Time to be quiet
APRIL 4, 2012
Why is it, every time I turn on a F1-related TV programme, I see Christian Horner? From BBC Breakfast to BBC F1 Highlights; from SkySportsF1 paddock interviews to their F1 Show last weekend, up pops the neatly-coiffured Red Bull team principal politely saying - well, not very much because there is little to add when your team is not on the expected pace. And when comment is passed on important issues of the moment then, frankly, he's better off saying nothing at all.
On the Sky show on Sunday, Horner defended - as you would expect him to - Sebastian Vettel's 'getouttamyway' overtake of the unfortunate Narain Karthikeyan in Malaysia. As an aside to this discussion, Johnny Herbert, an FIA steward in Malaysia, also blamed Karthikeyan for moving too much to the right and making contact with Vettel's left-rear. According to Herbert, Karthikeyan should have stayed firmly on the white line to the left of the track.
This surprised me. It was still damp at the time and the HRT driver had got himself onto the slippery kerb, suffered wheelspin and almost lost control before pulling the car to the right to get out of trouble.
I know this to be the case because BBC TV managed to interview Karthikeyan immediately after the race, something I had assumed the FIA Stewards would have done as a matter of course. And if they had then, given this explanation, surely they would have seen the incident as 50-50 at worst and not worthy of the penalty handed down to the hapless Karthikeyan?
Personally, I would have veered in the opposite direction and rapped Vettel's knuckles for not making allowances for the potentially wayward progress of a slower driver in a dog of a car. But, of course, I would not have anticipated Horner agreeing with me any more than he would have expected me to concur wholeheartedly with Dr. Helmut Marko's assertion in 2010 that Vettel was totally blameless when he made an even worse misjudgement while trying to overtake Mark Webber in Turkey.
The thing that does irritate me, however, is Horner banging on about Mercedes' use of DRS to trigger an F-duct type operation on the nose wing. Yes, it's fair to say that, if I was anyone other than Mercedes, I would be worried by this interesting development. Or, more to the point given the fact that Mercedes has scored just a single point (can you believe that?) after two races, I would be concerned about the potential of a system that clearly has one or two temporary shortcomings; you know, limitations such as it works like a charm in qualifying (when DRS can be used at will) but doesn't appear to be effective - at all - in the race.
I'm not going to get into the technical reasons for that because, if you're a regular reader of this column, you will know I'm venturing into territory that could make me look as silly as....well, Christian Horner appears to be when he tries to play the hard-nosed team principal.
I fully understand the need to establish if the Mercedes system is legal before committing your team to what I would imagine to be the very difficult (at this stage of the season) and complex process of introducing the necessary air ducts running from the back to the front of the chassis.
I mean, this is 2012, not 1969 when Jackie Epstein, confronted by complaints from Mike Hailwood that the cockpit of the cumbersome F5000 Lola was far too hot, simply cut and removed the hoses supplying the fresh air vents inside his hire car and stuck them along the sides of the T142 chassis. I digress a little, but you take my point about this 'modification' not being the work of a moment on the RB8.
Charlie Whiting has, not once but three times, reiterated his opinion that the Mercedes system is not breaking any rules as he sees them. F1 teams, being what they are, will not accept this lying down. But my point is that Horner should let someone else take up the cudgels rather than encourage the increasingly common view that Red Bull are bad losers and playing a petty game of tit-for-tit after complaints about the nose wings on RB6 and RB7.
You could also add that Horner is drawing attention to the painful fact that, for once, Adrian Newey hasn't got it quite right. Yet. Until Red Bull wins a race, Horner should avoid TV cameras. Nothing personal, Christian, but for the sake of variety in F1, I hope that means we don't see you any time soon.
Maurice Hamilton , a freelance motor sport writer and broadcaster since 1977, is the author of more than twenty books and contributes to websites and magazines worldwide.
His weekly column for Grandprix.com was Highly Commended in the 2011 Newspress New Media Awards.