Vettel signed for Red Bull Racing in 2009 after having played for its junior team, Scuderia Toro Rosso.
He finished second after his first season with the team and won the world championship four times from 2010 to 2013.
He subsequently signed for Ferrari at the end of a difficult year with the entry of the Heglamento hybrid in 2014.
Despite having left the team, Vettel maintained a good relationship with Horner and the rest of the team.
“It was a pleasure having him in the team” commented Horner, “we have achieved many great things together. I think just seeing him grow from a kid to a young man, he’s a guy with strong principles, he has very strong beliefs.
“We’ve seen him in the later stages of his career, he stands up for the things he’s passionate about and rightfully so. His family is very important to him and he’s very private about it, so I’m delighted to see that he’s become an Instagrammer lately! !
“As his Formula 1 career came to an end, I’m sure he has many things he wants to do in his life and he’s going to do great things. It will be sad not to see him here but I think it’s the best time for him. .
“It wasn’t pretty to see him racing in the middle of the grid, he doesn’t deserve to be there and that’s why I think it was time for him to say ‘now is the time to end F1’.
Horner also paid tribute to Vettel’s commitment on and off the track during his years at Red Bull.
“I think the highlight of Seb, is that from the get-go you could see that he was a very down-to-earth man and his work ethic was totally Germanic.
“He worked very hard, stayed late and had a great sense of humor and had to adapt to a British team, but he embraced our culture straight away.
“He endeared himself throughout the company, whether it was delivering chocolates to secretaries or learning garage lingo, his mastery of ‘cockney’ (slang used mostly in South and East London) became legendary.
“He was formidable with the cars we had at the time. Those were happy days in F1: tremendous competitiveness, great teams to fight against and some incredible successes.
“He, at that time, was very focused on achieving, not only success, but also going for records. They meant a lot to him.”
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing RB9
Photo by: Sutton Images
Horner commented that Vettel had shown steady improvement while claiming his four titles with the team.
“He was getting better and better. I mean, in 2009, we were a young team, like him. And we made some mistakes. In ’10 he was the standout driver of the year, he had a bunch of reliability issues and against all odds he took the world at the end of the year.
“In ’11, he built on that. ’12 was a super tough year. He had only won one race when we left Europe. And then he won, I think, four in a row to go toe-to-toe with Fernando [Alonso] in the final race of Brazil.
“When we got to 2013, he absolutely dominated, and got nine wins in a row, for me it was his pinnacle year.
By the time we got to ’13, he just absolutely dominated, and then nine victories in succession that he achieved, that was that for me was his pinnacle year. Lo dio todo y fue un año realmente excepcional.”