Red Bull boss Christian Horner denies his leadership has been undermined by Sebastian Vettel's decision to ignore team orders during the Malaysian Grand Prix, although he admitted talking about the future application of team orders with Red Bull's boss.
The World Champion contravened the team's order to hold position in the Sepang race, and not pass teammate Mark Webber to take victory. Vettel later apologized to the team, but on Thursday said he would probably do the same thing again.
Horner insisted, however, that his successes as Red Bull team boss show that there are no doubts about who is leading the squad. He also reckons Vettel has learned a lesson from the controversy.
"In that race he didn't do as I asked," said Horner during Friday's press conference in China. "Was I happy? No. Did he apologize? Yes. Has he learned? Yes. Would he do it again? He explained yesterday – but there is history between those two drivers.
"It is not something new, it has been there for four/five years. They are one of the most successful partnerships in F1 history. Is my leadership undermined? I don't think so.
"I have led the team from the time Red Bull entered to the sport to those three titles, there have been lumps and bumps along the way, but they drive the team forward."
He added: "I don't think Seb for a moment thinks he runs the team. He knows we employ him – and he knows why we employ him."
The Briton said the relationship between Vettel and Webber had not changed much after Malaysia, acknowledging the duo had never been too close.
"To be perfectly honest, it's not that different to the relationship they had before Malaysia in many respects. They're both professional guys, very driven, very talented," Horner said.
RED BULL EAGER TO MOVE ON
The team boss believes it is now time for Red Bull to leave the row behind and focus on its championship challenge.
"What has happened has happened, we cannot change it, we cannot go back," he added. "It is question of looking forward, at this event, and the next 16 events.
"Seb has not achieved the success he has in his career by being submissive, he saw an opportunity, he had saved a set of tires and he wanted that victory more than anything else."
Horner said he had spoken at length about the situation with Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, and clarified suggestions that the team will ditch team orders altogether.
"It depends what you define as a team order. What Dietrich is keen not to see is a situation where drivers aren't allowed to race each other," he said.
"Our concern in Malaysia wasn't drivers racing each other, it was the consequences there would potentially be on tire wear and the one-two position we'd got ourselves into. From a Red Bull perspective, of course we want to see drivers race and compete equally."