With Sebastian Vettel already having secured the Drivers’ title in Suzuka, Red Bull Racing made it two-out-of-two over the weekend by taking the Constructors' Championship in Korea. The mathematics for Red Bull Racing in Korea were very simple: being 130 points ahead of McLaren and with a maximum of 129 available from the last three rounds of the championship, the team simply needed to prevent McLaren from beating them in Yeongyam.
In a season where they had already taken nine wins and fourteen other podium finishes, that would not have seemed like a tall order, but McLaren were the in-form team in Japan and they looked even better in Korea. When Lewis Hamilton kept Red Bull off pole for the first time this year and with Jenson Button lining up behind him on the clean side of the track, it looked like Red Bull might have to wait until the Indian GP to pick up their title.
Team Principal Christian Horner, however, revealed that he expected his drivers to perform better in the race than in qualifying. With Friday practice all but washed out, Red Bull opted to spend much of their one dry hour of practice on Saturday concentrating on long-run race pace rather than one-lap qualifying speed.
“I thought it was going to be a very, very hard race with the McLarens today,” said Horner after the checkered flag. “But I think our preparation yesterday morning was crucial. We put quite a bit of focus into the race and perhaps sacrificed something in qualifying but it paid dividends today. You know the other teams chose to focus on their qualifying preparation [but what Red Bull chose] was definitely the right call and stood us in good stead for today."
Red Bull were aided by their best start of the season, which is simpler than it sounds given the fact that qualifying second (Seb) and fourth (Mark) was their worst Saturday performance. While the first corner went by the numbers, both drivers were able to claim a place on the first lap and, effectively, stay in those places until the end of the race.
Seb led comfortably to the checkered flag, and while Webber could not find a way past McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton (though not for want of trying), his third position -- ahead of Jenson Button’s second McLaren in fourth -- was more than enough margin to secure the title.
Red Bull had avoided talking about the inevitability of their eventual victory, but within minutes the team had broken out a celebratory black and gold championship edition of their team kit. “It’s nothing to do with me, I’m far too superstitious!” said Horner, though he wore it with as much pride as anyone else.
The mood in the garage and hospitality building after the race was much more jovial than it had been a week ago at Suzuka. Obviously having won the race in Korea had a lot to do with that, but also the Constructors’ title carries a special appeal within the F1 paddock, arguably more so than winning the Drivers’ Championship.
“You need to understand that we have so many people off the track, especially in Milton Keynes, in the factory, working day-in, day-out, every day of the week, every month of the year, really trying to make two very competitive race cars,” explained Seb in the official FIA post-race press conference.
"It's the team's day today, a great job from them for the second year in a row." –Webber
“It’s not just one person or one area where things need to come together, it’s everything. Obviously for us, the drivers, the most important championship is the Drivers’ Championship but for the team, it’s the other way round, it’s the Constructors’, to know where they match up against the other teams.”
“It’s the team’s day today,” said Webber. “A great job from them for the second year in a row. It’s a sensational effort from everyone in Milton Keynes, Viry (Renault) and everyone at Red Bull in Austria.”
“It’s very special because when you do it for the first time there’s all the emotion, but to go into the season as the reigning world champions, there’s that expectation and pressure to retain it,” added Horner.
“What I’m especially pleased with is the way the team has dealt with that pressure. The team has improved in all areas and we’re a stronger unit than we were 12 months ago. I think if you look at the level of consistency that we’ve had: operationally; strategically; on the development side as well, I think the whole team has worked in total harmony and that enables you to achieve the kind of results that we have today.”
Horner promised his outfit will keep pushing to the end of the season, but added that their reasons for doing so would be that it’s the best way to prepare for their defense of both titles in 2012.
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