Mark Webber has admitted he was happy to settle for second place at Suzuka last weekend.
Already leading the world championship before Japan, the Australian finished the race one second behind his teammate, the pole sitter and winner Sebastian Vettel.
“Sebastian drove well and deserved to win,” Webber is quoted by Italy’s Autosprint magazine.
“I knew before the start that it would be difficult to win with him in pole position.
“I have no regrets about not trying to overtake him. I could have (tried), but I thought about the championship. And then overtaking at Suzuka is not easy.
“At this point you cannot make mistakes,” he continued. “The points for second place are very important and it wasn’t worth the risk.
“The most important thing is that I have increased my advantage to the ones behind,” he added.
But even though Vettel, 14 points behind Webber, is equal on points with the charging Fernando Alonso, team boss Christian Horner insists there will be no favouritism through to next month’s Abu Dhabi finale.
“It’s not correct – as we’ve always said – for us to favour one driver over the other,” said the Briton this week.
It is clear, however, that there is still some needle in the Red Bull garage, with Webber fleeing Suzuka for a helicopter to Tokyo before the team’s traditional victory photograph.
He also beat Vettel’s fastest race lap on the final tour of the race; a “mind game” that must have caused “great angst” for their bosses, according to BBC commentator Martin Brundle.
And Vettel admits he was relieved when he saw Renault’s Robert Kubica, not Webber, behind him at the start of the Japanese race.
“Nothing against Mark or the team, but it would have made my life easier,” said the German, regretting that Kubica’s wheel soon fell off.
“That (Kubica’s retirement) was of course good for the team, but for the championship I would not have objected if he would have stayed in second.”
© RIF | GMM