Christian Horner has reaffirmed his defence of Red Bull Racing's tactics in the closing stages of last weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone, seeking to silence the critics by asserting that 'no individual is bigger than the team'.
Mark Webber was distinctly unimpressed when – after homing right in on the back of second-placed, tyre-hobbled team-mate Sebastian Vettel as the race neared its conclusion – he was instructed over the pit-to-car radio to hold position rather than taking the fight to the runaway F1 2011 World Championship leader.
Webber subsequently admitted that he ignored 'probably four or five messages' from his engineer to hold station, continuing to attack the sister RB7 for the runner-up spoils – leading to Horner's personal intervention as he warned the disgruntled Australian to 'maintain the gap', a situation with which he was palpably 'not fine' [see separate story – click here
The energy drinks-backed outfit's team principal reasoned post-race that 'we did not want to see our drivers in the fence in the last two laps, which is how it would have ended up', stressing that 'we could not afford to risk losing points' since 'my responsibility is to ensure that the team optimises its results' [see separate story – click here
He has since reiterated those sentiments, assuring that Webber was not being deliberately held back – insisting that 'we also gave Mark an undercut in both of the first two stops' – and underlining that the interests of the team must always come first.
“About four laps from the end, we felt it had gone far enough,” revealed Horner, a former racer himself. “From a team point-of-view, [there was] a big pool of points on the table and it made absolutely no sense to risk seeing both cars in the fence. From a team perspective at that point, we said, 'Okay, we've allowed them to race up until now [but] that's enough – it's time to consolidate those points'. We saw it get very, very close between the two of them, and we would have looked pretty stupid if they'd both ended up in the fence.
“It happened [last year] in Turkey, where exactly the same happened with Sebastian. It was obvious that neither was going to concede, and as we saw with [Felipe] Massa and [Lewis] Hamilton – who very nearly made contact in the last corner – it made absolutely no sense from a team point-of-view to allow them to continue to fight over those last couple of laps. Mark obviously chose to ignore that, and didn't make the pass in any event. That is the team's position.
“At the end of the day, the team is the biggest thing and the teams' championship is every bit as important as the drivers' championship to us. Mark drives for a team, we all work for the team, no individual is bigger than the team and the most important thing is optimising the team's results. As a team, it was absolutely the right decision – we were not going to risk the 33 points. The drivers are now first and second in the drivers' world championship, and we are going to do nothing to jeopardise that.
“I can understand that sometimes a driver will be frustrated with an instruction, but my responsibility is that the team optimises its results – and there would have been absolutely no benefit in both cars coming back on a tow truck if they had got together.”
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