Exclusive Q&A with Red Bull's Christian Horner 22 Sep 2012
Its been a tough season so far for Red Bull. While their three victories to date and lead in the constructors championship are nothing to be sniffed at, its still a far cry from the dominance they enjoyed in 2011. Team principal Christian Horner, however, is determined not to let the squads spirits flag
Q: Christian, what is state of affairs at Red Bull? Where has the teams winning gene gone?
Christian Horner: Well, we are still aiming to win the constructors championship while our drivers are still very much in contention for the drivers championship. Its true that this year is more challenging for us. Weve won three Grand Prix so far in Bahrain, Monaco and Silverstone but its a much tighter year. The regulation changes over the winter have had a big effect on our performance. But we are recovering.
Q: So the winning gene is not lost?
CH: Absolutely not. Maybe its just hiding! (laughs)
Q: A couple of weeks ago you looked like youd easily take the constructors championship, but its not looking so certain now. Why?
CH: Well, neither driver scored points in Monza which was very disappointing. It was the first time since Korea 2010 it had happened. What was most disappointing was that it was a repeat failure of an issue that cost us a certain Grand Prix victory in Valencia. But that is motor racing and we just have to bounce back and focus on the seven remaining races.
Q: Vettel was always on pole in 2011 but this year hes hardly ever on the front row. Whats gone wrong?
CH: I think the racing is different this year. There have been a lot of races this season which havent been won by the driver on pole position. The way the tyres behave and the way the strategy behaves is quite different to 2011. Its difficult to find the balance of not working the tyres too much in qualifying but having a quick race car.
Q: It is no secret that Red Bull Racing is struggling with this years tyres. Not too long ago you, Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko, Pirellis Paul Hembery and Formula One group CEO Bernie Ecclestone put your heads together. What was discussed?
CH: Ha, that had nothing to do with Red Bull Racing. We were talking about another form of motorsport!
Q: How is the team coping with their lack of wins?
CH: I think it just makes the team hungrier. We have achieved a huge amount of success over the last three or four years and everybody in the team is extremely motivated to finish the year on a high.
Q: Your driver Mark Webber said recently that he believes the car should suit the races at Suzuka, Korea, in the US and Brazil. So a happy ending to the season is possible
CH: Of course. There is still one third of the season to run. There are still so many points in the game nd we have seen that things can change very quickly. We are very strongly focuses on each race as it comes and trying to get the maximum out of our package at each event. Lets see at the end of the year if thats good enough.
Q: If you dont win the titles, would Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitzs enthusiasm for Formula One racing be affected?
CH: Dietrichs enthusiasm and commitment to Formula One is very well documented. Red Bull has been around for many, many years. First as a sponsor, then as a shareholder and then as a team owner. We have enjoyed tremendous success over the last few years and we have a strong group in place for the future. We are confident that we are in good shape for the future as well as at the moment.
Q: Helmut Marko has recently said that Red Bull will be there as long as there is success and economic viability. What is more important?
CH: Obviously success is crucial but it cant be at any cost. We are very conscious that costs need to be controlled within Formula One and stability in the technical and sporting regulations is the best way to do that. We would like to see the costs for being competitive reduced. In that we are not different to any other team. Hopefully there will be positive discussions over the next few weeks and months.
Q: 2013 is a transitional year with only slightly modified cars before the wide-ranging changes of 2014. How will the team handle the shift?
CH: Next year is very much a continuity of the current regulations. Of course we will be evolving the RB8 into the RB9 and then obviously the RB10 will have a completely different power unit in it. So I think that teams will be looking at the 2014 car earlier than they usually would.
Q: So how far ahead would you have to start thinking about it?
CH: There are no pens or pencils on paper yet! (laughs) But its hard to look at something if there are no clear technical regulations. We need that first.
Q: If your two guys cant claim the title, which rival can?
CH: I havent even thought about that. I am only focused on my two guys. Nobody else matters.
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