Exclusive Q&A with Red Bulls Helmut Marko 30 Nov 2011
Twelve wins from 19 races, a record-breaking tally of pole positions and the successful defence of both world titles - 2011 has been very kind to Red Bull and its clear their motorsport consultant Helmut Marko couldnt be happier with how the Milton Keynes-based team are faring. Marko discusses their 2011 triumphs, the teams technical prowess, the futures of Red Bull's young drivers and his hopes for 2012 and beyond
Q: Helmut, what does it mean for the team to defend both titles?
Helmut Marko: It is confirmation of our, well I wouldnt call it dominance, but our ability to win.
Q: What would you say were the crucial factors behind this success?
HM: I would say that the magic word is probably continuity, on the top decision-making level, but also immediately below that too. We havent seen a change over the last three years. And when there have been changes then its within the team. People are moved from one department to another when they display corresponding talents, but it all stays in the family! (laughs) To know that ones talent will be recognised and to be given the opportunity to grow makes this harmony which translates into success.
Q: What about the technical side? So many teams have tried to outsmart the rest of the field and many times it has backfired. What has shielded you from such mishaps?
HM: First and foremost, we have Adrian Newey. Secondly, our tools - CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), wind tunnel and simulator - work perfectly together, which means that before a piece heads to production we have made sure that it will deliver. Therefore the chances of failure are already minimized towards zero before production starts.
Q: We have seen bold design ideas come to the fore lately that didnt deliver, for example Renaults forward-facing exhausts. So is it also the ability to identify what will and wont deliver that separates the winner from the rest?
HM: Well, probably, because the foremost quality of a car is for it to be driveable. It doesnt help to have a car that is faster than the rest but only for certain track configurations. Looking at the upgrades that we added over the season, they all delivered. We never had to face the awkwardness of building back. Looking at all the other cars over the course of the season, they all gradually became lookalikes of the RB7 theyre just painted differently! (laughs) The longer the season lasted, the more RB7s there were on the grid.
Q: Why do you think the Formula One establishment - McLaren and Ferrari - find it slightly shameful to be beaten by Red Bull?
HM: Its true that we are not a car manufacturer - and never intended to be - but we wanted to be successful in the sport. That we are leading the likes of McLaren and Ferrari definitely makes us proud. We are always focusing on who is the best, who needs to be beaten, and then we go out and try it. That has always been Red Bulls philosophy. I cannot fully understand why others have difficulties with this view. What is really funny in is that over the last few decades McLaren and Ferrari have been arch rivals, but since our arrival - and success - they have moved much closer together. (laughs)
Q: Why are there still question marks over Red Bulls long-term commitment? There dont seem to have been any clues as to what would justify the question marks
HM: Thats not entirely true. There have been comments from (Red Bull owner) Dietrich Mateschitz that should the framework requirements not apply, then there could be second thoughts. Formula One is a marketing tool for Red Bull, which means that we permanently evaluate our input and the output of our commitment. This equation has to be positive. If long-term success is there, then there is definitely no question at all. And if you look at the reality of the situation, we have long-term contracts with our engine supplier, with our sponsors and our staff.
Q: What springs to mind at the mention of the teams association?
HM: FOTA is an association that should look after and optimize team interests - and that seems to be rather difficult.
Q: Why is that?
HM: Its because most of the teams obviously only look for their own advantage and in doing so probably lose sight of the overall picture.
Q: What about the much talked about Resource Restriction Agreement (RRA)? Who can control it?
HM: Our viewpoint is that as long as engine and KERS is not part of RRA, it is feasible and if that is the case then precise parameters have to be employed. The idea of spending less money is the right way to go - and we are already heading in that direction. But to punish Red Bull on the aerodynamic side of things whereas engine and KERS is not part of the whole RRA package is difficult to accept. All in all its a difficult subject, but when you look at the overall economic situation reduced spending will come automatically.
Q: What do Red Bull want from 2012?
HM: We want to defend both titles. But we are also aware that it will become even more difficult. The main ingredients have been in place for a long time so why should 2012 be any different? You need a fast car, you need consistency and you need two drivers who can deliver.
Q: Red Bull are nurturing several Formula One talents - so when will we see one of those youngsters in a Red Bull car?
HM: Its definitely a nice problem to have - we have four drivers to be considered: Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne. Should Mark (Webber) decide to stop then one out of this pool will be promoted. Right now not one of these four has an advantage. It will be decided when the situation arises.
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