3 December 2010
Horner: Title tension was good for F1
In an exclusive interview as he finally pauses to look back upon a spectacular season for Red Bull Racing, Christian Horner relives the highest highs and lowest lows of F1 2010 - good for the sport, he quips, and ultimately, too, for RBR...
In an exclusive interview with Crash.net Radio, Christian Horner has reflected on what he describes as a 'phenomenal' and 'enthralling' double world championship-winning campaign for Red Bull Racing in F1 2010 – one during which he admits it gave him a great deal of pride and satisfaction to see his team emerge on top.
There were times over the course of the year, however, when Red Bull looked determined to do everything in its power to give the titles away, for despite benefitting in the Adrian Newey-penned RB6 from what was indubitably the fastest car in the field, the energy drinks-backed outfit displayed an alarming propensity for tripping over banana skins – or occasionally even tripping over itself.
The inaugural Korean Grand Prix just three races from the end of the season, Horner acknowledges, was just such a howling own goal – with a galling late-race engine failure for long-time leader Sebastian Vettel allied to an early accident for team-mate Mark Webber in the treacherous conditions handing the advantage in the chase for the coveted crown to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
“Coming back from Korea was obviously one of the toughest races to pick ourselves up from,” the Englishman mused. “Having qualified on the front row and been in a commanding position for 90 per cent of the race, to lose that grand prix was particularly difficult and to couple that with Mark's retirement earlier on – which resulted in him losing the lead of the drivers' championship – made it a very, very tough day for the team.”
It is in moments of adversity, however, that inner strength truly comes to the fore – or, to paraphrase a much-covered pop song, when the going gets tough, the tough get going – and just a fortnight later in Brazil, a must-win race for RBR, the team put not a foot wrong all weekend as Vettel and Webber swept to a resounding one-two, and with it sealed the constructors' laurels for the Milton Keynes-based brigade.
“We picked ourselves up and brushed ourselves down, and what I was really happy about in Brazil was that we optimised completely the performance of the drivers, of the cars and of the team,” Horner underlined, confessing that it was an emotional weekend for all concerned.
“We navigated through a very difficult qualifying session, got ourselves into a good position on the grid, saw a good start and a good first lap from both drivers and then were able to focus on settling down and building up a lead. It all turned out tremendously well, and it was fantastic to achieve a one-two finish and our first constructors' championship.”
One down then, but one was still to go, with the tussle for drivers' glory remaining unresolved heading into the Abu Dhabi finale just a week later. Having stuck doggedly to its guns – in the face of significant criticism – by refusing to ask Vettel to move out of the way for Webber at Interlagos, it meant the Australian arrived in the Middle East needing to overturn an eight-point deficit to pip Alonso to the prize, and the German, 15. Against all expectations, it would turn out to be precisely the right call.
“Leaving Brazil and going to Abu Dhabi, the drivers' championship looked to be a bit of a long shot,” Horner conceded. “After the damage that had been done in Korea, it looked as though it was going to be really difficult to make that ground up. Both drivers went into the final race still in contention, though; we had elected to stick with our strategy – which was, I believed, the right thing to do – to support both drivers equally by not switching them in Brazil.
Red Bull Racing
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