Saturday, October 16, 2010

Christian Horner Q&A: We won’t interfere in title race

With the prospect of winning both championships this season, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner should be a very happy man. However, there is the bothersome issue of having both his drivers, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel, still in the running for the title to contend with. Although it’s a nice problem to have, after promising both men equal opportunities, managing the situation could be far from straightforward, as Horner explained to…

Q: Christian, who would be your favourite candidate for the title - Mark Webber or Sebastian Vettel?
Christian Horner: You should know very well that I cannot - and must not - answer this question.

Q: So how will you handle the situation with both your drivers fighting for the championship?
CH: We have a luxury problem. For the team it is fantastic that we have two drivers eligible for the title. And we don’t need to dig too much into psychoanalysis to understand that if two guys are fighting for the most prestigious title in motorsport then tension is part of the game. We have to make sure that neither feels disadvantaged.

Q: How difficult was it after the crash in Istanbul?
CH: That has a huge challenge that grew even bigger the more it was speculated upon in public. But we have solved that issue.

Q: Webber’s manager Flavio Briatore has asked for team orders to help his driver as he is the one leading the championship. How do you answer such a demand?
CH: What else should he say as Mark’s manager? My answer is a clear ‘no’. Of course, I can imagine that Flavio would prefer it if we go the Ferrari way and put our efforts behind only one driver, but that would be wrong, as both are right in the middle of the fight for the title. The only thing we expect from them is that they don’t hamper each other.

Q: Webber is the hunted, Vettel the hunter. What is your strategy for the three remaining races?
CH: Sebastian has to fight for every single point. But after his Japan win the pressure has eased a bit because in the end he has nothing to lose. Mark has to do a balancing act. He must not drive too defensively but on the other hand must keep his margin over his competitors.

Q: Can Vettel still make it?
CH: Of course. There are still 75 points to be allocated. I promise that the team will not interfere in the race for the title. But you should also consider that we are heading for tracks that suit the Ferraris and McLarens better. I am a bit concerned about the Abu Dhabi race. McLaren was doing very well there last year, even though their car was not as good as ours, and it is a fact that we have a bit of a horsepower disadvantage. That could make a difference in Abu Dhabi and probably also in Korea.

Q: Vettel’s season has been a rollercoaster ride. Aside from some technical hiccups he was faster than Webber at the beginning of the season, slower than him by midseason and lately faster again. Do you have an explanation for that?
CH: No. The only explanation that I have is that Sebastian was a bit unlucky and Mark made the best out of his chances.

Q: Vettel was heavily criticised after making two mistakes. How did he deal with this?
CH: For someone as young as he is, he is very remarkable. He is his biggest critic but also has a huge amount of self-confidence. Even when the media wrote him off and the other teams tried to put him under pressure, he always fought back. He has a very strong character.

Q: If he wins the title it would make him the youngest-ever world champion. Is he ready for it?
CH: Yes, he is old enough for the title.

Q: The last two races have seen a lot of discussions between team principals. Is the unity of the teams still strong?
CH: Yes, but it is facing huge challenges. I cannot say more than that at the moment.


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