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Horner: You've got to take the pain


Four races in and Red Bull is fourth in the standings and under pressure from Sauber and Toro Rosso, furthermore team boss Christian Horner admits there is no quick fix.

"We had a difficult start into the season," he told the official F1 website. "We are not remotely in the position that we expected to be, or wanted to be. Some of our problems are beyond our control and all we can do is offer our support where possible."

Those problems outside their control refers to Renault, whose power unit is not only no match for its rivals but also unreliable. Though he finished sixth in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix an engine failure as he crossed the line takes the Australian perilously close to the (four engine) limit at which point he will start incurring penalties.

Naturally, Horner would like to see the rules changed.

"It is frustrating," he admits. "For sure we are going to use more than four - we’ve used three in three races - so the chances of us staying within the limit of four is close to zero.

"The teams agreed unanimously in Malaysia to introduce a fifth engine, but the engine penalties will affect others too - not only us. For us we would need that number to increase to seven, eight or nine engines for the season. Unfortunately these are the rules and we are not looking great within these rules. Hopefully these rules will become more realistic in the future."

The situation is further complicated by the desire by some teams, and Bernie Ecclestone, to change the engine formula for 2017. While Red Bull wants changes, there are fears that, as ever, there will be no consensus.

"If they freeze this engine effectively in February next year then you are going to freeze advantages and disadvantages," says Horner. "I think it has to be opened up to allow more development as this is a very immature technology.

"The downside is cost," he admits. "Or you come up with regulations that make the engine less of a performance differentiator and take costs out.

"Whatever you do you will have happy and unhappy faces. So the real question should be what is best for Formula One. But the teams have to look out for their own interests, so there will always be those that try to exploit the rules and it is against everything that a competitive team is to give away an advantage."

If Renault cannot turn things around at some stage Red Bull will need to seek a new engine partner, Horner is asked if there is a deadline.

"We have a contract with Renault for 2015 and 2016," he replies, "and it is in Renault’s interest as much as in ours to sort the current issues out as quickly as possible.

"In reality our best chance is with Renault - and vice versa. We have won 50 Grands Prix and eight world championships together - so sometimes frustration boils over," he admits, referring to some of the recent comments made by him and others within the organisation.

Whilst Horner and Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko have been the most vocal, owner Dietrich Mateschitz recently joined in the chorus of complaint, warning that his team could leave the sport.

"Dietrich doesn’t talk publicly very often," admits Horner, "but when he does you have to listen. What he was conveying was: Renault should do either the job properly or not at all. You can’t be half pregnant.

"Red Bull has been in the sport for around 20 years," he adds, "first as a sponsor, then as a shareholder and then as a team owner. Dietrich has invested more in F1 in the last 20 years than probably any other team or company in the sport.

Red Bull's situation, of course, hasn't been helped by the success - Bahrain aside - of its sister team, Toro Rosso.

"Toro Rosso has done a superb job - even though they were very unlucky in Bahrain - and both their drivers are doing well. But a championship is about 19 or 20 races and not about one. It is super to see the youngsters doing so well and we haven’t given our drivers a fair chance. They’ve had to fight with so many issues that driving somehow became almost a second thought."

Asked what the Faenza team might be doing differently with the same power unit, Horner says: They are operating the power unit in exactly the same way as we do…

"They haven’t out-qualified us yet!" he adds, "but they have a good car. James Key has done a super job with the technical team - and we haven’t had a straightforward weekend yet.

"For sure we need to improve our car," he continues. "But we have compromised the set-up a lot to address other issues that we have. So you end up in a vicious circle - less downforce, etc. - which creates other problems. We are not in an optimal position with the RB11 yet - but it is definitely an Adrian car…

Asked how much is it an Adrian car, he responds: "Very much. Yes, he has taken a step back but he is involved in the RB11 as in every previous car. The difference will come from RB12 onwards. Yes, he is not that close any more - but he was in Bahrain. He is still mentoring and guiding the technical team."

As for his drivers...

"Daniil has done a good job so far. The problem is that he had a number of issues that had nothing to do with him. He hasn’t had a fair run yet - but what we see is that he is very quick and has a good feel for the car. With regard to the standings of both drivers in the championship, neither can be blamed."

Asked how he envisages the team's season playing out, what if the power unit finally delivers... he replies: "No what ifs! The only answer right now: terrible start - great finish! But to be realistic: our problems are not short term so there will not be any short-term fixes. We have to take a bit of a pain at the moment. And if that is the foundation for a better future then you’ve got to take the pain."


