Christian Horner has admitted that his 'one regret' from the Silverstone controversy that has engulfed Red Bull Racing over the last few days is that he didn't have the opportunity to discuss the front wing issue with Mark Webber before it was removed from the Australian's RB6 to be put onto team-mate Sebastian Vettel's car ahead of qualifying.
As he endeavours to diffuse a situation that – in the wake of Webber's angry post-race comments about being a 'number two driver' and having not re-signed for the team on the understanding that he would be cast into such a role – is threatening to explode and derail the Milton Keynes-based outfit's building title challenge, Horner has been quick to rubbish accusations of favouritism, particularly in light of the Istanbul fall-out that is still very much in people's minds.
Having asserted that he is under no pressure at all from the squad's Austrian parent company to put the German-speaking Vettel first for the sake of better promoting the brand [see separate story – click here
], the RBR team principal has confessed that were the situation to be replayed, there is only one thing he would do differently.
“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.” he told The Daily Telegraph
, playing down claims of a growing rift and even 'civil war' within the team. “All championship bonuses are based on team position rather than driver, so there is no favouritism at all.”
In evidence of what he insists is renewed harmony at Red Bull, Horner added that both Webber and Vettel had participated enthusiastically at a post-race party – but it seems clear that the management needs to get an urgent handle on the situation before it spirals out-of-control and wrecks the team's world championship dream.
“Mark and I have always enjoyed a very good and transparent relationship,” the 36-year-old concluded. “I've known him for over a decade and I've always supported him, as I do Sebastian. They were both up on stage at our post-race party on Sunday singing together with myself, Adrian [Newey – chief technical officer] and one or two others. You have to remember, this was a great result for the team and it was a hugely emotional occasion. It was great that we all celebrated together with Mark's family and Seb's family there as well.”