Q & A with Christian Horner

AUTOSPORT revealed on Tuesday that Red Bull Racing would not take part in the first test after the winter ban when Formula 1 action resumes at Valencia early next month

Q & A with Christian Horner

The team also joined testing late in 2009, and still went on to fight for the world championship. But with testing even more tightly restricted this year, any loss of mileage is surely a concern.

Not so, insists team boss Christian Horner, who explained Red Bull's decision to AUTOSPORT's Edd Straw.

Q. How big a risk is it to miss the first test?

Christian Horner: It worked very well for us last year. We took a decision some time ago that there was more performance to be had by focusing on test two at Jerez rather than test one.

Q. So the decision was made a while ago?

CH: It was built into our plan from the outset. Detailed plans were put in place to accommodate the production and design that has to take place to make an F1 car.

Q. Is there any point in running last year's car in the Valencia test?

CH: It's very unlikely that we would run RB5 at the first test. I don't think that we'd learn much and would just burn engine mileage.

Q. Are you able to bolt on an extra test, or will you be maximising the mileage in the three tests?

CH: We will be completing those tests plus a filming day so we will be at three of the common tests.

Q. Is missing the first test more of a problem than it was in 2009 given that there are fewer test days this year and the gap between the first and second test is smaller?

CH: Time is always of the essence, but much of the design philosophy is of carry over. All of the cars on the grid have had incredible reliability over the last few years - on the first day of running with the RB5 we did 90 laps. We've got high expectations in terms of track time with RB6 so we feel that it's a plan that suits us and it's one that we plan to execute.

Q. Are you absolutely happy that this will not impact on your championship chances?

CH: The benefit we have is stability in all areas during the winter with personnel, drivers, the engine. The team learned a huge amount last year and during the second half of the season we were the form team.

There are some formidable opponents out there, McLaren and Ferrari will be pushing very hard to redress the balance from last year and the Brawn team emerging into Mercedes with the comeback of Michael Schumacher is going to be a very strong. We expect to be right in there and we've got self-confidence in our own ability but it all depends what you do not just in Bahrain but throughout the 19-race season.

Q. There was a push to tinker with the engines to improve the performance deficit of the Renault, is that ongoing?

CH: That's in Renault's hands and it would be inappropriate for me to talk about it. There is a difference in the engines that has been recognised, but the question is how that is addressed. You are better asking Renault that question.

Q. Did the uncertainty over the engines cause any resources to be misdirected last year when you were looking at Mercedes and Cosworth?

CH: One of the benefits of being an independent team is that it gives us the opportunity to look at all options. From the point that Mercedes wouldn't be available to us, it was very clear that continuity with Renault was the best way forward for us.

We've had a good relationship with Renault but obviously there was some concern over their commitment to F1, which has now been addressed, and at no point did we back off. Exploring alternative engine suppliers hasn't cost us any design or production time. Continuity with the same engine allows us to absolutely maximise the packaging.

Q. The fact that you're the only top team to keep the same driver line-up must be a big help?

CH: That's a big benefit for us. Mark [Webber] and Sebastian [Vettel] worked very well together during 2009 and I think that partnership will only get stronger during 2010. They know all the personnel, the philosophy behind the car and I'm sure that every major team has got a driver change where there has to be a settling in period. But our drivers know us intimately and vice versa.

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