Q&A with Red Bull's Christian Horner 27 Mar 2010
With driver Sebastian Vettel clinching his second consecutive pole position, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was all smiles in the Melbourne paddock on Saturday evening. Horner discusses his teams progress in Australia...
Q: The other teams seem to be catching up
Christian Horner: Yes, Ferrari has been very close to us again today, McLaren at different stages have looked pretty quick, and also Mercedes have looked reasonably quick. But Ferrari are still our biggest competition at the moment.
Q: How do you think that you can perform if its a wet race?
CH: There is no reason to believe that we would have any disadvantage in the rain to anybody else. And the best place to start in the wet is at the front, which is where we are.
Q: How has Sebastian Vettel matured over the last 18 months?
CH: He has just got another years experience. He is building the database of knowledge and information that only comes with experience, and he gets better with every month.
Q: Did you expect hed set a lap time below 1m 24s?
CH: It is a new track record, but it was not our target to achieve that. The only target that we had was to be quicker than the others. And that is a great result.
Q: Did you go into qualifying thinking Red Bull would dominate?
CH: We knew that we had a good car in Bahrain. There Mark had a frustrating qualifying, whereas here he was very close to being on pole at his home race. Sebastian produced another stunning lap in Q3. We could see throughout the whole of qualifying that both cars are very competitive. Of course, in general, you dont have a guaranteed place on the front row. It was all executed very well by both the drivers and the team. Our strategy was a little different to the other teams, in regards to tyre choice. We used the prime tyres in Q1 and Q2. The times on the hard tyres in Q2 would have been good enough to get both drivers into Q3. We hoped to get a run in Q2 on the softer tyres, to give the drivers a feel for them, and that then gave them both two sets of new tyres for Q3. Both drivers did one timed lap, which puts more pressure on them to get the most out of the tyres, and they both performed brilliantly.
Q: For Mark it must have been odd to hear from Lewis Hamilton that he may retire soon
CH: I did not know that Mark was being managed by Lewis. Maybe when it comes to contract time I will have to start negotiating with Lewis about Mark! I think it was all taken out of context, as Mark is in great shape and driving very well. We are very happy with our drivers. Mark is driving very well, and he is not old, as Michael (Schumacher) has demonstrated. The average age has dropped, but as long as Mark is motivated, competitive and quick, I dont think that he has any thoughts of stopping just yet. And today he proved again that he is competitive.
Q: If there is a safety car, how would it affect the frontrunners?
CH: That is very difficult to predict. We have run a lot of simulations, but its very hard to cover all possible scenarios. If youre in the lead, its the best place to react, as we did in Bahrain. So the further back you are the more aggressively you need to react.
Q: How harsh on tyres is the track?
CH: The degradation is nowhere near what we experienced in Bahrain, and also here last year, where the soft tyre was extremely soft and the rears were a big problem. This year the soft rear tyres are causing us no problems at all.
Q: Do you think that you have got the edge over Ferrari?
CH: If you ask any team manager he will tell you that his team is working very hard, but I believe that there isnt another team that is working harder than Red Bull Racing. The development will be sustained throughout the whole year. Todays result is testimony to all the efforts of the team both here at the track, and also back at the factory.
Q: If you are allowed to modify the Renault engine is there a fear Red Bull will become too dominant?
CH: Thats an interesting question. But the fact is that things dont stay the same for very long in Formula One, and we dont have the most powerful engine. But the regulations are as they are, so we have to take the best out of them, and today we have managed to get both cars at the front of the grid. But there will be circuits that will play against the strengths that we have, and then we will have to wait and see what happens.