Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull Racing, thinks Mark Webber was on course to challenge for the win at the Japanese Grand Prix last weekend.
Under safety car conditions, Webber was in second with Vettel in the sister team of Toro Rosso just behind. A lapse in concentration on Vettel s part saw him run into the back of Webber, forcing Webber off the track and into retirement. Vettel limped back to the pits in his damaged Toro Rosso before also retiring from the race.
Christian Horner believes that had the accident not occurred, Webber was quick enough to have challenged Lewis Hamilton for the lead at the restart, and ultimately had a good chance of winning the race.
When asked by Autosport if a win had slipped from their fingers, Horner replied “It would well have been. He had got his head down in true Aussie fashion. He was absolutely on it today. His pace was exceptional, the strategy worked well for us and we had a lot of fuel in the car from the start.
“He had jumped Vettel quite comfortably during the stop and then really closed in on Lewis. In the laps up to the safety car he was doing the same times as Lewis, if not a bit quicker, so it was looking extremely positive at that stage. So it was desperately disappointing for Mark to be taken out of the race today under the pace car, because on a day like today, with the conditions we have had, I guess anything could have happened.
“It is an ironic coincidence that it is our sister team who were involved in the incident, but Sebastian is as big a loser as Mark has been today.
“Basically we had a strategic choice, whether we cover the safety car and take what would have been a guaranteed third behind the two McLarens, or we take them on. We elected to take them on.
“We went the extra laps and really ate into the lead of Lewis. Obviously with Mark the car he was racing with, Lewis, was actually for the lead. And he was finding his rhythm and looking very good, so it is one of those things.”