Horner: Red Bull not as rich as big teams
13 May, 2010
May.13 (YallaF1.com) Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team principal Martin Whitmarsh spoke at the FIA press conference on the opening day of Monaco Grand Prix weekend. Looking back at last weekend and looking forward to this weekend.
Last weekend you looked very good. And looking forward to this weekend?
Christian Horner: Yes, Barcelona was a fantastic result for the team, particularly Mark Webber, who was in excellent form throughout the weekend. Barcelona being the start of the European season tends to be where the bigger teams bring reasonable size upgrades and we were no different to that. Everything we have added to the car this year had added performance. That was no different in Barcelona. To dominate the qualifying as we did was very satisfying and then Mark had a trouble free race. Sebastian, unfortunately, had a few more issues to deal with which he managed remarkably well. I think considering he had three brakes for the last 10 laps or so, to be doing the pace he was as we were just trying to slow him down enough with the big margin over Michael (Schumacher) behind him and then for once he was a little bit lucky with Lewis’s unfortunate incident which put him onto the podium. So despite a busy afternoon for him a first and third place, three points off the maximum score, was a great team result and testimony to the hard work that is going in at the factory at the moment. From a team point of view we don’t quite have the resource of the more established teams but the guys are working intelligently and tremendously hard in getting updates to the car in a timely fashion and that’s paying dividends.
The car seems to be so good in qualifying but not always as good in the race. Is that something that is a concern?
Horner: I think the races you are not pushing flat out every lap, so you have got an element of tyre management. With Mark we did a pit stop and then he had got 50 laps to go, the best part of an hour, on that set of tyres, so he was looking to manage the tyre situation. Sebastian unfortunately had an issue at his stop which allowed Lewis to jump past him and thereafter overtaking unfortunately as we all know, particularly at Barcelona of all places, is very, very difficult. The races tend to be more about tyre management especially with the current tyre compounds that we have as opposed to a sprint whereas qualifying is all about one lap ultimate performance.
Was Sebastian’s problem something you hope was a one off? Have you managed to find out what the problem was?
Horner: The problem was quite bizarre as basically the brake on the left hand side stopped working completely and the disc effectively split in half, straight down the middle of the spline, so effectively you have just got a spacer in there and so he had only got three brakes, so all the bias was towards the rear and he was using mainly the aerodynamics to stop the car and built some huge margin into his braking zones. With having fitted the option tyre at the end of the race on relatively light fuel load he actually did a purple sector in the middle sector with three brakes. It was ironic as I was joking with Adrian (Newey) the night before about his first car being an Austin Allegro which only had three brake discs and unfortunately in the race Sebastian’s car turned out to be similar to that. But he managed it incredibly well and to get the car home in third place was a valuable and brave performance by him.
On the grid at every race Red Bull Racing has five guys who stand at the back of the car, on each of the cars. Are you hiding something, or are you just pretending?
Horner: Obviously that’s to cover our variable ride-height system! Obviously the cars on the grid is the closest that the various technical directors get to view the competition, and the fact that our guys chose to queue up and happen to be standing at the back of their car might merely be coincidence, but obviously the back of the cars are so sensitive now we try and make it as difficult for others to see as possible.
Teams have started looking now at their 2011 cars; it is understood that some of the engineers have been quite shocked by the difference in terms of downforce that you’re getting without the double diffusers. Do you think that’s going to add a lot to the costs in the next few months, as you go through the research and try to get that back, or is that going to be less of a shocking change than they appear to say at the moment?
Horner: If you compare… this race last year was the first race that we introduced the double diffuser to our car and you compare where it’s evolved to today and it’s just monumental. Basic simulation suggests in the region of two seconds, maybe more. So it’s an enormous contributor to performance. Of course it’s had an enormous effect on the work of the overtaking working group because what they set out to achieve was significantly aimed around the wake of the car that Martin’s just referred to and obviously the double diffuser has had an enormous impact on that. It will be a big change and it’s going to be an interesting challenge. Engineers tend to be creative people and I’m sure they’ll claw back some of that, but it’s certainly a significant reduction in downforce for next year.