Christian Horner on Vettel, Suzuka and 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Japanese GP 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Japanese GP 2011 

 © The Cahier Archive

Red Bull boss Christian Horner talked to the press after the Japanese GP.

Q: How does the title feel compared to last year?

Obviously the emotion of last year, going down to the last race and being the first championship, was very special. But this, in a different way, is equally rewarding. The amount of effort behind the scenes and the level Sebastian has operated at this year has been phenomenal. He thoroughly, thoroughly deserves to be world champion and join an elite group of not only double champions but those who have defended their titles as well.

Q: It looked as if you didn't get the tyres to last as long at Suzuka?

We were a little heavier on them at the end of the stints than the McLarens and we need to understand that, but I think we spent longer in the pitlane. Whether it was the approach to our pit box or the exit, we need to have a look at because we lost a little bit of time. The stops were okay, not superfast or slow, and Sebastian set quickest lap on his out lap, so we need to understand how we lost track position to Jenson after the second stop.

Q: Was that tyre use pattern a surprise?

It seemed to be different to Friday practice but that's often been the case this year. Then at the end of the race Seb's pace was very good and we were trying to contain his enthusiasm and reminding him that he'd already got 14 points more than he needed!

Q: Were you worried when the stewards looked into the start?

We'd looked at the replay and to us it looked firm but fair and it was inevitable Jenson was going to make a fuss about it. It looked like he just left enough room and we felt reasonably confident it would be okay.

Q: What does back-to-back titles say about Sebastian?

I think it places him and the team in an elite group. He's been phenomenal this year, really dominated. That was his 14th podium and he's won nine races. It will be hard to better but he's never satisfied.

Q: How much do pole and win records matter?

I think the main target now is to close out the constructors' championship but there are a few records that are potentially available, particularly to Sebastian. While his main aim will be to help the team win the constructors I'm sure he's got half an eye on matching some of those records (Nigel Mansell took 14 poles in 1992, Vettel currently has 12).

Q: Were you surprised to have such stiff competition at Suzuka?

Not really. We could see on Friday that the McLarens were very quick. We've seen it be a bit see-saw this year. Who would have predicted our performance in Monza? We expected a close-run thing and Jenson in particular was very strong.

Q: How much is the focus now on 2012?

Everything we learn until the flag drops in Brazil will be useful to us for next year but the priority is also getting Mark up there. We want to see him take runner-up position and finish the season on a real high.

Q: Will you still bring developments for this year's car?

It's the only real opportunity we have to track test before RB8 is born so we'll look to optimise all the track time we have this year.

Q: Did Mark suffer in his collision with Michael Schumacher?

He lost a couple of the upper elements on the front wing but from a safety point of view we were happy with it and it didn't seem to change the balance too much.

Q: Can Red Bull recreate Ferrari/Schumacher type dominance?

We've had a phenomenal 2011, a phenomenal 2010, a great 2009 and the team works phenomenally well as a group of people. The effort that went into Suzuka with components coming out late and so forth, demonstrates the passion, effort and desire that burns within the team. You'd be foolish to underestimate our competitors and unlike in previous years there are much more stringent regulations in certain areas, so to have achieved the level of performance we have, is quite exceptional. We'll try to maintain that throughout the close of this year and into next year as well.

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