Horner denies pressure from Red Bull to favour Vettel
Red Bull Racing
Horner denies pressure from Red Bull to favour Vettel
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Jul 2010   |  8:26 am GMT  |  251 comments

In the fall out from Saturday’s decision by Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner to take the sole remaining new front wing from Mark Webber’s car and give t to Sebastian Vettel, he has said that he acted alone after consultation with the team’s technical chief Adrian Newey.


“There has never been any pressure from Red Bull to favour one driver over the other,” he is quoted in the Telegraph today. “I didn’t have a conversation with Helmut [Marko, Red Bull’s motorsport adviser] or anyone from Red Bull regarding the decision to give Sebastian the wing. It was purely a technical decision, which I discussed with Adrian.

“My one regret is that I didn’t have time to discuss the issue with Mark personally prior to qualifying as I’m sure that would have given him a more balanced understanding.”

Horner is right to express regret about this, as a decision of such significance does require than expectations are well managed on both sides. But drivers have marketing appearances to do in the gap between practice and qualifying as well as strategy briefings and it’s a shame that the issue wasn’t addressed there.

Because expectations weren’t managed on Webber’s side he became very angry when he lost the pole to Vettel by a tenth of a second. Clearly in the aftermath of the Istanbul collision some assurances were made to him about his position in the team and he signed a new contract for 2011 on that basis.

The team was thinking from a technical point of view, to use the front wing at all costs. As Vettel was the leading driver in the championship at the time, he was given the wing.

A coin toss, or even better, using the same old spec front wing on both cars would have been the fairer way to handle the situation. Having observed Newey over many years he is the most competitive person in F1 bar none, including the drivers. As a result he can be quite uncompromising and the more you find out about this situation the more you feel that Newey considers Vettel the better driver.

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1

Quick question that I hope you may be able to help with James.

Did Mark Webber win the British Grand Prix in the Chassis that Vettel rejected?

If so now that MW is championship leader could he not demand Vettels car as it is supposedly the better Chassis?

2

Yes that is correct. Vettel named it Luscious Liz.

3

James, I wanted to put some question to you, as one of the more connected people in the paddock and the only one to generally answer questions over the internet, your thoughts would be appreciated;

1. It has been stated on numerous occasions that Vettel has relied on Webbers car set ups for races, Ive heard this to be accurate at Malaysia, Silverstone etc Is this true, and if so how much?

2. Is Vettel as a manufactured driver, capable of developing a car with minimal years and heavily restricted testing as with the current rules?

3. Webber lives close to RB’s Milton Keynes facility and I believe he is their most days, has he managed to build a rapport with all the staff, better than what Vettel has done? If so could there be a backlash if Webber was to be made redundant?

4. Webber has categorically beaten every team mate he has ever had including, Alex Young, Christian Klein, Antonia Pizzonia, Justin Wilson, Nico Rosberg, Alexander Wurz, Nick Heidfeld etc. Now that he has a team mate that was previously thought to be superior, do you believe that Vettel had pushed Webber and turned him into a superior driver and subsequently taken him up a level?

5. Is Webber a bigger part in race day than what most people believe not only for RB in general but also for Vettel?

I look forward to your response.

4

Please reply to this James. I would love to know what you think.

5

This from DC in the Telegraph:

“Red Bull would doubtless prefer it if Mark aired his grievances in private. Mark, who suspects Red Bull’s Austrian owners would prefer Vettel to win the Championship, clearly feels he can gain more leverage by going public and trying to shame the team whenever he feels hard done by.

“It is a risky strategy. If it goes wrong, the relationship with the team could sour irreparably. If it comes off, he could consolidate his position, attract public sympathy and be remembered as a steely champion who battled against the odds to win his title.”

David, what is the point of airing your grievances in private if nothing comes of it?

6

DC working for Red Bull, the BBC and the Telegraph… I would treat all of his opinions at the moment as influenced or constrained by his other roles.

As much as people find him annoying (I don’t though), I find Eddie Jordan has a much more unbiased (Jordan GP aside) take on things especially this season.

I think Anthony Davidson is also very good as a pundit (during free practice) as he was only part of a ‘small’ team and therefore isn’t worried about stepping on anyone’s toes.

7

Creditbility is important, DC.

He now claims that he did not receive equal treatment in McLaren and yet he did not go over to Ferrari when he was approached? In his days with McLaren, I got the feeling from the tone of all the team’s press releases that it was actually favoring DC.

In his racing days, he always blamed other things for his inability to beat his team-mate. He is now trying to improve his status as a driver. I am fed up with it. Please do not insult the intelligence of the fans.

8

It’s awkward this year for DC – is he speaking as an independent pundit for BBC or as a Red Bull consultant?

