Christian Horner has conceded that it will be 'very difficult' for Red Bull Racing to top its achievements in F1 2010 next season – but he acknowledges that 'you can always do better, there are always lessons to be learned and we'll be looking to build on those in 2011'.
If 2009 was a breakthrough year for Red Bull in F1 – yielding the energy drinks-backed outfit's maiden grand prix triumph, and a commanding one-two at that, in the rains of Shanghai followed by five further late-season successes as the team truly took the fight to Brawn GP for world championship honours – then 2010 was the crowning glory, with victory in both title battles, even if Messrs. Horner, Vettel and Webber made hard work of things for themselves on occasion.
Indeed, many contend that RBR has cause to thank its lucky stars that in the RB6, it had a car so dominant as to have the luxury of being able to make costly errors and get away with them – and for that, the team owes a great debt of gratitude to the technical and aerodynamic genius that is Adrian Newey.
“Adrian is obviously an important part of our team,” Horner told Crash.net Radio
, laughing at the notion that Newey's pledged commitment to the Milton Keynes-based squad for the foreseeable future should have its rivals running scared. “He's very comfortable here and he enjoys the Red Bull environment – and he'll be with us for some years to come.
“He has no desire to slow down or stop. He leads the technical team tremendously well, but there's great strength-in-depth within the team – he's supported very ably by Peter Prodromou and Rob Marshall, and we've got some really talented engineers within the company. It's testimony to that strength-in-depth that we've managed to achieve the kind of results we have.”
There were, indeed, nine victories in 2010 – but from 15 pole positions, there should arguably have been more. Whilst admitting that it will be no mean feat to surpass the swell of emotion that overcame the whole team in Brazil and Abu Dhabi this year, Horner reflects that there are areas that require work over the winter to ensure that Red Bull does not trip itself up on so many occasions next season as to put the destiny of the laurels in doubt again.
“Inevitably, the focus shifted a little while ago towards the 2011 car,” the Englishman mused. “There's not too much time for celebration, because there's a lot of work to do. With only 16 weeks or so until the first race and a car to design and build, there are a lot of long hours going in – but there's also a great sense of pride in what has been achieved this year, which makes the long days and evenings all-the-more tenable.
“I think it's very difficult to top this year. The car was obviously very, very quick – it's been developed tremendously well. Operationally, from the production side, from the R&D side and trackside, I think we've had the best pit-stops in F1 this year, I think our strategies have been creative and quite often, we've come up with very good strategies on a Sunday – you've only got to think about Mark in Budapest or Sebastian at Monza or Mark in Singapore, where there has been some really good work on the pit wall this year.
“You're always striving to improve, though, always striving to do better and you can learn from every race that you compete in. There are a lot of really valuable lessons that we've learned this year, just as there are a lot of things that we've done fantastically well – and we'll be looking to build on all of that in 2011.”
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