Exclusive Q&A with Christian Horner 26 Jul 2005
Red Bull sporting director Christian Horner seems to have fallen on his feet. Just a few months into his Formula One career and not only is he running arguably the coolest team in the paddock, they are also doing pretty well on the track. We caught up with him at Hockenheim, where Red Bull scored another two points to consolidate their sixth place in the team standings.
Q: With almost two thirds of the season gone, how satisfied are you with Red Bulls performance?
Christian Horner: We are pretty satisfied. We scored in the five first races, missed our objectives at Nurburgring, had bad luck in Monaco and sure could have done better in Magny-Cours and Silverstone, but here we are back again. We started out with the idea that if we can score 10 points over the season we would be satisfied, but now we are 6th in the constructors championship - so we already over that massively.
Q: There were quite a few raised eyebrows when Red Bull acquired Jaguar Racing, with people asking what can a soft drinks maker achieve that a big car manufacturer couldnt? What have you done better? What is the secret to success?
CH: We went back to the basics and re-installed a true racing spirit. We still do have 85% of the employees from the time of Jaguar racing - around 400 people - and we recruited key people from other teams. The result is obvious.
Q: How important was it to sign an experienced Formula One driver alongside rookies in pushing the team forward?
CH: David (Coulthard) is the one who pushes the development of the car - with his experience and our rookies we have created a perfect synergy situation to be successful - this year and in the times to come. David is still highly motivated - I would say there is even more motivation than in is last years with Mclaren-Mercedes.
Q: This year the situation with two drivers in the second car must be somewhat frustrating for both of them. Will there be the same situation next year?
CH: We are in a time of transition. We bought a team that was doing far from well and we gave ourselves the 05 season to find out what can work in the future. And the truth is, that I think it is good for Tonio (Liuzzi) and Christian (Klien) to be forced to be competitive all the time. In regards to Scott (Speed), he will do the GP2 season and beyond that everything is possible - even the Friday driver seat.
Q: Red Bull is one of three teams who have already signed the Concorde Agreement extension for 2008 to 2012. What is the motivation behind this?
CH: We entered Formula One under the regime of Bernie (Ecclestone) and Max (Mosley), so if we would have thought that this was a wrong move we would not have come in in the first place. We believe that the format of Formula One as it exists is still the best - sure there is always room for improvement - but with them we know what we get whereas all other plans are just plans and far from being concrete. In signing the agreement for the time after 07 we wanted to make a statement of our position.
Q: Red Bull is making quite a splash in the paddock in terms of lifestyle statements. Is your parent company satisfied with the return on its investment?
CH: Red Bull is more than satisfied with the image of the team. We are focused on tying bonds to younger fans as this is what will secure the survival of Formula One. And the Red Bull image is perfect for this goal. The fact that Red Bull is a private company makes it very easy to communicate as there are short ways to get decisions. Basically you have to get a yes or no from one person - in sharp contrast to companies where you have to address to a board. Probably this makes for a huge part of our success.
Q: You have been in Formula One racing now for almost five months. What is your feeling about the sport - and what have been your best and worst experiences?
CH:The best thing so far was that I realized that success has the same basis here that I used to know in other series. The most interesting thing was that I have not met some of the key players before and was surprised after meeting them: I always thought that (McLaren boss) Ron (Dennis) was a very cold person - now I have learned that he is very warm hearted with a good sense of humour and that (Renault team boss) Flavio (Briatore) is really the sharp business guy he was always portrayed as - that it was not made-up. The worst experience is that I still have difficulties remembering the names of our almost 400 employees.