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1. Posted by HappyHippyBiker, 26/04/2015 0:29

"For a quick and easy fix .... Swap cars with Toro Rosso :)"

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2. Posted by Max Noble, 24/04/2015 7:03

"@scf1fan - very well put. Yes, I'm sure one of the reasons the spending cap never really got up and running is simply because it is so darn difficult to police. If geographical governments (specifically UK and Australia at this point, but G20 in general) are instigating a "Google Tax" to try and pin down payments from multi-nationals, what chance do the FIA have to police a spending cap?

Note you're point on PM/M spending in other areas. Yes, thinking on this I would be (mostly) confident that coupled with Ferrari they have "delivered in kind" the most dollars, while RB - not having a road car division or an automotive R&D department with which to bury costs - has probably written the largest actual cheques. :-)

...Like a can of RB, whatever one pays for a can of Budweiser is probably higher than ideal (for the client)...!

...ah advertising... cannot live with it... cannot live without it..."

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3. Posted by Joop deBruin, 24/04/2015 3:40

"Red Bull's new advertising slogan: "BOOM!""

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4. Posted by scf1fan, 24/04/2015 2:59

"@Max . . . Only the price on the RB cans make my eyes water. ;-) Certainly the difference of the feeder activities could be debated since PM/M also provided sponsorship to other teams and at other levels; and they, toward the end, couldn't advertise anywhere else. RB seems to certainly be the most "activity" driven advertiser, and I would suspect that since they picked up their second full team, (TR) they no doubt are currently spending more per year directly in F1. (But then when you think about "hidden" costs that MB/F/M gains advantage from un, or less accounted for . . . <gasp> That's why I asked. Maybe it's fairer to say that RB (the parent company) has written the biggest checks.)

On a side note, since advertising is the blood of most high level racing, I've always wondered how much Budweiser/AB's advertising adds to a can of their drink . . . Since they are a dominant presence in almost all of the series in the US."

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5. Posted by Max Noble, 24/04/2015 1:24

"Well Christian is starting the "Curse these engine rules!" movement good and early. I'd imagine only Manor/Marussia and McLaren have any interest in keeping the current rules. We could yet see a Manor on pole by round round twelve!
We just need a couple of other major teams to find themselves on the fourth engine and this will become a fascinating discussion. Stop moving the goal -posts mid-season, or move them and without question have an impact on the season outcome. Do we want a (differently) leveled playing-field, or the delight of Daniel and others battling through back-markers for the entire second half of the season?

@scf1fan - agree that's a bold claim on the expenditure front. I'm sure they have spent massive dollars, but as you highlight, so have Philip Morris/Marlboro. If you add-up all the Red Bull feeder activities, driver programmes, and input to Torro Rosso I'm sure the figure would make our eyes water. The arrival of Maurizio Arrivabene *from* Philip Morris tends to hint at the remarkably close working relationship they enjoy with Ferrari. You might even find MA is costing SF sweet FA, with his retainer being met by PM in some continuing deal that suits all parties (I've no idea, just thinking out loud here).

...anyway. MA and CH will either be working together shortly to change engine regulations, because Ferrari will pop a few in quick succession, or they will be facing-off against one another because Ferrari are still on engine one or two, when poor Daniel is on five or six. Either way, seeing these two lead their teams this season is going to be great fun. Which is to say the strategy of running engines low early in the season to capitalise on elevated grid slots as penalties kick-in for multiple drivers, could see a Ferrari charge in the tail end of the season, when they have wisely used their up-grade tokens, and not blown all their engines..."

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6. Posted by scf1fan, 23/04/2015 20:43

""Dietrich has invested more in F1 in the last 20 years than probably any other team or company in the sport . . . " I would suspect that if adjusted for inflation, Philip Morris/Marlboro has either spent or controlled more money going into the sport. (Ferrari might still be spending Marlboro money; and for a long while, when they couldn't put their logo on the car, they still controlled the "space" on the Ferraris.)

I would hope someone at PP could fact check that."

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7. Posted by Hondawho?, 23/04/2015 15:47

"I am sure Christian Horner's friends in the UK will make everything right with the engine, they normally do!"

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8. Posted by Paul C, 23/04/2015 14:17

"Time to set up a second grid in the pit lane for Red Bull and other teams beyond the insane engine limits."

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