9

James, Isn’t that ultimately the case for everyone in F1? Everybody has conflict of interest in all roles they have. Some are media pundits as well as have Race responsibilities. Some have media responsibilities while managing drivers. While some are(were) team managers and driver managers. Some media pundit of today maybe be Press officer for a team tomorrow and vice versa. So who in F1 can have clear conscience and claim to do ethical job when commenting/reporting events from the circus 😕

10

James,

Can you please comment on Vettel speaking to the press since the Turkey incident. It has really felt like Webber and Horner have been the ones that have fronted the press since that incident. Has he been talking to the press, or have we simply had the grumpy looks that BBC wants to show us?

I think if the English speaking press were shown more of Vettel clowning around, or being his happy self (like what we saw with him in the RB simulator on One HD in Australia before the race), this would diffuse much of the PR issues, and the perception of him being a spoiled brat.

I watched your interview with Mark this morning regarding the front wing change, and it was clear that it was more the fact that Vettel’s side of the garage not only took the wing, but used the set up of his car to get Vettel’s up to speed. I think the setting up of the car is the key here. As button found out in qualifying, the new parts are useless without the right settings.

Even though in your interview with Christian Horner, he appeared sincere in his decision, but as we all know, people can be sincere, and still completely wrong. I think it was a very naive decision that I hope he will learn greatly from, as I think he a good face on the paddock.

11
Dave of Australia

Just been thinking about Webber-

RB made the wrong call in Melbourne on tyres and put Webber back, then in Malaysia he lost Vettel in the mirrors and let him through at the first corner. Ad in Turkey and Mark could have had at least 5 GP wins this year and clearly a huge lead in the Drivers championship.An interesting point on another website is that Webber has led more laps than any other driver this year – by a huge margin!!

12

The irony in all this for me? If RB had left the ‘faster’ wing on Webber’s car he’d probably have started from pole, and Vettel could have been starting on the grippier right-hand side of the track. Webber would have been tagged by Lewis and Vettel would have skated away to the win.

An appointment with Karma indeed.

13

On the other hand, McLaren can’t expect RB to continue shooting themselves in the foot AND for Ferrari to continue having bad luck every race.

McLaren have just been “lucking” into good positions lately.

They need to STEP UP NOW or we’re going to have a very different points table in a couple of races.

14

I think Martin sums up RBR very well…. “they keep tripping over their own tail”.

This is why they are not leading any of the championships at the moment.

I think Mark had to do something before things got out of hand and perhaps the only way was to make it more apparent publicly.

I really hope Mark can win the German GP though 🙂

15

The circus that is Red Bull Racing will roll into Hockenheim in a little over a week and interested observers will queue around the block to watch their latest trick – making a nailed on title winning season disappear.

Should Red Bull not win both titles this year it should go down as one of the biggest failures in modern F1, and likeable and camera friendly as he is, the buck will have to stop with Christian Horner. Forget the fact that Mark Webber doesn’t have great racecraft, and that although undeniably talented, Sebastian Vettel is easily the most overrated driver in the field, the advantage of the car is such that it will be a catastophic failure if they do not take both crowns this year, and if that is the case then heads should roll.

16

Yep,

I think fundamentally the problem is that both drivers are now so evenly matched.

Thinking back it’s only really the Senna / Prost pairing in McLaren in the late 80’s that comes close in recent times to being as even and while they took out a number of championships between them, ultimately it ended in tears.

From memory Seb’s won 2 races this year and Webber 3. If that was 4:1 or 5:0 either way the championship would be all but done and dusted and that’d be no fun at all.

As it is we get to enjoy the continuing circus for the next couple of months which I reckon will be great fun…..

Note: By no way am I comparing the driving skills of Webber & Vettel to Senna and Prost. I’m merely saying that as a pairing Vettel and Webber are probably as evenly matched as that great pair was.

17

Vettel overated? He gave the maiden victories to two different teams (when was the last time any driver did that?). He is the youngest pole sitter ever, he is also the youngest race winner ever. He is an amazing driver. But he is up against arguably the best driver on the grid.

18

He is also in a car which is vastly superior to the rest of the field and yet finds himself (not entirely by his own doing, but at least partly) in fourth position in the championship.

He struggled to keep up with Paul Di Resta in the junior formulae, was trounced by Hamilton, and I find it very difficult to take anyone seriously who thinks that he would get anywhere near Alonso, Hamilton or Kubica in equal machinery.

I don’t deny he’s good, he’s very good – but let’s not pretend he’s great, because he isn’t.

19

Christian Horner has once again blatantly told a falsehood to all and sundry.

All final decisions regarding development part allocations remain with Helmut Marko and the discussion he claimed he had with Aidrian Newey alone did in fact include Helmut Marko.

