Tag Archives: Horner

Red Bull relying on Renault finding speed, says Horner

Christian Horner says Red Bull has exceeded expectations in the first two races given the problems experienced in testing.

Horner says that the gap to Mercedes largely reflects a disparity in straightline performance, but remains confident that the French manufacturer can make progress.

“It’s a big gap, they’ve obviously got plenty up their sleeve at the moment,” he said. “And I think we’ve done incredibly well to get as close to them as we did this weekend. Their advantage is clear, it’s in a straight line, and we’re working hard with the guys from Viry.

“Considering where we’re at with the engine to be doing what we’re doing is beyond expectation. Renault know there’s a lot more to come once they sort out driveability issues and so on. Hopefully our curve in terms of catching up on straightline speed, whilst it’s steep, we should hopefully be able to make steps.”

Horner said Renault can move forward despite the homologation of the mechanical elements of the engine, as there is still a lot to come from software.

“Yes, I think they can, because a lot of their issues are software related. Hopefully the steps can be made, and we can close that gap down. But it’s not just Renault, you saw Alonso today against Hulkenberg – Alonso on a new set of tyres, DRS fully open, couldn’t pass Hulkenberg on a scrubbed set of tyres. It’s not just Renault. Mercedes, hats off to them, have done a very good job over the winter with this new engine, with this new technology. We’ve got to work very hard to catch them.

“It’s a matter of getting all three elements working in harmony, there’s obviously the combustion engine, the turbo, and the energy recovery system, which affects your braking as much as it does your acceleration and power delivery.”

As for the next race he said: “I don’t think we’re going to have a solution overnight. It doesn’t tend to rain in Bahrain much either. We’re going to obviously try to make as much progress as we can in the week. The dynos are busy running in Paris. And hopefully we nudge a bit closer to them again if it all possible next weekend.”

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Christian Horner: “It’s obvious that Renault has had a few issues…”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner remains confident that Renault will be able to address the issues that have afflicted the RB10 this week.

Sebastian Vettel has logged only 11 laps after the car suffered problems with its energy store, one of the key elements of the energy recovery system.

“I think this test was always designed to be a systems check,” Horner told this writer. “It’s obvious that Renault have had a few issues down here that they’re working hard to get on top of. I’m sure that with more dyno time, and bit more track time, they should be fine.

“Of course any track time is valuable, we’ve just got to make sure we recover it in the remaining test days.”

The car emerged late yesterday after the team had a problem of its own, before the Renault issues struck.

“It was internal within the gearbox, and it was an issue that cost us a bit of track time, but our track time was curtailed at the end of the day anyway.”


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Christian Horner: “You’d be fairly stupid to introduce traction control…”

Christian Horner has refuted suggestions that Sebastian Vettel’s performance in Singapore was aided by a form of traction control.

Inevitably since the German’s dominant win paddock gossip has suggested that Red Bull has found an advantage, with former team boss Giancarlo Minardi recently adding to the debate after observing the cars on the Asian street track. In Korea today Lewis Hamilton dropped a less than subtle hint about his thoughts on the subject, while a clearly frustrated Vettel opted to joke about it being a feature on his car.

“The electronic controls on the car are so tightly governed,” said Horner. “It’s an controlled box that we have, the settings in both of the cars were absolutely identical, they fully comply with the FIA rules. The FIA should be able to verify that. It’s a standard unit which all of the teams are using. Any suggestion of traction control is either purely mischievous on behalf of the others, or wishful thinking.

“I think the problem is Sebastian’s performance was so dominant in Singapore it inevitably raised questions of how is that possible? Other teams will be looking inwardly, and the easiest conclusion to come too is they must be cheating. As I say these things are so tightly controlled that it’s impossible. The facts are he drove an incredible race in Singapore, he had incredible pace, he maximised the most out of the car, and was a driver on absolute peak form. Is it a distraction? No. Will we lose any sleep over it? Absolutely not.”

Horner denied that Renault has made a breakthrough with engine mapping that has aided RBR.

“Again that’s very restricted on what you can do with torque maps and torque curves. It’s something that all of the engine manufacturers are doing within the parameters allowed. I think that this engines are so optimised, they are so far into their life cycle, that all the engine manufacturers are pretty close. I don’t think one particularly has an advantage over the other.

“You can argue the same about a Ferrari start. Bottom line is that they get it all together and get everything right at that point, and you don’t hear any accusations of traction control. And I don’t believe it is.”

He added: “You’d be fairly stupid to introduce traction control onto a car that was governed by a single ECU that is through a tender of the FIA that is scrupulously checked by the FIA. I can’t imagine any team in the pitlane would entertain it.”


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Christian Horner: “If he had any fillings he won’t have any more…”

Christian Horner says that his Red Bull team did an “incredible job” to deal with tyre and gearbox issues during what looked from the outside like a straightforward win for Sebastian Vettel in Monza.

Vettel made his life harder in the first stint by flat spotting a front tyre at Turn One, and later there were concerns about the gearbox. It says a lot that the German only set the 12th fastest lap as he nursed the car home – and for once he didn’t try to add to his tally in the record books.

“It was a fantastic weekend for us really,” said Horner. “We had a few issues to manage during the race, but an incredible team performance. We’ve been strong all weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We had a few issues that did need managing during the race – Sebastian locking up into the first turn created a big flat spot, which put a massive vibration into the car that he was certainly concerned about, and we were monitoring quite closely. If he had any fillings he won’t have any more!

