Ferrari gets a little shot from Horner, plus… looming trouble for FOTA?

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Christian Horner seems to be the man of the moment, mostly because he refuses to make one of his two drivers the man of his team.

Horner maintains his stance that there won’t be team orders favoring one of his drivers in a Q & A at the official Formula 1 site. But what’s more interesting (on a day empty of interesting news) is how he answers a questions related to Mark Webber and his manager, Flavio Briatore:

Q: Webber’s manager Flavio Briatore has asked for team orders to help his driver as he is the one leading the championship. How do you answer such a demand?
CH: What else should he say as Mark’s manager? My answer is a clear ‘no’. Of course, I can imagine that Flavio would prefer it if we go the Ferrari way and put our efforts behind only one driver, but that would be wrong, as both are right in the middle of the fight for the title. The only thing we expect from them is that they don’t hamper each other.

OK, so I’d call that a little shot at Ferrari since, at this point, Maranello does just have one driver “right in the middle of the fight.” But that certainly wasn’t true back in Germany, was it?

Horner — as we’ve been covering here — has been lobbing these minor grenades at Red Bull’s two rivals fairly consistently this week. It’s during these competitive moments that you might think the existence of FOTA — or at least its harmony — is most tested.

Well, you tell me. Does this sound like there is a problem with the teams association? Probably totally unrelated to Horner, but… maybe not? Maybe as the competitive juices flow the good-natured collaboration starts to fray?

Q: The last two races have seen a lot of discussions between team principals. Is the unity of the teams still strong?
CH: Yes, but it is facing huge challenges. I cannot say more than that at the moment.

What the heck kind of answer is that? Hey, Christian! Come join us over in F1B’s patented and trademarked “Media 101 Training Cockpit.”

Hi Christian. Thanks for stopping by. We say your answer to the question about FOTA and (dope slaps him upside the head) what were you thinking? You don’t answer a question like that and then say something open-ended — unless that’s your intent. Stop with “Yes.” Remember, less is more. Especially when there’s no other news out there.

Or… if you have to bring up challenges, don’t then retreat into a “well, I can’t talk about that” crouch. That’s dry kindle for fans, bloggers and Martin Brundle. You let that trial balloon go, you have to give it some wind to stay aloft.

Alright, go back to keeping Mark and Seb from ripping each other’s faces off.

Well, those are the two highlights of this Q & A. Here’s a few more bits and pieces, to top the thing off:

Q: So how will you handle the situation with both your drivers fighting for the championship?
CH: We have a luxury problem. For the team it is fantastic that we have two drivers eligible for the title. And we don’t need to dig too much into psychoanalysis to understand that if two guys are fighting for the most prestigious title in motorsport then tension is part of the game. We have to make sure that neither feels disadvantaged.

Q: How difficult was it after the crash in Istanbul?
CH: That has a huge challenge that grew even bigger the more it was speculated upon in public. But we have solved that issue.

[snip]

Q: Webber is the hunted, Vettel the hunter. What is your strategy for the three remaining races?
CH: Sebastian has to fight for every single point. But after his Japan win the pressure has eased a bit because in the end he has nothing to lose. Mark has to do a balancing act. He must not drive too defensively but on the other hand must keep his margin over his competitors.

Q: Can Vettel still make it?
CH: Of course. There are still 75 points to be allocated. I promise that the team will not interfere in the race for the title. But you should also consider that we are heading for tracks that suit the Ferraris and McLarens better. I am a bit concerned about the Abu Dhabi race. McLaren was doing very well there last year, even though their car was not as good as ours, and it is a fact that we have a bit of a horsepower disadvantage. That could make a difference in Abu Dhabi and probably also in Korea.

[snip]

Q: Vettel was heavily criticised after making two mistakes. How did he deal with this?
CH: For someone as young as he is, he is very remarkable. He is his biggest critic but also has a huge amount of self-confidence. Even when the media wrote him off and the other teams tried to put him under pressure, he always fought back. He has a very strong character.

Q: If he wins the title it would make him the youngest-ever world champion. Is he ready for it?
CH: Yes, he is old enough for the title.

A lot of questions about Seb. Is that a sign that F1 thinks he’s the more marketable world champ?

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