Clash between Red Bull drivers was avoidable but both drivers to blame; Horner does not regret letting his drivers race and rejects notion of team orders; Webber: Team must stick together
Red Bull Racing has admitted that it wrongly blamed Mark Webber for his collision with team-mate Sebastian Vettel, in last weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix, and refuted suggestions that it is favouring the German driver.
In an attempt to defuse the controversy surrounding Sunday’s race, team-principal Christian Horner took part in a Q&A session which was posted on the outfit’s official website.
Having had time to analyse the incident, Horner stated that the entire team now shares one view of the incident and that its drivers must each take a share of the blame.
“We had a unique situation during the Turkish GP where the first four cars were separated by two seconds, with Mark having led every lap until lap 40.” Horner said in the Q&A when asked to cast light on the incident. “The race was the fastest of the season to date with all four drivers pushing each other extremely hard.”
“On lap 38, Mark changed his mixture setting based on his fuel consumption to a slightly leaner mode, which had an average lap time loss of about 0.18 seconds, whilst maintaining the same revs. Sebastian had conserved more fuel than Mark during the race and therefore was able to run in a slightly better mode for an additional couple of laps. On lap 38 and 39, Sebastian’s pace picked up and he closed right up to the back of Mark while under considerable pressure from Hamilton behind.
“After a very strong run through Turn 9, Sebastian got a run and strong tow and moved to the left to pass Mark. Mark held the inside line and adopted a defensive position, which he is entitled to do. When Sebastian was three quarters of the way past, he moved to the right. As Sebastian moved to the right, Mark held his position and the ensuing result was contact that resulted in Sebastian retiring, Mark damaging the front-end of his car and the team losing a one two-finish. Ultimately both drivers should have given each other more room.”
“What we expect from our drivers, as team-mates, is that they show respect for each other and allow one another enough room on the race track. Unfortunately neither driver did this on Sunday and the net result was an incident between the two. During the previous six one-two finishes we have achieved, there have been many incidences of close racing between our drivers and they have previously always abided by this understanding.”
Horner moved to play down the immediate comments of Red Bull’s motorsport advisor Helmut Marko, who laid the blame for the accident squarely at the feet of Mark Webber – sparking outrage from a number of fans.
“Ultimately we win as a team and we lose as a team and on Sunday we lost as a team, as a result of our two drivers having an incident.” he said, “Having looked at all the information it’s clear that it was a racing accident that shouldn’t have happened between two team-mates. After looking at all the facts that weren’t available immediately after the race, Dr. Marko also fully shares this view.”
Despite the clash, Horner says he has no regrets about letting his drivers race on track and that there are no team orders at Red Bull.
“With the pace of the McLarens and with it looking like Sebastian was the quicker of the two Red Bull cars, the priority was to win the race.” he added, “With intense pressure from Hamilton behind, who was in a McLaren that had a significant straight line speed advantage, it would have been impossible to back Sebastian off. Therefore it was acceptable to us for him to attempt an overtaking manoeuvre.”
“Neither driver was given any instruction to change position. There are no team orders within Red Bull Racing, other than that the drivers should race each other with respect.
“Both drivers, as has always been the case, will be given equal treatment. That will continue.”
Horner is also adamant that the situation will be sorted before the Canadian Grand Prix, having spoken to both drivers and to team owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
“We’re a very strong team and we will sit down and discuss this openly with the drivers in order to learn from what has happened and avoid a situation like this arising again. One of the strengths of Red Bull Racing is the team spirit here, which has contributed to the performance that we have achieved so far this season. The drivers are both intelligent individuals and this issue will be resolved prior to the Canadian Grand Prix.”
“I have spoken with both drivers, who are both disappointed with what happened. They recognise that they represent the team and so are not only disappointed for their own loss, but the loss of points for the team who put in so much hard work before the race.
“Dietrich has spoken with both drivers following the incident. He has always supported both drivers equally and summed it up by saying: â€Sh*t happensâ€¦ we shouldn’t talk about the past, but concentrate on the future. Fact is that we not only have the fastest car but also two of the best and fastest drivers.”
Mark Webber also commented on the events in Istanbul, in a separate feature. Although the Australian believes that the incident should have been handled better, he echoed Horner’s comments by stating that he wished for the issue to be resolved before Canada.
“People have to remember that we are still a very young team,” Webber said in a video interview on Red Bull’s site. “To take McLaren on week in, week out is not an easy task, but one that Red Bull is hungry for.
“We have proven that we will fight them hard, so it is a feather in our cap on one side, but also on the other side we are still learning. Unfortunately in Turkey we learned in a way that wasn’t the best way, but teams like Ferrari and McLaren have had these days.
“They know how tough it can be when you have some adversity. We need to bounce back and be united as a team, and keep going.”
The 33-year-old added: “If you look back obviously, after it all happens, you of course want to handle things a lot more differently, and that it is something we learn as a team. We are in unchartered waters, with both of us leading the championship and both of us at the front in the next race.
“The team, collectively with the drivers, all of us have to learn how to deal with these situations maybe better in the future. That is all we can learn from it.”