Horner: Vettel and Webber have a “healthy rivalry”

2013 Malaysian Grand Prix

Christian Horner, Red Bull, Shanghai, 2013Red 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.”

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44 comments on Horner: Vettel and Webber have a “healthy rivalry”

  1. Aditya F. Yahya (@adityafakhri) said on 12th April 2013, 10:04

    maybe having a high blood tension and several mini-stroke is considered healthy by our beloved Christian Horner :)

  2. andrewf1 (@andrewf1) said on 12th April 2013, 10:22

    “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt”, Christian.

  3. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 12th April 2013, 10:29

    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.

    Was Horner watching the Malaysian Grand Prix? Because what we saw at the staging point behind the garages and what followed on the podium was anything but healthy.

    Once again, Horner attempts to appese everyone with some comments that are carefully chosen so as to avoid taking sides, but only succeeds in highlighting just how divided everything is. This is clearly a response to Vettel’s remarks about how he will not obey team orders in the future, but since it contradicts Horner’s previous stance on the matter, he’s effectively letting Vettel set the mood within the team – and that’s supposed to be his job.

    It never ceases to amaze me that Horner can lead his team to three World Championships one day, and then the next day make blunders like this that even a Formula Ford team principal would know to avoid.

    • M Dickens (@sgt-pepper) said on 12th April 2013, 11:57

      (@prisoner-monkeys)

      It never ceases to amaze me that Horner can lead his team to three World Championships one day, and then the next day make blunders like this that even a Formula Ford team principal would know to avoid.

      cough**Newey**cough

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 12th April 2013, 12:47

        @sgt-pepper – It takes more than just a good car to win World Championships. Red Bull could have the best car ever built, but with an ineffective team principal calling the shots, they might as well enter with a HRT.

        • HoHum (@hohum) said on 12th April 2013, 15:47

          @prisoner-monkeys, at the moment Horner is between a rock and a hard place, as long as Vettel continues to win there is nothing Horner can do to rein him in. Perhaps you have a solution I have overlooked ?

        • George (@george) said on 12th April 2013, 18:33

          Perhaps his talents lie in other areas @prisoner-monkeys ? Red Bull are certainly a slick operating team, they have great personnel and solid finances.

          It takes more than just a good car to win World Championships. Red Bull could have the best car ever built, but with an ineffective team principal calling the shots, they might as well enter with a HRT.

          This would suggest he’s doing something right. Perhaps he feels Vettel works better in an environment where he’s in control, whereas Webber works better when he’s in the underdog position?

          Also lets not forget that while Vettel’s championships have often been close fought, Red Bull as a team are usually well ahead of the competition.

          • Dwight_js said on 12th April 2013, 19:01

            I personally think you’re on to something. Horner might just be a mad genius, balancing just the right amount of animosity and tension between the drivers to get the best out of them. The whole thing is poised on a knife’s edge, with disaster looming on all sides. Let’s see if Horner can pull this off!

    • This is clearly a response to Vettel’s remarks about how he will not obey team orders in the future, but since it contradicts Horner’s previous stance on the matter, he’s effectively letting Vettel set the mood within the team – and that’s supposed to be his job.

      It’s a mystery to me why people continue to cling to the belief that Horner is the top dog at Red Bull. That position is occupied by Horner’s boss, Dietrich Mateschitz. Neither Vettel nor Webber ever gets punished for ignoring team orders because Mateschitz does not want team orders. The “mood within the team” is set by Mateschitz.

      Of course it is also a mystery to me how people who were totally cool with Mark Webber disobeying team orders can now be seen wringing their hands with worry that poor Christian Horner is not being respected. That ship sailed a long time ago, and most F1 fans wished it bon voyage. “Good on ye, Mark!”

      • Dwight_js said on 12th April 2013, 18:58

        100% correct Jon,

        The hypocrisy of the media and the fans is too amusing. People howled that Seb’s victory in Silverstone 2011 was illegitimate because Webber was told to back off. Now Seb’s victory is suddenly illegitimate because he did not back off. Stunning cognitive dissonance there!

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 12th April 2013, 20:41

      Vettel went up in my estimation by being honest and saying that he wasn’t really that sorry and that he’d do the same again. Fair play – you can’t argue with that!

      Horner can’t really go down in my estimation that much to be fair but if he’d just be honest and admit that there are issues, I think most people would empathise with him! The one thing I hate more than team orders is ‘corporate speak’. There’s no need to lie in this situation – everyone knows that it’s not a “healthy rivalry!”

  4. pSynrg (@psynrg) said on 12th April 2013, 10:30

    Much like I have a healthy interest in smoking then…

  5. Bendanarama (@bendana) said on 12th April 2013, 10:40

    Presumably in the same way Brutus and Julius Ceaser had a “Workplace dispute.”

  6. dragoll (@dragoll) said on 12th April 2013, 10:45

    “I doubt very much they’ll be spending the summer break together or Christmas but that’s not what we pay them for.”

    I think this could qualify for understatement of the year ;)

  7. firstLapNutcaseGrosjean (@) said on 12th April 2013, 10:56

    Ok, can we stop with Webber, Vettel and Red Bull discusions. I think it’s enough after 3 weeks. I want to read discussion about the Chinesse GP.

