BUDAPEST: Formula One broke up for the summer yesterday with leaders Red Bull and Mark Webber in the mood for a holiday while McLaren chafed at having to shut up shop just when they most need to speed up development.
McLaren closed their Woking factory for two weeks from the stroke of midnight on Sunday as part of an agreement signed up by all teams to enable staff to relax with families and recharge their batteries in a demanding 19–race season.
Red Bull’s Webber, back on top of the standings after adding a Hungarian Grand Prix victory at the weekend to his three others this season, was heading to the south of France with a smile as broad as the Danube.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, now four points adrift of the Australian with seven races left, planned to spend some time with his family and pop singer girlfriend Nicole Scherzinger.
Team–mate Jenson Button and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg will both be taking part in triathlons in London and Kitzbuehel respectively.
Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher, handed a 10 place penalty for his next race after almost shunting former Ferrari team–mate Rubens Barrichello into the wall, looked forward to relaxing at home with his wife and children.
And the former Ferrari spokesman was jetting off on a break to the Maldives, where the vexed subject of banned ‘team orders’ was unlikely to be even a whisper in the breeze wafting through the palm trees.
While the paddock packed up, saying farewell until the Belgian Grand Prix on Aug 29, there were some already itching to get back to work.
“I would love not to have a shutdown and be ploughing on, to understand what’s permissible on the front wing and make them next week. But I can’t,” said McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh.
“It still seems odd to me to have a shutdown but it’s probably good for people.
“We’ll come back energised and fighting, ambitious and optimistic and inventive and we’ll do what’s necessary to make sure we can come back at these other teams.”
McLaren need to do something, having lost the lead in both championships to a Red Bull that looked this weekend to be on another level to their rivals.
The Bulls’ 11th pole position in 12 races was also their most dominant, with no other car able to get within 1.2 seconds of them, and Webber was able to pull away from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso at around a second a lap when he had to.
Although Germany’s Sebastian Vettel was unable to convert pole into victory, Webber seized his chance with both hands with a drive that had team boss Christian Horner purring with delight.
“Take nothing away from Mark, he drove an outstanding race,” he declared.
Webber, who has now won twice as many races as anyone else, can enjoy his renewed status as real title contender after all the talk of ‘number ones’ and ‘number twos’ but he was not about to indulge any fantasies.
“The victory is good. To maximise your opportunities is always good irrespective of what happens to your rivals,” he said.
“It is nice to have a few more points than other people, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’m looking forward to the break for sure. It’s very, very timely.
“(We have) two sensational venues to finish the European season off in Spa and Monza, so I’m looking forward to them.
“Spa we all love driving there, so looking forward to going there.” – Reuters