Horner defends Vettel
Red Bull chief Christian Horner has told The F1 Show that Sebastian Vettel's public criticism of Narain Karthikeyan at Sepang was just "one of those things".
Last Updated: 31/03/12 12:35pm
Red Bull chief Christian Horner has told The F1 Show that Sebastian Vettel's outburst against Narain Karthikeyan at the Malaysian GP was understandable in the heat of the moment given the pair's collision had just cost the World Champion crucial points.
A visibly annoyed Vettel branded HRT's Karthikeyan an "idiot" in interviews immediately after finishing 11th in the rain-hit race, the German having dropped out of fourth place late on when he picked up a left-rear puncture against the Indian driver's front wing as he went to lap him.
Karthikeyan subsequently hit back at Vettel's criticisms in the Indian media, expressing his disappointment with the German's remarks given his status as the World Champion and calling him a "cry baby" - although on Friday he attempted to draw a line under the spat.
Horner had his say on Vettel's comments during an appearance on The F1 Show on Sky Sports F1 on Friday evening, the RBR Team Principal defending Vettel by saying his show of frustration was only natural given how his race had unravelled so close to the end.
"These guys get a microphone shoved in front of him just after he's effectively lost a fourth-place position and of course he was annoyed, he vented his frustration," he told Georgie Thompson and Ted Kravitz.
"But it's one of those things. I think that any driver in that situation would be totally annoyed with the situation.
"Obviously the stewards deemed that Narain was in the wrong and dealt with it accordingly. But I don't think anybody could blame Sebastian for being a bit frustrated in that situation."
Vettel visited the team's Milton Keynes factory to spend time on the simulator earlier this week and asked if he had spoken to his driver since the incident, Horner insisted the 24-year-old had already calmed down about it by the time of Red Bull's Sunday evening debrief in Sepang.
"He was in the factory on Tuesday working on the simulator. Even half an hour after the race, the drivers sit in a debrief that goes on for about an hour, and hour and a half, he'd cooled down about it," he said.
"Obviously [he was] frustrated, he was driving very well, he was closing in on Lewis, and of course he was wanting to finish the race in a positive manner and there were a lot of points on offer there."
Horner also sought to clarify Vettel and the team's actions in the final laps of the race following suggestions that the World Champion may have ignored the instructions of his engineer to retire his car for safety reasons owing to spiralling rear brake temperatures caused by the contact with Karthikeyan.
Vettel's race engineer Guillaume 'Rocky' Rocquelin was first heard telling the German to head to the pit lane to retire the car, only to come back on the radio telling him to stay out, before returning yet again to deliver the more animated message of "stop the car, emergency, stop the car now, emergency".
Asked to explain just what had been going on between team and car, Horner explained that the pit wall had lost radio contact with the German following the re-start after the red-flag period but continued to relay messages to him in the hope that some might get through, although none did.
Horner admits the brief change in empthasis of the messages came about because of Pastor Maldonado's late demise, before fast-rising temperatures finally led to the definitive call to retire.
But although he says Vettel couldn't hear the radio calls, the RBR chief says the German was aware something was up with his car and managed it accordingly to the chequered flag.
"Basically what the sequence of events was, that after the impact with Karthikeyan the tyre delaminating damaged the left-rear braking cooling duct and that brake and corner of the car started going to a thermal runaway," Horner explained.
"So from a safety point of view we were genuinely concerned that there could be a catastrophic failure which could throw him into a nasty spin or accident. So at that point we were saying he should stop the car. Sebastian was managing the situation pretty well, he was aware of what was going on, he could feel that the brake pedal was going long from what he said to us after the race.
"And of course then Maldonado retires and you've got one lap to go and so you think okay well let's stay out, see if something else happens and then there's a potential point on offer here. But then the temperatures continue to increase and that was when we said come on, okay, right let's see if we can get him to stop the car because we just don't want to take any risk with his safety.
"But those messages unfortunately didn't get through to the car. Sebastian, as it turned out, didn't really use the brakes at all on that last lap and was keen to see the chequered flag."