Christian Horner has given some interesting extra insight into the Multi 21 affair, and in confirming that Sebastian Vettel has extended his apologies to the whole team, has tried to draw a line under the affair.
In a lengthy interview with Sky’s Ted Kravitz he suggested that Vettel’s decision to ignore the team orders was at least partly prompted by the fact that the German had saved new tyres for that final stint.
“I think it was fairly obvious what we wanted to achieve,” said Horner. “I think he decided to take things into his own hands at that point, and obviously achieved his target of making the pass on Mark and winning the race.
“Obviously he was quite surprised at the reaction after the race. Again he received a call from his engineer pretty soon after that final stop, and then I spoke to him a couple of times. And so I think the message that we were trying to convey was quite clear.
“The situation was that he was very focussed and very transfixed on making the most of the tyre he had on the car, a new set of tyres that he’d saved from the previous day, and capitalising on that in the early laps after that final pit stop.
“He probably underestimated the effect of his actions. But he’s a race driver, he’s a fiercely competitive individual, you don’t win 27 Grands Prix and three World Championships and the amount of pole positions that he’s achieved without being a very driven individual.
“He had a new set of tyres available at that last stint and he wanted to make the most of it. We all know there’s a bit of history between the two of them, and I’m sure that was somewhere at the back of his mind as well.”
Pressed by Kravitz Horner on RBR’s failure to control the situation he continually came back to the fact that racing drivers are competitive.
“I think with any race driver, any seriously competitive race driver, of course team orders goes against what they compete for. We saw it with Mark in 2011 at Silverstone, we saw it on previous occasions, we saw it at the final race in Brazil at the end of last year only two races ago. It’s a tricky one, because obviously the interests of the driver are different to that of the interests of the team.
“Team orders are permitted, they exist in F1. The constructors’ championship for the team has equal or more important to the drivers’ championship, because the constructors’ championship where the funds are distributed on.
“So of course, there are different objectives going on within a Grand Prix, that of the drivers, and that of the teams.”
Horner stressed once more that concerns about tyre wear prompted the order to hold station.
“I think he was very motivated to win that race. I think he recognised that stopping when he did in the damp conditions at the beginning of the race was what dropped him behind Mark. Mark drove a great race. Our approach has always been to give priority to the lead car, which we automatically assumed was Mark, after that first round of pit stops. Having effectively got to that final stop with the cars in order we had concerns over tyre wear.
“It was something we’d been monitoring through the Grand Prix – and had genuine concerns of not running out of tyres before the end of the race. And with the Mercedes not too far behind, having shown better degradation that we had on Friday, for us it was vital to then manage that part of the race, to ensure that we navigated our way safely to the end.
“Of course the two drivers fighting each other, following in close proximity wasn’t part of that game plan, because that’s the one way to really quickly burn up your tyres.”