On 12th November, Red Bull Racing celebrated its first birthday as it was on this date in 2004 that the team officially came to life. Sporting Director Christian Horner to reflects on the past twelve very hectic months, although he personally was not actually there for the “birth,” joining the organisation on 7th January.
“One thing that impressed me, given the future of the team had been in doubt was that very few of the existing staff left, which meant Red Bull inherited a very strong package,” recalls Horner. “In fact, I think buying the team actually brought everyone closer together, and saw us through the difficult times. Right from the first winter test, we could see that the car and the team itself had potential. The team spirit really shone through in the early days and what I focussed on was strengthening that package. We started with a good car and Cosworth did a sensible job on the engine. We developed that car and maintained its performance throughout the year and we even managed to finish on a high note.”
The general consensus is that our crew did a much better job than had been expected, but Horner seems to have deliberately avoided setting any specific targets when he took over the reins.
“When I came here I laid down some very straightforward objectives which were to do the basics well and grab opportunities as they came along,” he maintains. “And I think we did that. We had good reliability and a string of points scoring finishes early on in the year. Then obviously as other larger teams found their feet they came back at us a bit. Even then, we were able to respond to that throughout the season and twice we came close to a podium finish, once in the first race, where we were running third in Melbourne, only to get jumped by Alonso and Barrichello late on. Then, had it not been for a finger faux pas by David at the Nurburgring where he was anxious to get past a Minardi and got a drive-through penalty, again a podium might have been in our grasp. I suppose our main objective was to achieve credibility and lay the foundations for the future and that’s what we’ve done: 34 points this year and we gave BAR a run for their money. The team has definitely moved forward.”
Horner has come up through the racing ranks at a meteoric speed, but he does not seem too fazed by the demands of the top level of the sport.
“Formula 1 is obviously a very public business and the size of Red Bull Racing and the team is on a much larger scale than what I had previously been used to,” admits the 31 year old. “But I’ve won in everything that I’ve done and I’ve applied here all the basic principles that have served me well in other Formulae. It’s a people sport at the end of the day and it’s about getting a group of like-minded people together to share the same vision, the same target and the same motivation, striving for the same objectives.
“My role is to make sure that the group is in place and that they have the tools and resources to do the job and that they are supported. I am also here to deflect any of the distractions that occasionally come along.”
And if you want distractions, then Red Bull certainly provided them in the paddock this year, what with the Energy Station parties, the Formula Una girls and a pervading mood of having fun! Surely all that gets in the way of going racing?
“It’s a case of finding a balance,” insists Horner. “Red Bull is a marketing company that sells drinks very successfully and for them, Formula 1 is a perfect platform to market their product through their own team, or teams as it is now. However that has to be offset against professionalism on the part of the race team. The team’s objectives are very clear. If you can have a bit of fun along the way then great, but we don’t turn up at a race to go to parties. We want to move forward and win.”
And it’s evidently not just the Sporting Director who feels that way, what with people almost queuing up to join the team and recent prestigious appointments to the technical side. “Red Bull Racing is a place where people want to come and work,” concludes Horner. “People can see the team is in the ascendancy.”
Red Bull Racing
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