Christian Horner knows Sebastian Vettel very well. They spent six highly successful years together at Red Bull Racing. However now they are rivals with Vettel driving for Ferrari, who thought they could compete with Mercedes this season but instead find themselves staving off a charge from Red Bull for second place in the Constructors standings.
As a result of the disappointing season, which has seen poor reliability and bad decision making cost Vettel potential race wins, the pressure is starting to increase for everyone in the Ferrari garage. This season will make 8 years without a Constructors title for them and 9 without a drivers championship – that kind of drought hasn’t been seen since before Michael Schumacher. The CEO of Ferrari Sergio Marchionne has been demanding a return to the front of the grid for the Prancing Horse and has run a series of inquests into the Maranello factory to see what is going on, and going wrong. Team boss Maurizio Arrivabene is thought to be on the verge of losing his job under the mounting pressure and has stated that the team “cannot fail” this weekend in Hungary.
And it is in this atmosphere that Christian Horner may be playing some mind games with his former driver and closest rivals. Horner has suggested that Vettel, who is in year 2 of a 3 season contract, would jump ship to Mercedes at the next available moment.
“I have the feeling that Seb is a bit rattled.” said Horner. “I know from personal experience that he has to feel good in order to perform well. And I’m not sure whether he likes Sergio Marchionne’s pressure […] I can well imagine that in 2018 Seb will switch to Mercedes if he doesn’t start making progress with Ferrari.”
While Vettel long held a candle for Ferrari after seeing his compatriot and idol Michael Schumacher enjoy a long period of dominance with them some of that lustre is wearing off after a 29 races with just 3 wins. One of those was in Hungary last year and Vettel will be hoping to repeat that and go into his home Grand Prix next weekend on a high, but will these comments from Horner widen the cracks that are starting to show in the Ferrari garage?