Christian Horner and Lewis Hamilton

Horner insists Hamilton’s management approached Red Bull despite denials

Formula 1

Posted on

| Written by and

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has insisted a representative of Lewis Hamilton’s “management group” contacted the team, contrary to the driver’s denials.

Hamilton, who earlier this year signed a new deal to remain at Mercedes until the end of 2025, said Red Bull had approached him directly at one stage. The seven-times champion denied his representatives had been in touch with them.

But Horner, speaking exclusively to RaceFans, insisted a representative of Hamilton’s “management group” had contacted them.

“They were just expressing interest,” he added. “But that’s not unusual, let’s put it that way.”

He believes Hamilton has denied any interest in joining Red Bull out of concerns over how his team would react to him courting the reigning champions, who they fought a bitterly-contested title fight against two years ago.

“Maybe it’s slightly awkward for Lewis, obviously, with his own team. It’s not unusual for people to reach out.

“I’m not going to go into the details of the where, who and why, but perhaps they wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t. I’d be rather surprised if they hadn’t informed Lewis but you never know how managements work with different athletes.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

A Red Bull spokesperson said the approach to the team was made by Hamilton’s father, who managed his son’s career until 2010.

New podium, Yas Marina, 2023
Gallery: First pictures from the 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Horner made it clear he had not personally discussed anything with Hamilton. “I have had no conversations directly with Lewis,” he said, adding: “There was no clandestine meetings with Lewis to talk about driving for Red Bull.”

Speaking to media at the Yas Marina today Hamilton stated he “did not” approach Red Bull and claimed any expression of interest originated with them.

“I checked with everyone in the team and no one’s spoken to him,” said Hamilton. “But they have tried to reach out to us.”

Hamilton claimed Horner tried to contact him directly several months ago, but the pair had not spoken.

“I picked up my old phone which I just found at home that had my old number on it and I switched on and obviously hundreds of messages come through,” said Hamilton. “And I realised there was one from Christian to get together and have a chat at the end of the season.”

He notified team principal Toto Wolff of the approach from Horner.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“I did tell Toto,” said Hamilton. “Especially when this story obviously broke. Just because I have so much respect for Toto, we have a great relationship. Also I wanted my team to know because people think those things and it’s never positive.

“Initially I just replied to [Horner] on my new phone. But it was after a [race] weekend, it was quite late on that I found the message. It was from earlier in the year so it was like months later. I just said ‘congratulations on an amazing season’ and ‘I hope we’re able to compete with you soon’. And he replied, repeating the same thing.”

Red Bull has dominated the 2023 season, winning all bar one of the 21 grands prix so far. Hamilton said any driver would want to sample their car, but he wants the satisfaction of putting Mercedes back on top, two years after losing ther drivers’ championship to Max Verstappen in controversial circumstances at the venue of this weekend’s race.

“I think hopefully signing [a new contract] showed my commitment to the team,” he said. “I think – let’s be realistic – every single driver that’s racing here dreams of being in a winning car. I think probably in my younger days when I hadn’t maybe had a lot of success, maybe in those McLaren days it would be a lot more attractive.

“But when I think about it just from a racing perspective and just my viewpoint on things, I obviously showed when I moved to this team that I enjoyed moving from being in a more successful team to a team that hadn’t had success, with the vision of growing and building with the team. Because when we did then win, it was just such a better feeling.

“Whilst every driver looks at the Red Bull car and would love to drive that car – and I’m not saying that I wouldn’t love to drive that car and experience how good that car is, every drivers would feel that – I feel like we’ve had two really difficult years and if we work towards beating that car, it’s going to be a way better feeling than stepping into the best car.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“I just don’t think that would do much for me in the sense of stepping into the car that’s been the most dominant car of all time. Working with my team to be able to beat them I think would be better for my legacy, for sure.”

He suggested Horner had instigated the stories about him in order to draw more attention to himself. “If you really think about it there’s a lot of people here that like to drop my name in many conversations because they know it’s going to make waves,” said Hamilton. “And if you’re a little bit lonely and not getting much attention this is the perfect thing to do, just mention my name.”

