Red Bull’s success “does not sit comfortably with some of our competitors” – Horner

2022 F1 season

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner believes their rivals resent their success because they are an energy drink brand rather than a car manufacturer.

The team clinched its fifth constructors’ trophy this year while driver Max Verstappen won the drivers championship for the second year in a row. However Red Bull became embroiled in controversy when the FIA confirmed last month it had exceeded the budget cap during 2021.

Horner believes such controversies inevitably follow when a team is successful, and says they are a particular target because they are not link to a motoring brand.

“You’re always learning,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “Somebody else will have an issue at some point.

“The higher you rise, the sharper the knives. We’ve experienced a bit of that this year. The quickest way to become unpopular in this paddock is to win and win consistently.

“I think that we’re a subsidiary of an energy drink racing against OEMs and historic brands and of course that does not sit comfortably with some of our competitors.”

“Off-track we’ve had, firmly, a target on our back this year,” he added. “We’re a race team, we’re not a political organisation, we just focus on going racing.

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“We’re hard racers, we push the boundaries, which is what race teams do if they want to succeed. And that’s always been our approach.

“It’s worked well for us, it’s the way we enjoy competing. And at times it has been tough this year. But that’s unfortunately Formula 1.”

Horner is proud of the team’s ability to win in consecutive seasons despite having been involved in a championship fight until the final race of last year and having to cope with a drastic change in technical rules.

“As a team we got these regulations right which, considering we were the last team to transition onto them after what happened last year, I think our team has done an amazing job in coming out with such a competitive car,” he said.

Red Bull “bounced back after a double DNF” in the first race of the season “whereas Ferrari scored a one-two finish in Bahrain,” Horner continued. “We never lost sight of what our target was.”

“By the time we got to Imola, winning the sprint [race] and the grand prix with our first one-two of the year, [we were] able to then put the pressure back onto Ferrari and it didn’t give them a breathing space. And we just kept efficiently developing the car, managing to lose a little bit of weight [from it].”

“Max has just been in sensational form this year,” Horner added. “You think back to some of the races that were so tight in the early races with Ferrari. You think of Miami, you think of the races in Saudi, even in Bahrain. It’s been an incredible, incredible season for us.”

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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50 comments on “Red Bull’s success “does not sit comfortably with some of our competitors” – Horner”

  1. They are a racing team, funded by an energy drinks manufacturer.

    The myth that keeps being perpetuated that they are some plucky underfunded underdog should have gone the way of the dodo in the late-naughties.

    They are not Super Aguri, just scraping by with a likeable staff doing their best. They are a campaigning juggernaut, no different from any OEM like Mercedes or Ferrari.

    1. RB is like a cigarette company. Large corporation and huge profits from an unhealthy product.

      RBR had a benefactor, and his largesse gave them Newey.

      No Newey – no win.

      1. So only AN has to build a car and they win?
        AN design but no Honda engine they would still win ??
        AN design but no MV in the car they would still win ??
        I think they win because they have the best team and hardware

      2. “Large corporation and huge profits from an unhealthy product.”
        Sounds not much different than Mercedes to me.

        1. Insert eye roll emoji here.

  2. Sigh. This is SOOOOOO old now Christian. Look back at your own constant whining when Mercedes kept winning. Off course your competition doesn’t like it when you win instead of them.

    And on top, we have stuff like the overspending, like Max sometimes over the edge driving (and getting away with it in really bad cases like Brazil 2021) and benefiting from a misguided decision by FIA race control over how to end the last race of the season in 2021 all give handles to dig into why there should be ** added to those great results.

    Yes, Red Bull did clearly to the best job this year, and they were really good last year, I expect them to be on the same level next year too. Because the team is ran with a solid focus on results, holds together, takes the right decisions on development, has great execution of the racing as well and more often than not takes the right tactical decisions.
    And they have a driver in Max that can really bring exceptional results home, and a solid backup with Perez in the other car.

    That is why they are winning.

    1. he said in response to a question from RaceFans.

      Tell the author, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

      1. Off course he was asked the question @sjaakfoo, but the answer is all his own. And it still is a whiny bit of “oh, look at us poor RBR getting all this flak for being a fizzy pop company”.

