Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner has come out in the clearest possible terms about the team’s attitude to their drivers fighting for the title, saying bluntly, “I promise that the team will not interfere in the race for the title.”
The tone and message are quite different from the Horner of Silverstone time, who said “Sometimes I have to take difficult decisions,” after the infamous front wing switch.
In a punchy interview on F1.com, the official F1 site, he says that the team will give both drivers an equal chance to the end. Responding to calls from Flavio Briatore, Mark Webber’s manager for the team to back him, Horner says, “My answer is a clear ‘no’. Of course, I can imagine that Flavio would prefer it if we go the Ferrari way and put our efforts behind only one driver, but that would be wrong, as both are right in the middle of the fight for the title. The only thing we expect from them is that they don’t hamper each other.”
Horner can’t resist a dig at Ferrari here, with Alonso the most likely driver to deprive Red Bull of the title. Alonso and Vettel are tied in points, 14 behind Webber with a maximum of 75 available. Lewis Hamilton is a further 14 points behind and Jenson Button 17 behind Vettel and Alonso.
Horner admits that as the pair are chasing the biggest prize in motorsport there is “tension” between them, but says that it is up to the team to make them believe they are being treated fairly. He gives a window in on the psychology of his two drivers, “Sebastian has to fight for every single point, ” he said. “But after his Japan win the pressure has eased a bit because in the end he has nothing to lose. Mark has to do a balancing act. He must not drive too defensively but on the other hand must keep his margin over his competitors.”
He also adds that he is concerned about the horsepower disadvantage the team will have against Ferrari and McLaren in Korea and Abu Dhabi. Red Bull were relatively less competitive in Spa and Monza compared to their rivals than in Suzuka, for example, but they performed well in Abu Dhabi last year, winning the race after Hamilton dropped out. But it’s worth remembering that Hamilton’s pace there owed a lot to the KERS system on the McLaren.
Red Bull has had the fastest car this season and as a team they have thrown the kitchen sink at development, working flat out day and night to make and fit new parts to the car to keep it ahead. They are in the driving seat, it’s their championship to lose. Horner is determined to ensure that they don’t.