A week-and-a-half on from the controversial incident that removed both cars from contention for victory in the Turkish Grand Prix and dashed the team's hopes and expectations of a third one-two finish of the F1 2010 campaign, Christian Horner has conceded that Red Bull Racing 'was wrong' to blame Mark Webber for the collision.
With Webber leading team-mate Sebastian Vettel in Istanbul, and the McLaren-Mercedes' of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button increasingly applying the pressure behind, on lap 40 disaster struck when Vettel pulled alongside his team-mate heading towards Turn Twelve and then jinked unexpectedly to the right, tapping the sister Red Bull RB6 in the process and sending both off-track.
The upshot was retirement for the German and an extra pit-stop visit and subsequent delayed third place for the Australian, and 28 valuable points carelessly and needlessly squandered. However, although the majority of paddock observers (and more than 12,500 of you in our Crash.net
post-race poll) opined that Vettel had been squarely at fault, Horner and Red Bull's motorsport advisor Dr. Helmut Marko – a close and trusted confidant of the energy drinks company's boss Dietrich Mateschitz – differed, publicly suggesting that Webber could and should have given his team-mate more room.
Whilst Vettel has continued to protest his innocence – even going so far as to say he would do exactly the same again [see separate story – click here
] – the Milton Keynes-based squad's team principal now admits that in the heat of the moment in the immediate aftermath of the race, he said things that he now regrets.
“There were a few opinions that were voiced without all the facts available,” Horner told BBC Sport
. “Emotions were running high, [and] one or two comments were made without all the facts to-hand. In the cold light of day it was a racing accident, nothing more, nothing less. It was wrong to blame either driver; it's wrong for us as a team to apportion blame.
“Both drivers are professionals, they're both grown-ups, they've both been in that position racing wheel-to-wheel – both with themselves and with competitors – and I'm sure it won't happen again. They both got themselves into a situation which was arguably over the limit. The result was that both of them found themselves in a situation they didn't want to be in; the result was contact and a loss of points for the team and a gift of points to our rivals.
“I don't think either driver is going to stick their hand up and say 'yes, it was all down to me'. As Mark has said, both drivers will go to their graves with differences of opinions – but we got the drivers together, sat down with Adrian [Newey – RBR chief technical officer], with Helmut and we had a very positive and constructive meeting.
“Mark is one of the hardest guys in grand prix racing – he's is a tough racer, a tough competitor. He's mentally very strong, he's in the form of his career at the moment and he won't give a quarter, and arguably the person you least want to be overtaken by is your team-mate – but I think both drivers recognise from a team point-of-view that it was a disastrous outcome.
“They were sorry for the team [and they have] learnt from what happened in Istanbul – if they find themselves in that situation again, they won't push themselves so hard. The body language between them was very relaxed, because they are good team-mates, they work well together and they have raced each other successfully wheel-to-wheel on several occasions – and we won't allow an incident like this to disrupt that relationship.”