Red Bull fuels Vettel Hamilton feud as F1 prepares for take-off
But defending champions come under fire as Horner takes dig at Mercedes's new recruit Lewis Hamilton
ON THE eve of the new F1 campaign, a row over the dominance of Red Bull is already brewing as the team, and lead driver Sebastian Vettel, go in search of a fourth successive championship at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix this weekend.
After winning the drivers and constructors titles for the third year running last year, concerns have been raised about the impact yet another season of dominance would have on the sport, and the knives are out in some quarters.
The Daily Mail summarises some of the allegations that have been levelled at the team: "Sebastian Vettel only does the business because he has the best car. Red Bull's success is down to their flirtation with the fine line of Formula One legality. Another season of dominance for the Red Bull and Vettel combination will be bad for the sport."
But the paper reports that team principal, Christian Horner, "feels such complaints are tinged with more than their fair share of jealousy and sour grapes".
And in an interview with the Daily Telegraph Horner acknowledged: "We don't have the heritage of Ferrari, McLaren or even Mercedes. It probably sits uneasy with those guys for a young upstart team to come in with a young driver and achieve what we have. Somebody said to me that the best way to become unpopular is to win consistently."
He also took a pot shot at Vettel's rival Lewis Hamilton, now driving for Mercedes, a move that could set up an exciting battle between the two drivers.
Horner claimed Hamilton had "expressed interest" in driving for Red Bull in the past, but added: "I have great admiration for the talent he has but I don't think Lewis and Sebastian would be the right combination."
He may also have been taking a sly dig at the English driver when he heaped praise on Vettel. "[Vettel's] preparation, as a role model of how to approach not just Formula One but any sport, is exemplary," said Horner. "He gives 101 per cent all of the time to his chosen profession. He has made sacrifices. He is unwaveringly focused on what he wants to accomplish... his belief is that the team do not pay him to be a superstar."
But Vettel is not immune from criticism. According to The Sun, BBC commentator David Coulthard thinks that he should follow in the footsteps of Hamilton and switch teams to secure his legacy.
"The German has won three straight world titles and produced some brilliant performances," says the paper. "But still he has seen his position undermined, as Fernando Alonso continues to be voted as the best driver on the grid by his rivals."
Hamilton's former McLaren team-mate Jenson Button also weighed in and told The Independent that it "wouldn't be the best thing" for Red Bull to cruise to another double. But the English driver did say a tight season like 2012 would keep the fans interested.
There is good news for race fans. After an inconclusive round of tests ahead of the new season, F1.com reports: "Nobody has a clue what to expect, in what could prove to be the closest season in recent history." ·