Horner: ‘Both drivers will be given equal treatment’

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Red Bull Racing’s ongoing efforts to manage the aftermath of the Turkish Grand Prix continue with a Q and A at the team’s web site with team boss Christian Horner.

Top line items: The team is backing off blaming Mark Webber for the crash and Horner says both drivers will be treated equally as the season continues.

Here’s some highlights:

Q: What happened on lap 40 of the Turkish GP?
CH: We had a unique situation during the Turkish GP where the first four cars were separated by two seconds, with Mark having led every lap until lap 40. The race was the fastest of the season to date with all four drivers pushing each other extremely hard. On lap 38, Mark changed his mixture setting based on his fuel consumption to a slightly leaner mode, which had an average lap time loss of about 0.18 seconds, whilst maintaining the same revs. Sebastian had conserved more fuel than Mark during the race and therefore was able to run in a slightly better mode for an additional couple of laps. On lap 38 and 39, Sebastian’s pace picked up and he closed right up to the back of Mark while under considerable pressure from Hamilton behind. After a very strong run through Turn 9, Sebastian got a run and strong tow and moved to the left to pass Mark. Mark held the inside line and adopted a defensive position, which he is entitled to do. When Sebastian was three quarters of the way past, he moved to the right. As Sebastian moved to the right, Mark held his position and the ensuing result was contact that resulted in Sebastian retiring, Mark damaging the front-end of his car and the team losing a one two-finish. Ultimately both drivers should have given each other more room.

Q: Was either driver to blame for the incident?
CH: What we expect from our drivers, as team-mates, is that they show respect for each other and allow one another enough room on the race track. Unfortunately neither driver did this on Sunday and the net result was an incident between the two. During the previous six one-two finishes we have achieved, there have been many incidences of close racing between our drivers and they have previously always abided by this understanding.

[snip]

Q: Some people commented after the race that Mark was to blame – why was that?
CH: Ultimately we win as a team and we lose as a team and on Sunday we lost as a team, as a result of our two drivers having an incident. Having looked at all the information it’s clear that it was a racing accident that shouldn’t have happened between two team-mates. After looking at all the facts that weren’t available immediately after the race, Dr. Marko also fully shares this view.

[snip]

Q: Were you happy that Sebastian challenged Mark for the lead at that point in the race? You had a one-two, so why not stick with that?
CH: With the pace of the McLarens and with it looking like Sebastian was the quicker of the two Red Bull cars, the priority was to win the race. With intense pressure from Hamilton behind, who was in a McLaren that had a significant straight line speed advantage, it would have been impossible to back Sebastian off. Therefore it was acceptable to us for him to attempt an overtaking manoeuvre.

Q: Were there any team orders given for Sebastian to pass Mark?
CH: Neither driver was given any instruction to change position. There are no team orders within Red Bull Racing, other than that the drivers should race each other with respect.

Q: How will you resolve the situation?
CH: We’re a very strong team and we will sit down and discuss this openly with the drivers in order to learn from what has happened and avoid a situation like this arising again. One of the strengths of Red Bull Racing is the team spirit here, which has contributed to the performance that we have achieved so far this season. The drivers are both intelligent individuals and this issue will be resolved prior to the Canadian Grand Prix.

Q: How will you deal with the drivers? Have you already spoken to them?
CH: I have spoken with both drivers, who are both disappointed with what happened. They recognise that they represent the team and so are not only disappointed for their own loss, but the loss of points for the team who put in so much hard work before the race.

Q: What’s the plan going forwards for the team? Will one of the drivers now be given number one status?
CH: Both drivers, as has always been the case, will be given equal treatment. That will continue.

[snip]

Q: What is Mr. Mateschitz’s opinion of the incident?
CH: Dietrich has spoken with both drivers following the incident. He has always supported both drivers equally and summed it up by saying: ”Shit happens… we shouldn’t talk about the past, but concentrate on the future. Fact is that we not only have the fastest car but also two of the best and fastest drivers.”

I’m not sure this sheds a bunch of light on the issue. At some point, the team needs to start looking ahead to Canada if it wants to keep ahead of McLaren. It’s Tuesday already… time’s a-wasting.

Can we look ahead? Is there a point when you think Red Bull officially will be majorly behind the curve in preparing for Canada? Today? Tomorrow? Thursday?

How long before Turkey absolutely, concretely affects Red Bull’s next race?

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