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

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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.”

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.