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Awaiting the Vettel effect - exclusive with Red Bull’s Christian Horner 24 Oct 2008

(L to R): Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso with his new boss for 2009 Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal, Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, Thursday 17 July 2008. World © Sutton Car of David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing after crashing out.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Fuji Speedway, Sunday, 12 October 2008. © Sutton Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Japanese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Fuji Speedway, Friday, 10 October 2008 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 18 October 2008 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB4.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai International Circuit, Shanghai, China, Friday, 17 October 2008

Red Bull Racing have had a tough ride in the second half of 2008. But that doesn’t mean team principal Christian Horner has ever doubted their development path. With one race to go and limited options to enhance their championship position, Horner’s focus is firmly on 2009, when an ‘unfrozen’ Renault engine, another Adrian Newey-penned chassis, the highflying Sebastian Vettel and the experienced Mark Webber could provide a winning combination…

Q: Christian, Red Bull Racing started the season strongly and it seemed that the team could emerge as the ‘fourth power’ on the grid. Then the performance slipped a bit. What happened?
Christian Horner:
Up until Silverstone everything was on target. We arrived in Silverstone fourth in the championship - we had scored points in every race apart from Melbourne. Since Silverstone we have only scored five points and that is frustrating. It is difficult to put your finger on one thing, but we have been involved in too many accidents and have given away too many points that way. Nothing has gone our way lately. We should have been on the podium in Monza, a freak gearbox problem destroyed our Singapore race (we should have been second). We simply had too many incidents and it has cost us quite dearly.

Q: Red Bull Technology is supplying your team and Toro Rosso. Why is the ‘Newey touch’ working better for them than for you?
CH:
There are two factors. One, for sure, is that STR has done a very good job, as the differences in the chassis are absolutely negligible. And they have an extremely good driver. The driver has done a stunning job in the second half of the season. If you paired Sebastian’s results together with Mark’s season the outcome would look pretty good. Sebastian has emerged as a real star and we know that the car that has been developed by Adrian and his team is a good car.

Q: Ending the season seventh in the constructors’ championship is a bit hard to swallow. How big of a disappointment will that be?
CH:
It is very disappointing. David (Coulthard) has unfortunately had a disappointing year. Nothing has gone his way. Before this year he’d had only a couple of accidents with Red Bull Racing. I think this year he has had 10 and that has cost us and David very dearly in points. Too often we have been relying on one car and that’s been very hard for us. However, we are a team, we work together, and seventh is where we are today. It is not where we want to be and for the future we are really looking forward to working with Sebastian and looking forward with anticipation to 2009.

Q: There are discussions going on to ‘unfreeze’ the engines. Red Bull Racing’s engine suppliers Renault are a driving force behind that. Would that help you for next year?
CH:
Yes, for sure there are differences in the engines. Renault took the freeze quite literarily. The problem is that to be penalized for five years with an engine that is down on power is impossible for any manufacturer to accept, so the FIA has acted responsibly - they have all the numbers, they have all the information and I am sure they will act appropriately.

Q: Was Sebastian Vettel’s Monza win damaging for Red Bull Racing, and if so, how?
CH:
Not at all. We both belong to the same parent and obviously it was a great result for Red Bull. You must remember that from the 600 people that we are in Milton Keynes, probably 550 have been involved on both cars, and it’s not just the design. Sebastian’s Monza win demonstrated that we are on the right path with our development and it will be up to us to capitalize on that in 2009.

Q: David is preparing for a new career and new life outside the race cockpit. Has there been any attempt to move Vettel into his RBR seat early, in the final stages of this season?
CH:
David started the season with us and it was always clear that he will end it with the chequered flag in Brazil.

Q: What is your goal for the final race in Brazil? Shanghai was a bit disappointing as Mark’s good qualifying time was overshadowed by his 10-place relegation for changing his engine.
CH:
The goal for the final race is to finish with both cars in the points. It will be David’s last race after a long and successful career and I am sure he and all the team will be pushing hard to come away from Brazil with the best possible result.