terms,” he said.
“When last year he crashed his Porsche I was immediately moved to send him a message to know about his conditions, and he replied he was well despite the strong impact.
“We may even go have lunch together …”.
For his part, Webber has credited Vettel for much of the resurgence by Ferrari through the F1 pre-season, the famed Italian team looking to be back in the running for podiums this season after a wretched 2014.
Speaking to the ‘Keeping Track’ podcast, Webber said: “I’ve seen snapshots of how the team is operating in testing and what they’re doing, and I can see he’s already having an influence. I think that decision (to leave Red Bull) was made very early in the season, I think he was pretty keen to go quite early. He’s now underway there and I think it will be a good move for him long-term.”
“I think his Ferrari move is one that was inevitable; he’s not going to do his whole career in one team, and there’s no better team for him to go to than Ferrari. It’s the most famous team in all of motorsport, in Formula One especially.
“There was a particular window where he (Vettel) was super-comfortable with the regulations at one point where he looked virtually unbeatable; that’s what he was doing to the whole field. He was very strong with the blown diffuser cars and there was a very unique driving style, and he adapted to that exceptionally well and was extremely successful with it.”
Perhaps time really does heal all wounds after all …