by Russell Atkins
Red Bull Racing was without doubt an improved team in 2007, but given the talent and resources at their disposal, many expected them to have improved rather more.
Team principal Christian Horner, though, is keen to take the positives away from a campaign that could so easily have seen the Milton Keynes-based outfit seal its maiden victory in the top flight. As he looks forwards to 2008, he told Crash.net Radio
, he does so with a good deal of well-founded optimism…
Christian, if we first take a look back over the 2007 campaign for Red Bull Racing, what are your overall thoughts on the year?
I think it was a year in which we made significant progress as a team. We started the year with an all-new concept of a car, a new engine partner and obviously the design being led for the first time by Adrian Newey. At the beginning of the year we saw a significant change to the way we operated and, despite some teething problems with the new car, the potential was very clear for all to see. Certainly during the latter part of the season we managed to get on top of the reliability issues and become a top three or four team contender.
You mentioned those teething troubles back in the first few races of the year. There were a number of times – Bahrain in particular, for example when both David Coulthard and Mark Webber were flying – when reliability problems prevented the team from scoring points. How much do you think that cost Red Bull at the end of the year?
It cost us exactly 24 points. We had far too many issues with the transmission, but the whole team worked hard to get on top of and address those issues. They certainly improved over the second half of the season, but the problem is we're up against some formidable opponents, and with the lateness of the engine decision at the end of 2006, the knock-on effect was unfortunately some design-related issues that caused us too many early-season gearbox retirements.
What would you say was the turning-point for the team during the year?
The car showed fantastic pace throughout qualifying, and I think there were several turning-points really, the first coming probably in Barcelona when David scored his first points of the year with a very competitive fifth place. Then really from the Nürburgring onwards we established ourselves as regular points-scorers, knocking on the door of BMW and bigger opponents ahead of us. They were some of the defining moments, that's for certain.
You talked about the Nürburgring, when Mark scored his first podium finish for Red Bull. Were there any other particular highlights you would single out from the year?
There were several highlights. Mark's performance in the wet in Japan, when we came close to winning our first grand prix had it not been for our sister team unfortunately being involved in a collision with us behind the pace car – that was a high point and a low point all in one go. David's performance there to finish fourth was also very strong, and his qualifying performance in China to start fifth was very impressive, as was Mark's in Brazil. The two cars in Bahrain battling their way through the field was another high point; it was very encouraging to see the pace that they demonstrated.