JUNE 24, 2011
Horner on hot air and Hamilton
Red Bull Racing currently heads the constructors championship by 69 points and the question on everyone's lips at the moment is whether or not the engine mapping and exhaust blown diffuser directives from the FIA will alter the status quo. In Valencia, team principal Christian Horner answered questions about that and about Lewis Hamilton.
Q: What do you think the effects of the engine mapping and blown diffuser changes will be?
To be totally honest, it's impossible to predict here. We know what benefit we see but we don't know what benefit others see. In reality it will probably affect the front running teams a similar amount but until we get to Silverstone it's impossible to predict.
Q: Are you frustrated at mid-season rule changes?
I think there's other teams who have exploited this concept more and designed their cars very clearly around it (read Renault), so I can only envisage that they must be highly frustrated by it. It is slightly confusing with the technical directive, that it wasn't addressed at the end of the year, going into next year, as was the case with the F-duct or even the double diffuser, but instead is done mid season. But at the end of the day it's the same for everybody and we will deal with it starting at Silverstone.
Q: Do you feel a bit victimized, like Renault did with mass dampers back in 2006?
The secret to a quick car is never a silver bullet and I think it would be wrong to expect that this has been the sole reason behind the performance of our car either this year, last year or even the year before that. So it's one of those things, we'll deal with it and move on. We've got some parts in the pipeline for Silverstone, so hopefully we can be competitive there. The car has been quick on all types of circuits so far, from Monaco to Montreal, and you don't get two more extreme circuits than that, so we're just going to try and keep up our momentum as we reach the heart of the championship.
Q: Is the FIA directive a technical decision or a political one?
The directive is based on technicalities. But I think you'd probably have to ask the FIA that.
Q: But do you think it's a decision taken against Red Bull?
The FIA has chosen to deal with this at this point in the season. There were technical directives about the front wing last year that there was a lot of fuss about. Ultimately it didn't change even the front wing we had on the car, so there's many technical directives every season. This obviously has a larger impact on the engine manufacturers because it changes the way they operate their engines, but a secondary effect is how we use the exhaust gases. That's now been clarified, it's the same for every team and we'll see how it affects us.
Q: There are reports that Lewis Hamilton paid you a visit after qualifying in Montreal?
First of all, I'd like to make it clear that we are happy with our current drivers. Lewis's visit in Montreal was a surprise, the content of which I'm not going to disclose. But Lewis is a McLaren driver and has been a McLaren driver for over 10 years. We are very happy with Sebastian Vettel, we've got a long-term contract with him and we are very happy with the job that Mark Webber's doing. Speculation about anything to the contrary is purely that.
Q: But would it be fair to say that Lewis would be at the top of the list for anyone with a spare seat?
Lewis is a very gifted driver and that's obvious, but we only have two cars, we're happy with our two drivers and I think for the foreseeable future he's under contract to his current team.
Q: So Mark Webber will stay next year?
We agreed that we'd sit down later in the summer and talk about his future -- that was something we mutually decided on.
Q: Would Sebastian be happy to go up against Lewis in the same team?
I think any driver in the pit lane would like to be driving a Red Bull car at the moment. From a team point of view we want to have the best line-up we can have, but also one that works in harmony. So therefore, when selecting drivers you have to take certain things into consideration. Whether a combination of Lewis and Sebastian would work we haven't given a great deal of thought, because we don't believe that he's available and we are happy with the two drivers we have.