London: Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button's "smoke and mirrors" act at McLaren will flare up sooner or later, according to Red Bull title rival Mark Webber.
The Australian told reporters on Wednesday the public unity of the two world champions, first and second in the standings ahead of Sunday's British Grand Prix, was bound to end in tears.
"If Seb's drowning in the ocean I'd go in and help him out," Webber said of German team mate Sebastian Vettel, the driver he collided with in Turkey in May while they were running first and second.
"We don't hate each other's guts ... but it (the rivalry) is totally natural. You look at say (Lotus drivers) Jarno (Trulli) and Heikki (Kovalainen), there's not much at stake so they are going to get on better," he added at the Red Bull factory.Vettel charges to European Grand Prix victory
"If you look at (Brazilian Nelson) Piquet and (Briton Nigel) Mansell (at Williams in 1986/87), when you are at the front and both trying to win there is going to be a healthy competitive rivalry there. It's not easy to have a beautiful, fuzzy, warm relationship when he (a team mate) is clearly a competitor," added Webber, who will join the McLaren drivers in a pre-race news conference at Silverstone on Thursday afternoon.
"That is absolutely the case at McLaren too, I believe it," said the 33-year-old.
"They are working hard to put a bit of smoke and mirrors up but those two are racing hard. If you are always racing at the front, inevitably it's going to come.
"I don't want the headlines to be Hamilton and Jenson are going to hit each other this weekend, that's not what I'm saying," added Webber.
"What I'm saying is that it's inevitable given what's at stake, they are both hungry, both driven. If I don't care, if I'd got no competition about me, no fire and desire about me, I'd get on with Seb like a house on fire."
Hamilton, the 2008 champion, is six points clear of compatriot and reigning champion Button ahead of their home race this weekend, with both having won twice this season. The pair will be chasing victory at Silverstone, with Red Bull looking like their biggest rivals, but have presented a united and relaxed front in recent media appearances. The only time they have clashed on the track was also in Turkey when each overtook the other in the closing laps before Hamilton went on to win.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner agreed with Webber that the situation with the McLaren drivers was potentially explosive.
"Anybody that thinks Lewis and Jenson aren't competitive and won't push each other to the limit is sadly mistaken," said Horner.
"It's inevitable ... that in a competitive sport they will be pushing each other and perhaps won't be having so much of a love-in when that does happen.
"It will only take one small incident for things to flare up between the McLaren drivers, I'm sure," added Horner.