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3 minutes with…Christian Horner
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3 minutes with…Christian Horner
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Jul 2009   |  6:28 pm GMT  |  10 comments

One of the great success stories of this season has been the arrival at the front of the grid of the Red Bull team under Christian Horner. The team has been building up steadily over the last few years since Red Bull took over the former Jaguar team.

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Horner has assembled a talented technical team, bringing in Adrian Newey to head the design department and other less well known but equally important people like Neil Martin, who heads the strategy group.

People may well look back on this 2009 season as the year when the double diffuser issue meant that midfield teams started winning and McLaren and Ferrari lost their way but it is important to remember that the Red Bull didn’t have one at the start of the year and was close to the Brawn’s pace. It has always been the class of the field, in other words.

Last month came an update to the car featuring 67 new pieces as the team sought to put clear air between itself and the Brawn. The signs of the last two races are that it has done this and there is more to come with updates at pretty much every race and another massive update set for Singapore. Red Bull senses the opportunity to win this world championship and is throwing everything at it.

The youngest team principal, Horner is still only 35. He’s an easy man to talk to, always straight, friendly and direct. But I have noticed in the last couple of races that there is now a steeliness in his eye and he has become more serious. He’s still generous with his time, but you can tell that he is busier, the pressure is greater and the hunger has intensified. It happens with drivers and team bosses when they first get into that zone where they realise that the world championship is possible. I’ve seen it with Damon Hill, Jenson Button, Mika Hakkinen and many others.

After Sunday’s emphatic win in Germany myself and a few others caught up with Christian for a quick download on the result and the next steps in the fight for the championship.

This is your third 1-2 finish of the season and other cars are finishing ahead of the Brawns. Do you feel the championship is coming into view now?

“Well we’ve taken a big haul of points out of the Brawns today. And both drivers are a lot closer in the championship as well. We just take each weekend as it comes and a few more weekends like this and we’ll see what happens.”

You’ve shown today that the updated car is quick on tracks without high speed corners, is it now also going to be the quickest when the temperatures are high?

“We’ll see in Budapest. It’s usually quite warm there but I don’t think the temperature was everything to do with today. I think the performance of the car was very good. I think the drivers drove brilliantly. There were no high speed corners here and there’s no high speed corners this weekend so we’ll see.”

What are your plans for developments on the RB5?

“We’re going to keep pushing, keep developing every race. Just treat each race as it comes. The guys in Milton Keynes have done a brilliant job. We managed to get a little bit of performance from the car this weekend. We’ll do the same in Budapest and just keep pushing. We’ve got a very good basis now. The drivers are very comfortable with the balance of the car and I think we’re understanding the tyres quite well so yeah.”

Do you expect Brawn to come back at you with developments of their own

“Certainly the pendulum swung the last few events and I think it’ll probably swing again over the next few events. We just need to take each weekend as it comes and just focus race by race and the championship will take care of itself.”

One of the keys to the win today was your decision to use the hard tyre in the second stint, which the Brawns could not do, was that a tough decision?

“No, we saw on Friday that both drivers were really comfortable on the prime (hard). They could generate tyre temperature in the prime whereas others seemed to struggle. Pre-race we saw Brawn had a bit of trouble therefore they were in a situation where they had to go the three stops because they couldn’t make the prime work and the option wasn’t long enough so perhaps they found themselves forced down a route that wasn’t ideal but that pendulum could swing and could go against us in the Hungaroring.”

Your option on Mark Webber’s contract is up shortly, you will be taking it up, we assume?

“Mark’s doing a brilliant job. He’s a great team player. We’ve got a very good balance in the team. We’ll get around to talking to him about his contract shortly but he’s a very valued member of the team.”

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10 Comments
  1. Sam says:

    James, exactly how big a prize is the Constructor’s championship on its own? I can’t see Jenson losing the driver’s championship if Vettel & Webber keep taking points off each other (who would you choose to be number 1?!), but I can see Brawn losing the constructor’s to RBR quite easily under current form.

    I’m guessing that’s where the all important cash is? How big a hole would it be in Brawn’s plans for 2010 to lose?

    1. James Allen says:

      Constructors is worth around $70 million, I think. If I remember from 2007 when McLaren was disqualified the $100m fine was the loss of the prize money for P1 plus around $30m from current account. Not sure what P2 is worth but it may be around $5-10m less. It’s all tied in with TV money and how long you’ve been in the sport so it’s pretty complicated.

  2. Snail says:

    Mark’s doing a brilliant job. He’s a great team player. We’ve got a very good balance in the team. We’ll get around to talking to him about his contract shortly but he’s a very valued member of the team.

    Remarkably non-committal about a race driver that just wiped the floor with his team mate, even though his team mate came second. Not exactly enthusiastic…

    I’ve have thought given what MW has gone through this winter and then his recovery and performance this year, they’d be really keen to keep him. I don’t think many people on the grid would be prepared to work that hard to regain their fitness.

  3. Hi James,

    Good interview – rare to get any sort of a snapshot into the team owners I find.

    Just one question though – do you know if Christian has given up driving altogether? I know it’s been a while since he did single seaters, but I always wondered why never went down the Sports cars route.

    1. James Allen says:

      He races at Goodwood Revival in old cars, that’s it now, I think

  4. Peter says:

    Congratulations to Mark, he is a great guy, too. However if Ferrari contract Alonso I would be pleased to see Kimi with Vettel at Red Bull. His personality perfectly fits into a team like Red Bull, and he is a friend of Vettel, too. Mercedes engines wouldn`t be new to him either and he is still highly regarded by Norbert Haug. Just give the guy a car that is capable of winning and he will be motivated again for a last one or two years to finish it on high.

  5. Jose Arellano says:

    hey james, ivebeen thinking about STR. why dont they put an extra effort to get the same updates that RB5 has… they dont have to research, they just have to manufacture them.. if they are planning to become constructors next year. they should bring it forward. it is a guarantee that is the best car of the field!..

    if they do that, imagine 4 redbull cars in the top 5….

    and they can test if bourdais is really worth or not, before dropping him like the rumours are saying..

    1. James Allen says:

      I imagine that Red Bull is putting more effort and resources into Red Bull Racing this year and Toro Rosso has become more of an afterthought. Makes sense with the situation RBR find themselves in. STR does have a big update kit coming shortly like the one Red Bull had at Silverstone.

  6. Ted says:

    Hi James, I only discovered this website recently from your Twitter twatter, so it may seem belated, but this is now my first port of call for F1 news (previously Joe…). I love your timely reports and critical analysis of breaking news. You’ve obviously still got great access to the key players and they trust you to report as fairly as reasonably possible.
    I didn’t mind your TV commentaries apart from more than a few over-excited Lewis Hamilton moments. However we’re all entitled to outbursts of raw enthusiasm from time to time…
    Keep up the good work!
    P.S. I’m trying to think of the interview or feature I would really like to see if it was possible??? Or that someone like you could put together.
    Sometimes you look at a person and think, “I would love to hear their story about what really happened when…”
    Recently it was Ross Brawn that this came to mind for me. But I guess we’ll have to wait at least 10 years before any of his stories and explanation of tactics see the light of day. In particular whether some of the pit stop bungling and malfunctions were real or contrived…
    Rubens obviously has his own suspicions on the subject…

  7. One last question James;

    Is there any news of the status of STR within Red Bull?
    I know there have been constant rumours about them being sold off, but the right deal was never found.
    Is Dieter M still looking for a potential buyer?

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