• Chinese GP

Vettel did not cost Ricciardo third - Horner

ESPN Staff
April 20, 2014 « Misunderstanding led to team order refusal - Vettel | Raikkonen admits driving style behind China struggle »
Sebastian Vettel did not hold off Daniel Ricciardo for long © Getty Images

Christian Horner insists Sebastian Vettel's initial refusal to let Daniel Ricciardo through in China did not cost the Australian a spot on the podium in China.

Vettel said "tough luck" when asked to move over for Ricciardo on lap 24 when his team-mate was quicker on fresher rubber, but moved over a lap later once he had been told they were on different strategies. In the closing stages Ricciardo appeared to be chipping away at Fernando Alonso in third and ended up just over a second behind, though he still would have needed to pass a Ferrari which had a slight straight-line advantage.

With that in mind Horner is convinced the result would have stayed the same even if Vettel had moved over straight away.

"No, I don't think so," Horner said when asked if Vettel cost Ricciardo third. "Arguably we would have been a second up the road. He did the right thing for the team and let him through. Catching Fernando was one thing but with the deficit we have on the kilometre long straight here I think passing was going to be something quite different."

Horner refused to criticise Vettel for his initial decision, saying it was perfectly understandable for his driver to want clarification on his team-mate's strategy.

"Well, he's a racer and of course he asked first of all what tyre Daniel was on. At that point what he didn't realise is that we were looking at a different strategy, because Seb was going through the tyre phases quicker, to convert him onto a three-stopper.

"As soon he realised that he immediately let him through and could see he simply didn't have the pace to let him through. He wanted to understand why so therefore he questioned what tyre he was on but once he did, bang, he immediately moved."

Horner admits Vettel is nowhere near getting as much out of the car as he could be at the moment due to, among other reasons, an uncharacteristic struggle with the tyres this season.

"We know Seb is very sensitive with the car and how it enters into a corner. At the moment he hasn't got the feel he needs from the car.

"Unusually for Sebastian, he's been so strong in looking after Pirelli tyres we know are pretty delicate, but now he's struggling with that at the moment because he's not being able to read the car as much as he usually does. As soon as he does that he'll be right back."

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