It seems Red Bull's motorsport chief Helmut Marko wouldn't back Mark Webber to have a successful Grand Prix season - but Ralph Ellis would and he explains why the Aussie is good value in the early F1 markets...
Red Bull's motorsport chief Helmut Marko has clearly never read The One Minute Manager, the best selling guide to running an effective business written by Ken Blanchard. One of his clearest dictums is that: "Employees who must worry: 'Is the boss going to be angry at me again?' cannot do their best work."
Marko, right hand man to multi millionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz, kicked off the new Formula One season by giving an interview to the company's own in-house magazine in which he absolutely slaughtered Mark Webber. "As soon as his prospects look good he has a little trouble with the pressure this creates - he slips into a downward spiral," said the 69-year-old Austrian.
Thanks for that. So you have an employee who you think can't handle pressure - and you try to solve it by putting him under more pressure. No wonder Webber snapped about "not being part of the agenda" when he was asked about the comments.
Thankfully while Marko clearly doesn't rate Webber's ability to keep going when the going gets tough, there are other forces within the Red Bull team who do give him the right backing. And as testing starts in Spain today there are signs this year of a greater commitment to getting both their drivers onto the podium more often rather than simply basking in the glow from Sebastian Vettel's triumphs.
Webber spent the New Year with Mateschitz at the 68-year-old's private island in Fiji - as you do. What better way to make him feel important? And he will also get into the car this season in the fittest state he has been since he broke his leg in a mountain biking accident in 2008.
Surgeons put a 40cm long titanium rod into his leg to speed his recovery from that crash, and during this winter he's had an operation to have it removed. According to Webber it has made a significant difference to his fitness regime - "some of the niggles and pain I have sometimes experienced with my training already seem to be a thing of the past", he says.
When you are looking for value ahead of a new Grand Prix season you need to hunt out the things which have changed, and a fitter Webber - who also has a new race engineer in Simon Rennie - could add a few percentage points to his performance. He had by his standards a poor season in 2012, finishing sixth, which explains why he's been disregarded by most punters in the market for the next campaign and is as long as 21.020/1 to be this year's Drivers Champion.
That's a huge price for a man who is going to be behind the wheel of a competitive car, and there's just as much value in backing him to be among the top three drivers at anywhere up to 6.86/1.
If you've doubts about Webber's ability it's worth noting that he's been with Red Bull for seven seasons now - and you don't last that long at a top team if you aren't doing your job. The team's plan revolves around winning both drivers and constructors' titles and for that they need both their cars to score points. Perhaps they should pop out and buy the boss that management book.