Tag Archives: Christian Horner

Webber extends Red Bull contract until 2011

Mark Webber will continue to drive alongside Sebastian Vettel next year

Mark Webber will continue to drive alongside Sebastian Vettel next year

Mark Webber has signed with Red Bull Racing until 2011, alleviating fears of him possibly making way at the end of this year. He will continue to be alongside Sebastian Vettel, whose contract also expires at the end of 2011. This should also help concerns after their Turkish Grand Prix collision.

Webber said this about his new contract:

It was an easy decision to remain with Red Bull Racing. We began 
talking very early this year and were in a position to sign by 
the Barcelona Grand Prix.

The decision to extend for a further year was a mutual one; it’s 
widely know that I’m not interested in hanging around in Formula 
One just for the sake of it and at this stage of my career, I’m 
happy to take one year at a time.

Christian Horner also seemed happy with Mark:

He is an important member of our team and is currently in the best 
form of his career, as the current leader of the drivers’ 
championship. The team is extremely happy that the driver pairing 
of Mark and Sebastian will remain unchanged for a third season in 
2011.

A no-brainer really in my opinion, as despite their collision, Webber and Vettel are up there with Hamilton and Button as the best driver line-up on the grid. Mark should be around for a good few years more, and I don’t think that Sebastian would have any reason to move any time soon.

However, this practically gets rid of any possibility of Kimi Raikkonen returning to F1 in 2011, as many rumours were linking him to Red Bull. Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes already have solid line-ups, so I don’t think we’ll see Kimi ever again.

McLaren rear wing to be inspected

The slot and rear wing desing of the McLaren MP4-25

The slot and rear wing desing of the McLaren MP4-25

McLaren’s MP4-25 rear wing is to be inspected in Bahrain, following concerns from Red Bull and Ferrari over its legality.

While Ferrari have since been less concerned about the issue, they and Red Bull have asked Charlie Whiting, FIA race director, to closely inspect the rear wing. Christian Horner in particular has seeked clarification over the concept of McLaren’s rear wing.

The issue deals with a slot just above the driver helmet. It feeds air away from the rear wing, which “stalls” the wing at high speed. It reduces drag and still increases downforce. It is believed that the McLaren in faster in a straight line by 6mph because of this innovation.

While McLaren have already invited Charlie Whiting to inspect the innovation, his flight from South America was heavily delayed, so he cancelled the trip to Woking. The car will instead be examined at Bahrain this weekend.

Although Christian Horner is still asking the FIA for clarification, he still believes the innovation is legal:

“There’s a bit of a fuss over McLaren’s rear wing. They have a slot
on it and can pick up a lot of straight-line speed. Basically, if you
stall the wing you take all the drag off it and pick up straight-line
speed. It’s something that’s been done quite a lot over the years,
but with the wing separators you’re not supposed to do that.

I think it will get resolved before the first race. We’ve asked the
FIA for clarification, although I think Ferrari are probably more
excited than we are to be honest. Our question ultimately will be,
‘Is it clever design or is it in breach of the regulations?’ They
must be very confident that it’s legal. I would think it will be
legal.”

McLaren is much less worried about their design, with Martin Whitmarsh saying:

"The wing is different and innovative, yes. But we have been in
contact with Charlie over a period of several months to check that it
complies with regulations. We have been assured that it does."

It’s unclear how important this design is to McLaren’s car, but rest assured that they won’t be winning races any time soon if it’s declared illegal. If it is legal, which it probably is, then we may see another scramble, like last year, with all the teams trying to copy the design.

As I said when the cars were launched, I’m more worried about the diffuser design than this. Still, this design seems to be legal, so we might see another development battle.

Red Bull RB6 released

The new Red Bull RB6

The new Red Bull RB6

The new Red Bull car, the RB6, has been revealed at the Jerez test today.

The team have missed the first test session last week in Valencia, a risky move. Christian Horner, the team principal, explained the new changes on the car:

“The RB6 is very much an evolution of the 2009 car. We tried to refine and evolve it rather than go to new concepts.”

“As a result, the car looks similar with elements such as the chassis and pull-rod rear suspension retained. The two main challenges were the larger fuel tank and the smaller front tyre. With the fuel tank, there was more to it than simply putting a bigger tank in the car – it puts more load on the brakes, so the brake cooling has to cope with that and you also have to consider what effect that extra fuel will have on the tyre degradation early in the race and if there’s anything we should change mechanically to cope with that.”

“The narrower front tyre changes weight distribution and the balance of the car. I think it’s a sensible evolution of the 2009 car. One obvious difference is that the 2009 car was not designed to suit a double-diffuser and we had to try to put one on as best we could around the existing rear suspension and gear box. With this car we’ve been able to design that part of the car from scratch.”

The livery is exactly the same as last year, but that’s not a bad thing, as it still looks great. The car, on the outside, looks quite similar, but with a few small changes. Parts of the front wing sections has been lengthened, the horned nose section has been revised, and the bargeboard section has been changed.

