How ‘naive’ Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were taught lesson with Great Ormond Street visit

Jamie Woodhouse
Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber chat on the grid at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel chat on the grid.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner recalled how he took Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber to Great Ormond Street Hospital, following their 2010 Turkish Grand Prix collision, to put their apparent woes into perspective.

The 2010 campaign marked the first time that Red Bull had a World Championship-contending challenger at their disposal in the form of the RB6, as their star prospect Vettel and veteran figure Webber went head-to-head in the battle for title glory.

That caused tensions to boil over at times, perhaps none more significantly than when the pair crashed into each other in Turkey while running P1 and P2.

Red Bull teach Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber a life lesson

Instead, Vettel retired from the race and Webber was restricted to finishing P3, which prompted Horner to form a plan to show the pair that their “self-interest” was not greater than the team’s and that actually, life was not so tough for them after all.

Great Ormond Street is a children’s hospital located in London, where Horner took Vettel and Webber for the morning, explaining that the health struggles that these children were facing served as a “grounding” experience.

“Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel was an interesting combination,” said Horner on the Secrets of Success podcast. “Because Mark was in the latter stages of his career, a very competitive Australian grizzly racer that would use every tool within his toolkit to try and move the spotlight onto him.

“And he had a much younger team-mate, slightly naive at that point in his career, but hugely talented, Sebastian Vettel.

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“And it was interesting at the beginning of the 2010 championship, where suddenly the drivers have both got a car that’s capable of fighting for the World Championship and suddenly, their needs or their personal demands are becoming disproportionate to the teams.

“And they were first and second in a race and ended up crashing into each other. And so the team has given away maximum points to our biggest rivals [McLaren] at that period of time.

“So I felt it right to take them out of their comfort zone and to explain to them and to show them that they’re there to perform a role and that their self-interest shouldn’t be greater than the team.

“And I think to realise that actually, they’re in a hugely privileged position when they start complaining about how life’s been treating them hard and this and that and the other, actually, to go and spend a morning in Great Ormond Street and see some of the challenges that those young kids are going through and the parents that are powerless in many respects.

“The emotions that they’re going through, it’s pretty grounding and I think just adds a perspective that, ‘Okay, we’re in a very privileged position’. I think it was something that I felt was just important to bring them back to ground at that juncture in time.”

Webber raced with Red Bull until his retirement at the end of 2013, while 2010 marked the first of four successive titles won by Vettel with the team.

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