F1 » 4 November 2012
Horner hails 'remarkable comeback' by Vettel
Christian Horner admitted that he hadn't thought it possible for Sebastian Vettel to recover from a pit lane start to get on the podium in Abu Dhabi.
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner admitted that even the idea of Sebastian Vettel managing to battle back into the points was a long shot, after Vettel was forced to start from the pit lane as the result of a fuel irregularity in qualifying on Saturday. To even think of storming back and ending up with a podium was the stuff of pure fairy tales.
"After the problems of yesterday, it was a remarkable comeback from Sebastian to finish on the podium," said Horner after the 2012 F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi reached its climax, and Vettel had come away with third place after a late move on McLaren's Jenson Button, despite the high stakes at risk if it had gone wrong.
"He drove an unbelievable race today and his final move on Jenson was quite exceptional," said Horner. "To go from pit lane to podium was something we could only dream of before the race."
Vettel himself was rather less effusive about his achievements at Yas Marina, merely calling the Grand Prix "a good race for us today."
Critically, by finishing immediately behind his main title rival Fernando Alonso, Vettel was able to ensure that the Ferrari drive made a minimal three point impression on Vettel's lead in the title battle with just two races remaining.
"A big chance for Ferrari and Fernando, but we didn't allow it," he said, satisfied with that aspect of the day which had really tested his ability to stay cool and deliver under the most intense of pressure.
Not that everything had gone smoothly for him all afternoon, of course.
"I damaged the front wing pretty early with Bruno, which was not ideal, but we were able to carry on and not lose too much," he said. "Then, during the safety car, maybe I didn't pay enough attention: Daniel was slowing down, just as I was warming the tyres and I got surprised. I had to move to the right and hit the DRS board, which damaged the front wing. It was the worst time to have to pit from P13 and start again at the back of the field."
But in the end the imposed two-stop strategy worked out well for Vettel: "In the end, to finish third on the podium is just fantastic," he agreed. "I enjoyed it a lot today, more than anything."
Vettel had some luck along the way as other cars hit problems and safety cars came out at helpful moments to aid his recovery - and all that good fortune seemed to come at the expense of his team mate Mark Webber, who got a bad start off the line and was quickly pushed down to fifth place. A spin while battling for position with Pastor Maldonado put him further down the running order mid-race.
"Whatever we tried today, it just wasn't working out," admitted the Australian. "I think we were strong, but we never got free air and it's difficult here with traffic."
In the end, Mark Webber got taken out of the race by stumbling into someone else's accident on lap 39: "I tried to go down the inside when the cars ahead made contact, I thought there was an opportunity, but then Grosjean made contact with my car and that was the end for us."
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