Only hours after confirming that grand prix veterans David Coulthard and Mark Webber would continue to form the line-up at Red Bull Racing next season, Christian Horner admitted that the way that McLaren had nurtured Lewis Hamilton was 'impeccable'.

Sitting alongside Hamilton, Coulthard and McLaren boss Ron Dennis, Horner confirmed that Red Bull was still attempting to produce talent in the same way, by backing drivers from karting all the way to the top flight, but would not go too far wrong in emulating the McLaren plan.

"I think that Lewis has arrived in Formula One very well prepared," he insisted, "McLaren have done an impeccable job in grooming him for his entry into Formula One but, at the end of the day, he still had to go and win the races, win the championships that he's competed in, to prove his ability.

"However, he's made this step up into Formula One and he looks, for somebody in their seventh or eighth race, like a guy who could well be in his 80th or 200th grand prix. That's certainly impressive. That shows the calibre of youngsters as well in the lower categories, and it's something that Red Bull, through the young driver programme, has invested in heavily over the last few years."

Dennis confirmed that Hamilton had had to succeed at each step on his way up the ladder, with any sign that he may not be 'the real thing' potentially costing him his relationship with the F1 outfit.

"We constructed a karting team for both Lewis and Nico Rosberg," he outlined, "Obviously, they've both done a great job and Nico - really more because of his age than anything and the way the licensing system works - just stepped ahead as regards getting into Formula One a little earlier.

"But I was always keen for Lewis to dominate every category in which he raced, because that gives you a certain mindset and, obviously, we were very keen for him to follow what I felt, and other people felt, was the right path into Formula One. But it's important to remember, no matter who gives opportunity to young drivers, ultimately it's their own abilities, their own commitment, their own dedication and sacrifices that determines the result. I will never ever claim to be the reason that Lewis is the great success he's been this season. That is his own efforts and his own commitment.

"Yes, he's had opportunity; yes, he hasn't had to worry about money, but the most difficult thing is actually to deliver, given those opportunities, and that's all down to him and, obviously, the support of his family."

Coulthard also highlighted reasons why Hamilton's entrance to Formula One had been so impressive, aside from the fact that he has been fortunate enough to step straight into a competitive car.

"Having been part of the McLaren system, I know some of the facilities that they had up to the point that I left, and I would be surprised if any grand prix team has quite as complete a package in simulation devices that the drivers can use," revealed DC, who himself stepped into a front-running car with Williams, "It's obviously a state-of-the-art facility, more modern probably than anyone else's out there.

"As Christian has said, though, all the way through, Lewis has had to prove himself, otherwise he wouldn't be sitting here. It's not charity work that McLaren are doing. They invested because they saw the talent and they've helped him develop that over the time. As to how much time a driver spends at the factory, I think that what tends to happen - and I lived through it all those years ago - is that the guys in their first years, they're so approachable, so nice, still fly EasyJet, go to the factory all of the time, all of those things.

"When I was test driver at Williams, I was at the factory every day because, frankly, I had nothing else to do. I was trying to soak up as much information and create a career for the future. As Lewis inevitably moves off-shore and grows into his life, he will inevitably spend less time at the factory because there just won't be the time. He will need energy, recovery time to maintain the level that he's achieved already over the next 10-15 years, however long he wants to be in Formula One.

"I don't think that you can just put the lid on the box of 'this is the blueprint' because I think it's a continually evolving process. I think that's the fantastic thing about Formula One and our business, you can never say 'right, that's it'. You always have to try and find another way, another edge and improve constantly, and I'm sure McLaren are doing that, as we are trying to at Red Bull. You should all be doing it as well, to have life evolution, job evolution."

 

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