In conversation - Christian Horner & Adrian Newey 11 Jun 2011
Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel has a commanding lead at the top of the 2011 standings, but a driver doesnt succeed on his own and Vettel has a top team behind him, led by team principal Christian Horner and chief technical officer Adrian Newey. We listen in as Horner and Newey discuss the challenges of running a Formula One team and talk about how their working relationship has turned into a firm friendship
Q: How would you describe your respective roles in the team?
Christian Horner: Ah, that is very simple. Adrian spends the money and I try to bring the money in. (laughs)
Adrian Newey: It is a simple relationship - and it works!
Q: When outsiders hear about Red Bull Racing and owner Dietrich Mateschitz, they may think there are limitless resources available to you. Is there a limit?
CH: We work a budget out at the beginning of the year and we have always managed to stay within that. And, contrary to speculation about Adrian, he is actually pretty tight when it comes to what he wants. So there is never any discrepancy when it comes to money.
AN: At the beginning, when we were building up the new infrastructure - when it really counted - Dietrich was very, very good. As long as it was logical and we followed the business plan, we got everything we wanted. Of course he always wanted to know what it was for. He is an extremely successful entrepreneur and not a naive dreamer.
CH: I would say that right now we have only the fourth-largest budget in Formula One, so efficiency in every single area - including money - is paramount. That goes for every department of the team, including Adrians design group. In the end it is all about hitting the deadlines and theyve done a tremendous job in recent years.
Q: Adrian, in the past you worked with Frank Williams and Ron Dennis - two iconic figures in Formula One racing. So how did it feel to join Red Bull and find out your team principal was barely into his thirties?
AN: (laughs) We talked for some time before I joined so I knew what was coming my way.
CH: I think it was more what he found in the technical department that really shocked him. When he arrived we had a wind tunnel from the 1960s, or even older. So my age was not really an issue.
Q: Christian, were you a little awestruck?
CH: Not that I remember. I think that any relationship is about how you get on. Straight away Adrian and I found common ground and we are friends as much as anything. In a high-pressured environment like Formula One thats important - and rare.
Q: How did the two of you decide to join forces?
CH: Money was never an issue
AN: the timing was just right - for both of us - and everybody involved. It was one of those fortunate moments.
Q: How much of what you do overlaps? And how do you cope with that?
AN: Ha, I havent let Christian on the drawing board yet! (laughs)
CH: And I would never want to be there. I am not an engineer. I am supporting the team the way I can - by removing problems and obstacles. Adrian doesnt want to spend his time with things that are irrelevant to the technical performance of the car.
Q: Adrian what exactly is your role within the team?
AN: A good question! The first thing is obviously the technical side, although I delegate much of it, as it is design that I really enjoy. Secondly it is about working with Christian on major decisions about engines for example or whatever. In general it is how we shape the company.
Q: So you tell Christian that for a particular design you need a specific component, and then Christian goes out and tries to find it for you?
CH: Not exactly. What I do is to try and give Adrian the time to focus on the car, and not bother him with politics and meetings and that kind of stuff.
Q: The team is currently riding high, but it hasnt always been the case. What were the darkest moments for the two of you?
AN: Oh yes developing the company from the ashes of Jaguar. That was a lot of work, as it was much more than just developing a new infrastructure. It was developing a whole new culture and setting the standards of how we want to go about things
CH: we wanted to develop a can do structure. It was the opposite of what existed at Jaguar - a corporation trying to run a corner shop. It was a completely different mentality. Now we have a mentality where no task is too big.
Q: Adrian, you have also worked with some really iconic Formula One drivers. Who would be your ideal driver?
AN: Thats easy. Its the guy who weighs 50 kilos and is about 1.5 metres tall.
CH: and cheap!
Q: Have you ever had a big argument?
CH: No, we never have. We are like an old married couple! (laughs)
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