Red Bull Racing comes to Spa after a couple of disappointing outings in Budapest and Valencia. In fact, after an encouraging front row grid position at Silverstone was followed by a spin for Mark Webber at Becketts on the opening lap of the British Grand Prix, points have proved hard to come by. How does Team Principal Christian Horner sum up the current situation?
Christian Horner: "After a very strong first half of the season, the team has endured a very frustrating past few weeks, with no points scored in the last four races. It is extremely important that we reverse this trend and get back on terms with Renault and close the gap to Toyota. The next few circuits, in particular Spa, should play to the strengths of the RB4 package. Over the past six weeks, we have analysed our performance in great detail and that analysis reveals the chassis is working well and we have pushed very hard in the factory to improve in all areas. Valencia did not play to our strengths, but we are convinced we can bounce back."
What has proved to be the most critical factor affecting Red Bull Racing's level of competitiveness?
CH: "Tyres are proving to be the biggest factor at the moment. Over the past couple of months, Toyota has looked very strong tyre wise in the higher temperatures. It's not a case of our rivals suddenly "bolting on" more performance. It's down to tyre useage and they have handled that better than us. We have understood why this happened and I feel we can get on top of this situation and return to our earlier form for the final third of the season, hopefully starting this weekend in Spa."
Can the team expect a better weekend in Spa?
CH: "I think so, as apart from anything else, there are a lot more high speed corners than in Budapest or Valencia! We had a good test in Monza and although that was aimed primarily at the Italian Grand Prix, the results of the test answered several fundamental questions about our package. Apart from the track characteristics, the weather always plays a crucial part in Belgium, therefore we will need to be particularly sharp operationally and in terms of strategy, dealing with the fact that sometimes, half the track can be dry and the other half wet. We need to go there and attack the weekend, we need both our drivers to be on top of their game, aiming to finish in the points. At the moment, the section of the grid that includes, BMW, Renault, Toyota, ourselves, Williams and now, Sebastian Vettel, is extremely tight and, as we've seen at the last few races, one tenth of a second can make the difference between four grid positions. Even with the long lap at Spa, I think we can expect a very tight grid, while the early Autumn weather, the race taking place a weekend later than usual, can add further unpredictability."
Has the need to turn the current situation around had a negative impact on development work on next year's car?
CH: "The whole group is working extremely hard to balance its resources between on-going development of RB4, currently more important than ever, given the performance downturn we've just been discussing and the work on the 2009 project. However, right from the end of 2007, we planned for RB4 development to continue to the end of the 2008 season and therefore the pressure to make up the ground lost in recent weeks has no impact on our work on next year's car. The team has worked well together putting in concerted effort and man-hours to understand and find solutions to our recent problems , so we are going to Spa in fighting mood, determined to come away with some points."