|Christian Horner (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)|
Christian HORNER (Team Principal- Red Bull Racing)
A question, first of all, to all of you: your overall impressions of the circuit and the challenge.Christian, do you think it suits the Red Bulls?
HORNER: Yeah, it’s been a good day mainly for us today. Again, it’s incredible to see what’s been done in the last 18 months. We came here 18 months ago when it really was just a construction site and we ran a car with David Coulthard on just dirt and rubble that existed here. And to see what’s happened and how the track’s been built and the undulations and the corners, the way it’s been incorporated – just hats off to the Circuit of the Americas and to Bernie for convincing them to take up this race and so on. It’s a great challenge and a great spectacle and hopefully we can put on a good show for the American fans and public and it will be a race to remember.
Thank you very much. Again, to all of you: the importance of a race in America for your sponsors. Perhaps you can talk about that. Different priorities for different people obviously.
Horner: It’s crucial for Formula One. To be a true world championship you’ve got to have a race in America. And for the first time ever we’ve got a circuit that’s specifically made to bring out the best and showcase Formula One cars. And I think the circuit that’s been built here will do exactly that. Hopefully we can put a great show on for the fans. In some ways it’s surprising for us to see how much interest there is in the US, how much knowledge about Formula One, how the town has come alive with Formula One coming into Texas. I think it’s a crucial race for Red Bull. America is Red Bull’s biggest market and certainly for our partners as well. Infiniti sell more cars here than anywhere else in the world and partners like AT&T… it’s an important market for us, it’s our biggest-ever race from a hospitality and guest point of view in our short history, so it’s a great place to be coming back into the US and hopefully we can have a great race on Sunday.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR.
(Tom Richter - TV Nova) I have a question for Stefano and Christian. Obviously this is a great event but we have the championship situation: two races to go, if you can please describe the moods in your respective teams and what prospects you see for the remaining two races.
Horner: Our approach is to treat this race very much like any other. We’ve come here to try to get the best out of the weekend. To try to get the best out of ourselves as a team and the championships will then hopefully look after themselves. We’ve worked hard to get ourselves into a strong position in the Constructors’ Championship and obviously Sebastian has done a tremendous job to haul himself back into the Drivers’ Championship after the summer break – we were close to 40 points behind Fernando. With 50 points still available in the Drivers’ Championship, you can take nothing for granted. We’ve seen how quickly things can change. We know that Fernando is a formidable competitor and Ferrari as a team. We’ve just got to focus on ourselves and look to get the best out of our package here this weekend.
Q: (Julien Febreau - L'Equipe) To all of you: regarding this season, in what way has Sebastian Vettel impressed you the most and do you think that now Sebastian is a better driver than in previous seasons?
Horner: Sebastian is a remarkable young man. He's continued to evolve as a driver and as a person. He's never given up this year. He's driven with great determination. It's been a tough year for him and the team, but he's fought hard to get himself back into this championship and he's driven extremely well. It's a halcyon period for Formula One at the moment; there are some formidable drivers on the grid at the moment. Any driver, either Fernando or Sebastian, if they prevail in this year's championship they will be fully deserving of that title. I think he's continued as an individual to evolve. It's only his hundredth Grand Prix this weekend and to have won 26 of those races, to have had more than 30 pole positions, to be a double World Champion at the age of 25 is something quite remarkable. But he carries that extremely well. I think he's a good ambassador for the sport He applies himself in an extremely focused way to the job in hand. That's my summary.
Q: (Kate Walker - Girl Racer) Speed are giving the NASCAR finale 30 hours of TV coverage this weekend. I think F1 is getting something like two and a half, so it is a bit of a problem for the dedicated motor sport fan.
Horner: I think the major problem is that whatever weekend you stick a Formula One race on there's going to be a NASCAR race. Looking at their calendar, they seem to race every single weekend. Some of us think that 20 races is a lot. I think that those guys are doing a fair bit more.
Q: (Maurice Hamilton - Honorary) Formula One has arguably never been more competitive from the front of the grid to the back so driver talent is therefore the most important thing that you're looking for. We know that drivers with financial backing still play a part, certainly in the second half of the grid, the back half of the grid. I wonder if the front three can just give me their view on that and say if that's still an inevitable part of Formula One, despite the need to cut costs and perhaps Cyril could explain how important a driver with financial backing is to one of the smaller teams?
Horner: Well, I think that since Formula One started in 1950, there has always been a mixture of drivers that have paid for seats and drivers that have been paid as professionals. The demands and costs of Grand Prix racing have always required that and it's no different today where there's drivers that have perhaps were associated with sponsors but have still had to demonstrate their talent, demonstrate their ability to warrant a place. In a perfect scenario, you'd have the top 24 drivers on the grid that were the most talented 24 drivers in the world in a Formula One event. The reality is that isn't the case and I think that while Formula One is a commercial business and there are commercial pressures, I think you will always have that balance, but I think that what's good to see is that there have been schemes that have been set up to support young drivers who have found their way onto the grid that perhaps were associated with sponsorship but have also had to earn that position.
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