Horner: Sebastian has grown, it’s been his best ever year and he’s raised the bar continually

Sebastian Vettel and Christian Horner celebrate title number four with the Red Bull team in India

Sebastian Vettel and Christian Horner celebrate title number four with the Red Bull team in India

Sebastian Vettel has the talent to surpass Michael Schumacher’s record seven Formula 1 titles after becoming the sport’s youngest quadruple champion, according to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

Vettel, still only 26, chalked up his 36th career win out of 117 races at the Indian Grand Prix on Sunday to seal his fourth successive crown.

“His win record is quite incredible,” Horner told reporters when asked whether Schumacher’s astonishing records, which many people thought would last down the generations when he left Ferrari in 2006, looked vulnerable.

Schumacher won 91 races, with Benetton and Ferrari, from 307 starts.

“There’s so many things in this sport that determine that. It depends on being in the right machinery as well, but from a skill point of view there’s absolutely no reason why not,” Horner added.

Sebastian Vettel dominated in India

Sebastian Vettel dominated in India

Vettel led from pole position on Sunday, winning in India for the third year in a row, and both Horner and Red Bull design genius Adrian Newey said that the German was still improving.

“I think Sebastian has grown this year. The way he’s driven, the level at which he’s delivered, it’s been his best ever year. He’s raised the bar continually,” Horner said.

Newey, who has won titles with three different teams (Williams, McLaren and Red Bull) in his stellar career and worked with greats like four time champion Alain Prost as well as the great Ayrton Senna, had no doubt that Vettel was up there with them.

Numbers alone, he said, mattered less than the manner of achieving that success. While reluctant to make comparisons, he highlighted the qualities found in all the greats.

Sebastian Vettel has learnt from his mistakes

Sebastian Vettel has learnt from his mistakes

“The great drivers that I have been lucky enough to work with, the thing they do all share in common is that they have that ability to drive and process at the same time,” he observed.

Like the others, Vettel [has] learned from his mistakes. He had complete recall when he got out of the car and continued to analyse and learn from what had happened during the race.

“You see it with Sebastian all the time. I always have the impression that every time he gets in the car, he gets in with a bit more knowledge than he got out last time,” said Newey.

“His driving has gone from very talented but slightly raw at times to incredibly well-rounded now. You could occasionally in 2009 and 2010 criticise him for making slightly ill-judged moves and having accidents.

“You could criticise him possibly for not being able to overtake. I think a lot of people felt that if he didn’t start from pole and control the race from the front, then he was not so good.

Sebastian Vettel versus Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber

Sebastian Vettel versus Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber

“I think you really can’t make those criticisms any more. It’s difficult to see a chink in his armour really. He learns all the time.”

Schumacher was able to mould his Ferrari team around him as the clear number one and he reaped the benefits of that.

Even then, the German’s decision to leave Benetton for Ferrari in 1995 after winning two titles meant he had to wait another five years before becoming champion again.

Vettel, who is well aware of his place in F1 history, could be tempted to do likewise one day but his Red Bull bosses were confident that such a move remained a long way off.

“It’s all about the team isn’t it? You need a great team and great drivers,” Horner said. “He is now by rights one of the all-time greats. He joins a very select few but  everything needs to work in harmony.

Sebastian Vettel with Adrian Newey and Christian Horner

Sebastian Vettel with Adrian Newey and Christian Horner

“You can have the best driver in the world or the best designer in the world, but if you don’t have the right team and work [well] as a team it will never work.”

Vettel has been part of the Red Bull programme since his early teens, just as Lewis Hamilton was nurtured by McLaren from a similar age. Hamilton left for Mercedes last year but Horner said it was not a given that his driver would want a change.

“Of course, there’s no guarantees. But it’s not about contracts, it’s about relationships,” he said.

Newey, a prime target himself for all the top teams, agreed that the bond between Vettel and Red Bull was a special one.

“I think we’ve managed to create a very honest sporting team, we don’t pretend to be anything we’re not. We’re a Formula 1 team operating out of relatively scruffy factory units in Milton Keynes, nothing glamorous,” he said.

“We just try and keep our feet on the ground and have a good creative atmosphere in the team, work hard. And I think Sebastian appreciates that.” (Reuters)

Subbed by AJN.

  • Henson

    And he also had the luck that tyres were changed to his favour mid season. Small detail, I suppose, Christian.

