David Coulthard, Adrian Newey, Christian Horner, Red Bull RB20 launch, 2024

Red Bull celebrates its past at launch but Horner’s future remains the focus

News Focus

Posted on

| Written by

A parade of Red Bull Formula 1 cars, including some of the most dominant and successful machines of recent seasons, greeted visitors to their Milton Keynes base for yesterday’s launch event.

But the car which started it all off was missing. Beneath the ‘RB1’ banner sat an example from three years later.

It soon became clear this was no oversight on Red Bull’s part. The team’s first F1 car had been wheeled into another hall where the launch took place, in order to play a starring role in proceedings.

Red Bull kicked off the launch of their 20th F1 car by firing up the first of them. As the blare of the RB1’s three-litre V10 Cosworth engine filled the room, it felt like a literal attempt to drown out the noise surrounding the team.

Red Bull RB1, 2024
Red Bull began its launch by firing up an RB1
For Red Bull, the occasion was a chance to celebrate their achievements since entering the sport 19 years ago. Having started a run of four consecutive championship sweeps just six years into their existence, recently returned to title-winning ways and proved utterly supreme last season, they had much to celebrate.

For the assembled media, the question looming over the event was could Red Bull keep the spotlight on their successes and their pursuit of yet more glory, and away from the matter of team principal Christian Horner’s position in the team?

The revelation Horner was the subject of an internal investigation regarding his conduct came long after the team had confirmed its launch plans. With his future at the team in doubt, questions immediately arose over whether Horner would appear at the launch of their new RB20.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

But with the investigation being handled by the team’s Austrian parent company, and Horner remaining in charge for the meantime at least, Red Bull pressed ahead with their launch plans. Horner was the first person to be introduced on stage.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez, Christian Horner, Red Bull RB20, 2024
“F1 is the biggest team sport in the world” – Horner
Central to the investigation he faces are accusations of alleged controlling behaviour towards a Red Bull employee, which Horner denies. Naturally, the situation wasn’t as much as hinted at during the official presentation, where Horner took the opportunity to pay tribute to the team’s 1,500 staff.

“The men and women here at Milton Keynes, all the people behind the scenes, it’s out of these industrial buildings that we created some of the most incredible cars over the last 19 seasons,” said Horner. “The late nights, the hours, the sacrifices that are made, and the passion and the fun.

“This is a culture. It’s a very inclusive culture, it’s a team culture. For me, Formula 1 is the biggest team sport in the world and without people you have nothing. It’s not about the motorhomes and flashy buildings, it’s what’s in the building and it’s the people who are your single biggest asset.”

Later, F1’s longest-serving current team principal gave further indication that the possibility he might stand down is far from his mind, and his focus is on the years ahead.

“What we’ve done in the last 20 [seasons] has been nothing short of phenomenal. And I think the next 20 is tremendously exciting, particularly with our own power units, in the buildings next door as we speak, coming to life.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

“So the future is very bright and hopefully we can continue on the journey that we’ve enjoyed and has been so successful in the last 19 seasons.”

The team’s star designer, chief technical officer Adrian Newey, is often credited for much of their success. But the importance of the man who brought Newey there should not be underestimated.

There was no better demonstration of Red Bull’s determination to win than by luring Newey away from McLaren. It was a huge coup for a team underestimated by some as an upstart soft drinks manufacturer, as Red Bull are fond of reminding people.

It was the first of a series of big calls Horner can claim credit for which were assured the team’s long-term success: Abandoning the Formula One Teams’ Association to gain favourable economic terms from former F1 owner Bernie Ecclestone, promoting the young Max Verstappen to the team just four races into 2016 and later snapping up the Honda power unit deal discarded by McLaren.

In 2026 we will discover whether another of Horner’s big calls will pay off: The decision to build their own power unit, which has attracted the backing and co-operation of no less than Ford. But will Horner still be in place when his latest project come to fruition?

An hour after the covers came off the RB20, Horner spoke to a group of media including RaceFans. Beforehand a team representative advised us questions which strayed into legally-sensitive areas concerning the investigation were off-limits.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Within those restrictions, Horner repeatedly stated it is “business as usual” for him and the team despite the current circumstances. However he did allow that the investigation had been a “distraction” as they prepare to embark on F1’s longest-ever season.

But under the circumstances, as the team has never known a leader other than Horner, the lengthy retrospective of its past glories felt valedictory. Not that Horner saw it that way, of course, his gaze fixed on the future, even though his may no longer be in his hands.

