Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has said his drivers have nothing to lose, as Sebastian Vettel topped the timesheets in first Abu Dhabi practice this morning.
Either Red Bull driver could win the title on Sunday afternoon, but they both trail Fernando Alonso in the points and need the Ferrari man to finish third or lower.
But Horner’s remarks and Vettel’s statement of intent leave little doubt that the Red Bull squad want to add the drivers’ crown to their constructors’.
“Our priority is to really go for it, as both our drivers have nothing to lose,” said Horner. “From a team point of view, we’ve bagged the team championship, and it would be fantastic to come away from here with the drivers’ championship.
“For us it doesn’t matter which one [wins]. It would be fantastic for a Red Bull driver to win it, as they would both be deserving champions. We’re just going to give it everything we can and see how it pans out.”
The Englishman also added his final word on the question of whether Vettel would be ordered to let Webber past, if there were a situation in which only the Australian could win.
He added: “In the situation they are both racing for a championship, I don’t think it would make one iota of difference if we told them not to race each other, which we wouldn’t do. Obviously they know to finish first, first they need to finish. They need to finish, as Fernando has scored more points than them, but ultimately they would race each other.”
Meanwhile, Vettel gave no indication that he is intending to surrender his own title charge by setting the fastest time this morning.
He led home title rival Lewis Hamilton from Jenson Button, but Mark Webber could only manage fourth quickest.
Fernando Alonso was sixth.
Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m42.760s 18
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m43.369s + 0.609s 16
3. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m43.785s + 1.025s 19
4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m43.840s + 1.080s 19
5. Robert Kubica Renault 1m44.080s + 1.320s 19
6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m44.121s + 1.361s 17
7. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m44.199s + 1.439s 19
8. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m44.604s + 1.844s 18
9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m44.718s + 1.958s 19
10. Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1m44.737s + 1.977s 19
11. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m45.160s + 2.400s 18
12. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1m45.445s + 2.685s 21
13. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1m45.474s + 2.714s 15
14. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1m45.552s + 2.792s 20
15. Tonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1m45.585s + 2.825s 14
16. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m46.003s + 3.243s 20
17. Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1m46.644s + 3.884s 19
18. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m47.105s + 4.345s 22
19. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1m48.450s + 5.690s 19
20. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1m48.472s + 5.712s 17
21. Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1m49.375s + 6.615s 13
22. Bruno Senna Hispania-Cosworth 1m49.590s + 6.830s 18
23. Christian Klien Hispania-Cosworth 1m50.274s + 7.514s 17
24. Fairuz Fauzy Lotus-Cosworth 1m51.705s + 8.945s 18
All timing unofficial