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.
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.”