SHANGHAI, April 11, 2013 (AFP) - Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said Friday the rivalry between his warring drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber was "healthy", insisting the duo bring out the best in one another.
Vettel infuriated Webber last month in Malaysia when he ignored orders from Horner over the radio and overtook the Australian late in the race to win in the most controversial of circumstances. Vettel apologised afterwards.
But the three-time reigning world champion appeared to make a U-turn on Thursday in Shanghai, ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix, saying that he would do the same all over again, if it meant winning.
Horner insisted that the troubled relationship between Vettel and Webber was no better or worse after the Sepang incident, and insisted that his authority had not been undermined by Vettel choosing to ignore his orders.
Horner said: "In that race he did not do what I asked. Was I happy about that? Of course I wasn't. Did we discuss it? Yes, we did. Did he apologise? Yes. Has he learnt from it? I'm sure he has. Would he do it again? I think he'd think twice.
"But I think as he explained yesterday, there's an awful lot of history between those two drivers. It's something that isn't new. It's something that's been there between the two of them for the last four or five years.
"But let's not forget: they are one of the most successful pairings that the sport has ever seen. They've won three successive world constructors' championships for the team.
"Sebastian of course has become the youngest ever triple world champion. Is my leadership undermined? I don't think so. I've led the team since Red Bull entered the sport to those grand prix victories and world championships.
"There have been bumps along the way, there have been incidents between them but we retain them because they are both fiercely competitive individuals, they drive each other forward, they bring the best out of each other and at some points of course it's uncomfortable for the team.
"But I think it's a healthy rivalry, even though they take things into their own hands."
Asked what he made of Vettel's Thursday comments, Horner said: "Sebastian made clear his position yesterday, some of the rationale behind that and as we've always known the position between our two drivers, there's never been much love lost between the two of them.
"It's a situation that has been clear for the last four or five years. It's something that we've managed and during that time we've still gone on to score over 2,000 points, more than 35 grands prix victories, six world championships.
"So within the team it is nothing new. Obviously it's a bit more public, there's a bit more interest for you guys in terms of what is going on. But as far as we are concerned, it is business-as-usual."