With Sebastian Vettel tipped for a supporting role in the build-up to the 2010 finale, the shoe is now on the other foot ahead of Sunday’s decisive race.
Although with fewer points than both his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber and leader Fernando Alonso, Vettel is starting the Abu Dhabi decider from pole.
But if he goes on to win, Alonso – starting from third – will need just a fifth place finish to deliver the drivers’ title to Ferrari.
“Now we have to rely on Mark Webber,” Red Bull’s motor sport consultant Helmut Marko is quoted by Welt newspaper.
Niki Lauda agreed: “I don’t think Sebastian is in the situation anymore where he has to let Webber past.”
Webber’s most realistic chance of winning the title for himself is to win the race, with the Australian then needing Alonso to finish third or worse.
That might require Vettel’s help, but the German – separated from Webber on the grid by three rival cars – sees the shoe now on the other foot.
“It is funny how the tables turn,” Vettel is quoted by F1’s official website.
“On Friday I was confronted with those kind of questions (about helping his teammate) and now it is Mark who has to answer them!”
Some good news for Red Bull’s title hopes comes from Germany, with Bild newspaper reporting that Mercedes has secretly agreed to help Vettel to beat Alonso.
And Norbert Haug is quoted in German by Sky television: “Two hearts beat in my chest for the championship; one for (Mercedes powered) Lewis Hamilton, but … honestly I would be very, very pleased for Sebastian Vettel.”
As for whether Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg or Michael Schumacher could help to influence the outcome, Haug answered: “Given our pace, that’s probably a bit presumptuous.”
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