As Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber pulled out a championship lead on Sunday, F1's attention turned once again towards the spectre of "team orders".

As Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber pulled out a championship lead on Sunday, F1's attention turned once again towards the spectre of "team orders".

The pair are now 31 and 28 points respectively ahead of nearest title challenger Sebastian Vettel, causing Webber to suggest that the time may be nearing for Red Bull to back him over his young German teammate.

McLaren figures trotted out the party line about driver equality, with Hamilton insisting that he will not receive "any preferential treatment" over Jenson Button.

"I think it's too early, but maybe there's a different strategy compared to McLaren," said Webber.

"It's still too early at the moment but not far away, I would say," added the Australian.

However, when team boss Christian Horner was asked if Vettel is now going to play second fiddle to Webber, he answered: "That would be team orders. And those are not allowed!"

Vettel told Auto Motor und Sport: "There are still some races to go and we have seen how quickly things change.

"Monza will be hard for us and today we should at least have been on the podium, but everything is still in it. Head up, we move on."

Interestingly, the spectre of team orders could actually deliver Red Bull some points if the World Motor Sport Council decides to penalise the Ferrari drivers at its disciplinary hearing.

Vettel finished behind both position-swapping Ferraris at Hockenheim, moving Red Bull's Helmut Marko to observe on Sunday to Auto Motor und Sport: "On September 8 there could be ten more points for Sebastian."

Hockenheim winner Fernando Alonso told Spanish reporters on Sunday: "No, I don't think so, we're relaxed."

 

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Team orders are not allowed - Horner