Horner: Nice headache to have
Red Bull boss does not anticipate repeat of 2010 fireworks
By Mike Wise at Silverstone. Last Updated: 08/07/12 6:37pm
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner believes having two title challengers is a "nice headache to have" after Mark Webber boosted his credentials with victory at the British Grand Prix.
Starting second on the grid, the Australian hunted down race leader Fernando Alonso in the closing laps on the race at Silverstone before making his move four laps from home.
It was Webber's second win of the season and moved him up to second place in the Drivers' Championship behind Alonso.
Team-mate and defending Champion Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, completed the podium and is third in the standings. The result also boosted Red Bull's position atop the Constructors' Championship.
Webber's re-appearance as a contender has surprised some given the stranglehold Vettel held over him last season.
There were fireworks between the two when the same situation developed in 2010 - most notably a collision when racing for the lead in Turkey - but Horner does not think history will repeat itself.
"They've spent more time racing each other. They sit in hundreds of hours of meetings together working on developing the car - they work as team members," he said.
"There's a genuine respect between the two of them. Sebastian's obviously achieved so much in such a short space of time but in Mark he's got a very genuine competitor.
"We've seen them race closely, certainly at previous races and I'm sure they'll be close racing between them in races to come."
Horner was full of praise for the performance of Webber, who joined Alonso in becoming the only two-time winner in what is a wide-open season
"He's won two big races now, the Monaco Grand Prix and the British Grand Prix, and his drive today was excellent. It was inch perfect and the move he made on Fernando was absolutely spot-on," he enthused.
Red Bull, unlike Ferrari, also got their strategy spot-on. In a race that began in dry conditions and, against most predictions, stayed that way, Webber and Vettel started on soft tyres before switching to hards for the last two stints.
Both teams thought the hard Pirelli was the better race tyre, but Ferrari opted to start Alonso on it. He later struggled when forced on to the soft rubber.
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"We decided to run our strategy as if we'd qualified in the dry and we therefore decided to start both cars on the option tyre - despite the fact we knew it would be wear-limited, particularly on a green track," Horner explained.
"We felt to have the hard tyre for the end of the race would be preferable.
"The key, certainly to making Mark's strategy work, was making that first stint as long as possible, not to put too much pressure on ourselves in the final stint. We knew the race should come to us in the final stint.
"We started to eke in and put Fernando under pressure, to make sure he put those softer tyres on with numerous laps to go. As soon as he got on to that soft tyre, we looked quicker."
Horner said they needed to be more aggressive with Vettel, who made a slow getaway and also lost a piece of front wing following a collision with Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen on the opening lap.
"We stopped him pretty early to give him clean air, which got him ahead of Michael (Schumacher) and Felipe (Massa)," he said.
"Given another few laps, the way Sebastian was closing it could have been a one-two finish.
"To have Sebastian up there after a difficult first lap was absolutely a double bonus."
McLaren might have disappointed at Silverstone but Horner denied the suggestion the title battle is becoming a two-horse race.
"It's far too early to write off anyone in this Championship. You've got the two most consistent finishers leading the Championship, so therefore finishing races is absolutely critical," he added.