British GP: Preview - Red Bull


We are three races into the season and Hungary proved eventful. What are your thoughts looking back?
Max Verstappen: It's good that the team got to have a week off at home with their families after the triple header, especially after that little bit of extra stress before the race in Hungary! I've watched the video back of the mechanics working on my car on the grid and it was crazy what they achieved but it was cool to see that they all knew exactly how to operate and what to do, even in such an unexpected situation. Without them I would not have even started the race.

The next triple header kicks off with two races at Silverstone. What do you think of the track?
MV: I'm looking forward to the next triple header and Silverstone is a really nice track to drive. The corners at Silverstone are insanely fast and Copse is flat out! Maggots is also flat out in seventh gear which is already crazy, especially in qualifying as you don't even tap the brake anymore, you just downshift. At Silverstone you have to get the right wing level, and of course for the lower speed corners you prefer more downforce and grip. Obviously it can rain at Silverstone, even though it is summer in the UK (laughs) but I like those conditions and maybe we wouldn't mind the rain as it could mix things up.

The season is now well underway after three back to back races. How are you feeling now you're back home?
Alex Albon: I feel pretty good! Obviously as a team it hasn't been an ideal start to the season but aside from the DNF, we've been able to score some good points. I think with that being said, the car can only improve so I'm feeling positive. We know the areas we need to work on and with Silverstone being a home race close to the factory, that's good news. I think we can hopefully get a good result there, historically it's been a pretty good track for the team, and it's one I really enjoy driving.

You had an impressive race in Hungary. It must've been a lot of fun overtaking your way through the field?
AA: Hungary was a lot of fun but obviously we don't want to start that far back again. I think we have a very good race car, so once we get on top of our Saturday qualifying trim, we should be in good stead for the Sunday races. Hungary was a fun race, it's not the easiest track to overtake at so to pull off the passing moves and get so far up the grid was pretty satisfying.

Christian Horner: When Max crashed into the barriers on the way to the grid at the Hungaroring, we were unsure if he would even take part in the race. But a superhuman effort from the team to repair his RB16 in record time meant he was able to not only race but also finish second on the podium.

I was watching the out lap on the monitor and saw Max run wide at turn six/seven. He was pushing to find out where the grip was and trying to synchronise eighth gear on the run down to turn 12, which means you have to be flat-out to get that synchronisation. The circuit was more slippery than he thought, and the tyres were pretty cold, nobody could quite believe their eyes when he went off into the barrier.

Luckily, he managed to keep the engine running and reverse out of the barrier. We were unsure how serious the damage was and had to decide quickly whether to call him into the pit lane, but we made the call to send him to the grid to see if we could get the job done so he wouldn't lose his grid position. As the mechanics greeted Max's RB16 at the back of the grid and pushed him through the rest of the field we had no idea whether we would get the work done in time.

We'd identified on the screens that the track rod and push rod had broken but it was an unknown whether the wishbone or upright had broken on his suspension. If it was, that would have been game over.

The funny thing is, I wasn't stressed about it. I felt that if anyone could do the repairs then our mechanics could. As soon as he got to the grid, they tore in to it but most importantly the non-destructive test inspection needed to happen on the components to make sure it was safe.

Those results came out fine and then it was a race against the clock to get those parts changed, which is a massive undertaking because they are pretty complicated in design.

You'd need to be a sensational piano player to be able to work your fingers within the space they had, such is the tight design of these cars.

Everyone did their bit - the frontend boys, the No.1 mechanic, the chief mechanic - it was seamless. Of course, everything else also needs to happen on the car as normal, to prepare for the start of the race, so it was very well co-ordinated.

Around five minutes from the cut-off point, the chief mechanic gave me a wink to say it was looking alright and the wheels went on with about 25 seconds to go.

Other teams' mechanics clapped our guys off the grid. It was the absolute epitome of teamwork, all the guys working together in synchronisation against the clock and getting the job done. TAG Heuer would be proud of that Don't Crack Under Pressure moment that's for sure!

They were properly buzzed in the garage and then, of course, they had to calm themselves down because it is the same mechanics doing the pit stops and they smashed in a sub two second pit stop as well - the quickest during the race - for the third race in a row. It was a phenomenal team performance.

On race days this year, Alex has been fantastic. In Austria, he nearly won the first race and he drove a great race and recovery drive last Sunday in Hungary. We just have to give him a car that is more consistent on a Saturday and his results will improve.

Hungary is normally a track where we have been strong, but last Friday we were a little bit at sea. The mechanics broke the curfew making changes but still the car was not performing as it should and the drivers were struggling with the unpredictable characteristics. The changing weather conditions also reduced the opportunity for a like for like comparison between sessions which really hampered our progress.

So, after qualifying we were well out of position in seventh and 13th on the grid and if I'm honest it was a pretty depressing evening. It felt like one those weekends where nothing was going our way despite everyone working their arses off. One thing you can be sure of about our team is that we never give up and we all have a massive amount of fight in us.

We went into Sunday with a renewed energy and you can only imagine the feeling when we saw Max hit the wall. But once we got over the out-lap incident, the drivers did a great job in the race and the car performed better than expected. Max put the incident out of his mind, that was a real sign of maturity from him and Alex put his head down and fought his way past some of the most experienced drivers on the grid.

We know Mercedes have a very strong package and the Racing Points have a very quick car also. So for us to beat the Racing Points, with Alex ahead of Sergio Perez and being able to split the Mercedes was a great salvage when we were staring down the barrel of a very difficult weekend.

With the British Grand Prix up next, I was remembering back to 1991 and one of my earliest F1 memories. I had not long had a driving licence and had an imitation Porsche that was really a Beetle, with a Porsche spoiler on the back and exhausts out of the side.

Back then, Goodyear were the tyre suppliers and they used to do two days of testing at Silverstone around a month before the British GP. I had been to Silverstone previously to see Johnny Herbert in a Formula 3 car, I'd also seen Eddie Irvine in Formula Ford, but this was the first time I saw an F1 car driving around the circuit.

So I sneaked a day off school and instead of driving there, I drove to Silverstone. I managed to find a hole in the fence and made it in to the pit lane. Having got in there, I definitely wasn't going to leave.

I managed to get in front of the Williams garage, who had developed a phenomenally quick car that Nigel Mansell was testing - which would have been one of Adrian's cars.

I met Nigel and he was very generous with his time. I then went to the back of the pits and I bumped into Ayrton Senna. We stood face-to-face and he saw the jacket I was wearing, which was from one of the karting teams that I drove for. He recognised the kart manufacturer and started asking me about karting.

So not only had I seen Nigel, who was my boyhood hero, I also met this other icon in Senna. So driving home in my Volkswagen Beetle, I was over the moon. It did not help my A Levels, but I had a great day!

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Published: 29/07/2020
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