Red Bull’s team principal Christian Horner has dismissed suggestions his team are running a form of traction control – which is banned – on their car.
Former F1 team principal Giancarlo Minardi suggested Red Bull were using the system – which stops the rear wheels spinning and has been banned since 2009 – after watching the action trackside at the Singapore Grand Prix.
At one stage in the race, Vettel was lapping an incredible two seconds quicker than anyone else as he clinched his sixth victory of the season on the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Minardi said Red Bull’s Renault engine sounded “similar to the sound made by the engine when the traction control system was used in previous seasons”.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton then added to the speculation in the Korean Grand Prix paddock on Thursday when he said: “If you look at the onboard [camera], he is on the power full throttle at least 20 metres before anyone else, which is a huge advantage. The last time I was able to put the pedal down that quick was back in 2007 or 2008, when we had traction control.”
But Horner said: “You’d be fairly stupid to introduce traction control onto a car that is governed by a single ECU that is granted by a tender of the FIA and that is scrupulously checked by the FIA. I can’t imagine any team in the pit lane would even entertain it.
“The electronic controls on the car are so tightly governed because it’s a controlled box we have. The settings in both the [Red Bull] cars are absolutely identical and they fully comply with the FIA rules. The FIA should be able to verify that and it’s a standard unit that all the teams are using. Any suggestion of traction control is either purely mischievous or wishful thinking.”
Red Bull’s reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, who leads the championship by 60 points from nearest rival Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, added that his team’s system was simply better than anyone else’s.
The German said: “We are pretty proud of the system we have because other people will never figure out how we have done it. Constantly we try to improve the car, that is part of the homework we try to do.”
And off Vettel’s impressive pace in Singapore, Horner said: “The facts are he drove an incredible race, he had incredible pace and maximised the most out of the car. He was a driver on absolute peak form. Is it a distraction? No. Will we lose any sleep over it? Absolutely not.”
Alonso was also adamant that rivals Red Bull’s car is legal. The Spaniard said: “They are using something different compared to the other teams but something that is completely OK. They pass all the checks every race so it’s up to us to do a better job.
“I think this engine noise difference has been all year there with Red Bull. It’s true that maybe in Singapore it’s more obvious because it’s a street circuit and people can watch in the corners but if you go to a winter test already in Barcelona we were in the corners following the test session and the Red Bull is a different sound.”