POWER TO THE PEOPLE
Formula One is a fast-moving sport – in every aspect. Not just in the micro-seconds that teams pursue in the quest for on-track superiority but also off-track, in the battle to build and maintain the best squad, to best exploit the potential that lies within that team and to direct that effort towards success.
For more than a decade that task has fallen to Team Principal Christian Horner and during that time he has made it his goal to carefully assemble a team of like-minded, hard-working and passionately committed designers, engineers, fabricators, mechanics, and racers to take what, in 2005, was a struggling mid-ranking F1 outfit to the top of the sport.
For Horner, the process is deceptively simple. "It's all about empowerment," he insists. "You hire people you think are the very best at what they do and you have to trust them to do that job to the best of their ability. If people are invested in what they do, in their contribution to building something then the rewards will come."
The Team Principal's belief in people power harks all the way back to his earliest days in motorsport – as a driver. In a promising junior series career that took him through stints in Formula Renault, British F3 and Formula Two, the future team boss learned that each cog in the racing machine, from driver to race engineer to mechanic, is an integral part of any success.
It was a lesson learned in even greater depth when he stepped up to the International FIA F3000 series. There he not only raced, but did so for his own team, Arden International. And it was there, after stepping back from driving to concentrate on running the team that his belief in the power of putting the right people in the right place and giving them the freedom to deliver their best snapped into focus.
Over the next six seasons, Horner built Arden into a racing powerhouse, with the young team owner guiding his squad to three Drivers' and Team Championships in succession. It was a remarkable record that brought him to the attention of Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, and when the drinks company took the radical step of setting up its own Formula One team for the 2005 season, it turned to Horner to run the operation.
Risky as the move seemed, the first-time F1 team principal grabbed the opportunity to apply the lessons learned in the junior formulae and Horner set about reinvigorating each department of the struggling team he had inherited.
The recruitment of Adrian Newey as Chief Technical Officer was the most obvious coup, but the policy of placing the right people in the right positions was applied across the team, and over the course of four seasons the team began to coalesce into a force capable of challenging for major honours.
The first came in 2009, with the team taking its first win, and it's first 1-2 victory, at the Chinese Grand Prix. From there the floodgates opened. Six wins and second place in the Constructors' Championship in 2009 became nine victories and Team and Drivers' title winners in 2010. Three more double crowns followed over the next three campaigns, putting the team in an exclusive club of just three teams to take four or more constructors' titles consecutively.
The 2014 season, however, began a period of transition for the team as the sport underwent the most radical set of technical regulation changes seen for decades.
The shift to 1.6-litre, turbocharged hybrid power units put the team at a power disadvantage, but despite the difficulties the 2014 season was enlivened by another new arrival – Daniel Ricciardo.
The young Perth native was drafted in to replace fellow Aussie Mark Webber, who left the team for a tilt at the World Endurance Championship, and Ricciardo was an immediate sensation, running at the front of the pack from the very start of the season. In all, he took three victories in his first season with the team.
The campaign was less successful for Sebastian Vettel and as the season drew to a close the German announced his departure from the team. Christian wasted no time in announcing the four-time champion's successor – another highly regarded product of the Red Bull Junior Programme, Russian racer Daniil Kvyat.
The team's power struggles continued in 2015 but the determined Kvyat provided the season's high point, taking his first podium finish with second place at the Hungarian Grand Prix ahead of third-placed team-mate Ricciardo. Daniel added another in Singapore and put a late-season gloss on a difficult year.
The new era continues in 2016 as Christian continues to map out the next phase of the team's racing career, beginning with the move to an exciting new power unit supply model, the consolidation the team's racing package and preparing for further change in the fastest moving sport on the planet.