Far from a disaster for Red Bull Racing, says Christian Horner

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Cheryl Tay Blog | Blog Post of Cheryl Tay

CTT_1613_copyQ: How’s the season and how’s the car looking like this year?

 A: It’s always enjoyable to come back to this race. Obviously we managed to win it for the first time last year, which is fantastic for the whole team. We arrived in the thick of the championship battle right now and it’s important for us to get a strong result here this weekend. It’s great to be back in the atmosphere of Singapore and be back under the lights.


Q: This season has been a bit different compared to previously?

A: Certainly, compared to last year. The championship’s tight this year and both of our drivers are very much still in this championship. But we need to make sure over the next few races as it’s going to be crucial to determine the outcome of the championship.


Q: The team has faced a few problems throughout the season so far, what is the major problem compared to last year?

A: There was a very big regulation change over the winter that hurt our car more than any others in the pit lane. It has taken us a while to recover from that and we are still in that process. But we managed to win in Bahrain, Monaco and Silverstone and we are leading the Constructors’ Championship and our drivers are still in the hunt for the Drivers’ Championship. It’s been far from a disaster.


Q: Are the engine problems coming along well?

A: I hope so – Renault has been working hard with their suppliers and they need to find a fix. Unfortunately the two DNFs we had this year were because of the alternator; otherwise Sebastian (Vettel) will be leading the Drivers’ Championship. They have been expensive failures and it is beyond our control, but it’s something that Renault is focused on with their suppliers to rectify.


Q: Given that both your cars failed in the last race, you must be looking for a good result here.

A: Yeah, we are looking to bounce back. Monza was the first time since Korea 2010 that both cars, or at least one of the cars, haven’t been in the points. Unfortunately it was an engine failure that day. For two years we have had the cars in the points at every single Grand Prix. We are determined to get back into the thick of the championship here this weekend.


Q: Are you back on track after the regulation change at the end of last season?

A: It’s a significant impact and we are gaining the ground that we lost but it’s a much slower process. When you have stability in the regulations, it doesn’t allow for renovations, so what happens is the one behind catch up. It’s difficult when you reach the top of the curve to keep getting performance in the car because you end up getting diminishing returns. However, there are still quite a few areas where we are optimistic about in the coming races.


Q: What are your thoughts on the budget cuts and the Resource Restriction Agreement?

A: Reducing costs is something that all the teams will agree on and controlling the amount you need to spend in order to be competitive. Red Bull is an independent team and it doesn’t have the depth of resource of a manufacturer team and we are totally in favour of reducing the costs in order to be competitive.


However, doing that through resource restriction, we don’t believe it is the right way as we don’t believe that accountants running or policing F1, and not knowing the outcome of the championship until six months after the last race, are the right way for the sport. We want to know who won the race on a Sunday evening and the championship at the end of the 20 races, rather than how much money you spent or this or that.


Of course all the teams’ construction is slightly different so it’s very easy in principle to say yes we should control the costs, but when some teams are subsidiaries of manufacturers or have shared resources integrated in their facilities, it becomes a very, very tricky subject to police unless you look at it from its total entirety, which hasn’t won an awful load of support.


Q: It must be tough for entire team to move halfway across the world to come here.

A: It is tough logistically but we managed to do it cost effectively and we managed to move a lot of equipment around in sea freight. That obviously is a cost effective way to move things around the world but lead time is needed so we plan ahead. We bring as few personnel as we need – we have data communications systems between trackside and factory that allow the fast exchange of data so we leave engineers at home and they don’t need to be here trackside. We minimise the financial impact.


Q: Would you be sorry if you had to stop coming to Singapore fo rF1?

A: I think everyone in the pit lane will be really disappointed if we didn’t come back to Singapore after the end of the current contract. It’s a great race, a great spectacle, and I think it is great for Singapore. It puts Singapore right on the spotlight a weekend a year where you get a global audience looking at Singapore.


There’s a lot of competition for places on the calendar and a lot of countries and venues want to be included within the formula 1 calendar. Hopefully Singapore has established itself as one of the great races of the year that it will be here for many years to come.


Q: Singapore does not have endless reserves to just splash it out and host F1.

A: You have to look at corporates investing in the race here, see investments that come into Singapore for the weekend, the amount of people visiting for the Grand Prix and the amount of businesses brought into the city. It is obviously significant. F1 is also a great platform to see Singapore under the lights. It’s the best advert you could have because it’s such a spectacular backdrop when you see the race on TV.


Q: Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel have been paired together for the last four years and they have brought great results to the team. Has this pair has reached its highest potential?

A: We think there’s more potential, that’s why we renewed Mark (Webber) for next year. They are a strong combination and they push each other hard. What Sebastian (Vettel) has achieved is quite remarkable during the last few years for somebody so young and I’m sure we have not seen the best of him. He’s getting better and still developing as a driver. I think he has driven extremely well this year, as has Mark, and we are fortunate to have such quality drivers in the team.


Q: Any concerns about the team stagnating with the same driver line-up?

A: No, continuance is important. We place a strong value on continuity with drivers throughout the team. There’s a lot more they can offer for sure.


Q: Will we be seeing the Red Bulls at the front of the grid, especially with not so much straight line speed here in Singapore?

A: (knocks on wood) The one thing we have said this year is; it’s impossible to make predictions and we hope to be competitive here. It’s not all about horsepower – that obviously helps but we knew the last two races will be tough for us. We had a second place in Spa, DNF in Monza where we should have realy been third or fourth. Hopefully we can get more out of this weekend.


Q: Hopes of winning the championship again?

A: That’s our target but we still have a long way to go.


Q: Greatest challenge in your position?

A: Talking to you guys. (laughs) I mean it’s a multi-faceted role and I think there are challenges every day in different areas and that is part of the interest and stimulation of the role.


Q: Is it more important for either driver to take risk and go for the chequered flag or for both to be conservative?

A: They apply the same approach for all the races so far this year and will be pushing for the best result they can get. They also know they need to be there at the finish.


Q: Any pre-race rituals?

A: I would always make sure that I shake the drivers by their hands in the car and wish them the best of luck.


For my F1 photos, view here.

Cheryl Tay

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Singapore’s only female full-time motoring and motorsports photojournalist. Independent automotive consultant and prominent local motorsports personality Cheryl Tay is uniquely passionate about all things cars and motorsports. She also has a strong passion to share her interest and knowledge, hence having a dream to become the ‘Oprah Winfrey of cars and motorsports’ and create a multimedia platform for her sharing. - A female in a male-dominated world, Cheryl Tay is Singapore’s only female full-time motoring journalist and motorsports blogger and she regularly writes for prominent titles in Singapore, Asia and internationally. (See full list of titles that Cheryl Tay writes for here.)

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