MONTREAL — Christian Horner, the Team Principal for Infiniti Red Bull racing, said Sunday that one of the biggest challenges facing Formula One is cracking the lucrative U.S. market.
Speaking before the Canadian Grand Prix, Horner said that the race in Texas is a good start, but more is needed.
“We now have the races in Texas, and I think we need a race on the east coast (of the U.S.),” he said. “I think that is Bernie (Ecclestone’s) biggest challenge and it for sure seems to be at the top of his priority list as well.”
But Horner doesn’t want to see the Montreal stop, which is without a contract past the 2014 race, sacrificed for a second race in the U.S.
“Montreal is a great race and I think there is a lot of empathy to see the race remain here,” Horner said. “So I think that (the second U.S. race) would be in addition to Montreal.”
Teams in constant motion: When you talk long-term in Formula One, the time frame is about two weeks, Horner said, adding that “Formula One is effectively a constant R&D project.”
But Red Bull Racing is benefiting from its association with Infiniti, Horner said.
“The strength of depth of the research and development departments in Infiniti and Nissan is something that is very exciting for our design engineers,” he said.
The 39-year-old said that R&D eats up between 30 and 35 per cent of the racing team’s annual budget, which is measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
“A large portion of the budget is focused on R&D and simulation as the car is constantly a prototype,” he said.
With so many different types of circuits visited by Formula One, Horner said some of the team’s development has to be specific to each particular race.
“Some are evolving from what we learn here in Montreal,” he said. “We will be looking to apply in Silverstone in a couple of weeks’ time. So you have got to be able to react very quickly and the opposition is doing likewise.”
Focus on Montreal: Red Bull tweaked its setup for Montreal, maximizing speed on the straightaways.
“We focused very hard on top speed here this year, so our top speed is better,” Horner said. “We sacrificed a bit more in the slow-speed corners. The top speed is definitely a big improvement over where we have been in previous years. So that will work well for us.”
Horner said a lot would depend on the temperature at race time and how the Pirelli tires would react on “a relatively green circuit, with not a lot of rubber down.”
Horner added that for Montreal, braking stability would be important because of the bumpy nature of the track at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, as would traction for exiting the slow-speed corner.
Organized chaos in team garages on race day: To the untrained eye, a Formula One garage can seem a little daunting as mechanics scurry about working on cars, surgically taking them apart and rebuilding them between practices, qualifying sessions and the big race.
But Horner says the reality of pit lane is the exact opposite. He compares the precision of the work of mechanics and team members in the pits to a military operation.
“We have a very clear chain of command and everyone knows what their role and function is,” Horner said.
That is what allows Infiniti Red Bull Racing mechanics to change four tires in only a few seconds.
Don’t you wish you had them on your speed dial when your tire goes flat?
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette