Q and A with Red Bull's Christian Horner
Over a quarter of the 2008 season is complete and the Red Bull Renault team head to Monte Carlo fifth in the championship standings with ten points. Team Principal Christian Horner talks of the season to date and the forthcoming Grand Prix.
How do you sum up the first part of the season?
“The last four races have seen us running pretty much where we expected to be. We lost out in the first round, which was an atypical race in which, unfortunately, neither of our drivers was around to score points at the finish. Since then, Mark has scored points in every race and David has come close, with two ninth places finishes in Malaysia and Istanbul.”
What about the car’s performance?
“In general, we have made a significant step forward from last year, both in performance and also in reliability. The battle to finish fourth in the championship seems every bit as intense as the one to win it, with our major rivals being Renault, Toyota, Williams and, on occasion Honda. We have seen over the last three or four races that we have been very competitive when compared to the works Renault team and Mark and Fernando (Alonso) have had some good races.”
Where has the new-found reliability come from?
“Reliability is always important, but the new regulations regarding engine and gearbox life make that even more of a factor this year. Good reliability usually comes from good design and last year we suffered because the car was such a complete change to anything this team had seen previously. Since then, we have strengthened the group in several areas, appointed new project managers and reliability has been one of our main focuses over the winter. So far, touch wood, we are one of the few teams with a one hundred percent mechanical reliability record. The gearbox was our Achilles heel last year and we gave away a lot of points because of that. Hats off to the whole transmission group who have done an exceptional job with the four race gearbox.”
How do you rate your drivers’ performance so far?
“Mark is in the form of his life at the moment and I think he is driving extremely well. He has put in some impressive race performances for us in the last four races, and has had a strong start to the season while David has had more than his fair share of bad luck, but he was very much back on form in Istanbul, which is very positive for the team, as we rely heavily on both our drivers bringing back points.”
Care to make a prediction for Monaco?
“Monaco is a lottery and it is always dangerous to go there with too many expectations. Two years ago we had a great result when David scored the team’s first podium, whereas last year was very frustrating. Both drivers like the circuit, with David having won twice and Mark winning the F3000 support race in 2001, so they have a strong track record but it’s a unique circuit which makes unique demands, penalizing the slightest mistake from man or machine.”