Watch out for Webber to bite back


Mark Webber is still muttering about being robbed of the Malaysian Grand Prix by his own team mate. Ralph Ellis reckons it will drive on the Australian and make him great value for the rest of the Formula One campaign.

I'm researching old cuttings for a book on Birmingham City's history at the moment. I've reached 1978, and manager Sir Alf Ramsey has just quit in frustration over whether or not the club should sell Trevor Francis.


There's a lovely quote from an exasperated Sir Alf, as he reviews the public debate about his star player's future: "Trevor Francis has had his say, his wife has had her say, now I'm just waiting for the dog."


It came to mind as I looked through all the fallout from Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix in this morning's papers. Mark Webber has got two pets  - Shadow, a Weimaraner, and a Rhodesian Ridgeback called Simba. I wonder what they are making of their master's furious mood. I bet once he's settled back at his home near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire they will be in for some very long, very angry walks - possibly no animal will have walked as far since Roy Keane and his faithful labrador Triggs during the 2002 World Cup!


Everybody, apart from the hounds, have indeed had their say about Webber's feud with Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel. The Australian himself did his grumbling on the same day, his dad Alan is all over the BBC website this morning, and even Jenson Button, who you might have thought had enough problems to worry about with his own dog of a car, has chimed in to warn the two Red Bull drivers will never be able to make it up.


He could be right. We've always known they didn't get on too well, but the scale of the rivalry between them has been laid totally bare by the German's decision to ignore team orders and bag himself his first Grand Prix win of the season.


The question is how much it will affect their ability to perform as a team, and the answer, I suspect, is actually not much.


Vettel was full of apologies afterwards. We all know he won't be so sorry if he needs those extra seven points at the end of the season to retain his drivers' championship. His ruthless streak has made him 2.04 favourite to do so after just two races, and 2.72 favourite to win the Chinese Grand Prix when they are all back on the track on April 13.


What seems to have been forgotten in all this, however, is that the one thing the race in Kuala Lumpur taught us is that, while their drivers might have a few issues, the Red Bull cars are as hot as ever. They locked out the grid in Australia but failed to make they count as they learned the first lessons about managing the new Pirelli tyres. In Malaysia they qualified one and five and then raced one and two.


Webber's response to his anger, by the time he's walked a few miles with the dogs down some country lanes and got his head round things, will be to try to prove his point on the track. And while Team Orders might still leave him behind his "mate" more often than not, he's going to have a car that's every bit as quick. That makes 2.78 for Webber to finish in the top three of the Drivers' Championship outstanding value in the early Formula One betting. I'm backing it - and I don't think I'll be barking up the wrong tree.


(Source: Betfair)




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