Red Bull’s Mark Webber blasted Lewis Hamilton’s “mind games” after leading practice at the Japanese Grand Prix yesterday, while Formula One great Michael Schumacher crashed heavily one day after announcing his retirement.
At the Suzuka circuit, Webber, 35, timed two-tenths of a second quicker than Hamilton, who later suggested Red Bull were the team to beat.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was third fastest with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg fourth and Fernando Alonso fifth.
But the redoubtable Webber said the Hamilton’s comments were an attempt to play “tricks” with Red Bull — and insisted it simply wouldn’t work. “If we go through the last (few) races, and see who has been on the front row,” Webber said, referring to McLaren’s four straight pole positions.
“I think he (Hamilton) knows the little tricks here and there in terms of mind games are not going to touch the sides with us, so we know we have got work to do.
“They have a strong car, as have we, but I don’t think anyone is dominant at the moment — certainly not us.”
With six races left, Vettel is trying to chase down Ferrari’s championship leader Alonso for his third straight world title, while Hamilton, who is set to depart McLaren for Mercedes, is an outside chance at best despite winning two of the last four races.