Christian Horner has sent out a battle cry to Red Bull Racing's Formula 1 rivals in the wake of the energy drinks-backed outfit's breakthrough victory in the Chinese Grand Prix, warning them to 'watch out when we get our double diffuser' and suggesting that 'the sky's the limit'.
Sebastian Vettel led team-mate Mark Webber home in a resounding and supreme one-two finish for RBR in Shanghai, mastering the treacherous conditions to absolute perfection and with the questionable reliability from earlier in the weekend seemingly having been vanquished. To drive home their superiority, both drivers also overtook the hitherto untouchable Brawn GP of world championship leader Jenson Button on the race track. It was, acknowledged team principal Horner, the perfect day.
“It's fantastic!” he enthused. “It's a brilliant team result – brilliantly executed by a good strategy and two fantastic drives today from both Sebastian and Mark – and a great result for Red Bull. Their commitment to motorsport has been huge, and it's testimony to all the effort and hard work that Red Bull and Mr Mateschitz have committed to Formula 1. I want to thank Red Bull, and everyone in Milton Keynes who has worked so hard for this. It's just an unbelievable result. The whole team and company can be very proud of this moment.”
Horner revealed that had the race been dry as had initially been predicted, then Vettel and Webber would have been 'racing the stopwatch' on a three-stop strategy to Brawn's two – but the heavens opening, as had been the case in Sepang a fortnight earlier, wound up favouring the team rather more. Though he insisted the atmosphere was 'actually very calm', the Englishman did concede that there had been the odd 'heart-in-the-mouth' moment along the way.
“If it had been dry it would have been a race really against the stopwatch for us,” he explained. “We were going to go for a three-stop strategy with a really aggressive first stint, and we thought we could beat them (Brawn) to the last pit-stop – we thought we had the pace. We saw in Q2 yesterday that we were competitive with them, so we decided to roll the dice and have a real go at it, and it paid off for us in both conditions.
“We knew we had a good car in the wet as we could see in the last race in Malaysia, but we were getting a bit stressed with how long the pace car was out there for. Our guys were calling on the radio to say that the track was in good condition, but then they just got their heads down and went for it. It used to be stressful when DC (David Coulthard) was driving for us, but that was nothing like it was today!
“We had a clear strategy of looking to close down the race at the earliest possible opportunity, and then Sebastian went and put all of our hearts in our mouths when he decided to overtake Jenson whilst knowing he (Button) still had a stop to go, but they were both very confident in the car and they had great pace and good balance, and the strategy worked very well for us today.
“With ten laps to go you start to think about the finish. We'd had a couple of reliability worries in free practice, and then you start looking at all the data and that, but the guys did a brilliant job on the pit wall and in the pit-stops, and supported back from the UK in Milton Keynes it was a fantastic team effort.”
That much is indisputable, and as Red Bull now looks ahead to the forthcoming grands prix, its rivals know they need to be very concerned indeed. The Adrian Newey-penned RB5 is already one of – if not the – quickest cars on the 2009 grid, and it isn't equipped with a 'double-decker' diffuser yet. When it is, Horner predicts, expect to see Vettel and Webber really