Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says his drivers still have a “healthy rivalry” following the row over team orders in the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Horner denied that Sebastian Vettel’s refusal to obey his instruction and subsequent claim he would do the same before had undermined his leadership:
“I don’t think so,” he said during Friday’s press conference in Shanghai. “Under my leadership I’ve led the team from the time Red Bull entered the sport to those 35 victories, to those world championships.”
“And of course there’s been lumps and bumps along the way, there’s been incidents between the two drivers. But we retain them because they’re fiercely competitive individuals. They drive each other forward, they bring the best out of each other.
“At some points of course it’s uncomfortable for the team. But I think It’s a healthy rivalry even though they took things into their own hands. They gave each other just enough room and while it was uncomfortable for us on the pit wall to sit and watch it was spectacular driving from both of them, just giving each other enough room to work with as they’ve done om numerous occasions.”
Horner said their relationship since the race was “no different to their relationship before Malaysia in many respects.”
“Right now they’re sitting in a meeting debriefing across from each other about what the car is doing and how they as a pairing can improve the car with their team of engineers. So of course they’ll continue to work professionally to benefit the team and ultimately, obviously themselves.
“I doubt very much they’ll be spending the summer break together or Christmas but that’s not what we pay them for.”
Asked if he believed Vettel would disobey his orders again Horner said: “I think he’d think twice but I think as he explained yesterday there’s an awful lot of history between those two drivers. It’s something that isn’t new it’s something that’s been there, between the two of them, for the last four or five years.”
Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz has also stepped into the row, as Horner explained: “What Dietrich is keen not to see is a situation where the drivers aren’t allowed to race each other.”
“Our concern in Malaysia was not the drivers racing each other but what the consequence would potentially be on tyre wear and the outcome of the one-two position on circuit we had managed to get ourselves into.
“So from a Red Bull perspective of course we want to see the drivers race and compete fairly and equally. At the same time the drivers equally know that they need to respect the requirements from the team.”
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”
Image ?é?® Red Bull/Getty