Even Formula One team bosses need occasional peace and quiet. The Red Bulletin caught up with Red Bull Racing principal Christian Horner to see how he gets his...
The charcoal is still warm from last night's barbecue but the spring sun hasn't yet fired enough rays to clear the early mists that grey the fields of Northamptonshire.
The loudest sound is the gravel-crackle underfoot on the walk to the front door of Christian Horner's Georgian retreat – one buried so deep in the English countryside it's hard to imagine that a noisy, globetrotting, pleased-with-itself sport called Formula One is the reason we're here.
Christian, of course, is team principal of Red Bull
Racing, the upstart F1 team which in seven-and-a-bit intense seasons has progressed from mid-grid mediocrity to 2010-2011 world title doubles for both team and star driver, Sebastian Vettel.
The tantalising prize ahead, should they continue the run of success that started at the 2009 Chinese GP (a 1-2 finish for Vettel and teammate Mark Webber), is a pair of title hat-tricks – a feat achieved previously only by Michael Schumacher and Ferrari
in the early noughties.
Today, though, is not really a Formula One day. Today is about a couple of hours at home, a later-than-usual breakfast, a chance to walk the dogs and feed the chickens. Not that Formula One can ever be truly absent. For example, guests at the previous evening's barbie included members of the team.
And when he whistles in his dogs from the lawns at the back of the converted former rectory, the names of the twin West Highland Whites, Bernie and Flav, provoke further amusement. [For those readers who may not be intimately acquainted with Formula One, Bernie Ecclestone is the sport's long-time impresario; Flavio Briatore a colourful confidante of Ecclestone's and former team boss/driver manager.]
With the hounds eagerly sniffing their master's visitors and making sure they're welcome, not intruders, Christian gives The Red Bulletin
a quick tour of his home's lower floor, where a handful of objects, such as a caricature model of him and Vettel (a gift from Seb, thanking the team for twice making him a world champion) remind that while Horner may appear quite the country gent, his day job is the antithesis of pastoral.
“It's important to be able to get away from Formula One and not become obsessive about it,” he reflects as we step outside towards the barns where his chickens are kept, passing his cherished, cherry-red vintage Massey Ferguson tractor along the way.