Motorsport: Team boss battles to keep apart his raging bulls

Beleaguered Red Bull team principal Christian Horner did little this week to dispel the widely held belief that Sebastian Vettel's actions in stealing the Malaysian Grand Prix from team-mate Mark Webber, and his fanning of the flames of controversy, have weakened Horner's authority.

Vettel apologised to the staff at Red Bull's factory in Milton Keynes, north of London, after the Malaysian race in which he disobeyed Horner's order not to overtake Webber. But just as things were beginning to die down, on arrival in Shanghai he made it clear he would probably do the same thing again and said his actions were payback for Webber's "refusal to help the team in the past".

As Horner spoke of moving on, the world remained sceptical that he can manage his duelling drivers.

He was not helped by the comments made in a recent interview given by team owner Dietrich Mateschitz's right-hand man Dr Helmut Marko, which outlined the real team management structure.

Marko denied that he is the real power behind Red Bull, a puppet master who pulls Horner's strings.

"That's not true," he said.

"We are a team. Christian has his part and I have my part."

But the pecking order became clear when he said: "I'm director of Red Bull Racing together with Christian and Mateschitz. Everything from the team comes to me and I filter it and if necessary bring it to the boss, so I make the final decisions."

Horner countered: "First of all, the drivers need the team.

"Is my leadership undermined? I don't think so. I think it's a healthy rivalry, even though they took things into their own hands [in Malaysia]. What's happened has happened."

That barely answered the real question: whether he has lost control of his star driver.

"I don't think Sebastian for one moment thinks he runs the team," Horner responded.

But what's crystal clear is that Vettel has zero respect for Webber and he will continue to act as he pleases in any given situation.

And that not just Horner, but the faithful Marko too, can do nothing about it. The Independent

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