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Exclusive Interview with Red Bull's Christian Horner 10 Feb 2010

Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Sporting Director Formula One Young Driver Testing, 1-3 December 2009, Jerez Circuit, Spain. Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB6. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 10 February 2010. (L to R): Rob Marshall (GBR) Red Bull Racing Chief Designer with Adrian Newey (GBR) Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer; Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing; Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing; Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal and Peter Prodromou (GBR) Red Bull Racing Head of Aerodynamics, with the new Red Bull Racing RB6. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 10 February 2010. First run for Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB6. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 10 February 2010. First run for Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB6. Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, Wednesday 10 February 2010.

The drizzle in evidence for most of Wednesday at Jerez wasn’t the ideal weather in which to debut their new car, but Red Bull are feeling pretty pleased with their RB6. Team principal Christian Horner can certainly see a lot of potential in the Adrian Newey-penned challenger, especially as most of the field are running 2010 cars that have been heavily influenced by its predecessor, the RB5…

Q: Christian, people are expecting miracles from the RB6. How is it in reality?
Christian Horner:
The RB6 is an evolution of the RB5, which I believe was the best chassis in Formula One last year. Adrian and his design team have done a fantastic job over the winter. They’ve made some good steps, but it is still too early to know what the other teams have done. We are focused on our own performance and we are very encouraged by the progress that we’ve made.

Q: You opted for more time in the wind tunnel rather than take the car to the first test. Was that a wise decision, considering the weather on Wednesday?
CH:
Last year, taking more time in R&D served us very well, considering the reliability of the car. And when you take into account that we have stayed with basically the same people - engineers, drivers, engine partner - we are better taking more R&D time, because the steps the teams are making are quite large at the moment to start the season in the best possible shape. It was a tactic that worked very well for us in 2009 and we are very happy with our decision this year.

Q: What can you say about the car after one day of running?
CH:
Well, the first two tests are basically to understand the tyres and to put reliability and mileage on the car. The most critical test will be the last test in Barcelona because that is where all the teams will use their race updates, so that’s where we are focusing on.

Q: Mark Webber and not Sebastian Vettel had the honour of taking the car out of the pits for the first time on Wednesday. Why?
CH:
There is nothing specific behind that. Mark did the shakedown last year, when he struggled to get into the car, so we thought that it would be nice for him to do it this year so he’ll be able to get into the car without needing anybody to help him. Otherwise we’ve split the testing equally between the drivers.

Q: Webber had some issues with the car on Wednesday morning. Is it something serious?
CH:
He had a small issue and turned the engine off as a precaution. He had a small oil leak, but the car completed more laps than anybody else during the morning running. We’re very encouraged with what we’ve seen so far.

Q: What about the engine? Are you happy with what you’ve got?
CH:
We have a very good relationship with Renault. They support us very well, which was a key aspect of why we renewed the agreement for this year. The key issue with the engine is that we currently have an engine freeze. The advantage of that is the reduction in costs; the disadvantage is that if you have disparity between the engine performances then you freeze an advantage or a disadvantage. When the engine freeze was introduced it was on the understanding that the performance differential should be plus or minus one percent, so there wouldn’t be big differences and the engine would not be a key performance differentiator. Obviously each engine has its own characteristics, but it would not be a key performance differentiator. But what we now see is that there is a significant difference between one engine and the rest of them. As the chassis converge in performance, as the regulations stay stable, the engine will become a more predominant factor, and I don’t think it will be a healthy situation to have one dominate all the races.

Q: How closely did you watch your competitors at the first test in Valencia?
CH:
We were obviously keeping an eye on what the others were doing, of course, but we have been pretty much focused on our own performance. Sure there’ve been some interesting bits and pieces - how teams have applied the new regulations. I must say the size of the diffuser seems to have grown significantly over the winter!

Q: Have you seen anybody who has pushed the rules too far? Any surprises?
CH:
It was flattering to see that several cars have been influenced by last year’s RB5, but it is difficult to convert this into performance, due to the different fuel loads that others might be running on. You have a range of 10 to 170 kilos. Regarding any surprises I would say that there is nothing our engineers and designers haven’t already looked at. It was reassuring to see evolution rather than anything too radical.

Q: If you could have three wishes for 2010, what would they be?
CH:
One would be to win the constructors’ championship, one would be to win the drivers’ championship and the third one would be… what would the third one be? Oh, to beat Bernie (Ecclestone) at backgammon!