Missed opportunities - exclusive Christian Horner interview 17 Mar 2010
It should have been a Red Bull day. All indications pointed to Sebastian Vettel becoming the first winner of the 2010 season in Bahrain, but a minor electrical fault destroyed all hope for the Austrian team and their supposed champion-in-waiting. At least team principal Christian Horner could head home safe in the knowledge that Red Bull have the potential to dominate, whereas many others departed Sakhir knowing they have more than just a missing tenth or two to find ahead of Australia...
Q: Christian, was the Bahrain weekend a bit of a Red Bull giveaway in Ferraris favour?
Christian Horner: No, not that I know of. We had fantastic pace in qualifying and the race and Sebastian was controlling the race very well until lap 33 when he had a sudden loss of power. Even with this misfortune we had demonstrated that we have a quick car and P4 is still valuable in the championship. True, ultimately it is very frustrating, but weve got the reassurance that weve got the pace. This is something that we can build on.
Q: How disappointed are you personally?
CH: It is always frustrating when you are in control of the race, your driver is comfortable with his pace in the car and then to have an unexpected problem. If that is not frustrating, what is?
Q: Sebastian led right from the start with a comfortable gap to Alonso, and even after that spark plug failure he managed to bring the car home fourth. Was he the best driver on the grid?
CH: In my opinion, yes. What he managed to do is unbelievable. He had corner speeds that were almost beyond gravity. He was driving flawlessly, without even the slightest mistake. Sebastian had controlled the race and after lap three we were able to reduce on fuel because it was not necessary. Alonso did three laps to catch-up but was falling back again after those laps because of the tyres. Had it been possible to blank lap 33 the trophy would have been his.
Q: If my boss told me that nothing but the title will do this year I would probably start biting my nails. How about you?
CH: Ah, its a long, long way to go until Abu Dhabi and fourth-place points are still very valuable. Thankfully it wasnt a DNF. So yes, we left Bahrain without a win, but with the knowledge that we have a fast car, both cars were in the points and we have a lot to be optimistic about.
Q: What happened with Marks car on lap one? All that smoke - was that tactical warfare?
CH: Ha, we didnt think about that. But honestly, I have no idea. You have to ask Renault.
Q: I guess everybody was holding their breath because everybody thought the engine had blown
CH: Yep, me too. That was also a bit of a frustrating moment.
Q: During testing all the teams were saying wait until Bahrain to get an idea of the pecking order. So did anything surprise you at Sakhir? Helmut Marko said that he believes the Red Bull and Ferrari are in a league of their own
CH: It is still very early to draw conclusions on the standings and in the next couple of weeks it will be a case of how fast the development is pushed forward by all the teams. We had a fast car this weekend - one that was very capable of winning the race, but we didnt. This is something that we have to swallow first.
Q: Despite missing out on the win, did that race teach you anything about race strategy and tyre degradation?
CH: Weve been very happy with the option tyres. Sebastian was able to pull out a four or five-second lead at the beginning of the race looking after the tyres, had a good stop and covered Fernando quite easily. Until lap 33 everything was looking pretty good for the win.
Q: After lap 33 were you able to support Sebastian at all from the pits?
CH: We tried to help him with different mixtures and different settings, but when youve got a problem like that its very difficult.
Q: With four world champions on the grid, four leading teams and a strong midfield, everybody expected a thrilling race. What was missing after all those rule changes?
CH: What I fear is that we will end up with many one-stop races. I was pushing very hard for two stops because with how the cars are and how the fuel regulations are we will see a lot of races like this.