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Horner defends Red Bull's ownership of two teams


Christian Horner has reacted to increasing unease within the paddock at the fact that Red Bull owns two teams.

Much of the criticism has come from Zak Brown, who claims that the relationship between Red Bull and RB (formerly AlphaTauri) allows the Faenza-based outfit to share components and also allowed the senior team to switch its focus to this year's car early last season whilst its 'sister' continued to develop components for use by both this year.

Brown isn't alone in his criticism of the situation however, with Toto Wolff and Frederic Vasseur having also expressed unease.

Speaking in Bahrain, Horner defended the situation, suggesting that rivals critical of Red Bull's ownership of two teams should see the situation in context.

"One has to take a look back at the history of where this started and why that ownership is as it is now," said the Briton. "Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosley approached Dietrich Mateschitz back in 2005 to acquire what was then the Minardi Formula 1 team which was perennially struggling and on the brink of bankruptcy. Dietrich stepped in, acquired the team, shored it up, and then invested significantly in their Faenza facilities in Italy.

"We then faced the financial crisis in 2008, as other manufacturers chose that opportunity to leave the sport - I think four of them left at that point - but Red Bull remained resolute and continued to support both teams through that difficult period.

"The regulations then evolved and Faenza had to become its own manufacturer, so investment was made in the infrastructure. We then had Covid, where Red Bull again stepped up and stuck by both teams. In fact, Red Bull was responsible for getting F1 going again after Covid with two races that were introduced after the pandemic.

"So the commitment that Red Bull has made to F1 and these two teams is outstanding and should be applauded and be grateful for rather than derided and trying to compromise."

In terms of RB gaining an advantage through its ties to the world champions, he said: "The two teams are totally separate. One is based in Italy and one is based in the UK. The one that is based in Italy has a far larger turnover of staff that end up at Maranello than end up in Milton Keynes.

"They have different personalities, they have different characters and they comply continually with the regulations," he added. "Indeed, the relationship is far less tight than some of the teams that enjoy very tight relationships with their engine manufacturers.

"I would take it as a compliment, if I was Laurent, if the issue was being raised now because of the change of stewardship," he continued. "The team had the opportunity to get its act together, they have two quality drivers, they're introducing quality people into the team and we expect them to be a competitor, not just to the rest of the field, but indeed Red Bull Racing.

"We are racers, there are no pre-set rules, there are no agreements between the teams and I think you can pick out many highlights or scenarios where that has been the case over the years, with even Toro Rosso cars parking in our pit garage during a championship-deciding race.

"So I don't understand the fuss, I don't understand the noise that has been created, and I think Red Bull should actually be applauded for the support, the commitment and the jobs they have provided through the good times and particularly the bad times. So for me, it really is a non-issue."

Indeed, he is correct.

In these days of wildly inflated valuations of the teams, it is all too easy to forget those turbulent times when manufacturers were entering and leaving the sport as if through a revolving door, and when, other than the threat of a breakaway series, new teams had to be enticed with the promise of cheap and engines and a level playing field, neither of which proved true.

Not that long ago, and certainly when Mateschitz twice got out his cheque book, the standing joke was that to make a small fortune from F1 you had to start off with a large fortune.

All too often, we feared that one day Mateschitz might wake up and ask himself 'why am I doing this' and pull the plug, thereby causing the sport to lose two teams. Yet he stuck with it, not only in terms of his title winning outfit but its sister outfit, which, although a proving ground for future stars, for the most part remained a perennial struggler.

Never forget that the perennially whining Brown is an employee at Bahraini-funded McLaren, Mateschitz put his money where his mouth was... had he not, it is entirely possible that the sport may not have survived, certainly in the sort of shape that attracted Liberty Media to make its bid.


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1. Posted by Celtic Tiger, 27/02/2024 7:49

"I don't think anyone is disputing the history of Red Bull and its contribution to Formula 1. DM's passion for the sport has been a positive and no one is taking that away from them.
That said, bringing all of this up is sidestepping the issue, which I believe, is at the heart of the complaints and concerns. The introduction of the cost cap limits avenues in which teams can develop their cars. Gone are the days of throwing resources at every idea on the board to find those tenths of a lap throughout a season. This is also compounded by the reduction of testing, a shorter off-season due to more races and sprint races eating away at opportunities to test.
Red Bull Racing have a second team and could very well shift ideas for RB to test without eating into their own limited testing and resources. So a scenario in which Horner/Newey can "suggest" behind closed doors to RB that they want them to tryout a plan C or D while RBR themselves focus on plan A and B is very feasible.

Engine developments aside, when you have a team that can potentially develop four chassis concepts between two teams, that no other competitor can utilize to such extent then you have an unfair advantage and I think that's what has Zak Brown's knickers all twisted up and Mercedes and Ferrari concerned.
Granted, Mclaren have a few teams to get ahead of before they can even think of worrying about RBR but I can empathize with Merc and Ferrari. Given how fast the RB19 was and the RB20 looks, if they imagine the same scenarios can potentially happen as mentioned, the gap of performance and development between them would be even much harder to close. "

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2. Posted by kenji, 27/02/2024 0:13

"Zak Brown needs to stop kvetching and get on with making the team 'great again'. He's got two excellent drivers signed up and a TP who has his feet firmly planted on the ground and is moving the team towards better results."

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3. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 26/02/2024 20:46

"I'm not a particular fan of RBR, or Horner - too much whining in the past, and crediting themselves for wins and blaming Renault for failures, as justified as that might have been.

However, in this instance, as so well laid out in the article, he is right - not only 2 teams, but a great circuit that Mr. Mateschitz revived (and was looking to bring it back to it's original fearsome layout).

McLaren, on the other hand managed to screw up the Honda partnership (which Red Bull have made work, by cooperation, not confrontation), and they (McL) still show little sign of making it back to winning ways (Monza fluke excepted). "

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4. Posted by Tardis40, 26/02/2024 19:43

"RBR has raised the bar significantly and the other teams are finding it hard to match them. That's the root of their complaints. If RBR weren't winning we wouldn't be hearing a peep out of them."

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5. Posted by Stitch431, 26/02/2024 9:56

"With Mercedes/MacLaren/AstonMartin/Williams (all driving with Mercedes motors), and Ferrari/Haas/Sauber (all driving Ferrari engines, they have more possibilities, and obviously use these, it is very hypocritical to say they are worried about Red Bull now doing the same."

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