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GP Week : Issue 90
Turncoa Don't Mess Wit Email us Something to say? Email us at email@example.com The top-rider reshuffle for 2011 -- now formally under way with official announcements from Ducati and Honda -- is a rare turn- about for champions. With Rossi switching marques (again!) from Yamaha to Ducati, and Stoner going from Ducati to Honda, we have a spectacle seldom seen. By and large, and certainly for the last three or four decades, top riders have tended to stay with one type of machine: the pay-off being a brand identity that reflects on the rider as well as the machine. Think Roberts and Rainey/Yamaha, Schwantz/ Suzuki, Spencer and Doohan/Honda. Next year's grids will see at least two factory-team turncoats up at the sharp end. Rossi has already joined the elite company of riders who have won championships on different makes: before him came Geoff Duke (Norton/ Gilera) back in the 1950s; Giacomo Agostini (MV Agusta/Yamaha); and Eddie Lawson (Yamaha/Honda). All were serial champions. Stoner now has the chance to do the same. So far, the moves have been accomplished with courteous thanks MICHAEL SCOTT MotoGP Editor opinion Sebastian Vettel's front wing had a double vane on the outer end plate, while Mark Webber's was a single vane. That's all, not an earth- shattering difference. Christian Horner argues it offered nothing more than a characteristics change, others say it was worth a tenth. Either way, it wasn't a huge step forward, but the team has allowed this little bit of carbon fibre to become a smoking gun. McLaren couldn't resist sticking the knife in: "We try very hard to give the drivers the same equipment at the same time. That's important," said Martin Whitmarsh. "I think the cohesiveness of the team is such that you don't need to set up those sorts of tensions. You can't really do that. And if you're in a very strong position then I think you have to make sure you hold it together." It wasn't Seb's fault his wing came detached in practice, but to physically unscrew the other updated wing from Mark's car and give it to his rival was, in my opinion, unfair to the Australian and totally de-motivating to his side of the garage. More than that, it was stupid because it's reopened the scab from Turkey, compounding the perception that Helmut Marko and Dietrich Mateschitz only want to see Vettel win. The trouble is, if Seb wins thanks to boardroom backing, that won't play well with the fans. It is sensationally bad PR for the team and for the brand. The pair are so close on points and performance you couldn't put a Rizla paper between them. So why favour one over the other? Horner says he didn't consult Marko, just Adrian Newey, as to who should have got the new wing: "I can't cut it in two," said Christian after the race. No, but if it only offers a characteristic change, and having seen opinion ADAM HAY- NICHOLLS GPWeek Editor One up for the Goodguys? Good guys don't always come last, do they. The restraint with which Mark Webber handled a very tricky situation, followed by his storming start and runaway win, should be an example to all professional sports people. There are many in F1 who would have been major cry-babies and really jumped up and down after Saturday's front wing fiasco, but Webber's public comment was short and to the point and not melodramatic. The fact that, somehow there was grip on what is normally written off as the 'dirty' side of the road, along with his blazing start, is a message from the F1 Gods -- to both Vettel and the Red Bull management, in particular Dr Helmut Marko, I think. Well played Webber -- I and my friends hope you stay in front of the spoilt German at the end of the year. Nigel Barrowclough Cleveland, Ohio, USA Horner in a corner? I feel sorry for Christian Horner. On one hand he has been instrumental in building up a team which is now The Team To Beat in F1, a massive achievement. On the other hand, incidents like the Wing Thing on Saturday show who is REALLY running Red Bull when push comes to shove -- Helmut Vettel, sorry Marko. Horner's pathetic attempt to justify something that could only ever get right up Webber's (and any other fair-minded individual) nose did him no justice. All the peace talk after Turkey was clearly just a talk for talk's sake. Stephane Labelle Omtario, Canada He ain't heavy, he's my brother ... Did I hear correctly, after the race when interviewed, Mark Webber said something like " yeah,the wing went across the garage, AND MOST OF OUR SETUP TOO ..." That can only mean one thing: Webber is clearly carrying the young German in terms of race weekend set-up. I know he has a reputation for being a team player, but is this fair? Brent Cavanagh Bcavanagh68@hotmail.com 24