  • Izham

    @Henson : if the tyre situation favours Alonso then the world hails Alonso as the greatest, not the tyre factor. That sucks

  • The fan

    I believe he has what it takes to surpass michael’s but if he keeps on winning in a red bull that be as easy as the first 4 titles and people will always doubt him

  • Boycotthehaters

    It’s the driver, not the car.

    “as easy as the first 4 titles”

    Which weren’t “easy” at all.

    “people will always doubt him”

    “People” don’t doubt him. A handful of bigots don’t like him, and they will continue to not like him even if he wins the WDC while driving a Robin Reliant. But everyone who matters and knows the smallest bit about F1 has already acknowledged Vettels greatness. For the bigots, it would not matter if the ghost of Ayrton Senna appeared before them and proclaimed Seb the greatest driver of all time.

  • Boycotthehaters

    With this sort of endlessly dishonest media coverage it’s no wonder some fans don’t like Vettel. I mean, even Newey refuses to say he’s an all time great, right?

    In the many words cited by Newey on Vettel, the writer of this article strangely managed to omit the most relevant ones of all.

    “Sebastian must now be considered one of the all-time greats”.

    Newey repeated this over and over in every interview he gave after the Indian GP – and he gave a lot of interviews.

    That’s what media bias looks like. It’s often not what they say, it’s what they chose to leave out.

  • fools

    pretty hard to make mistakes when you lead in the front and boost 2.5 second gap.

    He does make mistakes…see 2012 Brazil GP final race vs Alonso… He clearly was nervous to lose the WDC. Spins out and also hit a sign marker on the grass. Barely won the 2012 WDC.

    He also lost and complained to Rocky his engineer when Lewis H. passed him at Circuit of Americas blasting on his team radio that LH isnt supposed to pass him. Many others…just watch the races.

    However majority of the time he doesnt make mistakes because he starts off the grid. Yet Webber car always DNF’s

  • Horner

    @ Izham. You are right, Alonso would be hailed because he is better.

  • Ukwhite

    That sucks gents, IVettel is a great without question.

    For me 2014 is not about Vettel against the rest because all others suck, but I do believe Daniel is gonna give him a run for the money. Daniel is a racer, he needs just a proper car and he will prove can beat Vettel.

  • F1Zombie

    As a Merc GP fan, I respect Vettel in many aspects because he is a racing legend who is still racing probably for the next decade. To all his haters please check his record before committing baseless accusations.

    His very first F1 race already scored points with BMW Sauber in 2007 with 8th place. Also 4th place finish after driving for Toro Rosso later in the season.

    In 2008, he outqualified and outraced his teammate in STR in almost all races throughout the season with a pole and a win as an extra. Not bad for a number 2 driver. His overall points in 2008 was much higher than Webber where Webber was already racing in Newey’s designed RBR machine for a couple of years. So at that point, Newey’s briliance was not the subject. Vettel was the rising star in a much inferior car. If Newey was the X-Factor, he could have stopped Schumi’s dominance a decade ago but he failed.

    In 2009, he joined RBR as a number 2 driver and Webber as the number 1 driver. He however outqualified and outraced Webber in most races. He even became the championship contender in 2009. That turned him into the number 1 driver at RBR from 2010 onwards. From 2010 he has been unstoppable.

    Yes he was a crash kid once but we all could see his amazing talent while building his maturity from time to time if you guys really watch F1 without any bias perspective. We all have to admit that. His adrenaline to win races is there at all times. Defying team orders sucks but that make a champion a champion in most occasions. The fact is, all previous multiple WDC holders had their controversies much serious than of Vettel. The problem was, at that time there was no social media for us to read speculations and conspiracy theories.

    We have no right to hate or bash any driver or any sportsman. We are here to watch motor racing not to despise the one we are not cheering for.

    As a Merz GP fan, it does not mean I have to hate or bash the drivers who stand above the drivers I cheer for but I have to hope other teams especially Merz GP to improve in all aspects to put Vettel’s dominance to a halt. An excellent qualifier and racer as Nico Rosberg deserves a WDC title at least once.

    Politics in sports suck big time but not the drivers. I consider them all as champions.

  • Tamburello_1994

    Right the fcuk on, Zombie

  • haha

    JUST LOOK AT THIS: h(xx)p://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fernando_Alonso#Controversies

    No other driver has a category dedicated to cheating!