Horner: Red Bull were right on the limit
One-two finish but team boss admits that tyre wear was a real cause for concern
By Mike Wise in Yeongam. Last Updated: 14/10/12 2:41pm
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner admitted Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber pushed their tyres right to the limit in securing a one-two finish at the Korean Grand Prix.
The result, which places Vettel six points clear of Fernando Alonso in the drivers' standings, came in spite of both the defending champion and his team-mate having to struggle with worn rubber in the closing stages.
Increasingly tense messages from Vettel's engineer Guillaume 'Rocky' Rocquelin were relayed to the driver - the worry being that the right front tyre on his car would wear to the canvas and possibly puncture.
Webber suffered too, although both drivers kept up the pace during the closing moments - the Australian indeed setting the fastest lap of the race one from home.
Both drivers seemed relaxed about the situation after what had otherwise been a dominant performance - but that was far from the case on the pitwall.
"We knew it was going to be right on the limit so then it was a matter of making sure we didn't punish the tyres too much, and make sure we had enough to get to the finish," Horner said.
"That's why I said to Rocky: 'Just make sure we're all over Sebastian, because we don't need any fastest laps from him.' Then Mark bangs one in one from the end."
Horner said the team knew they were set for a tense finish having seen the state of his drivers' tyres after both had made their final stops.
Vettel led comfortably all afternoon, although his advantage was whittled away at the final stops after a lurid lock-up on his in lap.
"The thing is they give you very little warning, and on Sebastian's in lap he had a massive lock-up at the previous stop," Horner explained.
"You drop two seconds on an in-lap and you don't know whether you're going to go through the canvas effectively and end up with a puncture. Knowing how much we stretched the tyres was a concern.
"Every time they bring up a slow motion and you see bits of inner edge flying off - I decided not to look at those from about half distance."
Despite qualifying second behind his team-mate, Vettel made the better getaway and led Webber into Turn 1.
The Australian then tried to fight back down the two long straights at the start of the lap but Vettel held sway.
"Then they ran side-by-side all the way down to Turn 3 but they behaved impeccably - they both gave each other just enough room," Horner said. "Thereafter, it was a matter of managing the tyres."
The result is the first one-two finish for any team this season and confirms the feeling that Red Bull have hit top form right when it matters most.
Webber now stands 63 points behind Vettel with four races left. Although Webber admitted that "bizarre circumstances" are now needed for him to take the title, Horner said there would be no team orders.
"Sebastian has moved into the lead; Mark still has a chance of winning this Championship. It would be wrong to impose team order while Mark mathematically has a chance of winning," Horner said.
The result also increases Red Bull's lead in the Constructors' Championship over Ferrari, who took over second place from McLaren.
Horner added: "We've hit a purple patch of form at the right time but it's important that we maintain that now and there's still a long way to go, with different types of venue coming up.
"We're not even thinking about titles at the moment. We're more concerned with extracting the most out of each weekend."