Coming up to round 8 of the 19 race championship in Montreal this coming weekend it, the burning questions are whether Ferrari and Mercedes – the two teams which have disappointed the most so far in 2010 relative to their pre-season expectations – can signal a performance breakthrough which has the potential to carry them forward into Red Bull and McLaren territory for the balance of the season.
At the present moment only the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have the proven capacity to disrupt the Webber/Vettel private party at the front of the field, although the events at Istanbul, where both Red Bulls collided battling for the lead, will have raised the rest of the opposition’s hopes. If they can be pressured into running into each other once, then you might think that makes them vulnerable to a repeat performance of such an acutely embarrassing slip.
But I am reliably informed that last week’s top level meeting at the RB headquarters at Milton Keynes saw Vettel and Webber genuinely making an effort to rule off after the incident and put it behind them once and for all.
I am inclined to take those assurances at face value. Widly different in character and temperament they may be, but Webber and Vettel are first and foremost two very intelligent racing drivers. And very intelligent people do not pick arguments which they have no chance of winning. All of which means that, going forward, they will be trying to capitalise on the upside of their relationship, which includes the superb Red Bull RB6, and not allow personal rivalry to get in their way. Well, not as much as it might.
Truth be told, the competitive frisson which goes hand-in-hand with having two top drivers in the same team is a powerful force which can be harnessed for competitive advantage. The only difference between the Webber/Vettel confrontation and the nerve-wrackingly close wheel-to-wheel dicing between the McLaren drivers was that Lewis and Jeson stopped short of colliding with each other.
Had they done so, it would have been a Prost/Senna reborn scenario. Just as I can see a Rosberg/Schumacher situation developing along similar lines as the season unfolds. Like Ferrari, all that remains is for Mercedes GP to give them a car in which they can run at the front of the field.