Though a Hamilton-Verstappen pairing at Red Bull may be off the cards, both drivers insisted today they would be happy to share a team. Verstappen said he would go up against “anyone”, while Hamilton said “I’d be more than happy to race against Max in the same car, it would be wonderful.”

“But I don’t think he wants me to be his team mate,” he added.

Don’t miss RaceFans’ exclusive interview with Christian Horner coming soon.

Don't miss anything new from RaceFans

Follow RaceFans on social media:

Bringing the F1 news from the source

RaceFans strives to bring its readers news directly from the key players in Formula 1. We are able to do this thanks in part to the generous backing of our RaceFans Supporters.

By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the equivalent in other currencies) you can help cover the costs involved in producing original journalism: Travelling, writing, creating, hosting, contacting and developing.

We have been proudly supported by our readers for over 10 years. If you enjoy our independent coverage, please consider becoming a RaceFans Supporter today. As a bonus, all our Supporters can also browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix articles

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

32 comments on “Horner insists Hamilton’s management approached Red Bull despite denials”

  1. After the accusations Horner threw at Hamilton in 2021, I doubt there’s any chance Hamilton would drive for Red Bull while Horner is team principal.

    1. Sometimes dad’s just won’t keep out of things.
      But if true seeing Anthony isn’t part of his management I guess they’re both right or wrong or ….. whatever.

  2. ““I’m not going to go into the details of the where, who and why, but perhaps they wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t.”

    So, he admits these meetings are no big deal and doesn’t mean much to even deserve to be mentioned but now that he said it to the press, there’s no back down. It doesn’t mean anything but it happened! He swears!

    So silly…

    1. He swears!

      He swore RBR had not exceeded the cost cap, and there would be legal proceedings if people didn’t stop saying it.
      Then later, the story was that it was only a tiny bit over, then the story was…

      Seems Hans Christian Horner is full of unlikely tales.

    2. Like in 2021, Horner is just not quite as clever with these press games as he thinks. When called out, his defense mechanism is to make it bigger, like when he hilariously claimed everyone was cheating in 2014 but (insert reason here) only his team got caught.

      Oh well, he’s still a decent manager, and he managed to stick around long enough for F1 to BoP their engines so his team could get back to winning races. Fair play, I guess.

  3. ‘Hey Christian, Lewis, the season is a bit dead already which the UAE guys don’t like, and we need some juice to make it through until Bahrain. Can you guys throw something out there for the sake of entertainment?’ ‘Sure Stefano, no problem’.

    1. Drive To Survive says thanks BTW

  4. Horner is just fickle. So sad

  5. just think, how many more cans they’d have sold with Lewis! I suppose this is the next best thing

  6. I said this in another article, and I’ll say/write it again: even if Horner is telling the truth, what’s the big deal? I get it that the story may make thing unformattable at Brackley, but (a) Hamilton did not have a Mercedes extension until recently, so it’s not like he was trying to get out of any contract, and (b) Hamilton, like every other driver, wants to compete with the best car possible and he thought he saw an opening in the current top team.

    I hate this double-standard so much: when an employer fires an employee over performance or costs, they will usually say “don’t complain, it’s strictly business”, but when the employee quits or leaves, the employer will whine and say that said employee should have been more considerate, a “team player”. If Hamilton’s performance drops off a cliff, do you think the Mercedes executives will say “geez, he’s not a good driver anymore, but let’s keep him since he has done so much for us”? Power to the drivers!

  7. I mean, it would never happen but can you imagine the pairing though, omg. Assuming the both got a hang of the car, both hungry to beat each other… one can only dream.

    1. I’d rather have Alonso in that car.

      And for Hamilton, the best way to further build a legacy is to join and win with Ferrari.

      1. True. From a legacy perspective, winning another WDC with a shambolic team such as Ferrari, has much more weightage than winning it with a team that at the moment is better than Mercedes at their peak.

        However, beating Max in the same equipment would have its own legacy as well.. but it’s a whole lot more high risk for Lewis.

        1. However, beating Max in the same equipment would have its own legacy as well.. but it’s a whole lot more high risk for Lewis.

          Indeed, and even if Hamilton would win that battle it will do more harm to Max’s legacy than benefit Lewis’s.

