Christian Horner blamed Narain Karthikeyan for Sebastian Vettel losing U.S. GP win
Red Bull chief says time lost lapping driver set up Hamilton pass
Last Updated: 18/11/12 11:20pm
The World Championship leader was engaged in a tense duel with Lewis Hamilton throughout the 56-lap race in Austin and held a small, if steadily closing, advantage over the McLaren driver heading into the closing 15 laps.
Although Hamilton had for several laps been able to activate his DRS overtaking aid down the backstraight, Vettel had initially managed to keep his rival at bay before he was eventually overtaken into Turn Twelve on lap 42.
Following the pass the world TV feed swiftly played out a radio message in which Vettel clearly sounded particularly agitated about losing the lead, although it wasn't initially clear who or what he was directing his ire at.
However, speaking to Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz in the minutes after Vettel had finished second to Hamilton, Red Bull chief Christian Horner appeared to explain his driver's earlier frustration by blaming an initially unnamed backmarker for hindering the German prior to Hamilton's pass.
"The race unfortunately hinged on one backmarker that didn't use his mirrors," he told Ted.
"That was the difference. It cost Sebastian vital time and it gave Lewis a clear and easy run under the DRS.
"But there was nothing between the two of them today, they were trading times all afternoon, and it was that one backmarker that cost us."
The identity of the backmarker was swiftly revealed, however, by Anthony Davidson in Sky Sports F1's analysis of the start of the lap in which Hamilton made his pass. Vettel had come up behind Karthikeyan as he entered the high-speed Esses and then only passed at Turn Eight, which allowed Hamilton to close right in on him.
Horner himself later name-checked the Indian driver directly during a second interview with Sky Sports F1 in which he was asked if the team might be left to rue incidents such as that one if Vettel doesn't clinch the title in Brazil next week.
"It's difficult. We're sitting here with a 13-point lead in the drivers' championship and we take that lead into Brazil and it's all about what happens in that race," he added.
"But you have to look at that season as a whole and we've had ups and downs.
"Karthikeyan has helped us on occasion and not on others. You have to look at the season in its entirety rather than picking out individual single moments because each team up and down the pit lane I'm sure can do that."
It is the second time this season that Red Bull have held Karthikeyan responsible for damaging Vettel's race following an incident which slashed the German's tyre back in Malaysia.
Although second place still ensured Vettel increased his points advantage over Fernando Alonso to 13, a win would have nonetheless meant that his Ferrari rival would have had to win at Interlagos next Sunday - irrespective of what Vettel did - to have any chance of the title.
Analysing the Karthikeyan incident on the SkyPad, Davidson said that, with only one racing line through the high-speed turns, the HRT was painfully slow for Vettel and allowed Hamilton to line him up for the following DRS zone.
"They were both catching Karthikeyan through the Esses," he explained.
"We talked about this earlier in the week how if you catch a car coming into the high-speed Esses there is no way a car in front can get out of the leaders' way, and that's exactly what happened.
"Lewis was a close as he was getting behind Vettel but, as they went through the Esses, Vettel gets right up to Karthikeyan round Turn Six, there's no where he can go, Karthikeyan's not getting out of the way until later round Turn Seven.
"Vettel doesn't know where to go, he dives down the inside, and it's basically given Lewis the chance to overtake like there was a safety car or something.
"When they head down to the DRS zone Lewis is much closer to Vettel, sensing an opportunity, and onto the straight he gets past."