The fact that there is no significant change worries me a little, but considering how dominant their car was in the last 3 races of last season, the team should still have high hopes. Mark Webber talked about their expectations for the season:

“I think the team has some very good, high expectations,” he said prior to his first run in the car. “We had a great season last year and we are not looking to go backwards from that position, so we have some tough goals to meet – as do all the other teams.”

“To go forward from there we need everything right and that’s what we’ve tried to do as best we can. We are very excited, we’ve worked hard and there’s been a lot of anticipation.”

Christian Horner talked about the team’s challenge, and said he expects a 4-way battle for the championship:

“I think that 2009 was a massive year for the team,” he said. “We made a huge step forward. I think the group matured very well.”

“You have to remember that Red Bull Racing is still a relatively young team, so I think with the lessons that we learned in 2009 about the performance of the car and how that evolved during the season, plus the stability we’ve had throughout the winter, we are in good shape for 2010.”

“Our target is obviously to win the championship, but we totally respect the quality of the opponents we have. We have set ourselves very aggressive targets.”

“I think you are going to have four teams that are race-winning contenders this season. McLaren and Ferrari look like they have come up with good cars, and for sure the Mercedes GP team is going to be competitive with its driver line-up.”

“But we are quietly confident we’ve made good progress during the winter. We’ve kept our heads down. We’ve kept working on the concept that served us well last year – and Adrian and his guys have come up with another very good car.”

“We go into the year with continuity with the drivers as well. Sebastian [Vettel] matured very well in 2009 and got stronger and stronger throughout the season, and Mark [Webber] is now back to full fitness – which compares to 12 months ago, when he was carrying a nasty injury.”

There is a good summary of photos, with a video on YouTube:

Pictures from the launch:

Double-decker diffusers banned for 2011

Williams' double-decker diffuser

Williams' double-decker diffuser

The infamous double-decker diffusers, the centre of the contreversy at the start of the 2009 season, has been banned for the 2011 season.

This rule could not be implemented for the 2010 season, as it was too late and the F1 cars had been nearly completed. However, technical rule changes for the 2011 season have meant that the undertray slots, which allow double-decker diffusers to work, have been outlawed.

Artwork of Toyota's double-decker diffuser

Artwork of Toyota's double-decker diffuser

The F1 Technical Working Group has been the reason these rule changes could be implemented, as it is a meeting of all the F1 teams. However, Christian Horner, boss of Red Bull, believes the rule changes should be further beyond simple tweaks:

“I think the most important thing is to set clear objectives – as to what do the governing body and the promoters want F1 to be,” he told AUTOSPORT last weekend. “What do they want the F1 cars to be able to do?

“Then rather than cherry picking at bits and pieces, we can look at the package as a whole to encourage more overtaking, and to enable the cars to follow more closely.”

“I think looking at components in isolation is often quite dangerous, so I think it is important that the overall objective is clearly defined and then worked on by the various technical groups.”

It is expected that the effective outlawing of double-decker diffusers will slow the cars down in 2011 by up to 2 seconds per lap.

Horner: Continuity crucial for Red Bull (includes video)

Christian Horner

Christian Horner

Red Bull team prncipal Christian Horner has said that driver, engine and staff continuity is crucial to Red Bull’s charge for the championship this year.

The team is the only one to keep both its drivers for 2010: Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. The engine will continue to be supplied from Renault, and there are few changes at the staff.

Speaking at the AUTOSPORT International show, he said:

“So we are probably one of the only big teams that has not had a change, and there is always that settling down period, especially with the restricted testing, that drivers who change teams or new drivers coming into teams are going to be under pressure to get up to speed quickly.”

“We have the benefit of continuity, but obviously the other teams are quality teams and world class drivers and I am sure by the time we arrive in Bahrain they will all be in good shape. “

Horner is adamant that the decision to skip the first test session, to give them more development time, will not be a disadvantage.

“Strategically it is something that we looked at, and it is something that you look at when you look at the planning of the car,” he said. “It was something we elected to do in 2009, to give the designers, Adrian [Newey] and his team as much time as possible, to optimise the launch car.”

“Last year it poured with rain for three days at Parc Algarve, and we don’t have good enough weather satellites to say it is going to do the same in Valencia. But it is a strategy we have adopted.”

“We believe it gives us the best preparation for the first race in Bahrain, and the season ahead. It is a long campaign, 19 races this year, so rightly or wrongly that is our decision. It is an aggressive route to take. It has always been part of our strategy and we will hit the ground running at the second test in Jerez.”

Speaking about the team’s decicion to keep Renault engines for this year, he said:

“I don’t think the engine decision made any difference at all to our planning. There was obviously some discussions with Mercedes-Benz during the latter part of the summer, but as soon as it was clear what our engine choice was going to be, it hasn’t compromised anything in any way.”

A video of the full interview is available here:

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