  8. So true, these two are among the best of all time no matter who you are a fan of.Peronally I would like to see both of them in a slightly lesser car than the beat.Tgats when Senna and Schumacher shone.

  9. Of course they did. RBR would’ve approached Hamilton’s management at some point, and vice versa.

    They all need to keep their ear to the ground on what is happening in the driver market and already have the connections made so that they can make moves quickly. It doesn’t mean that any of them were ever serious about making the jump.

  10. Well, it would make sense in times of contract negociations. It also makes (a lot of) sense for Lewis to deny, as it wouldn’t exactly help the relationship between Lewis and Mercedes, with Red Bull Racing being their self proclaimed archrivals.

  11. This is only such a huge story cause of Hamilton somehow being ashamed of ever being linked to anyone but Merc which is weird af. Every drivers team talks to everyone, it’s their job. Toto has never shyed away from always praising Max & leaving the door open even during the heated battle of 2021, as he should. Lewis just makes this awkward with some weird ‘cult loyalty’ towards Merc. Bit like Domonic Taretto in the fast & furious movies always banging on about ‘FAMILY’.

  12. I don’t understand Lewis’s reaction, he is so defensive using wordplay. There is more chance of this happening that not cause why wouldn’t you or your team look out for your best interests.

  13. And just like that, all talk of Abu Dhabi 2021 is overshadowed by Horner’s fake news.
    Why fake news?
    Because it’s Horner. He lies so much and so easily and so obviously that anything he says has to be treated as a lie – falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.

    1. There is a saying: There’s no such thing as bad publicity as long people are talking about you…..

      As the old crowd knows ofcourse there was a talk as there is always a talk between drivers and teams.
      It doesn’t mean Lewis did but one of his management ofcourse but i think that was a short one otherwise they don’t do their job well.

    2. You mean the few broken records on twitter and their rabbit hole of silly conspiracy theories.. You do realise that in the real world people have moved on?

  14. Horner, Wolff and Hamilton. They sure got class, dont they? Looks like a combination of false entitlement and insecurity is what they have in common and happens to all come together in this space and time. Fireworks everytime. Liberty’s dream come true. The sport could do without it though. So tiresome these guys. Can we please just go racing?

  15. Horner calls to Hamilton, Hamilton calls back or vice versa. And ‘the news’ is now both are saying the other one reached out. And they’re both right because Horner doesn’t say who called first Leave it to the tabloids to make the most of nothing here.

  16. A. Red Bull is winning both championships.
    Horner calling Hamilton don’t make sense.

    B. Hamilton isn’t winning anything after 2021.
    Hamilton calling Horner/ Red Bull makes sense!

    1. Regardless of who called who. Why bring it up in the media to cause a stir… and probably inflate your ego?

      1. To stir the pot at Mercedes. After 2 years where the Mercedes no blame culture completely crumbled and quite clearly clashes between Toto and Hamilton and the engineering and design staff.
        It’s will cause some concern that Lewis, the top driver, appears to be more loyal to his career than to Mercedes.

        Similar to the mind games Lewis has been playing for years.

  17. Sneaky is not a great attribute for a former f1 champion.
    Plus he accuses Max that he’s running scared of taking him on in the same car. All very unwise.

  18. Harsha Vardhan Maagalam
    24th November 2023, 9:46

    Netflix Drive to Surving producers evil smile after reaching this article

  19. Just proves how great Hamilton is i could highly bet only he and Alonso who are both the oldest btw would go to Max’s team. Im a huge Ham fan and i thought he was done last year but Russel made Lando look quite bad in junior formula and what Ham is doing at his age vs a talent like George is unreal tbh. When Vet got beat he never came Ham being even older has dominated Rus in racepace.

  20. Lewis is one of the greatest. Unfortunately-he’s also one of the best at playing “way, way too many mind games.” Now he’s crying Wolff! my 2 cents

  21. interesting story told by Toto… Yes Ham spoke with Horner in person and notified Toto immediately..
    lies, fantasies and more lies…
    The fun fact is the way Mercedes and hamilton reacting to this sidestory..
    they need some attention it seems..
    a new DTS chapter brewing…

Comments are closed.