• Malaysian Grand Prix

Vettel was wrong - Horner

ESPN Staff
March 24, 2013 « Rosberg understands Mercedes orders | Alonso thinks retirement was 'extremely bad luck' »
Christian Horner: "He'd had the communication and knew what it was and he chose to ignore it" © Sutton Images

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says he will hold discussions with Sebastian Vettel behind closed doors after admitting his driver chose to ignore a direct team order at the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Vettel won the race in Sepang but only after he took the lead from team-mate Mark Webber after both drivers had been told to hold position. Horner said he felt his driver had deliberately ignored a team order and that Vettel knew what he did was wrong.

"He'd had the communication and knew what it was and he chose to ignore it," Horner said. "He put his interest beyond what the team's position was and he was focused on those eight points difference between second and first.

"That was wrong, he has accepted it was wrong, and from a team's perspective Formula One is a team sport. But there is also a drivers' championship and that's where sometimes you end up being in conflict, and I believe exactly the same conflict was going on with the two cars [Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg] just behind us.

"It's important that we learn from it and I think that Sebastian acknowledges and knows what he did wasn't right. But these situations have happened previously, and no doubt they will happen again in the future."

Asked if he would be disciplining his driver further, Horner added: "It's the type of thing we will talk about behind closed doors. He and I have had the discussion already, once we've taken the emotion out of it with time to reflect we'll have another discussion before the next race."

Vettel made the pass on lap 46 and Horner was asked whether he considered radioing his driver to tell him to give the position back.

"Do you honestly think that if we'd told him to slow down and give the place back, he would have given it back?" Horner said. "There was no point, there was no point. He made it quite clear what his intention was by making the move."

Webber and Vettel have a long history of conflicts, going back to the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix where a similar battle ended in contact. After the race in Malaysia it appeared as though the pair's relationship had hit another low, but Horner said it was nothing new.

"Let's be honest here, there's never been much trust between them since Istanbul 2010, but there is a respect between the two of them," he said. "If you think of Brazil at the last race [of 2012], Mark was told to hold position and he started racing him.

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber came close to an accident © Sutton Images

"These things happen, they are race drivers and they will push to the limit. That's part of their DNA and that's part of why we signed them to do the job they do and why they have performed so well for us as a pairing for the last five years."

Explaining the reason why team orders had been imposed in the first place, Horner said the high levels of tyre degradation meant the pit wall was trying to do the best it could to secure maximum points.

"Following cars very closely destroys tyres and what we didn't want to do was run out of tyres and take an unnecessary risk. So from a team's point of view we are trying to manage the race from that final stop to the end of the race because at this point of the season it made sense to try and bank the points. All you are doing by allowing the two to race, from a team's perspective, is take unnecessary risk. Obviously Sebastian chose that he wanted those eight points and chose to take things into his own hands. He's apologised to team for that and to Mark for that."