Horner: Vettel going at right time

Published: Saturday 22nd November 2014 by The News Editor

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Christian Horner believes the time was right for Sebastian Vettel to leave Red Bull.

One of Formula One’s worst-kept secrets finally came to light on Thursday when Ferrari confirmed Vettel would be joining them on a three-year contract as replacement for Fernando Alonso.

It means this weekend’s season-ending grand prix in Abu Dhabi is the last race for both men with their current employers.

For Vettel, after six years driving for Red Bull, and 14 years overall since he was taken on as a junior, team principal Horner feels the four-times champion’s defection to one of their bitter rivals was on the cards.

Horner, though, admits the 26-year-old German will still be missed as he said: “Obviously we’ve had a wonderful relationship with Sebastian.

“He’s been with the Red Bull family since he was 12 years of age, and he’s grown through the junior programme, the junior categories.

“He was not much more than a boy when he arrived, and now he leaves us a young man, as a father.

“He had his opportunity in Formula One with Toro Rosso, winning a grand prix with them before coming to Red Bull Racing.

“Four world championships and 38 grand prix victories later I think we can look back with a huge amount of pride. We’ve grown together.

“When he came to the team we were still a young team at the time, and together we’ve grown into a race-winning and championship-winning combination.

“But as in life all things move on and evolve, and obviously this opportunity has come up for Seb.

“He’s felt it’s the right time for him, and probably in reality it’s the right time for the team too.

“Whilst we’ll be very sorry to see him go and close his career with Red Bull on Sunday evening, we’ll wish him the very best of luck.

“He’ll be a good friend of the team for life, but as of the first of January he’ll be a competitor.

“He can be incredibly proud of what he’s achieved, he’s been a tremendous ambassador for the sport and we’ll certainly miss him.”

Vettel, however, has struggled this season, failing to even win a race in a year dominated by Mercedes, albeit with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo standing on the top step of the podium on three occasions.

The new regulations for this season, with the switch to the 1.6-litre V6 turbo-charged power units, have not aided Vettel’s cause.

Ferrari team principal Marco Mattiacci, however, is convinced Vettel can help the Maranello marque win again.

Mattiacci said: “With Sebastian we get one of the youngest world champions ever, four championships.

“I met him personally in the last few months and he is an extremely hard-working guy, humble, disciplined.

“I’m sure he will bring the phenomenal experience he went through at Red Bull, and the enthusiasm needed to go through certain difficult moments that are waiting for us. But sharing the overall project, which is to go back to the top.”

Published: Saturday 22nd November 2014 by The News Editor

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