Whether you’ve ever been to Melbourne or not, there’s no doubting Victoria’s capital is the sporting mecca of Australia, if not the world. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Carlton, Collingwood or Melbourne Storm fan, the Australian Grand Prix is at heart of the city’s sporting tribalism.
We were lucky enough to spend the day hosted in the Red Bull suite for Friday’s free practice session courtesy of Hisense—the official TV supplier of Red Bull Racing. In between the unveiling of Hisense’s as-yet-unreleased Series 8 + 9 ULED tv’s and the action on track, Christian Horner — Red Bull Racing’s team principal—was kind enough to sit down with us for a quick session before Daniel and Max hit the track for Free Practice 1 at midday. Here’s what he had to say.
What are you most looking forward to for the 2017 racing season?
The competition, and closing the gap to Mercedes. We had a great season last year and we’re just looking to build on that.
Why is Red Bull Racing the best team to work with?
Working with the people. 100% the people.
Do you have any rituals you perform before each race?
Yes, loads of them. Lucky underwear, even lucky toilet. Every grand prix, doesn’t matter where it is.
Who is your racing idol and why?
Nigel Mansell.. Because I love his moustache (laughs). No when I was growing up, he was a British hero—a very gutsy driver and there was always a bit of drama around him.
What is one piece of advice you would share with any aspiring F1 drivers?
Follow your dreams. Go for it.
This is the 11th consecutive year you've had an Aussie in one of the RBR seats. Is there anything uniquely Australian about working with Aussie F1 drivers?
We can nearly understand them (sniggers). They can do strange things like “shoeys” but I mean Mark and Daniel are both very different personalities, and they’ve both been great to us. We love Australians.
How do you integrate different companies (sponsorship) into the Red Bull brand?
We bring in complimentary brands. Aston Martin, Tag Heuer, Hisense, they’re all complimentary brands and they all share the same aspirations and values as Red Bull Racing. That makes it easy.
How significant is the partnership with Aston Martin and RBR?
It’s a very important partnership for us. It’s growing constantly, and we’re developing and co-designing a car with them—the Valkyrie—taking Formula 1 DNA into a road car.
Adrian Newey is widely acknowledged as the best engineer in Formula 1. Can you talk us through your perspective of his influence at RBR?
Adrian’s track record speaks for itself. The role he’s performing now is split across two projects in Formula 1 and (Red Bull) Advanced Technologies and he brings so much experience to the party. He just has that magic touch.
Where do you see Formula 1 in 25 years?
Difficult to predict, but hopefully there’ll still be drivers, noise and great racing.
Red Bull’s inaugural team principal since their takeover of Jaguar in 2005 can be a man of few words but his approach to running one of the sport’s most successful outfits is as calculated and measured as they come. His optimism for 2017 was recognised on track, with Daniel finishing the day 5th fastest with a time of 1m 24.92 seconds, just under a tenth quicker than 6th placed Max. Both RBR drivers trailed Friday’s quickest driver in Mercedes GP’s Lewis Hamilton who set the pace with a 1m 23.62 second lap, a full 15 seconds quicker than his corresponding fastest lap last year.
Thanks to Hisense for hosting us in Red Bull’s suite for the entirety of this year’s Australian Grand Prix. Stay tuned for our review of their new Series 8 + 9 tv’s later this year.