In addition people may like to know that Sebastian Vettel genuinely remained unaware of the wing fitted to his car until just prior to entering the garage for Quali 1 as of course did Mark Webber.

To lose one championship through poor management is unfortunate but to lose two might seem careless?

Lastly as I hear it….Not all members of the team are on the same bonus scheme either.

20

James, was the “new” specification wing used at Silverstone the same specification as used at Valencia or something completely new for the British GP?

If it was the Valencia spec then that would mean that Red Bull would not have had a spare 3rd wing of that specification for Silverstone due to Mark’s self inflicted crash Spain?

Would add a new dimension to the story.

21

Something which I don’t think anyone else has mentioned yet…

Since Germany last year who’s won the most grand prix? Webber. Awesome.

22

Cheers for reporting Christian’s comments and the insightful views James

There have been reports by Australian media sources that post-race, RBR have conducted everything from backyard barbecues at Christian’s house to more crisis/peace talks, sinister to the point of Mark’s drive being in serious jeopardy. This meeting was touted as happening today (Tuesday). Can you confirm any of these happening?

It seems from afar, RBR management’s technical focus on producing a car that is clearly the envy of every team/driver in pit lane (Alonso’s longing gaze and head shake after quali) is being nullified by their mis-management of team driver/PR issues. Acknowledging the need for technical upgrades keeping the car in front of it’s rivals, you have to seriously question the handling of this technical issues value to the collective team effort. The components end use, described as potentially worth “a tenth” on 2 cars close to a second up on their nearest competitors, has come at a cost of widening the ‘gulf’ between the teams two most vital assets, which clearly after Turkey didn’t need any further widening. As plainly evident from Seb’s swerve after the start and Mark’s retaliation through Copse and their comments, that total focus on personal success is now without fear or favour as to the repercussions on team results. That ‘tenth’ seems a pointless gain when you manage it in a way where your people who end result handle the application of that advance, demonstrate such intent to take each other off the race track.

James, I firmly believe Christian’s worth as TP will be judged after ‘wing gate’ is long forgotten on how the team success is reflected in the WDC/WCC….. at the moment with their ‘rocket’ of a car, they’re leading neither. He needs to start demonstrating through his actions rather than comments (pouring more fuel on Mark’s fire with the ‘you can smile now’ jibe….?) that this is a truly solid team effort. Let’s hope for Mark Webber’s sake, Christian Horner is not remembered as the Principal of that team with the unbeatable car, that only succeeded in ‘beating’ itself.

23

My two cents on the issue:

Should Vettel when the championship this year, he would be making history by becoming the youngest F1 champion since Lewis in 08. Red Bull gain a considerable marketing strategy for their young drivers program. Hence why you would put your eggs in the Vettel basket.

Mark (whom I prefer to come second to Lewis;0)unfortunately does not bring the same flavour. He has been in the game a long time and although the fortunes of time are finally falling in his favour, I believe the team have decided that the best strategy is to back Vettel.

I am concerned that the racing stewards have turned a blind eye to the way the Vettel handles his car. It is not for me to remind our young charger that this is F1 and NOT bumper cars. I was appauled that his pass on Sutil went unnoticed. I feel that pretty soon Vettel will hurt someone or himself. The precedent set now is that when making a passing manoeuvre you can physically bump the opposing car. I guarantee that should this happen between other racers a repremand will be forthcoming. Sad to say the least.

24

I’m not going to lose any sleep over this.

I hope mark wins the wdc. What he has to do is get pole at the next race and win to get a bigger gap in the wdc.

James, do redbull recognise behind closed doors that they are tarnishing the redbull public image as a brand? Would they do things differently next time around?

I’m not sure they really do think they have done anything wrong.

25

James – I love your comment and insight on Newey being the competitive one. Weird really as on sight he looks like a civil servant!

I was in the sponsors stand on Sunday at 1030 when you commented that giving neither of them was probably the best way forward and you repeat that here. I can’t agree. This is F1 and we should expect, and I would expect drivers to demand, parts on cars that make them go faster.

Mark’s reaction was fair and Horner got it wrong as he was the “owner” of the wing – and he’s got it wrong again by repeating the myth that their is no preferred driver. Horner needs someone to help him here – I do not want him to fail but right now he is not doing himself any favours

The fact that he says he “didn’t have time” to advise Webber is unacceptable. It’s vital to his role to man manage and he is not doing it – FIND THE TIME!

26

How about this. A good manager of RBR would have flipped a coin and given the winner the choice of front wing. Instead, Horner was pressurised by the relatively indispensable Newey into making a decision which not only made him look silly but also backfired, rubbing salt into the wound. This wouldn’t really be Newey trying to unseat Horner, would it? And if so why – could it be so that the indispensable [think Brawn…] can buy the team from Red Bull and trade it on….to Audi/Porsche?

