A controversial decision during last night's British Grand Prix race of the Formula 1 championship has led to a backlash from fans of the Red Bull Racing (RBR) constructors' team. Criticism on Facebook and Twitter reached fever pitch with a thousand angry comments posted on the team's Facebook page in the hour after the race.
The catalyst for fan disappointment came when, during the final lap of the British Grand Prix race held at the Silverstone racing circuit, RBR team principal Christian Horner could be heard on radio ordering popular Australian driver Mark Webber to maintain his third place position behind the team's other driver, Sebastian Vettel, instead of attempting an overtake. Webber was in a position to potentially beat Vettel during the race's final lap with the help of DRS, and this 'team orders' radio call has been interpreted by fans as an attempt at manipulating the final outcome of the race in preference of Vettel. Tempers were already frayed after a series of errors by RBR in pit lane that lost Vettel his first place spot and delayed Webber during the final minutes of the race, securing a win for Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso.
A post on the RBR Facebook page, which appeared in the minutes following the race's conclusion, attracted over a thousand comments in a single hour with the majority of the comments criticising Red Bull's tactical move, with several fans echoing criticism of Horner, who previously spoke out against team orders after a similar Ferrari incident sparked controversy in 2010. Eight hours after the end of the British GP the Facebook post had over 2500 comments. The #F1 and #BBCF1 hashtags also showcase fans' continuing dismay.
Twitter account @F1Grid posted quotes from Red Bull Racing teammates Webber and Vettel, as well as team principal Horner. According to @F1Grid, Horner said that the decision was made to maintain the second- and third-place finish for the team and not risk a racing incident that could have damaged one or both of the cars: "It made absolutely no sense to have them fight it out. It would have ended up in the wall... The message was quite clear to (Webber). The drivers aren't bigger than the team." Similarly, Vettel told @F1Grid that "there was no point doing anything stupid." Webber didn't hold back in expressing his disappointment: "Of course I ignored the team because I wanted to try and get a place... If Fernando (Alonso) retired on last lap, we were fighting for a win." When asked about whether the radio call would impact his decision to stay with Red Bull next year, Webber answered simply: "Yes." Webber, who tweets under the alias @aussiegrit, has not posted an update since the race began.
Australian broadcaster Ten, which broadcast the race on Channel Ten and digital TV station One HD, also attracted criticism over Twitter and Australian forum Overclockers Australia for the large amount of advertising breaks throughout the three-hour broadcast of the Grand Prix. In addition, a poorly-timed advertising break during the broadcast meant Australian viewers missed an incident that saw McLaren driver Jenson Button out of the race due to an incorrect pit stop where one of his car's wheel nuts was not fitted.
Update: The official @OneHD Twitter account has apologised to fans: "Sorry to all #F1 fans. We do try and place appropriate ad breaks but due to the live nature of our broadcast, sometimes this proves tricky."