Horner admits no more room for error
Red Bull's title challenge jolted by first double retirement in two years
Last Updated: 09/09/12 6:45pm
Red Bull chief Christian Horner has warned his team that they cannot afford a repeat of their disastrous Italian GP if they are to retain their World Championships.
The Milton Keynes-based outfit went into the Monza weekend with a sense of foreboding due to the fact their RB8 lacks straight-line speed yet, after struggling for one-lap pace in both practice and qualifying, had hoped to salvage a strong result in race conditions.
Those hopes initially looked justified as Vettel ran with Jenson Button and the Ferraris early on but the World Champions' fortunes soon nosedived in dramatic fashion with both the German and team-mate Mark Webber retiring before the chequered flag.
While a second Renault alternator failure of the weekend - and third of the season - ground Vettel's car to a halt, Webber dropped out of seventh in the closing laps after a spin on badly-worn tyres.
It brought up Red Bull's first double retirement since a similarly depressing day in Korea two years ago and, although Horner admits they hadn't expected much from the weekend ahead of races which are expected to favour the RB8, there are stronger circuits to come for them, the Red Bull chief also accepts they cannot afford any more retirements.
"In the race we were definitely more competitive," he told Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz.
"This is our weakest circuit: we know we are not quick on the straights here, it exposes our weakness. But we've got races and venues coming up that hopefully we can be strong at.
"We'll keep pushing. We're still leading the Constructors' Championship and both drivers still in the Drivers' Championship but we can't afford to DNFs like today."
A downbeat Horner also called on engine suppliers Renault to raise their game to eradicate the repeat problems with their alternators.
"It was very disappointing," he said. "We had an alternator failure, the second one this weekend. It was replaced yesterday morning, a new one was put on the car for the race and unfortunately that's also failed which is a repeat problem from Valencia earlier in the season which is especially disappointing.
"But we need to work with Renault to try and understand it and they need to get on top of it."
Although his later mechanical retirement rendered it academic, Vettel's earlier push for the podium positions was scuppered by a drive-through penalty after stewards judged he had forced Fernando Alonso onto the grass coming round the Curva Grande.
The pair were involved in an almost identical incident 12 months ago at Monza - for which Alonso escaped penalty - and Horner admitted he found the sanction "harsh".
"If you look at it I think you can draw your own conclusions to be honest," he told Ted. "The penalty didn't seem to fit the crime.
"It was harsh, I don't think Sebastian did anything wrong. When I looked at it I didn't expect there to be any repercussions from it, but unfortunately there was."
However, although Horner defended his driver's actions and the team were heard telling the World Champion over the radio that he had done nothing wrong, the Sky Sports F1 pundits largely agreed with the stewards' version of events.
Analysing the incident on the SkyPad after the race, Anthony Davidson felt Vettel had unfairly crowded the Ferrari.
"Vettel was in the wrong," declared Davidson as he reviewed footage which saw the F2012's front-right tyre at one stage almost interlock with the Red Bull's wheels.
"It was a little bit over the top. There was still a gap [last year] between the two cars. Fernando gave Vettel a lot more room and then straightened up the car once he saw Sebastian off the circuit."