Horner thinks Red Bull may be team to beat in 2010 What Red Bull Racing achieved in F1 2009 was one of the most impressive comings-of-age ever seen in the sport, as the team dramatically transformed itself from a midfield contender capable of battling for the odd podium and almost more famous for its parties, into a genuine, bona fide world championship contender.
“I think it was a fantastic year for the team and a massive step forward,” affirmed the energy drinks-backed outfit’s team principal Christian Horner, speaking exclusively to Crash.net Radio. “It was a season in which we won our first grand prix and went on to win five others, had four one-two finishes and challenged for the championship until the penultimate round – it’s been a great year.
“Ultimately we lost out on the championships, and on reflection perhaps too much ground was lost at the beginning of the year when the Brawn team was making hay whilst the sun shone with the double-diffuser – but as soon as we got that onto our car, we pretty much out-scored every other team thereafter.”
“China was a special event,” the 36-year-old acknowledged. “To win our first grand prix – and not only win it, but also have a one-two – was a great moment for the team, for Red Bull and also of course for Mr. [Dietrich] Mateschitz, who has committed so much to the sport. It was a great landmark result for the team in our young history, and then the five further race wins were each highlights in themselves.
“To win our local race at Silverstone in front of the team – again with a one-two finish – was fantastic, and to see Mark score his first grand prix victory in Germany two weeks later with another one-two was also a highlight. I think it’s a big moment for any grand prix driver, but Mark in particular had obviously worked very, very hard for it – and especially after recovering from such a hideous accident over the winter where he had a compound fracture to his left leg, which is a very nasty break, and also a broken shoulder that he forgot to tell us about!
“I think Mark would have to admit that [the injuries] for sure did compromise him slightly early on, certainly in preseason testing and I think probably also in the first couple of races – but he quickly got on top of it and his recuperation was excellent. By the time we got back to Europe, he drove some excellent races in Barcelona, Istanbul, Monaco and Silverstone. It was testimony to his determination that not only did he manage to get in the car for the start of the season, but he also managed to win his first grand prix in Germany.”
The year ended, of course, with a trio of triumphs – for Vettel in Japan and Abu Dhabi, and for Webber in Brazil – meaning RBR concluded the campaign as very much the team to beat and the form competitor heading into 2010.
“To be honest, the title wasn’t lost in Brazil,” Horner stressed. “Both drivers drove fantastic races. Mark dominated the event from the front, and after a really unlucky qualifying, Sebastian staged a massive comeback drive that never really got fully covered because obviously there was the business of the world championship getting settled. Therefore, going to Abu Dhabi with nothing to lose, effectively as almost a non-championship race, it was very important to finish the season on a high – and we managed just that with a very strong one-two. To finish the season in the manner that we did was fantastic.”
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