Mat Coch writes:
Red Bull is more than just a drinks company, whatever Lewis Hamilton may think.
Speaking in Melbourne, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner refuted the McLaren driver's suggestions, saying the team is so much more than an energy drink.
"We're much more than a drinks company," said the Englishman. "I don't know in what context Lewis said that, but for just a drinks company we've beaten an engineering company with all the resources that McLaren has had the last couple of years."
Indeed, winning both drivers' and constructors' championships last year was the culmination of a number of years development and building the team. One of the key components to that success was the signing of designer Adrian Newey, who is widely regarded as the finest designer in Formula One. "In many ways the best way to describe him is he's the conductor of our technical orchestra," explains Horner. "As with any conductor you've got to have the right wind instruments, the right string instruments, and so on. Everything has to be working in unison and that's exactly what we have."
That wasn't always the case however as tension between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber began to boil over during last year's championship. A collision in Turkey seemed to spark an internal rivalry which at times resembled the bitter feuds between Prost and Senna and Alonso and Hamilton. Horner however, is adamant that both drivers will be treated equally despite the fact that Sebastian Vettel is the reigning world champion.
"We will continue to support the drivers as equally as we can and give them both the same opportunity," he says. "Mark knows that, Sebastian knows that, and ultimately as it was last year it will come down to what they do on the circuit."
Having learnt some difficult lessons last year Horner believes the team is in a better position. With their 'best ever' pre-season the team is in buoyant mood ahead of the season opening Australian Grand Prix this weekend and looks set to be instantly on the pace.
"We've won fifteen Grands Prix in the last two years and two world championships; the constructors' and the drivers'. That's been the strongest performance in the pitlane. Obviously we're looking to build on that this year.
"We're only entering into our seventh season, this is our seventh car," continues the Englishman. "Already in the previous six we've achieved quite a lot in a relatively short space of time."
It seems that memories at Red Bull are short. While the 2011 car may only be the seventh chassis labelled Red Bull it is in fact the fourteenth the outfit has produced since starting life as Stewart Grand Prix in 1997. It's a fact Horner seems more than happy to ignore as he continues to describe the team as 'young'.
Still, having saved the Jaguar team from certain extinction, Red Bull has revitalized the outfit, dare one go so far as to say even given it wings. Success however has come at a price, with the parent company footing the bill for both Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso.
Given the drain on the Austrian company's resources and the fact the team has now reached the pinnacle of the sport it seems there's little left to achieve for Red Bull by remaining in the sport. However Horner is confident his team will remain on the grid for the foreseeable future, the team signing new sponsors to help ease the burden on the Red Bull's purse strings.
"Red Bull is very committed to Formula One whilst it has the appeal that it has," says Horner. "It's very positive for us that we've brought in more partners this year and reduced the burden of spend to the Red Bull group. That only serves us well for the future. It gives better value to the brand as well."
The team has recently secured Sebastian Vettel, along with a number of key technical staff, until the end of 2014. It's a signal of intent to its rivals that they are determined and focused to continue the success they enjoyed in 2010.
Not bad for a drinks company.