Christian Horner, Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Jeddah, 2024

No leadership battle at Red Bull, insists Horner

Formula 1

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Christian Horner insists his position in charge of Red Bull’s Formula 1 team is secure following a weekend of intense speculation in Jeddah.

Reports yesterday that Red Bull’s motorsport consultant Helmut Marko could be suspended in the wake of an investigation into Horner’s conduct prompted a concerned reaction from its star driver Max Verstappen. The world champion said Marko’s departure from Red Bull would lead him to reconsider his future at the team.

Marko is reported to have met with Red Bull CEO Oliver Mintzlaff today and subsequently indicated he will not be suspended. However Verstappen’s show of support for Marko has led to speculation over Horner’s position.

Speaking after today’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, in which Verstappen scored his ninth consecutive victory, Horner dismissed claims of a battle for leadership at Red Bull.

“No, look, obviously, a lot is made of this stuff,” he told Sky. “But we are one team and nobody is bigger than a team.

“This team comprises, across the different entities, over 1,400 people. And everybody has a role to play from the very bottom to the very top. And without them performing, you don’t achieve performances like this. Unfortunately there’s been a lot of speculation this weekend, but once again our focus is very much on-track.”

Verstappen’s father Jos has repeatedly said Horner cannot remain in charge of the team in the wake of the report and subsequent leak of information which purportedly appeared in it. Asked whether the driver’s comments indicated disunity at the team, Horner said: “Max is an important member of our team, he is a valued member of our team.

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“He’s a wonderful driver, but everybody has a role to play in this team. We are a team and and no single individual is bigger than the team. That’s the only way that you achieve these kinds of results.”

Drawing attention to Verstappen’s unprecedented achievements at Red Bull over the past years, Horner said: “Today was Max’s 100th podium finish, all of which have been in Red Bull Racing cars.

“It was his 56th race victory. We move ahead of Williams on 114 victories in what’s only our 20th year. This is an incredibly strong team that has strength in depth that is achieving these kind of results.”

“Obviously there’s rumblings,” Horner added when pressed about the comments made by the Verstappens. “I’m aware of what’s been said.”

Horner admitted “speculation is obviously rife” around the team but insisted they continue to focus on their performance.

“We all have a vested interest in achieving performances like we have today. It’s been a phenomenal team effort. And what you don’t see, you only see the front end, it’s all the men and women behind the scenes, all the people in the supply chain, all the people in the support functions, all the people that work ridiculously long hours – it’s one of the biggest team sports, if not the biggest team sport in the world.

“I think it’s important to recognise that there’s nine other teams trying to do what we’re doing and it’s not that easy. And you only do that by having a spirit, a culture and a determination throughout the entire company. Of course the drivers are driving the end product and they’ve done a wonderful job today, but we must move on and our focus is very much on Melbourne.”

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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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16 comments on “No leadership battle at Red Bull, insists Horner”

  1. Good to see Geri, Christian and Adrian at the podium ceremony. It’s clear something happened, but fortunately for Horner, he holds most of the cards at the moment, and I doubt hes going to let someone who isn’t DM (RIP) call the shots. That and a lot of red herrings.

  2. Right, and the other team principals didn’t feel the need to say the same… because….?

  3. Kind of funny how important every person at the team is suddenly. Apparently the people in the supply chain and support functions are the ones winning the titles for the team, not the main driver. A lot of talk about anything else than what he is being asked about.

    On another note. I’m pretty certain they would be just as dominant, even if they replaced 60 or 70 percent of the team personnel. It’s nice that everyone is valued in the team, but it hardly matters who washes the tires, covers the table or punches the data into the computer. It’s the minority, key personnel, that make the success of a team. And of course the drivers. As if Max had taken a sick year last season, Checo would still not have been able to take the title.

    1. Every team that’s ever been successful and dominated the sport has always said the same thing, no matter who’s in charge: it’s the team functioning well from top to bottom, no matter the position, that leads to success. Sports fans don’t like to admit that F1 is an engineering function first and a personality cult last.

      Put verstappen in a haas for 10 years and see what his win stats are like.

      1. I think haas is one of those teams that wouldn’t win a race in any (realistically happening) circumstance and no matter how good a driver, just like minardi.

      2. Don’t be realistic! Despite what we saw before 2022, not a single driver could beat Max even if he was driving a Spinkick Sirloin Sauber F1! The same was being said about Seb and Lewis when they had dominant cars for a half-decade-plus in a row.

      3. I’m not saying you could replace half the workers with some randos. I’m saying they could find people with adequate education and experience just like that, for half the personnel and after bedding in, they’d still be winning. Example: they could replace their mechanics with the McLaren crew and once they’re up to speed all would be back to normal. But they wouldn’t fare the same outcome with the important people in the team, Horner, Newey, Max (though I despise him, he is extremely talented), the design team and the mission critical people. Not all people they employ are Adrian Neweys. Most people are replaceable.

    2. I don’t understand, perez got 2nd in the championship last year, so ofc he’d have got the title, not to mention he wasn’t performing at his usual level after the championship pressure got to him, so without verstappen you’d see a better perez than you saw the 2nd half of 2023.

      1. He lucked into the second place, more like. If he was leading the team and the championship, he would crumble under the pressure. He isn’t mentally strong enough.

  4. And Horner claims that no one is bigger than the team, except of course Christian Horner.

  5. I know claims are regularly made that F1 has never been in a worse state, and have been made for several years now.
    So I won’t say exactly that.
    But I will say that this must be the first time in F1 history when not only do we find all but one team miserably unhappy at their constant defeats, but also we find the one team that’s doing the winning in about as happy a state as a party of teetotallers at a lock-in in a brewery.
    Despite what the fair Christian says.

  6. Yeah, and there’s no political division here in the U.S. either. Personally, while I have never been a Horner fan, I hope the Max camp isn’t successful in pushing him out. Horner and Newey basically built that entire team with the amazing support of Mateschitz.

    Max isn’t going anywhere and if he does, there are at least five drivers who’d easily dominate the WDC if he wants to put his $ where his mouth is.

    1. Horner and Newey basically built that entire team with the amazing support of Mateschitz.

      Yet this is not the truth. Marko is the one that built the team. All big decisions were made by Mateschitz on paper, but in reality they were made based on Marko’s advice.

      People seem to underestimate Marko’s role. He’s not just an old man that shares his thoughts to the team, he always had the most power within the team.

  7. It will be interesting to see if Red Bull can find themselves through the other side of this storm.

    It’s hard to know if the calm is the eye or they’re starting to see the other side.

    We just have to wait and see.

  8. Rocket of a car, great driver, lots of wins and accolades but apparently not enough to share amongst the big egos at RB.

  9. I find it a bit disheartening that the best reporting on the Red Bull drama comes from journalists outside of F1. I appreciate that being critical of certain people within the sport risks a loss of access, but tip-toeing around powerful people is not a good look for those supposedly spreading the news. One of the F1 TV characters was excruciating the other day when asked a question about the future of Red Bull – he looked like he’d suddenly been caught with his pants down. He literally mumbled. As ever, things are a bit too cosy and opaque within F1. In many other areas of life this would be called corruption.

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