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Christian Horner Q&A: Raikkonen, Ricciardo or Vergne for ‘14 05 Jul 2013

Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 23 May 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Practice, Nurburgring, Germany, Friday, 5 July 2013 Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing; Adrian Newey (GBR) Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer and Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal celebrate with the Red Bull Racing team.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Race Day, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 9 June 2013 Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari General Director and Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd7, Canadian Grand Prix, Practice, Montreal, Canada, Friday, 7 June 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Practice, Nurburgring, Germany, Friday, 5 July 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, German Grand Prix, Practice, Nurburgring, Germany, Friday, 5 July 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, Race Day, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 30 June 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 12 May 2013 (L to R): Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal, Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Team Principal and Martin Whitmarsh (GBR) McLaren Chief Executive Officer in the Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd8, British Grand Prix, P Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 12 May 2013 Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E21 and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9 battle.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 12 May 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9 in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd4, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying, Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir, Bahrain, Saturday, 20 April 2013

It’s been a busy week for Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, what with Mark Webber’s exit announcement, Sebastian Vettel’s retirement from an explosive British Grand Prix, and the fallout from the race regarding revised rubber. We caught up with Horner at the Nurburgring to discuss tyres, testing, Mercedes, and - of course - Webber’s replacement for 2014…

Q: Christian, after the events of Silverstone, you will now be able to run your two race drivers at the young driver test, while Mercedes sit on the side lines. Is justice now served?
Christian Horner:
It is not about justice. I think the right decision was made by the FIA to allow Pirelli a tyre test at the young driver event - and for teams to put experienced drivers in the cars to give experienced feedback. This is a logical and correct solution. There are no winners out of what happened last weekend, so it is important that we work together and find a solution.

Q: How much time will the regular drivers spend in the cars?
CH:
Well, it was agreed on Wednesday that the rookies will have the equivalent of two days and the race drivers will be allowed one day. Teams will carve it up as they see fit.

Q: Given the dramatic tyre situation we saw in Silverstone, is it still right that Mercedes stay away?
CH:
Absolutely. They’ve already done their three-day test. With both drivers! One thousand kilometres!

Q: Your chief technical officer Adrian Newey was quoted as saying that some teams had previously refused to agree to Pirelli bringing in new tyres that could have prevented the Silverstone incidents because the change may have had a negative impact on their performance. Is that so? Has team success become a greater priority than driver security?
CH:
Yes, I think so. We’ve been talking about a certain danger with the tyres since Malaysia, since it became evident that there are issues. This was not performance related, as we had a relatively competitive first half of the season and with the current tyres we lead both championships. So we’ve always focused on safety. It is inevitable in sport that teams will look to protect their competitive position, but after Silverstone all the teams saw that we have to do something on the grounds of safety - and most importantly the FIA have intervened. They are responsible for safety and now have made the right decision.

Q: So it must be a good feeling that everybody can now see that your reasons for complaining about the tyres were honourable and in the interest of safety - and not for selfish reasons…
CH:
Ah, that thing with the selfish reasons… but now it’s become clear. We’ve been lucky in Silverstone, but at some point luck runs out, so we now have to see that the teams, together with Pirelli and the FIA, work closely together.

Q: Was what you saw at Silverstone shocking?
CH:
It was shocking. When your cars are travelling at up to two hundred miles an hour and big pits of rubber are flying through the air, that can be extremely dangerous. There’ve been one or two drivers who were really lucky not being hit or struck by big pieces of rubber flying through the air. So I understand that [FIA race director] Charlie Whiting came close to stopping the race. It was not at all good to see.

Q: We have seen some other unusual situations this season, the two buzzwords being tyres and testing. Some have questioned whether this is the result of a weak governing body? That they are not acting but reacting…
CH:
The FIA is the policeman - they police the rules at the end of the day. They have intervened now, they are taking this matter extremely seriously and they came up with a proposal with Pirelli to move forward and have asked for certain guarantees. It is always very easy to criticize, but the reality is that the right decisions have now been made.

Q: Too late?
CH:
It is a difficult one. We’ve been pushing [for tyre changes] since Malaysia, but other teams have been pushing against it, so when you have different voices from different teams it becomes hard to make a judgment.

Q: Red Bull didn’t have any tyre issues at Silverstone, but Sebastian had a gearbox failure. Have you analysed the situation - and hopefully eliminated the glitch?
CH:
It was an input shaft in the gearbox. It was a component that was pretty much the same for the last three or four years - and it was frustrating. We worked very hard to find out why it happened and to prevent it from happening again. It is frustrating to have a mechanical failure like that - particularly ten laps away from winning the British Grand Prix!

Q: So it was the first time that this issue had happened?
CH:
It is the first time in six years that we had that component fail.

Q: A week on since Mark’s announcement that he’s quitting F1 racing at the end of the year. Any new ideas on when Red Bull will announce his replacement?
CH:
We are in the fortunate position not to be short of choice. We’ll take our time to make the right decision.

Q: How much was it Mark’s decision to quit - and how much was he pushed?
CH:
It was one hundred percent Mark’s decision to retire.

Q: Wouldn’t the whole philosophy of sister team Toro Rosso nurturing driver talent for you be nullified now if you look outside the Red Bull family for Mark’s replacement?
CH:
Red Bull Racing is a world championship-winning team and wants to put the best drivers in our cars. Now if one of these drivers can be of the junior team, that will purely be based on merit. They both have the opportunity to shine, but we are also taking into consideration what other drivers are available. For sure, both of the juniors [Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne] are contenders, and also one or two drivers that are out of contract at the end of the year.

Q: We already know that one of those two drivers is Kimi Raikkonen, but who is the second?
CH:
Well, there are a lot of drivers without contract at the end of the year. But the reality is that it will boil down to three drivers: the two juniors and Kimi.

Q: Who will sit down and decide?
CH:
It is that type of thing that we will discuss and agree on collectively: obviously myself and Adrian, [Red Bull motorsport consultant] Helmut [Marko] and [Red Bull owner] Dietrich [Mateschitz]. Obviously Dietrich has the final say, but he is always listening to what Adrian’s, Helmut’s and my opinions are.

Q: From now on you will have to have Mercedes on your list of title rivals, at least for the constructors’. Will the hotter races save you - a weakness that Mercedes admit to?
CH:
Mercedes have been on our radar since Malaysia! They have a good car this year and they have two good drivers. We can’t ignore Mercedes, but we also can’t ignore Ferrari and Lotus. It’s going to be competitive until Brazil and it would be foolish of us to underestimate any of our competitors.

Q: One car in the points is not enough to stay in front. Will you return to a two-car result again this weekend?
CH:
I certainly hope so. And today was a good start into the weekend. This race is Sebastian’s home race and it would be fantastic for him to win here. Mark won his first ever Grand Prix here in 2009, so we have good memories. Sebastian has a fantastic home crowd here - that should propel him and us - but in the end this race carries the same amount of points as any other weekend - and we want to win them all!

Q: From Silverstone on, Mark is effectively on his farewell tour. What are you doing to make happy memories for him?
CH:
Most important is that he enjoys it and takes it all in. He is obviously relaxed that his decision about his future is made. He will, of course, do his best and the team will help him to add to his statistics.

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