RED Bull team principal Christian Horner says achieving a “quadruple double” would be a stunning achievement but is steadfastly refusing to take anything for granted in the race for Formula One’s world titles.
With much of the focus ahead of this weekend’s Indian Grand Prix on Sebastian Vettel’s bid to become only the fourth four-time champion in the sport’s history, it has been easy to overlook the fact that his Red Bull team are also on the brink of the fourth title in as many years.
With four rounds left, Vettel enjoys a 90-point lead over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, while Red Bull are 148 points clear in the race for the constructors’ crown. In view of Vettel’s recent run of five straight wins dating back the summer’s Belgian Grand Prix, the general consensus is that it is only a matter of time before Red Bull can start popping champagne corks.
Horner, however, is holding off until every last shred of doubt has been removed.
“Should we achieve a quadruple double championship it would be an amazing feat for every single member of the team to achieve such results against such illustrious opposition, but those thoughts aren’t really on our mind at the moment – our focus is very much on this event,” Horner said after seeing Vettel finish fastest in both of yesterday’s practice sessions.
Paddock speculation suggests the team have already printed off T-shirts ready to celebrate tomorrow, but Horner warned: “If there are any T-shirts I certainly haven’t seen any and they’d be wise to keep them away from me.”
Horner’s caution comes no doubt from his desire to avoid appearing complacent or disrespectful, but, deep down, the man who has steered Red Bull through so many successful title challenges surely must know the writing is on the wall.
Horner was speaking after Vettel served notice of his intention get another title wrapped up this weekend by laying down a marker to his rivals in both of yesterday’s 90-minute sessions.
Vettel was fastest in the morning’s opening practice and improved further in the afternoon, lowering the benchmark to one minute 25.722 seconds after shrugging off an early problem with his KERS power-boost system. His team-mate Mark Webber was second quickest, the gap between the two men growing from just under two-tenths to a shade under three.
The in-form Romain Grosjean was third for Lotus, half a second clear of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen, while Lewis Hamilton was seven-tenths off the pace in fourth place, with his Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg sixth.
Alonso was in fifth place after recovering well from a gearbox problem that saw him complete just six laps in opening practice.
McLaren’s Jenson Button was 10th, with Scotland’s Paul Di Resta 15th for Force India.
The sessions were preceded by the news that the legal threat to this weekend’s race was at an end after a Supreme Court hearing into alleged tax irregularities was delayed until next week.
A petition seeking the cancellation of the race was lodged with India’s Supreme Court earlier this week amid allegations that race organisers Jaypee Sports International Limited did not pay entertainment taxes due on last year’s event.