Two weeks after the controversy of the Turkish Grand Prix, and following days of difficult times for Red Bull, Christian Horner feels the team has emerged stronger and better prepared.
AUTOSPORT talked to the Red Bull boss ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix.
Q. How straightforward for you was your decision to choose the medium compound tyres? Have you taken the gamble or have those on the option taken the gamble?
Christian Horner: I think from what we saw on Friday, the option tyre is exposed on heavy fuel with a large amount of degradation. We saw tyre wear play a key role in this race the last time we were here, and both drivers were confident that the prime was the better tyre to be starting the race on. With all the information we have to hand, that was our plan strategically. If anything, we were quite surprised that so many others stuck to a more normal or conventional run plan with the tyres. I think both of our guys are in good shape.
Q. Do you agree that an early safety car period in the race could actually help you rather than the guys on the options?
CH: I think that safety car has always been a factor here in previous years. I am happy that both of our guys are starting on the primes, and I am pleasantly surprised how well we have performed here this weekend, at a circuit that we did not expect to be strong at. You only have to look at the straight-line speeds here, that we are certainly not quickest on the straight bits. So I am happy for a team perspective, that on a different strategic option we were so quick.
Q. Do you think that being quick here on a track with long straights is the final box that needs ticking off with the RB6?
CH: I think it is a really positive sign to be quick at this type of venue. It is testimony to the work the guys have been doing back in Milton Keynes. We knew we were weak at Monza last year, we were weak in Valencia last year, and this circuit is not so different to those. We have come here and been competitive at a circuit that arguably plays to the strengths of the McLaren and Mercedes teams.
Q. Mark Webber said after qualifying that Red Bull Racing is no longer looking at individual race success, its mindset is shifting to the long game - which is the championship. Would you agree?
CH: I think we have ticked a lot of boxes in a relatively short space of time in many different areas. I think we've come into this weekend to get the most out of it. The option and route that we have gone strategically gives us the chance of a very strong result tomorrow.
Q. Ross Brawn said after qualifying that Lewis Hamilton's $10,000 fine seemed quite 'cheap' for pole position. What is your feeling?
CH: I think the rule needs clearing up. Technically somewhere like Spa, for example, it would be a massive advantage if you were to stop right after the line. So $10,000 for pole is quite good value for money.
Q. You had a fairly fraught fortnight since Turkey, but things seemed to have calmed down since you arrived here. Has it been easy to move on from it?
CH: It has been very straightforward. The guys are working as they always have done - in an open and transparent way. We are sharing information and working collectively to improve the car. We ran the same strategy with both cars - and it would have been easy to split them because we felt it was a preferable strategy. We have therefore elected to jump in both feet, and both drivers delivered a good job in qualifying.
Q. How worried are you about the potential for a repeat collision in the future - because in trying to avoid each other in the future they could actually trip over each other?
CH: They are both pros. I think at the end of the day, they have both done a lot of grands prix and a lot of racing in their careers. As a team we trust in them that they will be racing each other - but in a different manner to where they were in Istanbul. It is a different scenario here with cars on different tyres.
Q. If something did happen again, do you think you learned the lessons from the way the team handled it last time out?
CH: You can always learn. Every day in this business you are learning - whether that is as a driver, as a team or an individuals. I sincerely hope that we don't have a situation to deal with it like that in the future, but if we do we will deal with it accordingly.
Q. Do you feel actually that one of the impacts of Turkey is that it has actually brought the team more together and unified it?
CH: I think ultimately we will come out of the whole Turkey issue stronger, as a group and as a team. For sure we have learned some valuable lessons from Istanbul, and hopefully we will look back on it at the end of the year and be able to look back at it slightly more light-heartedly than we did last week.
Q. Approaching the halfway point of the season, the RB6 remains the car to beat, so do you feel you are knuckling down for a title fight?
CH: There is a long way to go in this championship. We have had our own trials and tribulations, but we are in good shape. There is still a long way to go, but the team as a unit is working fantastically well. It is really encouraging to see the performance that we are continuing to bring to the car on a race-by-race basis.