Having arrived with a dominant car and leading both world championships, Red Bull has departed Turkey in crisis.
“They step on their tails too often,” said BBC commentator Martin Brundle, after Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel crashed while running one-two at Istanbul Park.
Crash and loss of tempers aside, the team’s management then misled the media about Webber’s fuel-saving engine setting and gave the undoubtable impression that it is the young German Vettel who they want to win the 2010 title.
Compounding the team-induced mess is that the isolated Webber, 33 – who had been in the midst of contract negotiations about 2011 – is now the clear leader of the world championship.
Even Webber’s race engineer Ciaran Pilbeam has been put offside. When asked why Webber was not told that Vettel was much faster, Marko told Auto Motor und Sport: “We told his engineer but he did not pass on the information.”
Dr Helmut Marko, believed to be leading the German-speaking faction of the Austrian-owned team, denied that Red Bull is poisoned by an internal division.
“That’s not true. We are handling our team and both drivers in the same way.”
The speed of the crisis is marked out by the memories of just two weeks ago, when Vettel and Webber exaltedly leapt off the motor home into the Monaco harbour.
“I’m sure they are not going to be going out for dinner in the coming days,” Marko said when asked if Sunday had destroyed their relationship.
For many in the paddock, despite their apparent media-savvy humour, Red Bull has never been the friendliest team in the paddock.
“They were always trying to squeeze (tension) between Fernando (Alonso) and Felipe (Massa) and at the moment they are facing this situation on their side,” said Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali.
Referring to his Maranello employer, Fernando Alonso said: “It shows that there is a united team in the paddock.”
“The important thing is to have respect,” Felipe Massa added.
Team boss Christian Horner insists he will sort out the mess before Canada, after a patch-up job in the Turkey paddock proved impossible because Vettel had stormed out of the circuit.
“One of our drivers has gone,” Marko confirmed when asked by the press late on Sunday.