Comments in which Mark Webber
was highly critical of his former Red Bull colleagues have been removed from the Australian's official website. It has been no secret that Webber, who has left the world champion team and formula one to lead a more relaxed life with Porsche, has been enduring strained relationships with bosses Christian Horner
, Dr Helmut Marko
and teammate Sebastian Vettel
Once very close friends and even sharing ownership of a GP3 team with the 40-year-old Briton, Webber admitted in the deleted comments that he and Horner are "probably not as close now as we once were". "Christian is going to be with the team for a long time indefinitely, you'd imagine, unless he gets an approach from somewhere else so he's got to make sure that he tries to keep everything as smooth as possible," said Webber. "In some cases that hasn't been something which might have benefitted me. That's put a stress on the relationship."
Webber's strained relationship with Austrian Marko, who has always vigorously championed Vettel's cause, has been much more obvious. He said in the deleted comments: "I still don't really know his (Marko's) role in the team, so ... yeah. He was very critical of me from day one but in the end he's obviously brought Seb through and done a great job with that. He's probably disappointed that F1 teams have to have two cars. But they do," added Webber.
Webber, 37, began his comments about former teammate Vettel in a complimentary tone, describing the new four-time world champion as "phenomenally gifted". "We know that his strength is qualifying and the first five laps of the race. That's his signature punch. That's the hardest part to control," said Webber.
As for their relationship, however, Webber said: "There's so much water under the bridge between us that it's hard to think of more positives than negatives. "That's a bit disappointing because you want to keep everyone in a respectful light, and give them as big a chance as possible, for as long as you can," he added.
"But I think there's probably too much that's gone on between us. Maybe when we're 50-odd things will be different but with what we've been through it's hard to draw a line under too much of it," said Webber. "For sure I'm not super-bothered by it and nor is he. That's just the way it is," he concluded.
Germany's Auto Motor und Sport reports that, when Bernie Ecclestone
presented the retiring Webber at his last grand prix with a Brazilian flag bearing the signatures of his fellow F1 drivers, Vettel's was the only missing name. But Ecclestone reportedly appeared after the post-race press conference at Interlagos and personally asked Vettel to sign the flag. "Webber was not pleased," said correspondent Michael Schmidt. (GMM)