'Unfair' Vowles had to confess to Mercedes Austria error - Horner

Red Bull's Christian Horner thinks it is "unfair" that Mercedes strategist James Vowles felt he must confess to an error in the Austrian Grand Prix to keep Lewis Hamilton calm

'Unfair' Vowles had to confess to Mercedes Austria error - Horner

Vowles made a rare appearance on Mercedes's team radio during last weekend's race to tell Hamilton that it was his mistake to not bring the four time world champion into the pits during the virtual safety car period.

Horner said he does not understand how such a situation came to pass - and questioned why Vowles needed to be singled out.

"It's always difficult to know the intricacies of other teams but the one thing you have to do as a team is win and lose as a team," said Horner.

"That's why we hardly at all, in success or failure, talk about individuals, because that puts an unfair amount of scrutiny and pressure on that individual.

"Certainly our philosophy is that as a team, it's collective responsibility rather than an individual.

"Of course there has to be accountability, but it's something that's dealt with in the right environment, behind closed doors, and not in a public forum."

Horner thinks it equally strange that Vowles needed to intervene at all just to motivate Hamilton.

"I have never worked with Lewis and I don't know what makes him tick and what doesn't, but it's a fairly bizarre thing to need to do for somebody - to throw themselves under the bus to motivate a driver to go faster from fourth back into the lead," he added.

Horner explained he would never have allowed such a situation to play out at Red Bull. "It's not the way I operate," he said.

"My view and my role as team principal of this team is that you're here to protect your workforce, to make sure they're represented in the best possible way - that's on the good days and on the bad days."

While Horner has questioned the circumstances around Mercedes's choices in Austria, the Brackley-based squad's technical director James Allison has heaped praise on Vowles.

Speaking in Mercedes's Pure Pit Wall post-race debrief, Allison explained that Vowles's radio messages were a sign of team strength rather than weakness.

"In this particular instance it was James showing an extremely broad pair of shoulders, standing up and saying 'that was my mistake Lewis' and I am sorry for it," he said.

"It was very characteristic of James, but also a measure of how this team operates - where people will hold up their hand when they have made a mistake, knowing that the team's attitude to mistakes is that they are things that we learn from, rather than things that we throw blame around for or cause great polemics within the team.

"So it was a very good example of strong leadership by James trying to explain to Lewis what had happened.

"And the importance of that message meant that James wanted to give it personally rather than pass it through the intermediary of the race engineer."

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Series Formula 1
Teams Mercedes
Author Jonathan Noble
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