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Christian Horner Q&A: Who needs a front wing?

02 Feb 2015

Red Bull supposedly gives you wings. In Monday’s testing at Jerez, Daniil Kvyat’s RB11 spent most of the day running without one. Team principal Christian Horner explains why it was no big drama, as well as revealing more about the team’s unusual interim livery and Adrian Newey’s continued involvement in their F1 efforts…

Q: Christian, what were the reasons for running without a front wing today?
Christian Horner:
Daniil has a slight off in the morning on a cold track. He was changing something on his steering wheel between Turns 2 and 3 and lightly made contact which damaged the front wing - the only that we have here in Jerez at the moment, which is not unusual at this time of the year when you don’t have tons of spare parts. That’s why we’ve been running without it. There are components arriving and tomorrow we should be back to normal.

Q: Were you doing aerodynamic measurements today without the front wing?
What I really should say is that we do have so much downforce - who needs a front wing? (laughs)

Q: Whose brainchild was the camouflage livery?
It actually came out of a helmet [design] that Sebastian (Vettel) ran last year in camouflage - it was quite fun and we thought it interesting to extend this concept to the entire car. [Red Bull boss] Dietrich (Mateschitz) liked it when he saw it - it’s pretty much Red Bull: we are not afraid to do things differently. It’s quite striking - and impossible to get details and photographs of the car at this time of the year when everybody tries to be as secretive as possible.

Q: Fans gave it great feedback: they love this livery and want it to stay for the season…
Believe me: our real livery will not disappoint them once we have introduced it! Right now it is all about [rivals] not getting detail shots of the car: this livery confuses your eye line.

Q: When you make all these efforts to hide something, it must be really significant…
 Wait and see! My lips are sealed. That’s why the car is in camouflage. 

Q: On day one there were a few reliability issues with the Renault engine that led to problems. What is the state of affairs now?
These were all minor issues - nothing grave. Nothing that we saw last year. Renault has been working very hard over the winter. They have made good progress - and with the token system this year there is a window for further development in the season.

Q: Is the RB11 still an ‘Adrian Newey car’? What will be his role over the course of the season?
In the last part of last year we put into place a senior technical team led by Rob Marshall - and Adrian feeds into this team. He will be combining his time in Formula One with some working at Red Bull Technologies. He still has a passion for Formula One and will very likely split his time 50-50 between the projects. He very likely will attend half the races - so he is still very much involved - but it also gives the guys below a chance to grow. It is a very healthy situation with him as mentor of the group, but with the guys also flourishing as well. 

Q: It is the first time since 2010 that you come to the first test as a non- world champion team principal. How does that feel? Does it trigger motivation or depression…
Does it really make a difference? Every year you go into the season with enormous expectations, goals that you try to set yourself. True, the benchmark is not us this year - it’s Mercedes. They did a great job and go into this season as the firm favourite. We are very motivated to close that gap and see if we can race them on track this year. From where we started and where we finished last year was an extremely impressive job by the team - and if we keep on that curve together with Renault then there is no reason why we shouldn’t be able to take the challenge to them at some of the races.

Q: What did you think when you saw the number of laps that they did on day one?
That they are showing off! (laughs) They obviously have a well-sorted car and power unit. But never forget: it is still early days. When I look at our own car performance I was really encouraged by what I saw yesterday.