Sebastian Vettel is 'back in business' following an 'incredible' drive in last weekend's European Grand Prix in Valencia, Christian Horner has asserted – as Red Bull Racing's team principal suggested the result will give the young German a much-needed 'confidence boost' after a torrid recent run.
Having been out-paced and out-performed in Barcelona and Monaco by in-form team-mate Mark Webber, Vettel then catastrophically ran into the Australian as the pair disputed the lead in Istanbul, prompting some paddock observers to accuse him of immaturity and begin questioning whether at just 22 still, he is yet ready for a genuine world championship challenge.
With a peerless lights-to-flag showing to claim his second triumph of the campaign around the streets of the Juan Carlos I Marina on Sunday, however – a circuit at which RBR had not thought it would shine – Horner contends that the Heppenheim native has answered his critics in style.
“This is a very important victory for Sebastian and the team,” the Englishman told French sports newspaper L'Équipe
, after Vettel drew level with Webber and McLaren-Mercedes duo Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button on two wins apiece this season. “We did not expect to be as quick on this track, which was favourable to McLaren-Mercedes.
“To have placed both drivers on the front row and then seen Sebastian dominate in the race is very satisfactory. Seb is back in business and led in an incredible way; I think it will give him a confidence boost – he's had some bad races in which he was unlucky, but he's right back on-track now.”
Horner also spoke of his relief that Webber was not seriously injured in the terrifying somersault that resulted after the erstwhile world championship leader ran into the back of the considerably slower Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen at just under 200mph on lap nine, going on to cartwheel spectacularly through the air and slam into the Turn Twelve tyre barriers at scarcely-abated speed.
“The most important thing is that Mark is unharmed,” acknowledged the 36-year-old, a former racer himself. “It's always horrible to see a car flying in the air in that way, but fortunately he escaped unscathed. Luckily, the chassis behaved as it should and Mark will be back at Silverstone.
“Heikki braked about half a mile before Mark! The speed difference between the two drivers was too much; Heikki was in the middle of the road and Mark didn't know if he was going to the right or to the left... Heikki is doing what he can with a rather slow car, and the accident took place because Mark just didn't have time to react.”