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Horner rubbishes cheating allegations

ESPN Staff
October 3, 2013 « Kaltenborn admits Barrichello interest | Vettel wary of Mercedes threat in Korea »
Christian Horner: "You'd be fairly stupid to introduce traction control" © Sutton Images
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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes his team would be "pretty stupid" to try to run traction control under the current regulations, after speculation following the Singapore Grand Prix that Sebastian Vettel's victory was linked to some sort of illegal electronic system.

The rumours gathered pace when ex-team boss Giancarlo Minardi raised questions about the Red Bull after listening to it from the side of the circuit. Traction control has been illegal under the regulations since 2008 and in order to ban it all the teams must run identical ECUs supplied by McLaren and moderated by the FIA.

Horner said it would be obvious if a team had tampered with the ECU to gain an advantage.

"You'd be fairly stupid to introduce traction control onto a car that is governed by a single ECU that is granted by a tender of the FIA and that is scrupulously checked by the FIA," he said. "I can't imagine any team in the pit lane would even entertain it.

"The electronic controls on the car are so tightly governed because it's a controlled box we have. The settings in both the [Red Bull] cars are absolutely identical and they fully comply with the FIA rules. The FIA should be able to verify that and it's a standard unit that all the teams are using. Any suggestion of traction control is either purely mischievous or wishful thinking."

Another possibility is that engine supplier Renault offers an advanced engine map that aids traction by cutting cylinders to smooth out the car's torque curve. But Horner believes all the engine manufacturers wield a similar level of technology and none are in breach of the regulations.

"That's also very restricted, on what you can do in terms of torque maps and torque curves," he said. "But that's also something that all the engine manufacturers are doing within the parameters they are allowed. These engines are so optimised and so far into their life cycles that all the engine manufacturers are pretty close, to be honest. I don't think one has an advantage over the others. You could argue the same about Ferrari's starts, but the bottom line is they obviously get it all together and everything right at that point. You don't hear any accusations of traction control."

Horner said Vettel's dominance in Singapore was purely down to car and driver getting it right on the day.

"Sebastian's performance in Singapore was so dominant, it inevitably raises questions about how that's possible," he added. "But other teams will be looking inwardly and the easiest conclusion to come to is 'they must be cheating'.

"These things are so tightly controlled that it would be impossible and the facts are he drove an incredible race, he had incredible pace and maximised the most out of the car. He was a driver on absolute peak form. Is it a distraction? No. Will we lose any sleep over it? Absolutely not."