Christian Horner says Sebastian Vettel’s defiance of team orders during the Malaysian Grand Prix showed he has the competitive instincts of the F1 elite.
“He’s a very, very driven individual,” said Horner in an interview with Sky. “You don’t win the amount of events he’s won, the amount of grands prix he’s won, the amount of success he’s had in his career by being a driver that is submissive, that sits back.”
“If Fernando Alonso or Lewis Hamilton had been in that position they’d have done the same, if Mark Webber had been in that position we’ve seen him do the same. So let’s not kid ourselves that this is something unique to Sebastian, this is something that’s in any competitive, driven driver’s DNA.”
Horner admitted there had been previous occasions where he’d attempted to impose team orders on his drivers without success: “I think any race driver, any seriously competitive race driver, teams orders go against what they compete for.”
“We saw it with Mark in 2011 at Silverstone, we saw it on previous occasions with the team, the final in race in Brazil last year, only two races ago.
“It’s a tricky one because obviously the interest of the driver is different from the interests of the team. Team orders are permitted, they exist in Formula One. The constructors’ championship for the team has equal or more importance than the drivers’ championship. The constructors’ championships is where the funds are distributed.
“So of course there are different objectives going on within a Grand Prix: that of the driver and that of the teams.”
Red Bull ‘takes equality seriously’
However Horner added he believes Vettel genuinely regrets his actions: “Sebastian’s a very honest guy. I think he was shocked after the race I think he was surprised and then the feeling came over him, you could see that, that he felt he had done wrong.”
“I believe his apology was sincere and he repeated that apology in private in the briefing that we had later that evening.”
The Red Bull team principal insisted both his drivers will continue to be treated the same: “[Webber] will have equal opportunity to Sebastian as we’ve done our very best to do for both drivers at every Grand Prix that we compete at.”
“Mark knows the equipment that we make and the lengths we go to ensure parity. We even, from weekend to weekend, switch who going to go first in qualifying, who talks first in the debrief, it’s switched from weekend to weekend to ensure there is completely parity in the way we treat our drivers.
“It’s something we take very seriously within the team and I think Mark knows the support that he has.”
“I think we’re going to give up on that code”
Horner also gave further insight into the events during the final laps of Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix, pointing out that Webber had to run his engine on a lower setting because he had used more fuel:
“Mark and Seb were on opposing strategies they were running different tyres at different points in time. After that final stop of course fuel consumption between the two cars had been slightly different, Mark’s had been slightly higher than Sebastian’s so he was in a slightly more fuel saving mode than Sebastian.”
After the race Webber was heard pointing out to Vettel they had been given the instruction “multi 21” during the race. “Multi 21 means car two ahead of car one,” Horner explained.
“Multi 12 means car one ahead of car two. It’s not complicated. It’s not that difficult to translate but both our drivers in the last three races have failed to understand both of those messages.”
“I think we’re going to give up on that code,” he added. “We need to probably try something else.”
2013 Malaysian Grand Prix
- Horner: Vettel and Webber have a “healthy rivalry”
- Webber wins Malaysian GP Driver of the Weekend
- Red Bull gives up on team orders as Vettel admits he would defy them again
- Malaysia retirement no concern for Alonso
- Massa: Red Bull’s team orders not “intelligent”
Images ?é?® Red Bull/Getty