Overseeing the Red Bull Racing team’s return to the track for an official day of filming at Silverstone ahead of a season start at Australia, Christian Horner sat down for a quick Q&A discussing the shutdown, condensed season and Alexander Albon.
Talk us through how the team have kept morale high during the extended shutdown?
Well it’s highly unusual for a Grand Prix team to go into hibernation for what was essentially two-and-a-half months so obviously during that period you want to retain that sense of team. So activities, whether it be online fitness classes, Friday night quizzes, town hall meetings where the staff would have the ability to ask me questions, passing on information and updates, keeping the drivers engaged with the team members as well, were all hugely important during what was a very uncertain time.
What is the key to mounting a championship campaign in such a short and condensed season?
It’s going to be crucial to be reliable. There’s going to be a lot of races that come thick and fast and it’s going to be an intense period for everybody involved. They’re going from 0 to 100mph from having not raced since November last year, we’re going to be in July so over seven months downtime for these drivers. It’s going to be an exciting first few laps, and it’s going to be important to maximise our chances and opportunities. It’s an unusual year, but maybe that’s what we need to take the challenge to the all-dominant Mercedes who have won everything for the past six years.
Do you think Max feels the pressure as he is positioned by the media as Lewis Hamilton’s main title challenger?
We all go into the first race with the same amount of points, so I think the pressure on Max is no different to previous years. I think he recognises we had a good winter, we came out of pre-season testing well, Mercedes were still the form team to beat but it felt like we had some real potential in our car so that’s going to be crucial as we head into the season. For sure they start the season as the favourites, but I sincerely hope and believe in Max and Alex that we have a very strong team and hopefully we can provide them with the equipment and tools to mount a challenge on Mercedes.
This is only Alex’s second season in F1. What are the team looking for from him this season?
For Alex, people do forget it’s his second season in Formula One and he’s missed sort of the first half of that so it’s been a baptism by fire but he coped with that incredibly well last year. He seems to deal with pressure very well and I think we’re just looking for him to make progress on where he finished last season. I think opportunities will present themselves for him and I really think he could be the surprise of the season in many respects this year.
PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner looks on from the pits during the Red Bull Racing RB16 launch at Silverstone Circuit on February 12, 2020 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)