Red Bull boss Christian Horner has warned Sebastian Vettel’s rivals that the World Champion still has a lot of room to improve…
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has warned Sebastian Vettel’s rivals that the World Champion still has a lot of room to improve.
Vettel became the youngest double-World Champion last year when he won back-to-back World titles. The German did so in comprehensive style too, claiming 15 pole positions, 11 victories and 17 podiums from the year’s 19 races as he wrapped up the Championship with four grand prixs still to go.
While such a dream season will certainly be hard to repeat, Horner believes Vettel still has room to grow as he goes in search of his third World title, an achievement that would see him join Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers to win three Championships on the trot.
“Sebastian’s quite a humble guy and he almost can’t believe the illustrious company that he sits with, with the achievements he’s got in the sport,” Horner told Sky Sports.
“He’s an ambitious young man, he’s hungry for more success, and I think he would feel hugely privileged if he were to join that elite group.
“And you forget how young he is – he’s still 24 years of age. We’ve yet to see the best of him. He’s still emerging and blossoming as a driver, as a talent, and I think there is some strong years to come from him.”
Despite this, Horner certainly isn’t expecting Vettel to have it all his own way this year.
“We’ve got six World Champions on the grid this year – which is a record pretty much within itself,” he said.
“The two Brits at McLaren are both going to be strong. Jenson [Button] drove tremendously last year with phenomenal consistency; Lewis Hamilton’s an obvious talent that, given the right equipment, will be right there.
“Fernando Alonso, everyone knows what his abilities are. The unknowns really are Mercedes and Lotus – are their cars going to be competitive enough to let their drivers run at the front?
“So it’s set for a really exciting season. The quality of the field, I can’t remember a time when there’s been such strength in depth at the front of a Formula 1 field.”
One man that Horner believes certainly will come out stronger this year is Mark Webber, with the Australian enduring a frustrating 2011 in which he was thoroughly over shadowed by Vettel, only winning one race – the season-ending Brazilian GP.
“I think 2011 was a tough year for Mark, but he never gave up,” Horner said of his driver.
“At times he didn’t look like he enjoyed the 2011 season too much. I think the best tonic for him was winning that final race in Brazil, remembering what it’s like to win a grand prix, to stand on the top step of the podium.
“That’s the biggest thing that’s across in the pre-season testing – he’s enjoying driving the car, he’s not putting too much pressure on himself, which perhaps he did at times last year.”