Christian Horner

Red Bull’s Horner: “We’ve overachieved in many respects”


Red Bull Racing and team principal Christian Horner have had what some would call a “character-building” season, as they’ve been thoroughly knocked off their perch by Mercedes.

But they remain the only team to have defeated the powerful Silver Arrows this year, and now they’ve done it twice after Daniel Ricciardo’s victory on Sunday in a superb Hungarian Grand Prix.

Obviously, circumstances could be much better than they are right now for the defending World Champions.

But Horner appears to be pleased with how Red Bull’s looking as the F1 paddock goes into the summer break.

“Our standard this year is not as strong as in previous years,” Horner told the F1 website after Sunday’s win. “But we are still the only other team to win a race, we are second in the world championship, and we’ve had a whole bunch of podiums with the handicap of an engine that is very underpowered compared to our rivals.

“Actually, I would say that we’ve overachieved in many respects, so as soon as we start to close that horsepower deficit, then we will able to take the fight to Mercedes.”

In that regard, Horner says the team and its power partners at Renault have continued to work step-by-step in erasing some of the gap. He also noted that with Renault’s recent changes in management, Red Bull has started to take on a similar identity to a “proper works team.”

One figures Horner wouldn’t be averse to Red Bull and its “junior” Scuderia Toro Rosso becoming Renault’s primary focus in 2015. He noted that the creation of different engines for Red Bull and Lotus (which has been rumored to flip to Mercedes power) stretched the manufacturer too far.

“It was an issue,” he said on the matter. “If you look at Mercedes and Ferrari, they focus on one team and then their customers still get a very good product, whereas Renault’s philosophy was different to that and I think it cost them a little bit.

“But now under the new management structure, things are different.”

Indeed, the team’s previous frustrations with Renault appear to have simmered down.

“…They have very capable people – we just have to work closely together in the same direction,” Horner said. “That’s what I believe is happening now.”

IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Takuma Sato

Takuma Sato
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MotorSportsTalk continues its look through the driver-by-driver field in the Verizon IndyCar Series with 14th-placed Takuma Sato, driver of the flagship No. 14 car for A.J. Foyt Enterprises.

Takuma Sato, No. 14 A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda

  • 2014: 18th Place, Best Finish 4th, 2 Poles, 2 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 66 Laps Led, 12.6 Avg. Start, 15.5 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 14th Place, Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 4th, 1 Podium, 1 Top-5, 5 Top-10, 46 Laps Led, 14.0 Avg. Start, 13.8 Avg. Finish

Sato was better than most people will have realized in 2015, and he didn’t have a lot of results to go along with what was probably his best season in three with A.J. Foyt Enterprises. After finishing 17th in points in 2013 and 18th last year, he improved to 14th this year. The problem for the Japanese fan favorite is that in a field this deep, it becomes really hard to stand out, and 14th doesn’t necessarily scream “look at me” on paper.

But perhaps that was a good thing. Sato, who’s been maligned for his DNFs in the past, had only four in 2015 (down from eight in 2013 and seven last year), and only two via accidents (Fontana, Iowa). Sage Karam opted to put the blame on Sato for their first lap contact at the Indianapolis 500, but with Karam the meat in a Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay sandwich, realistically it was a racing incident where all drivers needed to give and take. Even with the contact, Sato rebounded to a respectable 13th place finish.

Sato’s best result was a second in Detroit race two, which provided a welcome return to the podium for the first time since Brazil 2013, when he lost the win at the last corner. Like last year, he ended the season with back-to-back top-10 results, sixth and eighth at Pocono and Sonoma. More impressively, in a year when Honda drivers struggled to make the Firestone Fast Six, Sato and Hunter-Reay were the only Honda drivers to make it twice.

Perhaps having a second car aided Sato, who stepped up as team leader in the Larry Foyt-led team with second-year driver Jack Hawksworth on board. He’s been on a single car team for the last three years, two at Foyt and in his single exciting year at Rahal Letterman Lanigan in 2012. Sato’s done a very nice job of correcting course the last two years, and is a steady fixture with Foyt, planning to continue once again into 2016.

Raikkonen learned “pretty much nothing” in Sochi practice

xxxx during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on October 9, 2015 in Sochi, Russia.
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Kimi Raikkonen made no secret of his frustration following practice for the Russian Grand Prix on Friday after losing the majority of the day’s running at the Sochi Autodrom.

A diesel spill on the track ahead of the first free practice session cost the field 30 minutes of running, while heavy rain made much of FP2 a fruitless exercise.

Speaking after Friday’s sessions, Raikkonen admitted that Ferrari had learned very little due to the conditions, but said that the team will try to make the best of the situation.

“Today the weather conditions were not very nice,” Raikkonen said. “We could not get much running and we learned pretty much nothing.

“The first practice was dry, but at the beginning of the session there was an issue with the tarmac surface and they had to wash it away. So we lost time and when we got to the track some parts were still wet.

“In the second session, the weather turned out to be a bit tricky and it rained most of the time. It’s one of those days you do absolutely nothing but that’s how it goes.

“It was not ideal today but it was the same for everybody. Hopefully tomorrow it will be dry, and we’ll see how the tires work. We’ll do our normal program and try to make the best out of it.”

Teammate Sebastian Vettel finished third in FP1 and second in FP2, but thinks he may struggle to find any rhythm ahead of qualifying on Saturday after losing most of today’s running.

“Today we did learn a few things, but nothing that we can really use for the weekend,” Vettel said. “The first impression of the car is good, but I can’t really say a lot more as we really didn’t get enough track action today.

“This morning we couldn’t drive much as some of the corners were covered with diesel fuel, and it took a while to clean it all up. In the afternoon it started raining, but tomorrow and Sunday it is supposed to be dry!

“In general, it won’t be easy to get into the right rhythm, as the track tomorrow will feel the same like yesterday – that is, green and with poor grip. Usually, you use the Friday to lay some rubber down, but that was not possible today.”

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra this weekend. For full broadcast details, click here.