Exclusive interview - Red Bulls Christian Horner 12 May 2009
Red Bull Racing have firmly established themselves as the second power on the grid this season, running away with the only race win so far not to have gone to Brawn. Naturally team principal Christian Horner is feeling quite satisfied, but one win always brings with it a taste for more.
Brawn may be ahead for now, but the good news for Horner and Red Bull is that the Adrian Newey-designed RB5 is quick even without KERS and a double diffuser, leaving the team plenty of development potential
Q: Christian, overall Barcelona delivered a very good team result. However, while one driver was happy, the other felt someone had been raining on his parade. What happened?
Christian Horner: Well, in the case of Sebastian it was Felipe Massa and KERS that cost him the chance of a victory. It was a shame. He was starting on the dirty side of the grid and given the fact that the biggest advantage of KERS is at this track, Massa used that to his advantage. On top of this he spent the first stint on the same stop lap as Sebastian. And if that wasnt enough, we brought Sebastian in very short in the second stint and they (Ferrari) again picked the same lap. So the first two stints were just looking at the back of a Ferrari and that completely killed his race. That Mark ended ahead of Sebastian was due to the fact that we put Mark very long in the middle stint. If we had done similar with Sebastian it would have given him a fantastic chance to win the race. For Mark the strategy really paid off - he had a very strong race and that made good the feeling he had that he somewhat underperformed in qualifying. So he had a great recovery and a well deserved podium.
Q: How is life after China - after the first win for Red Bull Racing? A lot easier?
CH: The truth? Life is very busy. The team is on a high after the result in China, which was backed up by Sebastians podium in Bahrain and Marks in Barcelona. China was a milestone. We have the first pole position out of the way and have the first win out of the way and that automatically changes our focus. Our focus now is very clearly to close the gap to the Brawns - and Barcelona has shown that we have done that - and we still have a lot more development potential open to us. The car is performing very well, the team is performing exceptionally well, and we are going in the right direction.
Q: Were there any personal gestures from you in China? Anything like your leap into the pool as Superman when you scored your first podium in Monaco?
CH: Nothing of that sort. I was wet enough from the rain - and the champagne. I was just delighted for the team and for (Red Bull owner) Mr Mateschitz after his commitment, his support and efforts he has put into not only Red Bull Racing but Formula One. It was a great day for Red Bull.
Q: Sebastians form has been going up and up of late, but prior to Barcelona Mark seemed to be on a bit of an unlucky run. How difficult has that been to balance?
CH: Sebastian is in extremely good form at the moment and he is doing a fantastic job. Mark had a very difficult winter. And if you consider what he had to deal with - a broken leg, and a broken shoulder that he had forgotten to tell us about - he made a remarkable recovery and has put all the winter malaises behind him. I must say that we have a very strong driver pairing.
Q: Dietrich Mateschitz has promised Sebastian he will not stand in his way, should he decide to go elsewhere in the future, contract or no contract. Now that RB5 is delivering, does that mean he will be racing for you again next year - despite media talk of putting him in a Ferrari?
CH: Ah! Sebastian is very happy driving for this team - and we are very happy to have him. He has been a member of the Red Bull family for a long, long time and Red Bull Racing has provided him with a very good car this year. I think that Mr Mateschitz has also mentioned that Sebastian is certainly not for sale. Im obviously not disclosing the details of his contract but I cant imagine anywhere else that Sebastian would rather be at the moment and for next year I dont see any intention that he goes anywhere else. He is a fixture within the team.
Q: The RB5 has no double diffuser and is not running KERS, yet is still one of the fastest cars on the track. What is the secret to this? What did Adrian Newey do differently with his interpretation of the new rules?
CH: Adrian Newey and his crew have done an exceptional job. They have chosen a very intelligent interpretation of the regulations in typical Adrian fashion. He has pushed the boundaries and the limits and produced a very innovative car, but also a very attractive car. I think that the solution they came up with to the regulations as we understood them is impressive. And there is now further clarity on the floor regulations which opens up some exciting development opportunities for us.
Q: You brought a lot of new parts to Barcelona. Did it work out as expected? And how certain is it that the RB5 will have a different floor for Monaco?
CH: They did. Given that fact that we only had the Friday to implement them I am very satisfied with the result. Regarding the new floor, it is a big challenge for us to incorporate a new floor given the characteristics of the RB5. Probably it is more difficult than at other teams, but be assured that the guys back home in Milton Keynes are working very hard on a solution and hopefully Monaco will be its first race.
Q: The FIAs 2010 regulations - an optional £40 million budget cap in exchange for more technical freedom. What is your stance on that? Is that a budget Red Bull Racing could warm to?
CH: First of all we fully support any initiative to reduce costs from where they currently stand. I think a lot of good work was done by FOTA with the FIA over the last winter focusing primarily on the engine and operations, and some big cost savings were made. It is now time to focus on the chassis. However, it is important that Formula One does not end up with two different types of regulations and I think the objective should be to reduce the price in order to be competitive. And hopefully through work with FOTA and the FIA that can be achieved. To rely solely on the cap to control the costs with very open regulations would certainly be very challenging.
Q: The teams met last week to discuss the 2010 regulations. How is the mood?
CH: Well, the good thing is that all the teams - big or small - are focusing on the same objectives: reducing costs. We as an independent team have seen significant savings this year through some of the initiatives and the show is better than ever. I think Formula Ones appeal is better than it has been for years. Im not going to divulge the content of last week discussion - what I can say is that they were very constructive and I dont see any sign of fatigue.