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Horner: Interests of the team must always come first

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner reaffirms his conviction that the F1 2011 World Championship leaders made 'absolutely the right decision' in controversially instructing Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber to hold position in the closing stages of last weekend's British GP at Silverstone
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.”

To have your say on whether Red Bull got it right or if you feel Webber was hard-done-by, cast your vote in our poll right here



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing
10.07.2011- Sir Jackie Stewart (GBR), Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7, Christian Horner (GBR), Red Bull Racing, Sporting Director, Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7 and Prince Harry
09.07.2011- Qualifying, Press conference, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 and Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7
Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing
Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing
Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing
10.07.2011- Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 leads Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7
10.07.2011- Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 2nd position and Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7 3rd position
26.06.2011- Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 race winner and Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7 3rd position
26.06.2011- Race, Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7 3rd position and Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 race winner
25.06.2011- Saturday Practice, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 and Christian Horner (GBR), Red Bull Racing, Sporting Director
08.07.2011- Christian Horner (GBR), Red Bull Racing, Sporting Director
08.07.2011- Friday Practice 1, Christian Horner (GBR), Red Bull Racing, Sporting Director and Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7
15.04.2011- Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 and Christian Horner (GBR), Red Bull Racing, Sporting Director
19.02.2011- Christian Horner (GBR), Red Bull Racing, Sporting Director
19.02.2011- Christian Horner (GBR), Red Bull Racing, Sporting Director
20.05.2011- Friday Practice 2, Christian Horner (GBR), Red Bull Racing, Sporting Director
08.07.2011- Friday Practice 2, Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7 and Christian Horner (GBR), Red Bull Racing, Sporting Director

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Harvey - Unregistered

July 13, 2011 12:36 PM

RBR need to have a bit of forward thinking - actions like this aren't helping Vettel's reputation, which while obviously not as important as pursuing the WDC, needs to at least be considered by his employers. As has been intimated by others, by employing team orders when only 3 points were in question, or to prevent the chances of a crash, this only puts into question Vettel's achievements when they shouldn't be. It's highly unlikely Webber will catch Vettel, but by doing this, they are giving fuel to those who say that Vettel is only winning because he has the team behind him at the expense of his team mate. One of the main criticisms of Schumacher's all time standing, whether you agree with them or not, is that he had Ferrari fully behind him (and not his team mate), and this is in danger of being repeated here.



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