Christian Horner, referring to the Red Bull Formula 1 team as “an energy drinks manufacturer” believes their dominance this season “pisses off” some of their rivals in the paddock while shedding light on an impromptu visit by Elon Musk, in Miami last Sunday.
Red Bull are walking away with the 2023 F1 World Championship title, Miami winner Max Verstappen is 119 points ahead of teammate Sergio Perez on 105 after five rounds, the pair way ahead of third-placed Fernando Alonso on 75 points.
In the 2023 F1 constructors’ standings, the Bulls are trouncing their rivals, with 224 points on the board, more than double what Aston Martin have in second, and triple (!) the points Ferrari have down in fourth; Mercedes are third on 96.
In 2021 Verstappen and Red Bull ended Mercedes’ almost decade-long run of F1 title dominance and last year delivered a record-breaking season, winning the World Championship double for the first time since 2013; and this year they are simply on another planet, embarrassingly superior to the chasing pack.
Speaking to the Financial Times after his team’s one-two at the Miami Grand Prix, Horner discussed the forthcoming Ford F1 partnership in the wake of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk visiting the Red Bull garage during the Miami GP weekend.
When you get the right people together, the right tools, right belief, right culture, anything’s possible
The RBR boss said: “F1 has a big regulation change in 2026 where the battery becomes ever more pertinent, so it would obviously be great to attract talent like that to come and invest in F1. For us, strategically, the partnership with Ford was very much focused on that electrification. Having a partner like Ford just opens up that technology to us, an energy drinks manufacturer or subsidiaries and making our own engine is kind of useful to have.”
As for an energy drink producing and marketing company winning in F1 – which Red Bull fundamentally is, up against legendary marques such as Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren and Aston Martin – Horner said: “I think it pisses them off to be honest with you.
“If you’re if you are an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) being beaten up by a bunch of fizzy drinks people, sometimes it sits a little uncomfortably but it just shows when you get the right people together, the right tools, the right belief, the right culture, anything’s possible. We did it on the chassis side so we thought: why don’t we try and do it on the engine side as well?”
As for the Musk shoulder rub and chitchat, Horner revealed: “I think he was very impressed with the technology. Obviously, an incredibly bright guy who wanted to know all about the battery, the power output of the car and so on, and then he threw down the gauntlet of wanting to race us with one of his electric vehicles but realized that they could only do half the race.”
Horner: There are no plans to work together with Elon Musk
Regarding a partnership with Musk’s Tesla or related tech companies, Horner insisted: “There are no plans to work together with him on anything other than friendly competitive banter racing well. Look, he’s a partner with Larry Ellison from Oracle, our title partner and it’s always great to meet people like that. They’re so involved in tech and so forward-thinking.”
He then realised he probably did little to lobby a deal with Musk when the golden opportunity presented itself, when he candidly continued: “I can’t let go briefly the idea that Elon Musk might be even slightly tempted, was there anything in what he was saying to you that indicates he might seriously be thinking about this, with somebody like that?
“I guess you never know. It was just great that he was showing so much interest in the sports side and in the technology,” reckoned Horner, whose Red Bull team now heads to Imola for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix where they can make it six-from-six, amid a season in which they could win all 23 races.
As for that prospect, Horner said: “That’s a massively tall order, you’ve got 23 events… street circuits, there’s going to be the weather that turns up at Silverstone probably, there’s going to be reliability, strategy, an element of luck, so I think to win 23 races is unimaginable. I’m sitting here after five races and we’ve won the first five, that already is by far the best start we’ve ever had to a Grand Prix season. We just want to keep that rolling.”