There is a sense of “frustration” in Lewis Hamilton’s driving, says the Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who also insisted that Sebastian Vettel will not back off in his bid to win the Formula One world championship, despite requiring only 83 points from the remaining seven races, including this weekend’s meeting at Monza.
“It’s been a poor spell for Lewis and you can sense a degree of frustration in his driving,” Horner said. “He’s on first-name terms with most of the stewards this year, he’s still a great driver it’s just, for whatever reason, not happening for him.”
Hamilton crashed out of the Belgian Grand Prix, where team-mate Jenson Button drove a determined race to take third place having started from 13th on the grid. “Jenson just looks very comfortable within himself at the moment and his driving has reflected that,” said Horner.
“They’re both phenomenal drivers and Britain is very lucky to have two world-class drivers like Lewis and Jenson but this year perhaps without those DNFs Jenson would be much better placed than he currently is. Lewis is a phenomenal talent but for whatever reason, this year has been tough for him.”
Asked whether Vettel may attempt to take a conservative approach to securing the title, Horner was adamant that his driver would continue to push. “It’s not in his psyche to do that, when you start driving the percentages like that, that’s when you start making mistakes,” he said.
“So I think his approach will be consistent as it has been. Go into the weekend with the target of trying to win each race but if second is the best result or even third or even fourth then that’s what we’ll take. We will certainly go into every race with the objective of trying to get maximum points.”
Thus far in the weekend all signs confirm this approach with Vettel fastest in the final two practice sessions ahead of qualifying on Saturday.
Reflecting on Red Bull’s success over this season and the last, Horner was keen to stress that it had been a team effort and that the working ethos in the team and at the factory as a whole had been crucial to their dominance. So much so that he admitted that other teams had tried to tempt Red Bull personnel away “from the top to the middle, all the way through the organisation.”
Although he declined to comment on efforts made specifically at designer Adrian Newey, he also pointed out that the success also worked the other way: “We got a lot of people approaching us from other teams wanting to join us,” he said.
Meanwhile, details of next year’s TV deal to show Formula One on Sky and the BBC remain closed, with the teams, Bernie Ecclestone and the TV companies understood still to be discussing exactly the format that will be delivered, Horner is convinced Ecclestone is still essential to the sport.
“He’s continuing to do a phenomenal job for Formula One in the deals that he’s delivering. When you look at the dysfunctionality within the teams working collectively – because too much self interest comes in – you need a guy like Bernie to be the ring master to say: ‘Right this is the way it is,’ and that’s what has made Formula One.”
“This shouldn’t be underestimated, it’s easy to forget what he’s actually done and where he’s brought the sport from and to. It’s hard to imagine Formula One without Bernie.”