Horner hits back in favouritism row

Christian Horner has once again hit back at suggestions that there is favouritism within Red Bull.

The British team principal found himself thrust into the spotlight after politics once again erupted between drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel over the British Grand Prix weekend – this time over a newly-designed front wing, which was removed from the former’s car, prior to qualifying, and given to the latter.

Subsequently, Webber quipped that he felt as though he had become the Red Bull’s ‘second driver’ and that he would be seeking assurances from team management over his position.

Although Horner regrets not speaking to the Australian at the time of the decision, he does not see it as a sign of favouritism.

“There has never been any pressure from Red Bull to favour one driver over the other,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “I didn’t have a conversation with Helmut [Marko, the Austrian company’s motorsport adviser] or anyone from Red Bull regarding the decision to give Sebastian the wing. It was purely a technical decision, which I discussed with Adrian [Newey].

“My one regret is that I didn’t have time to discuss the issue with Mark personally prior to qualifying as I’m sure that would have given him a more balanced understanding.”

Horner also moved to play down speculation that the evident tension between his two drivers had spread throughout the team – with reports suggesting that Webber’s mechanics had taunted Vettel’s in the aftermath of the British Grand Prix.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “Our mechanics are completely for each other, irrelevant of the car crew. That’s why we have some of the fastest pit stops in Formula One.

“There is one team of mechanics for both drivers and all championship bonuses are based on team position rather than driver so there is no favouritism at all.”

As a result, Horner believes that his relationship with Webber will not change, and that his two drivers will remain respectful of each other.

“Mark and I have always enjoyed a very good and transparent relationship,” he said. “I’ve known him for over a decade and I’ve always supported him, as I do Sebastian.

“They were both up on stage at our post-race party on Sunday singing together with myself, Adrian [Newey] and one or two others.

“You have to remember, this was a great result for the team and it was a hugely emotional occasion. It was great that we all celebrated together with Mark’s family and Seb’s family there as well.”