Vettel 'worn out', Red Bull fighting back, says Horner
(Reuters) - Sebastian Vettel is "worn out" after winning four consecutive world drivers' titles to enable Red Bull to reign supreme in Formula One, according to his team chief Christian Horner.
Briton Horner said that exhaustion was a part of the explanation for the 27-year-old German's loss of form in a season dominated by Mercedes and in which his new Red Bull team mate Australian Daniel Ricciardo has out-performed him.
The rest, he said, was down to the sport's radical new package of regulations this year which included a return of turbo-charged engines and electronic braking systems.
Ricciardo, 25, has won twice to climb to third with 131 points after 11 of the year's 19 races, trailing only the Mercedes duo Nico Rosberg of Germany (202) and Briton Lewis Hamilton (191). Vettel, without a win, is sixth on 88.
A graduate, like Vettel, of Red Bull's 'junior' team, Toro Rosso, Ricciardo has out-performed his team mate 6-5 in qualifying and 9-2 in race results.
"It is a combination of several things," Horner told Germany's Auto Bild Motorsport. "First, when you have fought for the title for five years, it does wear you out a little bit, but that is not the fundamental problem.
"The way Sebastian brought out those extra tenths from the car in recent years was quite unique. He is very sensitive to the behavior of the car, especially when braking."
Horner suggested that Vettel was struggling with the mandatory 'brake-by-wire' braking this year, saying he had "lost part of his feeling for the car."
"The driveability was really bad, so Seb could not look after the tyres in the way that he always has done," he added. Continued...