  8. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 12th April 2013, 11:04

    The RBR rivalry is anything but healthy. Perhaps I might’ve believed it before Malaysia, but now I just call BS. Even Christian himself can’t convince himself to believe this.

    • karter22 (@karter22) said on 12th April 2013, 15:35

      @kingshark
      My thoughts exactly, what do they take the fans for?? I´m a Ferrari man but heck, that relationship is as healthy as a 2 dollar hooker! And the worst of if all is that Horner has no face to talk about leadership now when a driver completely underminded him. Sad.

  9. I think Christian Horner (and Martin Whitmarsh also) are the worst team principals I’ve ever known in some ways. I can only assume that they have a very appeasing public face, whereas behind closed doors they are completely different. Neither one of them appear in as control as say, Frank Williams, or even Peter Sauber’s replacement, whose name I’ve forgotten. She gives a good public face, but you can tell she’s got an iron core about which she works. That just isn’t visible in Martin and Christian, although you have to say they’re probably doing something right.

    Anyways, I only wanted to say that however this has come about, it’s got to be good for the sport. My only concern is that they start trying to take points off the other, rather than concentrating on beating everyone else. If it starts to occur where they are simply racing each other and letting other teams steal points away, then it is only Mark Webber who will suffer.

  10. Cyclops_PL (@cyclops_pl) said on 12th April 2013, 13:03

    As a linguist I find Horner’s definition of healthy very intriguing.

  11. Ivano (@) said on 12th April 2013, 13:58

    Is Redbull’s PR manual running out of pages?

  12. Garns (@garns) said on 12th April 2013, 14:29

    @andrewf1 – haha, nice one mate.

    @prisoner-monkeys
    “It never ceases to amaze me that Horner can lead his team to three World Championships one day, and then the next day make blunders like this that even a Formula Ford team principal would know to avoid.”

    Agreed PM and I am starting to loose quite a bit of respect for him really. We know Newey cant be replaced and really the ONLY other member of RBR that applies to is, unfortunatley, Vettel. Horner can be and someone like Ross Brawn could be a new injection for them if rumours that Mercs will push him is true (I personally dont see it).

    I read a funny but true comment about how Newey really runs Red Bull- “When Adrian puts in a form for a day of annual leave the lights in the factory start to flicker!” It does underestimate the contributions from the 600 or so other team members, but the comment makes its point!!

    Healthy relationship? I still think Mark and Vettel for a bout in the UFC- that undercard WOULD draw a crowd :)

  13. kovi said on 12th April 2013, 16:17

    Horner: Vettel has not undermined me.
    May be he didn’t, but you are underminding yourself with those kind of lies.

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 12th April 2013, 20:43

      He clearly has though! He was told not to pass and he did anyway. Red Bull admitted this was the case.

      If you boss says “don’t do that” and you think “hmm… nah I think I will do that”, you have undermined your boss. Simple as.

  14. billbranch (@billbranch) said on 12th April 2013, 18:51

    Vettel, while he may be a talented driver, is nothing more than an ill-mannered lout. Horner does not say it, but the Constructors’ Championship is the prize, not the Drivers’. That is what determines the allocation of the big money. We have seen too many instances of drivers taking their teammates out, the sole reason for which is ego.
    The team should not care who finishes first, as long as both drivers finish. At RBR, unfortunately, that is not the case.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 12th April 2013, 19:08

      @billbranch -

      Though Vettel is hardly smelling of roses, I fail to see what makes him so “ill mannered”, or such a “lout”. I think that name calling is just a bit of a cheap shot. It’s not like he deliberately swerved towards anyone’s car, or anything. All he did was overtake his teammate for the win, in a scenario that Red Bull messed up, by failing to trust their drivers to race until the end, in only the 2nd race of the year.

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 12th April 2013, 20:47

      @billbranch The constructors championship isn’t “the prize”. Sure, Red Bull will get more money for winning it but F1 for the drivers championship. I couldn’t care less who wins the constructors and neither do the majority of fans in reality.

      If it was up to me, I’d drop the constructors championship all together as it brings nothing positive to the sport.

      • karter22 (@karter22) said on 13th April 2013, 2:52

        @petebaldwin

        I’d drop the constructors championship all together as it brings nothing positive to the sport

        Surely you can´t be serious! The whole reason F1 began was to prove who was the better car manufacturer. It was the manufacturers against the garagistes(not sure if I spelt it right).
        To say something like what you just said is complete madness!

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 13th April 2013, 3:14

          @karter22

          The constructor’s championship is a very important part of the sport, I agree. However it wasn’t introduced until 1960, 10 years after the driver’s championship, interestingly enough.

          • karter22 (@karter22) said on 13th April 2013, 3:27

            @david-a
            Thanks for the clarification! Still, 10 < 53 . So I guess the constructor´s championship is a bit more important and I guess it could be considered that it began when F1 really became a professional sport?

  15. kgriff said on 12th April 2013, 19:33

    Horner as team lead is a poorly executed charade. But then it can’t be easy.

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