Red Bull insists that Sebastian Vettel’s German Grand Prix victory was not a knockout blow in the world championship battle.
Vettel held off Lotus duo Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean for a fourth win of the season, opening up a 34-point advantage over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso. That gap, allied to the fact that Red Bull’s car seems to perform well at all types of tracks, points to Vettel racing away to a fourth successive world title. But Red Bull boss Christian Horner is more cautious about his team’s chances, and thinks Ferrari, Lotus or Mercedes still has the potential to beat his squad to the crown.
“It is still very much a four way battle and you cannot discount anybody,” he said, when asked about his feelings on the championship battle. “We are effectively at the halfway point of the year, and there is still an awful long way to go. Anything can change.
“To have won four grands prix in the first half of the year is satisfying, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. We see weekend to weekend that different teams have different levels of competitiveness and I am sure it will continue during the next few events.”
Vettel’s triumph came despite Lotus splitting the tire strategy of its two drivers in the closing stages of the German GP, which effectively forced Red Bull to pit earlier than it would have liked.
“It was a tough call in some respects and not in others,” explained Horner about Red Bull’s strategy. “The pace car came out when the Marussia started a life of its own, and that was at a very awkward point of the race because potentially that was too far to go [to the finish] on a set of the harder tires.
“We elected to fit a set of scrubbed tires, leaving one new set available for the last stint. We intended to stop again and were thinking that the Lotus might try and brave it out to the end.
“Once Grosjean stopped then it made perfect sense for us to cover him, but the risk was then conceding the lead to Kimi if he didn’t need to stop. He was looking in pretty good shape at that stage, so having covered Grosjean we then focused on keeping the gap to Kimi to less than a pit stop.
“Lotus was very quick on the soft tire at the beginning of the race, but Seb had kept just enough up his sleeve to fend him off over the last few laps.”
World Championship standings after round 9 (top six):
1. Vettel 157
2. Alonso 123
3. Raikkonen 116
4. Hamilton 99
5. Webber 93
6. Rosberg 84