In Depth

Red Bull 'conspiracy' row as Hamilton shows up McLaren

Fernando Alonso wins Chinese Grand Prix but Mark Webber endures another nightmare

FERNANDO ALONSO cruised to victory in the Chinese Grand Prix and Lewis Hamilton also made the podium in Shanghai. But once again the aftermath of the race was dominated by a Red Bull controversy, this time because Mark Webber lost a wheel soon after a pit stop.

The Australian, who was overtaken by Sebastian Vettel in the last race in Malaysia, failed to finish the latest Grand Prix and afterwards refused to rule out what the Daily Telegraph called the "outlandish possibility" that his own team were trying to undermine his position.

The suggestion did not go down well with Red Bull boss Christian Horner. "The team principal, normally impeccably mild-mannered, was visibly angry at the intimation of an ulterior motive behind his driver's nightmarish race in China," reported the paper.

The idea was put forward when Webber was relegated to last place on the grid after running out of petrol in qualifying. It was claimed that the team left him short of fuel on purpose to ensure that he did not start anywhere near his team mate Sebastian Vettel, following their falling out in Malaysia.

"Such talk was mere mischief-making, although the flames were fanned by Webber ducking a question on the subject rather than shooting it down," noted the Daily Mail.

Eurosport's Motorhead blog agreed. It argued that a conspiracy would be "great fun" but added that Red Bull "are not the sort who would spite their face by cutting off their nose". However, things do not look good for Webber. "If the funk persists to the midpoint of the season, when the driver market begins to take shape, the oldest driver on the grid could find himself parked as unceremoniously as his three-wheeled car was at turn 14 on Sunday."

If Red Bull had a day to forget, with Vettel finishing fourth, so did McLaren. Jenson Button drove valiantly to end the race in fifth place but Sergio Perez came in 11th and was blamed for causing a crash in the 16th lap. Meanwhile, old boy Hamilton had another good day for his new team Mercedes.

"As Lewis Hamilton continues to make fools of those who questioned his move to Mercedes, McLaren's decision to replace their departing champion with Sergio 'Checo' Perez is raising ever more questions," noted the Mail.

"Hamilton put his car on pole in China before coming home a creditable third... But such a positive display has turned the spotlight on Perez's less than convincing displays since he took the seat of the English driver at McLaren."

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