Q&A with Christian Horner

"I think Daniel has been the sensation of the year"

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By Olivier Ferret

27 December 2014 - 09:27
Q&A with Christian Horner

With 2014 nearing its close and our tenth season racing complete; it’s time to get the end-of-year report from Team Principal Christian Horner.

Looking back on the trials, challenges and at times jubilation of the 2014 season, thoughts that naturally lead into the excitement of a new year and the arrival of Daniil Kvyat to join Daniel Ricciardo, we caught up with Christian for a final catch-up of the year.

On the season...

CH: Looking at the scale of the challenge we faced pre-season, it was quite astronomical. It was without any shadow of a doubt our worst ever pre-season, we were unreliable and uncompetitive. But the turn around, even in time for the Australian Grand Prix and the sheer effort and push from the Team for the rest of the season was outstanding.

On Daniel’s season...

CH: I think Daniel has been the sensation of the year to be honest with you. The way he’s raced, he’s wheel to wheel racing, his speed, his composure in the car, he’s looked like he’s belonged at that level. I think he’s out done all of our expectations and even his own.

What were the other big surprises this season...

CH: The obvious one is the performance of the Mercedes power unit which has been hugely impressive. They’ve done an amazing job to come up with such a refined and complete package. Other surprises have been Dany Kvyat, having won the GP3 championship last year and coming in as a rookie with no pre-season testing with the problems the Renault powered teams had, and again he’s been fantastic this year.

On the past 10 Seasons Racing, his favourite three moments from the past decade...

CH: Our first grand prix where DC finished fourth. It was a big moment for the team as it had arrived in Formula One and we’d established ourselves. I thinking winning our first Grand Prix, which was a 1-2 finish in China in 2009. And our first drivers and constructors championships 12 months later, in particular the Drivers’ Championship in Abu Dhabi against the odds with Sebastian winning and the fact that Dietrich Mateschitz who attends very few races was actually there to witness it that day was fantastic.

What can we expect from Formula One in 2015...

CH: From a regulation point of view, nothing really will change. It’s down to the teams to try and catch Mercedes now and we have a lot of work going on with Renault to try and reduce that gap. Those guys (Mercedes) aren’t going to stand still either. We have an exciting new driver line up next year in Daniel Ricciardo and Dany Kvyat and that’s going to be an exciting new dynamic and they are going to be pushing very hard. We’re going to see Sebastian in red which is going to be a bit different and weird for the first few races. I think we’re set for a fantastic season, Fernando Alonso in McLaren... again. I think it’s going to be a season of change.

On Honda joining Formula One next season...

CH: It’s great to welcome Honda back, they’ll do a great job; they are a quality company. They have a great history in the sport and I’m sure they will be pushing very hard.

On the decision to give Dany Kvyat the drive in 2015...

CH: The way he has performed this year has been phenomenal, he’s been very quick. I think what gave us real confidence was the performance Daniel Ricciardo has delivered this year. Giving him the opportunity has given us the confidence that you can invest in youth and you can believe and trust in it. That’s why we’ve taken Dany Kvyat. I’ve known him obviously since being a member in the Red Bull Junior Team, he drove for my team in GP3 as well, where he won the Championship and his fight back that year from mid-season to the end of the year was truly impressive.

On the new dynamic in the team...

CH: The two drivers get on very well and know each other. They both have a bit of banter outside the car, in the car they are both hungry, no quarter given racing drivers. They know they are driving for Red Bull, the brand, the Team and all employees of the ground and with that comes a responsibility.

On Adrian Newey’s involvement in 2015...

CH: Adrian is taking a little bit of a step back, but he’s still very much involved. He’s overseen the design of the new car and will be coming to some of the races and he’ll be at some of the pre-season tests as well. He is going to be splitting his time between Formula One and Red Bull Advanced Technologies. We recently announced a project with Ben Ainslie Racing, a British Americas Cup entry, which is primarily focused on simulation and mathematical modelling. It’s great to still have Adrian as part of the Team and still advising and mentoring Dan Fallows, Rob Marshall, Pierre Wache and Paul Monaghan. We have such a strong Senior Technical Team.

On getting some time off over the Christmas break...

CH: Well next year seems to have started already, so it was great to have a bit of time out recently at the company Christmas party, everybody let their hair down a little bit, it was a good party, it was fun. The focus has never been more intense in trying to deliver a competitive car for next year, so there will be a day or two off for Christmas, but the factory itself will be working flat out all over the Christmas holiday whilst the travelling members of staff will manage to get some well deserved rest.

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