Q & A: Horner on RBR's strong start
|By Simon Strang||Monday, April 4th 2011, 13:44 GMT|
Red Bull Racing commenced its title defence in exactly the way it wanted in Melbourne, with Sebastian Vettel taking a comfortable victory.
During a visit to Silverstone to inspect progress on the track's new pit and paddock complex, RBR team boss Christian Horner spoke exclusively to AUTOSPORT about his squad's start to 2011.
Q. Do you think Sebastian Vettel has taken a step forward this year?
Christian Horner: When you look at it, he's only completed 60-odd grands prix going into the year, and prior to Melbourne he'd won 10 of them and become the youngest ever world champion.
He just turned up in Melbourne with that bit more experience, having achieved the world championship and with the #1 on his car, and obviously his confidence was very, very high going into the event. He'd had a good winter, testing had been the best pre-season that we'd ever had. So he was in great shape going into that first event.
Q. Did the way he managed the weekend and his thought processes feel more calm?
CH: It felt very familiar to how he ended last year - very focused, but at the same time very easy to work with and not too many distractions.
Q. What effect do you think winning a first world championship has had on him?
CH: Obviously expectation was building on him - 'you've got to do it this year, you've got to do it this year' - and I think that now having achieved that first championship, it's on his CV, that can't be taken away from him now and that's relieved a little bit of pressure. But obviously he puts a lot more pressure on himself to repeat it and defend it.
Q. Mark Webber looked a little bit off his game last weekend and there didn't seem to be too much wrong with the car, was there an element of him being wrong-footed by Vettel's speed?
CH: I think bits of it we can explain and that will become more apparent hopefully in Malaysia where we'll hopefully see the two guys back very close together. Melbourne's never been a lucky event for Mark - he matched his best previous result with a fifth place but it was a difficult weekend for him and a difficult race, and I hope that he's back to normal form in Malaysia.
Q. Did the way the two drivers worked the tyres have an impact?
CH: For some reason we saw much higher degradation on Mark's car than on Sebastian's. I think we understand that so I think we'll be able to help with that more in Malaysia.
Q. Are you expecting degradation to be a bigger issue in Malaysia anyway?
CH: I think so, we're on the same tyres as we were in Melbourne and with the temperatures being that bit higher... But who knows? We'll probably be on a wet tyre there rather than a slick one...
Q. KERS will probably also be a bigger factor in Malaysia...
CH: I think it's one of the longest runs down to the first corner so for sure it's important there. We'll be testing the system on Friday and then make a decision on Friday evening as to whether to put it on the car.
Q. Will there be some pressure to put it on there given the length of the straights?
CH: Only pressure that we put on ourselves. If you look at Sebastian's start and Mark's start in Melbourne, arguably they didn't need the system there. But you can never rely on anything, you've got to keep pushing. It's our focus to get the system on the car when it's reliable, and as soon as possible.
Q. Do you expect things will be as simple and straightforward for Red Bull as they seemed to be on the surface in Australia?
CH: No! I'm sure there's going to be weather and other factors to be dealing with...