“My focus is very much on the year ahead and the racing ahead of us,” he said when asked by RaceFans. “I think the whole team is tremendously proud of what we’ve achieved in the last 19 seasons, but it’s always what lies ahead of you rather than what’s behind you.”

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:

Formula 1

Browse all Formula 1 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...

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

17 comments on “Red Bull celebrates its past at launch but Horner’s future remains the focus”

  1. The new news revelation in this case is quite shocking and I believe Horner will be gone in this case. Well, that’s the least RB can do.

    Erik Van Haren is the highest tier of reliability when it comes to F1 news concerning RB. While many things don’t add up, the fact that he claims he has himself seen the evidence is quite telling.

    Hopefully the victim in this case gets a proper outcome.

    1. That she is willing to turn down £650k says she must be confident or her role is very high.

      1. I wouldn’t pay any attention to that. Famous people tend to pay off these things simply because you see, in public domain it is assumed guilty and all that goes on is public trial. For me Erik claiming he saw the texts himself is the telling part. These numbers mean nothing as a no investigation with an NDA even if you’re not guilty is always the better way out.

    2. Dutch connection, briefing, who’s that? Someone trustworthy? Someone who really might have evidence to share? Someone with a track record of upholding women’s rights??

      And if there really was evidence, would they need this performance with the world famous enquiry? I don’t think so. Christian would be long gone and the woman would have been gone as well – to somewhere warm and sunny with beach frontage and a lot more than £650k

      1. @zann you seem to be very much going into this with the mindset that you want to find a conspiracy theory, as it seems that would find it easier to cope with that than any other alternative explanation.

        1. Lol you seem to be very much afraid to reply with your F1 Fan account :)

          But it’s just logic, that this Erik Van Haren supposedly has amazing evidence… from where? Why hasn’t the drinks company just got on and acted on it? Take a brave pill and answer with your anon account, or your F1 Fan one

          1. This one certainly doesn’t add up and I agree. RB should have standard policies to get rid of employees if there’s evidence of the form claimed. This was one of the many things that didn’t add up about the report.

            Also I’m not Anon.

      2. I’m just basing it on Van Haren’s credibility.

        He hasn’t gotten a single report wrong the last two years. It is possible he is talking nonsense as well, in which case he will lose his job. He claims he saw the evidence himself.

        1. I just think it’s a bit funny how it’s a Dutch journalist and apparently only this one who’s seen this evidence. So from there we have to ask about the Dutch connection don’t we? And then the motive comes into it and why would Jos, for example, want to destabilise the team like this?

  2. The statement from Ford seems a preemptive distancing from the affair, and whether there is fire as well as smoke doesn’t matter. The reality is that Ford felt the need to make a statement and that of itself is very damaging as it shows real concern and a need to reaffirm the policy of Ford: a warning shot over the bows of RedBull.

    If the whole thing ends up as pure smoke the demonstration that Ford thought they could not simply let the process go through is bad news for the relationship with RedBull.

  3. Austrian politics, Porsche is miffed, controlling father, … You know what they say, beware the ides of March.

    Sounds like one engineer talked about her interactions with someone on the other side of the pit wall, and politics took action. And this putsch will do what ever it can to get rid of Ford and Christian. Will be interesting to see whats up. I would have to wager there is a lot of money on the line and some people are going to get paid if CH gets the boot.

  4. To me it all seemed a bit tone-deaf. Who’s the biggest party animal, we are the rebels, “we like to have fun at work” married with footage of the women staff there smiling… You would think, given the allegations now surfacing, that you’d pull back and take things a bit more seriously.

    1. Oh, and my favourite, we don’t play by the rules…

    2. Yes it was very odd. Felt deliberately defensive, placing Horner himself at the heart of all their success (and arguably yes he is but even without the allegations it would have felt a bit over the top and arrogant, with them it feels so much worse). Although you can imagine it was put together way before the allegations came out as these things aren’t just made in a day… but yeah. Strange. Feels like all sorts of internal politics attached to this.

    3. You’re overthrowing this. Sit this one out. Although I doubt you can help yourself on these topics.

  5. Was the “we don’t play by the rules” some type of nod about a quid pro quo between the team and Masi to throw the rules out the window at Abu Dhabi? Their term, not mine.

    1. And/or how they violated the spending cap the following year?

Comments are closed.