Formula One's newest team bosses review their year
BARs Nick Fry, Jordans Colin Kolles and Red Bulls Christian Horner have just completed their first season as Formula One team principals. We caught up with them in Shanghai to find out how they coped and what they have learnt from the experience.
Q: How would you describe your first season in charge of a Formula One team?
Nick Fry: Challenging. The first half of the season was very difficult for a combination of factors, politics and poor performance of the car. We had problems with the aerodynamics and were struggling with the technical changes. The second half was better, as JB (Jenson Button) was scoring points in every single race, even if not as many as we would like. But the teams performance was very good, and we have developed the car strongly. Even after a difficult first half, the team has stood together and we had no internal arguments or blaming.
Christian Horner: Satisfactory. I am pleased with the progress that has been made. Weve built solid foundations and certainly strengthened the teams technical base. Red Bull is committed for the long term and we have a respectable budget.
Colin Kolles: We have taken over a team in dissolution, six weeks before the season started. We had to work with material that was outdated and had to stick with a name that was not ours. Our objectives were to finish the season being able to learn as much as we can. After 19 races we can say that we have accomplished that - even if it might not be so visible to the outside. Sometimes the little victories inside a team are the ones that really matter in the long run. For me personally it meant too little sleep, but I can cope with that.
Q: From what you have learned in your first season, what will you change?
NF: The aerodynamics. We have not been aggressive enough in the improvements of them, and the strategic mistake to change our test circuit away from Barcelona, which we regret having done, as we had no comparison to our competitors then.
CH: Obviously the engine.
CK: To be better in the next season. And the odds are in our favour.
Q: What shortcomings have you overcome in your management style and the teams operations?
NF: We have made more new parts in our factory than any other team, and this worked perfectly and also the part of race engineering has improved very well. Especially with Gil (de Ferran), who has implemented a more creative touch to it.
CH: Look, I am no newcomer to motorsport. We did it the hard way at Arden and the scope of Red Bull gives me the opportunity to implement a lot of what I couldnt do before. Delegation of authority, building a broad based structure with excellent people dedicated to specific functions are but a few of the accomplishments of the season. Seeing at all come together has been a source of great satisfaction. Equally important is the fact that our owners encourage us to get along with the job. They are looking after the commercial side of the business very competently.
CK: Formula One obviously is more sophisticated than the racing environment I belonged to so far. The requirements to be successful are almost the same in every business but the general framework with some demands more passion - and the ability to learn faster. Formula One means being focused and alert every day. You have a race weekend and if things dont work perfectly you cannot say okay lets do it tomorrow. Monday is game over so you better be successful Sunday. I am very satisfied that we are a team now that has revived that.
Q: How have you dealt with the politics of Formula One racing?
NF: I have not felt these politics particularly strongly. I am in the auto business for over 20 years and have felt the team principal meetings to be very focused on the business. There is always room for improvement, but it is definitely going in the right direction.
CH: Thats an easy one - I keep out of them. Im the new boy on the block - Im not required to have a strong opinion.
CK: I like politics, so the political aspect of F1 is the most interesting for me.