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Horner unhappy at late notice from Webber

ESPN Staff
June 27, 2013 « Mercedes won't suffer Barcelona repeat - Rosberg | Relationship didn't cause Webber exit - Vettel »
Christian Horner only found out about Mark Webber's decision to leave the team on Thursday morning © Getty Images

Christian Horner has revealed that he only found out about Mark Webber's decision to leave Red Bull and Formula One on the morning that the news broke.

Webber will drive sports cars for Porsche next year, turning his back on Red Bull after seven years of service. The team had to issue a reactionary press release after Porsche announced the news on Thursday morning, and Horner said he only talked to his driver as the story was breaking.

"I had a call from Mark this morning at about 9 o'clock and I spoke to him and he said that he'd reached this decision," he said. "An hour's notice is a bit short, but a decision for a driver to retire can only come from him and Mark is quite a private person and he's reached this decision and communicated it today.

"For us it makes very little difference, but to call time on a career that's lasted over ten years is a big decision for any driver. He's removed himself from speculation, he's made his intentions clear and he's removed himself as a candidate [for a Red Bull drive] by announcing his new contract with Porsche.

"It's a difficult decision to know when is the right time to stop and we only have to respect that that is his decision and wish him the best of luck for the future."

Horner said the workers at Red Bull's factory would likely be more upset by the short notice than he was.

"He's obviously decided to take things into his own hands and I think the guys in the factory are probably a bit more disappointed that they read it on the internet than heard something direct. That's the way things are sometimes."

However, in a Q&A on his website Webber revealed that he had talked to Red Bull co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz before the announcement, leaving Horner out of the loop.

"I haven't spoken to Dietrich today, I spoke with Mark this morning," Horner confirmed. "The final call sits with Dietrich on driver decisions but it's something that we discuss within the team and then we present our decision to Dietrich and he's always supported it. Mark has done a great job for the team but decided early on and I think that's a positive thing for the team because he's counted himself out as far as next year's concerned.

"It's a fitting time with the regulation changes that I know he is not a huge fan of next year. That leaves us with the prospect of making sure we get the right replacement driver alongside Sebastian for 2014."

Despite the slightly odd course of events and the existing bad blood between Webber and team-mate Sebastian Vettel, Horner is confident the Australian will be a team player for the remainder of the season.

"He's employed to drive for the team and do the very best that he can for the team, as are both drivers. He'll do that. He's done a great job for the team over the last few years and we expect him to drive with the same commitment and determination over the remaining 12 races."

With speculation rife that Kimi Raikkonen will replace Webber, Horner reiterated that Red Bull would take time to make its decision.

"We want a fast driver and we want to field the best two cars that we can next year," he added. "We're in a fortunate position where there's quite a few drivers who would like to drive a Red Bull car and we've also got two very talented young drivers that we've been developing at Toro Rosso and we have a lot of information on them. We don't need to rush into a decision and we'll take our time to make sure we make the right decision.

"There are risks with whoever you sign with. You just try to make the most informed decision you can."

Horner added that Vettel would be consulted on the decision.

"For sure Sebastian will be kept in the loop about who our choice of drivers are. His opinion has a value as well because he's out there racing against these guys and sometimes he sees things that we don't. Of course he will be kept fully in the loop."