    2. “Sigh. This is SOOOOOO old now Christian. Look back at your own constant whining when Mercedes kept winning. Off course your competition doesn’t like it when you win instead of them”

      Absolutely, very true! In fact one thing missing this season was Christian’s unending digs, gripes, moans, complaints and innuendos aimed at Merc and Toto in particular.
      Instead, a batch of almost instant, retaliatory sound bites each time Verstappen was criticised for his (strangely unpunished) outrageous behaviour.

    3. He does like to make out that a team that has been in the sport for 18 years now, backed by a $30 billion company, with an engine given to them by another $40 billion company, is an underdog. He is such a pantomime villain.

      1. Well said. It’s tiresome, and the only ones who fall for it are the DTS generation and fans of the team. And the occasional race director, of course.

  3. … Forgot to mention cheating… FIA assistance… And no Redbull is not just a drinks company….thats an overly understatement. Also Mr Horner you have the shortest, biased, dilussional memory of all in F1.

  4. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    29th November 2022, 7:57

    10 years ago… probably

    Currently… I think it’s more like the budget gap breaking etc.

  5. No body cares about Red bull being an energy drinks company. People hate redbull for you, Marko, Verstappen. Your success is just the reminder. Nobody despises Newey or the late Mr. Mateschitz. Guys like Dennis, Williams, Head, Todt, Brown have won even more than you in some cases but they were respected and admired or disliked at most. You have managed to paint a very bright picture of Toto Wolff (a polarising figure) in comparison to you.

    1. Well, no. I am no fan of Horner, but Toto is ten times worse

      1. But… but Toto speaks very highly of you!

  6. There is always resentment when a team dominates, especially when their victory is as comprehensive as Red Bull’s and Verstappen’s. Disgruntled rivals, who have got so used to winning that they believe it’s now a divine right, are bound to voice their frustration when they get things wrong.

    I don’t think the controversies around the last two seasons are materially different from the controversies that have surrounded other teams during their own periods of dominance, but with F1 narratives being so heavily influenced by social media (and the potential for manipulation that brings), it can probably feel more intense.

    Finally I think Red Bull have always been careful to cultivate the image of an insurgent underdog, which is obviously harder to maintain when you’re winning. So some resistance is bound to be expected.

    1. Agreed about the resentment, it’s only natural. I disagree about the controversies though. The cost cap one, fair enough, there are probably many comparable rule breaches that have occurred in the past. But as for Abu Dhabi 2021, I don’t think there’s much comparison in all of sport let alone Formula 1.

      Saying that, I don’t see that as a Red Bull controversy, more a FIA one. Red Bull just so happened to have benefitted from it, and it could have been Mercedes just as easily if roles were reversed.

      On Red Bull’s image, I do think that’s what Horner has been going hard on all season. Any criticism aimed at them is generally swatted away with shouts about them being the victim, or in this case, unfair resentment based on who they are rather than them just being dominant.

    2. Disgruntled rivals, who have got so used to winning that they believe it’s now a divine right, are bound to voice their frustration when they get things wrong.

      Nope. I imagine it’s voicing frustration when one team plays to one set of rules from another.

    3. Disgruntled rivals, who have got so used to winning that they believe it’s now a divine right, are bound to voice their frustration when they get things wrong.

      You’re describing Horner from 2014 to 2021.

    4. I don’t think the controversies around the last two seasons are materially different from the controversies that have surrounded other teams during their own periods of dominance

      Really? I don’t remember any other close fought title result being changed at the last second by an official ignoring the rules, or anything even remotely similar. While that’s not technically RBR’s fault, the fact that they won’t even acknowledge the controversial nature of it and even boycott media who speak about it certainly is.

      The budget cap breach, on the other hand, I can see as being similar to other controversies in the past. It’s up there with some of the worst and it’s right that they are receiving heavy criticism for it, but I’ll give you that one.

  7. As others have already alluded to, the issue people have with Red Bull is actually more a reflection of the manner in which they’ve achieved their success. When you take that in combination of what has to be some of the worst winners I’ve seen in modern sports it’s not hard to see why your team is disliked. Red Bull have complete contempt for the fans and the sport. Horner should take a look at the conduct of his now deceased owner and he might find adding some humility to his behaviour will make the team more likeable. Preferably don’t cheat too would be good.

