Horner: From crash kid to double Champ

Date published: October 11 2011

Christian Horner reckons Martin Whitmarsh needs to “eat” his words after the driver he dubbed the ‘crash kid’ became F1’s new double Champion…

Christian Horner reckons Martin Whitmarsh needs to “eat” his words after the driver he dubbed the ‘crash kid’ became F1’s new double World Champ.

Last season, Whitmarsh had a go at Vettel, furiously labeling the German as the “crash kid” after he took Jenson Button out of the Belgian GP. It was just one of several shunts Vettel was involved in on his way to his first World title.

However, this season has seen a completely different Vettel with the German avoiding all incidents on his way to nine race wins, five podium finishes and a second World title.

Asked about how much his driver had changed since Whitmarsh’s comment last season, Horner said: “He’s had to eat those words this year, hasn’t he?

“Sebastian has just benefited from more experience and the level that he has operated at has been phenomenal this year. He really has raised the bar.

“He’s come into the year as the reigning World Champion and he’s performed like a true World Champion.

“He really has risen to the challenge, driven absolutely impeccably this year, and it’s been a pleasure to see.”

The Red Bull team boss added: “This year the level he has demonstrated, not just on a Saturday, but on a Sunday as well…

“If you think back to the race in Barcelona where he was under acute pressure, and then in Monaco where he was under monumental pressure. That was an absolute standout drive for me this year.

“Then in Italy, you think of his passing move on (Fernando) Alonso to win the race in very dominant fashion there.

“He’s been in absolutely fantastic form, and he’s maintained a continually high level for 12 months now.

“He thoroughly deserves this Championship victory, which he has dominated since the first race in Melbourne.

“It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and teamwork, and he can be very proud of what he’s achieved.”

As Whitmarsh is more than willing to admit his perception of Vettel has changed, insisting the German, driving an Adrian Newey-designed RB7, has been the “faultless.”

“I’ll eat them,” said the McLaren team boss.

“At the time he had a car he should have easily won the title with, and quite early, but it went down to the wire, and ultimately he was quite lucky to win it.

“The point at which I said that, it may have been taken slightly out of context, but I seem to recall it was in a diatribe from me following an incident at Spa where he had taken Jenson out.

“But I have said, and I’ll say again, I think Sebastian has driven fantastically this year.

“With the help of Adrian he deserves this year’s Championship. He has been faultless really, which is great for him.

“Now we are going to try to beat him in the next four races, and then we’ll try to make sure we come out next year with a better car than Red Bull and try to win more races and Championships.”