Red Bull's driver problem unlikely to go away any time soon

Should Red Bull have prevented Baku collision? (2:24)

Maurice Hamilton and Jennie Gow wonder if the Red Bull team could have stepped in to prevent Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen colliding. (2:24)

A Spanish Grand Prix preview by the Red Bull drivers, issued on Friday, makes no mention of what they got up to in Baku or how that might impact (no pun intended) on their behaviour next weekend.

That should be no surprise. Apart from the fact that the quotes were probably garnered by the team's PR department before last Sunday's race, a reluctance to broach this subject says more about the size of a problem that is unlikely to go away any time soon.

The drivers will certainly have received a good talking to and a reminder of their responsibilities to the team over and above the settling of a de facto pecking order on track.

After that? Telling either of these guys to make way for the other is like expecting Donald Trump to invite Hillary Clinton to tea in the White House. And for Mrs Clinton to accept.

It can be done, of course. Mercedes proved it in Hungary last year when Valtteri Bottas agreed to let Lewis Hamilton move ahead on the understanding that if he couldn't do the job on the leading Ferraris, Lewis would give the place back. Which is exactly what he did.

My recent suggestion that Red Bull should have issued an order after the pit stops at three-quarter distance received an interesting comment from Frank Dernie.

"I think once you have told the drivers they can race, you are stuck with it," said the former Williams engineer/designer. "Trying to change that from the pits over the radio will never work; in fact it often doesn't work even if it has been pre-agreed that one or other will take precedence under certain circumstances.

"Both [Mark] Webber and [Nico] Rosberg have good reason to be aggrieved by Vettel and Hamilton not sticking to pre-agreed conditions, probably because they didn't agree with the management or engineers at the time but said nothing. Two well matched drivers in one team allowed to race is great for the punters, but often not for the team."

Frank speaks from experience. In 1981, Williams went to Brazil for the second race of the season with Alan Jones as reigning champion and Carlos Reutemann as the second driver. Having won the opening round in Long Beach, Jones was not so sure of a repeat in Rio de Janeiro, particularly after qualifying third behind Nelson Piquet's pole position Brabham and Reutemann. But there was a contractual stipulation covering certain aspects of the Williams running order.

It had been agreed that if Reutemann was leading Jones by fewer than seven seconds, then he should let his team-mate through. Carlos had signed the document because he believed he could beat Alan in a straight fight. In teeming rain, Reutemann found himself in front and showed every intention of staying there in the final stages despite pit boards bearing the blunt message 'JONES-REUT'.

Reutemann crossed the line with Jones 4.44 seconds behind. If the relationship between the Australian and the Argentinian had been formal at the best of times, it was now ice-cold. And it would continue that way throughout a season that, fortunately for Williams, never brought another front-running one-two and actually saw Reutemann lose the championship to Piquet at the final race in Las Vegas.

Reflecting on the Brazilian drama many years later, technical director Patrick Head made a telling point about a racing driver's mindset.

"According to Carlos's contract, if he was first and Alan was second and there was no threat from behind, then he had to give way to Alan," recalled Head. "Whether or not Carlos should have signed a contract like that is another matter. Whoever was third [the Arrows of Riccardo Patrese] was thirty seconds behind. When the sign was put out, Carlos did the I-see-no-ships routine. But I have to say, if I was Carlos, I probably would have done the same!"

This happened within a team dictating a clear demarcation between the number 1 and number 2. What chance do Red Bull have when both drivers -- happily for us, as Frank Dernie says -- are encouraged to go racing? Small wonder next weekend's preview made no mention of the elephant in the Red Bull room.

The drivers will probably talk in all sincerity over the coming days about helping the team. But can they help themselves when visors are flipped shut and the red mist descends?