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Red Bull chief denies he has been undermined by Vettel

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Associated Press
4/12/2013 9:41:29 AM
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SHANGHAI, China -- Red Bull team principal Christian Horner denied he has lost his authority as a result of the Malaysia team-orders furore, or that world champion Sebastian Vettel effectively runs the team.

Horner has been in damage-control mode since Vettel ignored team orders and overtook teammate Mark Webber at the Malaysian Grand Prix, then exacerbated that on Thursday by saying he'd do the same again.

Vettel escaped any punishment for ignoring Horner, but the team boss said on Friday at the Chinese GP: "Has my leadership been undermined? I don't think so.

"He knows he can't operate without the team and does not put himself above the team or think he runs the team for one moment."

Vettel laid bare the deep division between the teammates when he said on Thursday that the Malaysia overtaking move was partly in revenge for past instances when he perceived the Australian had done the wrong thing by him and the team.

He said Webber was not deserving of team orders protection, and that there was respect but no trust between the teammates.

The candid comments shocked many outsiders, but Horner said this was "business as usual" between the drivers, who had been rivals more than colleagues throughout their time at Red Bull.

"There never has been too much love lost between the two of them," Horner said. "It's something that has been apparent for four or five years and something we have managed.

"At some points of course it's uncomfortable for the team ... it's a healthy rivalry.

"I doubt very much they will be spending the summer holidays together, or Christmas, but that is not what we pay them for."

The public airing of Red Bull's dirty linen made it seemingly certain that the driver pairing will not continue beyond the end of Webber's one-year contract, but Horner said it was too early to make that call.

"Emotions are still very raw from events in Malaysia but it's still a very effective pairing," Horner said.

"After two races it's far too early to even be contemplating what our driver pairing will be for 2014."

Christian Horner Sebastian Vettel (Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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