Call me Machiavelli…

27
N. Machiavelli

“Call me Machiavelli…”

Sorry, but that name’s been taken 🙂

28

In all this RB turmoil I suddenly realized we are missing one key ingredient of this years races:

I have heard no whining about slower cars getting in the way from 3-Car-Monty!

Did I miss it?

29

‘not bad for a number two’

i think this is the best quote i’ve heard in formula one. I grow tired of the ‘yes, yes, yes, number one’ from Vettel. I really hope Webber can win this years title as i don’t think anyone else deserves it more.

In my opinion F1 needs more drivers like Webber, and from what i have seen in the press i would love Kimi and his ice cream eating antics back as well.

30

Newey considers Vettel the better driver, because he **is** the better driver. Webber is a hot-headed, inconsistent driver capable of the best and the worst. And that’s how his career has gone. And that’s why none of the top teams has ever wanted him in their line-up. He is lucky to be in a Red Bull and enjoy the speed advantage the RB6 offers, but even in this car he hasn’t been able to rack up points consistently. He has crashed w/ Vettel, he has crashed w/ slower cars and he is even lucky to be in one piece. From the current driver line-up it is Vettel who stands a far better chance of delivering a WDC to the Austrian team. If I were them, I would do whatever it takes to sign Kimi for 2012, to partner w/ Vettel. Otherwise Kimi might go to Renault where he and Kubica would form a tremendous driver line-up, capable of delivering at least a constructors’ title.

31

This sounds incredibly similar to the criticism that was levelled at Jenson last year.

And now?

The problem is that the car has so much to do with it, that to make blanket statements like this, when Mark has beaten Seb before, is useless.

32

I think the wing issue was poorly managed from a PR perspective and also from an internal “man management” one. The decision itself was not necessarily a poor or unfair one in my opinion. Vettel is ahead, Vettel gets the wing.

On the other hand, I have a much bigger issue with Vettel twice in three races turning sharp right into Mark’s line when on a straight forcing Mark to make a decision he shouldn’t need to make, then the team seemingly supporting Vettel. If the same tactics were used against them by a driver from another team, for example let’s say Schumacher, I guarantee they’d be screaming blue murder.

No, it is clear Red Bull favour Vettel. In 10 years I have no doubt he will prove to have been a better driver than Mark but right here, right now, I think Mark is just shading it.

Possibly Mark has less natural ability than Seb but he is dragging up every ounce of motivation to win the DC this year and I wish him well with it. It probably will be his big chance, maybe the only one he will get.

Final thought….Mark probably should be more diplomatic but it is about time we had someone willing to call it like it is instead of the “corporate” BS we usually get. Oh for the days-of-yore of Mansell, Piquet, Senna and Prost. Now THOSE guys knew how to stir up the magombi!

33

James, how would a coin toss be more fair?

What Red Bull did was unfair, but a coin toss? Come on. At least they used logic with their decision, albeit bad logic.

34

“A coin toss, or even better, using the same old spec front wing on both cars would have been the fairer way to handle the situation.”

An even fairer situation would have been to let Webber keep the wing that was on his car and not fall victim to Vettel’s own bad luck.

35

I’m happy for this not to be published but I have heard some rumours that Newey is not happy at Red Bull. The source seems good. Can you confirm/deny/gossip James?

36

he just recently got given a complete RB5 with spare parts! How could he possibly be unhappy!?

He’s always claimed to love regulation changes the most, so i bet he’s hanging for 2013, which could be the biggest changes in F1’s history.. he’ll be doing somersaults!

Plus, I’m pretty sure he recently extended his contract with the team too..

37

Having been married for some 40 years I can say quite categorically that a present does not necessarily mean that all things are hunky.

And as regards the extended contract, one could cite that to prove Webber’s happy with the way things are going at RBR.

I must admit to having no knowledge myself as to how happy he is. But your middle point might suggest it is time to move on to a new team and a new challenge for 2013.

If I were him I’d be wondering how long Red Bull’s interest in F1 will last. Nothing’s certain of course, but I’d suggest that the investment required for 2013 must be worrying a few teams.

Wouldn’t it be nice to move to a team that is one of the well established ones in F1, one perhaps that had recently lost one of their design team leaders, and start on this team’s new car with some degree of belief that it will still be on the grid when the flag drops?

RBR is financed by a fizzy drinks manufacturer. If they fail to get their return on investment this season, will they be here for the next? They can move on. McLaren, Ferrari and, well, who else need F1.

As I say, I know nothing. All I was doing was repeating a rumour I’d heard from a source I trust.

38

Is anybody else starting to doubt the need for Webber to have his gear box change at Montreal now? I wonder if he’d have had it if he’d qualified behind Vettel.

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