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Horner: success means being unpopular

3 November 2012

Christian Horner has lamented that being successful in F1 goes hand-in-hand with unpopularity, at least in some circles - but insistes that he's not losing any sleep over it as Red Bull marches inexorably on toward another championship-winning year.

“The fastest way to become unpopular in this paddock is to be successful,” said the Red Bull team principal with a rueful smile. “When you are slow, everybody likes you. When you are quick, you become a lot less popular.”

Horner was commenting after four back-to-back wins for reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel boosted him to the front of the 2012 world championship battle after a considerably more uneven struggle in the first half of the season.

The team is bidding to make it five in a row in the 2012 F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Red Bull and Vettel working hard to continue their race-winning roll at Yas Marina Circuit this weekend.

Those wins propelled Vettel from a 29pt deficit to a 13pt lead over his main rival for the title, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. Alonso made some biting comments last week about feeling that he wasn't racing Vettel but was actually pitted against the technical genius of Adrian Newey, a remark that seemed to manage to get under the skin of the Red Bull team - and didn't sit well with Ferrari technical director Pay Fry either, who felt slighted by the comments.

“He is the best since Colin Chapman," Horner agreed about Newey's unique talents designing F1 race cars. "But it's like being the conductor of an orchestra, if you haven't got the right string instruments or wind instruments, the music will be rubbish."

Horner dismissed Alonso's comments as arising from jealous and not a little desperation, as the Spaniard seeks to stay in touch in the championship battle.

“For some it is uncomfortable the success that Sebastian and Red Bull have had,” said Horner “That's not our fault. He has achieved some remarkable things in a short space of time.

“It is easy to knock someone who is having success," he added.

And Vettel's certainly reaching new levels of success as the 2012 season nears its climax.

“He has not completed 100 Grands Prix yet but he has won 26 per cent of them so far," pointed out Horner. "He's done it in the best cars and in a Toro Rosso in the wet and cars that, on the day, haven't been the best."

And Horner felt that the world was yet to see the best of Vettel, who will just keep getting better and better - news that will alarm his rivals on pit road.

“He will get better. He has every year and he is always so hungry to learn. What he has achieved at his age is remarkable,” he said. “Seb doesn't brag about it, he carries it modestly.”

But will that be with Red Bull? Despite constant denials from the driver and the team, all sort of rumours persist that Vettel has an arrangement to move to Ferrari - possibly even as early as 2014.

“I can quite easily see him with us for another five years,” insisted Horner, once again brushing aside any suggestions of Vettel's departure from the team in the foreseeable future.

While Horner's clearly not keen on the criticism and barbed attacks coming Red Bull's way over recent weeks, he clearly views it as preferable to be on top with all the slings and arrows that come with it, than be everybody's best friend at the back of the grid.

“It is not something I am losing sleep over," Horner insisted.


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