x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Christian Horner: I have not lost control at Red Bull

Christian Horner says he has not lost control at Red Bull; the McLarens are still not showing improvement; Fernando Alonso is surprisingly trailing his teammate, Felipe Massa, after two practices.

SHANGHAI // Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, denies he has lost his authority as a result of the Malaysia team-orders furore, or that the 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 would do the same again.

"Has my leadership been undermined? I don't think so," he said, asking and answering his own questions, adding that Vettel "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 said Thursday that the Malaysia overtaking move was partly in revenge for past instances when he perceived Webber had done the wrong thing by him and the team.

Horner said on Friday this was "business as usual" between the drivers, who had been rivals more than colleagues.

"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."


More woes at McLaren

The mood in the down pit lane at the McLaren garage was simply "frustrated" after the team's expected improvement at Shanghai did not occur.

Both Jenson Button and teammate Sergio Perez have had disappointing performances in practice, with Button stating the obvious: the car's problems have not been solved.

Button said the upgrades brought to China were "perhaps not as big a step forward as we'd expected; the issues with the car are still there." He added: "I don't think we'll be fighting at the front this weekend."

The three-week break since the Malaysia race raised hopes that the team could fix the teething problems with its redesigned car.


Massa leads second practice

At no time throughout Fernando Alonso's 200-race Formula One career has the double world champion been out-qualified by a teammate for five successive races.

But teammate Felipe Massa, who just under a year ago appeared to be on his way out of F1 after a miserable start to last season, has every chance of doing just that on Saturday.

Massa beat Alonso over one lap in the final two races of last season and repeated the feat for the opening two grands prix of this campaign.

The Brazilan led the second practice at Shanghai in his Ferrari, with Alonso third quick but only .415-seconds behind.



twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE