stefano domenicalli f1 red bull horner

Domenicali on Red Bull’s two F1 teams, dominance and Horner

stefano domenicalli f1 red bull horner

Ahead of this weekend’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali had a sit down with Italian media to discuss various current topics of interest in the paddock, with emphasis on Red Bull on and off track.

Matters on the table included Red Bull team-related shenanigans, their ownership of two teams and the predictable dominance of Max Verstappen since Adrian Newey and his design team nailed the current F1 regulations.

Clearly, a driver’s dominance cannot be curtailed, we had periods of such dominance with Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes not too long ago. Ditto the Michael Schumacher and Ferrari golden years to kick off this century of F1.

Red Bull had appeared to be a bullet-proof racing team until they launched the RB20 earlier this year and the Christian Horner ‘sexting’ scandal erupted. A cringey saga that probably led to Adrian Newey deciding to can it. He is quitting the team he has designed great cars for over the past decade. And made legends of Sebastian Vettel, now Verstappen.

Of Red Bull and Max Verstappen’s supremacy in F1 right now

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 21: Race winner Max Verstappen of the Netherlands and Oracle Red Bull Racing and Third placed Sergio Perez of Mexico and Oracle Red Bull Racing celebrate with their team after the F1 Grand Prix of China at Shanghai International Circuit on April 21, 2024 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) marko

Despite the dominance, Domenicali suggests that it could all change: “When such a strong team undergoes changes within it, and I say this without any kind of subjective assessment, I think it’s normal that there can be changes in the performance.

“It is in the nature of things. I don’t think I’m saying anything strange in pointing out that the dominance may not continue in the form we have seen to date. The current season has started with Red Bull and Verstappen ahead of everyone.

“But I would like to stress one point. It is often us insiders who express impatience, who say that the championship is losing interest. If we look at the numbers a very different picture emerges. We record sell-outs in almost every race on the calendar, there have never been so many sponsors and so many spectators.

“I find it frankly inaccurate to highlight the inconsistent data regarding the TV ratings. I say this because today the way of following a sporting event has changed, not just for a Formula 1 Grand Prix, the global audience has different platforms at their disposal,” explained Domenicali.

Domenicali: This affair has seen some emotional peaks

BAHRAIN, BAHRAIN - MARCH 02: Oracle Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner and Geri Horner walk in the Paddock holding hands prior to the F1 Grand Prix of Bahrain at Bahrain International Circuit on March 02, 2024 in Bahrain, Bahrain. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

As for the Horner-scandal, the F1 Chief stated: “Our position, as Formula 1, is to let companies (in this case teams) follow the regulations and their internal codes of conduct, for which they obviously take responsibility.

“This affair has seen some emotional peaks, but Formula 1 as a whole has not suffered a negative wave as a result of it. For my part I obviously hope that everything will be carried out correctly, in all senses, we have asked for things to be done in the correct way.

“We cannot interfere in an affair that we have no knowledge of, in addition to the fact that we would be entering an area that is not our responsibility. What might happen in the future I frankly don’t know, but I can say that we will follow any developments closely, should there be any,” Domenicali promised.

While Red Bull dominates the sport currently, their junior VCARB team has tended to be camped at the back of the F1 pack. But new leadership and a handy car this season have lifted them up the pecking order. Although unlikely, it is not inconceivable that the four Red Bull-owned cars finish Qualifying or a Grand Prix in P1-P2-P3-P4.

A scenario that has rival F1 team bosses (aka Zak Brown of McLaren) complaining. Domenical explained how the Red Bull operation is not one four-car team but rather two two-car teams: “The subject of the Red Bull group’s dual ownership has been on the table for a few months now.”

Is Red Bull one four-car team or two two-car teams?

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“I would like to emphasise straight away,” declared Domenicali. “We must not forget the benefits that Red Bull brought to Formula 1 through the purchase and running of a second team. With regard to choices made in the past there are no doubts, Red Bull will remain the owner of two teams, then they will eventually decide, whether or not to retain ownership of both teams.

“What choices will be made in the future is another story. And in that case it is not certain that no boundaries will be put in place. We know that the more we grow, the more the value of each team’s franchise increases, just as we are aware that a concentration of team ownership, and consequently of votes in the F1 Commission, can be the subject of discussions and constraints.

“There is also the topic of common parts on the table, i.e. the technical components that teams can now sell and buy. I think this is an aspect to be approached with caution because the balance found today is not bad, we are talking about components that some teams have been buying from others for many years now.

“There are no signs, from this perspective, that suggest that the current regulations should be changed,” insisted Domenicali. (Agnes Carlier Reporting From Imola)