Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Jeddah Corniche Circuit, 2024

Red Bull leadership crisis similar to what I experienced at McLaren – Hamilton

Formula 1

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Lewis Hamilton believes the doubt over Christian Horner’s future over Red Bull will have an effect on the team.

The former McLaren driver compared to the situation at that team when he was there. Its team principal Ron Dennis stepped back from running it at the beginning of 2009.

“From my experience, obviously seeing having gone through something similar back in the day, when I was at McLaren in the sense of our leader was in question, they were going through a difficult time and it affected everybody,” said Hamilton in a press conference at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit yesterday. “So whether or not it is there, I’ve been in the experience.

“I remember when we were losing Ron, for example, and the thing that Ron was going through and the steps that we had to take, it affected all of us.”

Lewis Hamilton, Ron Dennis, McLaren, 2009
Dennis guided Hamilton to first title at McLaren
Dennis relinquished leadership of McLaren in April 2009 following two notable controversies involving the team. It was excluded from the 2007 constructors’ championship and fined $100 million for using confidential information obtained from Ferrari. At the first race of 2009, Hamilton was disqualified after he and the team were found to have misled the stewards during an investigation.

Following Dennis’ departure, McLaren endured a poor 2009 season but rebounded in the second half of the year. Hamilton left them for Mercedes at the end of 2012.

Horner’s future at Red Bull has been put in doubt after an internal investigation cleared him of inappropriate behaviour. No information about the details of the case were confirmed by the team, but a leak of material allegedly submitted to the hearing has put them under fresh pressure to clarify the accusations made against him.

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Hamilton said the team will be destabilised if Horner is replaced. “A leader is super-important because they set the tone,” he said. “They make sure the team sticks to the core values of what the sport is, integrity.

“Whilst there are a lot of people further down the trough who are just as important, that leader is key, I think, to the destination that you’re working towards.”

Christian Horner, Red Bull, Bahrain, 2024
Horner denies the allegations and intends to stay at Red Bull
The seven-times champion will move to Ferrari at the end of this season. The turmoil at Red Bull has prompted speculation Max Verstappen could leave to join Mercedes or that star designer Adrian Newey, who previously worked with Hamilton at McLaren, may follow him to Ferrari.

Hamilton didn’t rule out either scenario. However he is sceptical Verstappen, who has won 20 of the last 21 grands prix, would leave Red Bull.

“I think my moves are showing that anything’s possible,” he said. “It’s going to be a really interesting next six months or so.

“I don’t have any extra scoop on… I’m sure Max is on the list [at Mercedes] but I’m pretty sure he’s tied up. I don’t see why he would leave a car that was that good.

“In terms of Adrian, having worked within the team, I know obviously Adrian gets all the praise for everybody’s work. I know he’s a huge part of it, of course, but I know there’s so many engineers in the background that are a huge part of developing the team and the car that they have. It’s not down to one person.

“So it’s not my decision. I’m competing against him this year at the moment I can’t really talk about next year so far.”

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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...

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6 comments on “Red Bull leadership crisis similar to what I experienced at McLaren – Hamilton”

  1. “A leader is super-important because they set the tone,” he said. “They make sure the team sticks to the core values of what the sport is, integrity.

    There are a lot of words I think of when it comes to F1 as a sport. Speed, engineering, money, peformance. Integrity is not even close to being among them.

    I don’t think it’s a necessary trait of any leader in that world. Let alone a successful one. Who has ever said they won because they had the most integrity about F1? If anything the opposite.

    Maybe I misunderstand the word. But more than likely the F1 world is all of a sudden trying to paint itself as something it’s not. Integrity indeed.

    1. Its all timing, and it does have a great effect on the integrity and health of a group/individual.

      Some people look to other people for cues and leadership, some seek out it’s reflection in the universal geometer.

      Honesty is a gift and SHOULD be respected in polite/decent society.

    2. notagrumpyfan
      7th March 2024, 13:04

      Integrity is a key trait for any successful leader.
      Building a team around you, and being successful with that team, will be a lot easier when the leader has ‘integrity’.

    3. It’s a bit different within the team, though. The teams can squabble and try to trip each other up, but within the team there needs to be trust, confidence, vision, etc. and integrity is an important part of that.

      I suppose most people will have experienced colleagues in leadership positions who weren’t quite paragons of virtue, and that definitely contributes to the atmosphere and tone of the organization.

      Hamilton may sound a bit like an American self-help book at times, but he seems right on this one.

    4. Integrity is indeed at the very bottom of the list of words I would use to describe F1.

      Secrecy, political, betrayal, sneaky, boardroom deals, two-faced….there’s a much more descriptive list of adjectives for F1 as a Sport, it’s Teams, and Team Bosses.

      Just look at how RedBull has treated their drivers, and their contracts, these past few years and you’ll find all the integrity there has ever been in F1.

  2. Lewis is so empathetic isn’t he. But it’s quite different really. Ron Dennis was set up by Max Mosely after some idiot in his team photocopied a document, and his integrity was a thing and important to him, and the deal included him leaving.

    Christian has been naughty, apparently, which the team won’t mind at all! And he’s had a battle with a nuisance hanger-on domestic abuser and won, which the team won’t mind either.

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