Christian Horner Q&A: The trophies are staying at Red Bull 06 Feb 2012
Formed from the one-time Jaguar team barely seven short years ago, Red Bull have been making waves ever since. After successfully defending their 2010 drivers' and constructors' titles in 2011, the Milton-Keynes based team want to make it third time lucky this season too. Team principal Christian Horner reflects on past successes and the year ahead
Q: Four world titles in seven seasons is an impressive achievement. What has been the reason for this?
Christian Horner: The main reason for our achievements is teamwork. Its quite simply the group of people that are here at Red Bull Racing and Red Bull Technology working as one unit. Thats obviously taken time to evolve, but weve evolved quickly. Were still a young team and to consider the four world titles weve won in only seven seasons of competition is something were fiercely proud of and determined to add to.
Q: What are the teams goals now?
CH: The teams goals are quite simple. Its to try and defend both titles in the manner (in which) we achieved them. Of course, when youve achieved what we have, particularly in 2011, weve set a very high standard for ourselves. But, were always looking to improve, were always looking, in all areas, to try and do better. We cant control what our opponents do, were up against some formidable opponents, but we can only really focus on ourselves and only when we get to Melbourne will we truly know where we sit against our rivals.
Q: How can Sebastian Vettel match his 2011 success?
CH: Sebastians season in 2011 was quite remarkable. It was a phenomenal year for him, with a record amount of poles, 11 GP victories and only one non-finish - in every other race bar one he was on the podium. So, for him to go better than that is going to be very, very challenging. But, as a driver, hes still evolving and hes still getting stronger. We saw that in 2011 and I think were only going to see that again in 2012. You forget hes only 24 years of age and its such a young age to have achieved so much. I think that, as he gains experience and as he gains knowledge and matures, hes getting stronger and stronger.
Q: Do you expect a bigger challenge from rivals this season?
CH: I think on the grid this year were going to have six world champions, and McLaren have a strong team, theyve got strength and depth and two world class drivers. Fernando Alonso: everyone knows his capability, and Ferrari also being a great team. We have Kimi Raikkonen coming back as well; Mercedes also look like theyre going to be competitive, so I think Formula One is set for an exciting year and at Red Bull Racing our goals and objectives are to try and stay ahead of our rivals and build on the success that we have had and build on the lessons that weve learned in 2011
Q: How will Mark bounce back after a tough season last year?
CH: I think the best tonic for Mark was to finish the year strongly - to win that final race, to go into the season having won the Brazilian GP. I think hes had a very strong off-season. Hes recharged his batteries, hes trained hard and hes come back looking fitter and leaner than ever. Hes in strong shape for the season ahead.
Q: Have there been any problems with building the car this winter?
CH: This years car build has gone fantastically well, and I think its the epitome of continuity, continuity across all areas. I think weve designed and built this car in a record amount of time, in a ridiculously short amount of time. Adrians (Newey) never famous for his drawings being early, but the design team, the production teams, all the associated departments that go into producing these cars, have delivered, and delivered in a fantastic way. Weve hit our target of being at the first test so, despite the snow over the latter part of this week, I think were in great shape for the first test.
Q: Can you describe what that first day of testing is like?
CH: The roll out of a new car is always filled with great anticipation; its almost like going back to school for a new school year. Of course, youre keen to see what your rivals are doing (and) of course theyre looking to protect the secrets of their car also. Pictures are scoured over; well all be looking at what rivals have been doing over the winter. Its the longest time we spend away from each other, from Brazil to the first race, but well be very much focused on our own performance. Well be looking to sign off the first systems checks to make sure the car is performing and working in accordance with how it was designed and get those checks out of the way. We then get into testing proper, because we have a very short amount of time this year - only three tests that are split with only one car between two drivers. Its a short amount of time and only offers a few days for each driver, before starting on the grid in Melbourne.
Q: Tell us a little about the return of Sebastien Buemi as test driver.
CH: Sebastien is a product of the Red Bull Junior Team, hes had three years with Toro Rosso and hes now an experienced Grand Prix driver. We decided to retain Sebastien as our test and reserve driver as he knows the team well; hes technically very strong (and) he has that grand prix experience that is wholly relevant. He will be doing a lot of work for us this year on the simulator, conducting our aerodynamic tests and other activities, so it was a logical step for us to take him as a reserve driver - not only for Red Bull Racing but also for our sister team at Toro Rosso.
Q: How will the team cope with such a long, 20-race season?
CH: Twenty races is a tough season. Its a long year. Its going to be a challenge - there are a lot of back-to-back races. To start in March and finish in November but I think with good planning and good preparation it should be manageable. I think its going to be an exciting season. Of course there will phases of strength for different teams (and) the most important thing is to be consistent over the full season. So, we will be determined to start strongly in Melbourne and finish strongly in Brazil.
Q: How happy are you with where the team is at now?
CH: Im very happy with where the team is now. I think that weve evolved as a team, as a unit. I think we have tremendous strength and depth and I think that weve enjoyed great continuity over the last few years. As weve evolved and as departments have worked closely with each other you can see, in the detail of the car and the continuity that weve had in our production techniques and our development rate (and) in some of our simulation tools, that (it) all adds up to achieving the kind of team work that we strive for. I think were well set for the season ahead. You can never take anything for granted. We certainly dont underestimate the quality of our opponents, but were going into 2012 with a lot of determination to keep the two trophies in their cabinets.
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