    1. They have been succesfull in the past with Vettel. He got boooed as well because of his dominance and the multi 21 incident. Now it’s Max who is the dominant factor with the same reception of the competition. I don’t think RB would have had a WDC the last two years without him and it sure wouldn’t have been the dominant team this year without the racepace of Max. For some people this is hard to swallow and they will always find a reason to deny their succes

      1. Not a specific reply to slowmo but got posted here.

        1. It did confuse me as I didn’t attribute any dislike for Red Bull to Verstappen. I do honestly feel that as a team they project a very poor image and as you say this kind of rubs off on their drivers image too. Vettel’s PR took a huge upswing in popularity in 2015 at Ferrari and people still liked him as he was challenging for the title in 2017-2019. I know Verstappen has some detractors (which drivers don’t) too but I think the main dislike for the team stems from the teams attitude and conduct rather than Verstappen’s.

          1. Thank you @slowmo, that’s very much my feeling too.

            As someone else said above, they are so often bad winners even more than they are bad losers which at least is something we can see as the backside of being focused on winning as we tend to expect from top athletes.

          2. No, it was Max they were booing in AD.

      2. If it was all about Max and his wonderful driving, then how come he only got his first WDC in 2021 (with some questionable help from a certain FIA RD) surely that awesome skill would have gotten him some other Accolades prior to 2021. Especially as it seems the New-Newey car didn’t get Max there, only Max did – all with that awesome skill of his !!!

        1. No driver in history would’ve won with any of the red bull cars verstappen drove before 2021.

  8. I feel this is mainly deliberately triggered by Mercedes and Lewis. It is part of their sportsmanship strategy to trash the competition in the media

    1. Didn’t see anything from Lewis or MB to the extent we saw from Horner and ORBR especially around them breaching the cost cap. ORBR playing the victim and you are going along with it.

      ORBR spent in excess of 300 million when they could and cheated when they couldn’t.

    2. You live and breath Lewis Hamilton. Why?

      1. I hope we don’t lose him once Lewis retires!

    3. Of course it is… I’m sure Toto and Lewis are responsible for 911, COVID, and Ukraine, too.

    4. Or perhaps by a fan base that in discontent with the race director not following it’s own ruleset; or the governing body not enforcing any form of realistic and deterring punishment with the cost cap; or the toxic behaviour of the team’s drivers; or the whataboutism of the team’s principal; or the constant claims of “we’re only a drinks company being bullied by all these big OEMs, woe is us”; etc etc.

      But nah, must be big bad Mercedes, amirite?

  9. Being funded by a drink company is not why Red Bull is unpopular, it’s because they are a bit cheaty and have some thoroughly questionable characters running the team/driving.

    1. Is there any difference to Mercedes then?

      1. Where have Mercedes been found to have broken the rules, please?

      2. @Bojangles.

        Yes, it’s completely different.

  10. Lurking in this is a dig at Lewis, who once said “they’re a drinks company”, which ever since Horner has pretended was “just a drinks company”, which he did not say. And this unmentionable ism is part of the culture at Red Bull and why they drag Mercedes into a political spat at every opportunity, never say anything generous about them but make snide indirect insinuations like this one.

    1. …and he even walked it back, acknowledging their breadth of talent.

  11. I was always taught that if I had nothing positive to say, not to say anything. On the subject of CH I say “”.

  12. For once, Horner’s right.

    To be fair though, if Mercedes launched a stellar energy drink that outsold them then Red Bull would be pretty cheesed off.

    1. Then that’s probably what they should do, oppose them in more ways than 1!

  13. I don’t dislike Red Bull as a team. I strongly dislike Horner. I think Max needs to mature but I don’t dislike him. And none of that has to do with Red Bull being a drinks company.

  14. Just dropped by to say I’m not reading this, life’s too short.

  15. If you hadn’t cheated the budget cap and gained a lasting advantage for the next 5 years, we wouldn’t have despised you.

  16. Christian and Toto are so much into drama … that’s boring at the end …
    And article about it too.

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