“Then we managed to get into the one-stop window. A fantastic double stop by the guys, 2.6s and 2.7s. It was enough to get Mark ahead of Massa, get Sebastian back out into the lead on a round set of tyres, and control the race thereafter.”

Both Red Bull had their fifth, sixth and seventh gear ratios changed before the race – for identical replacements – and the team became further concerned when Webber had another issue in the race, which led to both drivers being asked to short shift to protect their equipment.

“The only issue we had after that was loss of gearbox pressure in Mark’s car in the closing laps, which we just needed to take some precautions with to get to the finish.

“We had a bit of damage to a couple of dog rings on both cars. Under parc ferme after applying to the FIA due to it being damaged they were allowed to be replaced. Of course when that’s hanging over you, and we weren’t sure why that happened, we’ve not seen that before, and it’s not something that happened on the Caterham gearbox, which is obviously something that we supply. We were concerned as to why that was there.

“When you’re sitting there in the race not quite knowing what’s caused that issue and then you start to lose gearbox pressure, obviously it was a bit of a concern.

“If it was happening to one, the chances were [it would again]– because yesterday it happened to both. So as a precaution we asked Sebastian to do the same thing.”

Meanwhile Horner was unconcerned about the booing of Vettel on the podium.

“I think anybody racing a Ferrari, and beating a Ferrari, at Monza, in Italy, is never going to be cheered! It was inevitable that there wasn’t going to be a big reaction for Sebastian beating Fernando Alonso in front of the tifosi who have come to cheer their car and team around. I don’t think it surprised any of us the reaction that there was. If anything it fuels the motivation of Sebastian just to go out there and continue to improve.”

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Analysis: Is Alonso still in the frame at RBR?

The consensus in the paddock at Spa was that Daniel Ricciardo had already got the nod for the second Red Bull seat, and Mark Webber added fuel to the fire by telling Australian TV that it was a done deal.

However Christian Horner continues to insist that the team has yet to decide who will get the drive.

Ricciardo is signed to Red Bull Racing anyway, and in effect the team could call on his services at any time up to the start of next season. Even if the Aussie doesn’t get the RBR job he will be in a Toro Rosso with an identical powertrain/gearbox package to the RB10, and thus potentially in a competitive seat.

There appears to be no logical reason why Red Bull would not have announced Ricciardo if he had already been guaranteed the drive. Indeed from a PR standpoint an early announcement would be a show of faith in the junior programme at a time when other options were available.

The bottom line is that Horner wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t continue to explore other interesting options, given that Ricciardo isn’t going anywhere. Two World Champions are currently without a 2014 contract – Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button – while sources continue to suggest that Fernando Alonso is still not 100% committed to Ferrari.

When this writer asked Bernie Ecclestone if he thought that Felipe Massa would be staying at Maranello, he replied: “They should be more worried about hanging on to Alonso…”

The value of having two experienced, proven winners on board for what will be a complicated season for all the teams is obvious, and at the same time if RBR takes a second top driver it will in turn damage a rival.

“There’s plenty of speculation about, but nothing has been signed yet,” said Horner at Spa. “So the situation is still as I said before the race, we’ve got time to contemplate who we’re going to put in the other seat, and there will be no announcement certainly before Monza.

“Mark obviously isn’t privy to all of the discussions with drivers. When there’s something to announce, we’ll certainly announce it. It will probably go on beyond Monza.”

Elaborating on Ricciardo’s situation, he said: “Both Toro Rosso drivers are on Red Bull Racing contracts. They’re on loan to Toro Rosso, so at any point they are available for us to call upon. So we don’t have to worry about those two, because they’re products of the Red Bull junior team, and the reason we’re taking the time is to look at what other options are about.

“Obviously they are very big shoes to fill next year. We want to field the strongest possible team that we can, so therefore it’s absolutely prudent to look at all the options that are available. It’s actually surprised us the options that are available that perhaps we didn’t think were.”

It’s widely assumed that it would be impossible for Sebastian Vettel to operate alongside a proven superstar, but Horner says that’s not an issue.

“To be honest with you Sebastian has no input or veto or requirement for any blessing over that second seat. He wants obviously to have a competitive team mate, because he wants to be pushed, as Mark has pushed him. He hasn’t voiced any opinions, strongly or otherwise, in any way. He sees it very much as a team position, and that’s very much the way it is.”

While many observers struggle to understand why Alonso might want to leave Ferrari, it may well be that he simply has fears about the competitiveness of the 2014 powertrain package.

It remains unclear in what circumstances Alonso might be able to walk away from what appears to be a solid Ferrari contract, unless it contains a generous performance clause that works in his favour – for example something that relates to driver and team having failed to win a World Championship over their four years together.

Of course as ever there are some potentially some games in the background, and it’s easy to suggest that Alonso is simply finding ways to motivate his current team, while Horner is destabilising the likes of Ferrari and Lotus by keeping the driver debate open.

However, it’s worth remembering that it’s dangerous to second guess what Alonso might do. Not many people expected him to leave his home at Renault for McLaren, or indeed walk away from an ultra competitive McLaren at the end of 2007 – even allowing for the rather awkward way that season unfolded, and the breakdown of his relationship with the team management.

As someone close to Fernando said at Spa, “At McLaren he finished a point behind the champion, and he still quit…”


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