Horner’s bold leap from F1 to Red Bull CEO: The inside story

Christian Horner is reportedly eyeing the position of CEO at the energy drink conglomerate, amidst a whirlwind of personal controversy and internal power dynamics at Red Bull Racing. The landscape of Formula 1 seems to be just a part of a broader ambition for Horner, and goes a long way to explaining the current turmoil engulfing the dominant F1 team.

According to Bild, Germany’s largest newspaper, Horner has been fostering a close relationship with Chalerm Yoovidhya, who holds a 51 percent stake in Red Bull, particularly after the Austrian faction’s veto power was diminished in the wake of Dietrich Mateschitz’s passing in late 2022.

Reporters Helmut Uhl and Michel Milewski from Bild have indicated that Horner’s initial ambition was to acquire a stake in Red Bull Racing. “Horner initially wanted shares in Red Bull Racing,” they stated. Although he didn’t succeed, Horner managed to gain the marketing rights for Alpha Tauri, the sister racing team, they said.

Following Mateschitz’s death, Horner reportedly shifted his focus towards the top executive role at Red Bull GmbH, now occupied by a trio from the Austrian group.

The scandal surrounding Horner came to light in early 2024, stirring speculations about its potential impact on Red Bull’s relationship with Max Verstappen, the triple world champion. “I’m not really concerned about it,” Verstappen commented on The Project in Australia, emphasizing his commitment with a contract until 2028.

Bild also suggests that Adrian Newey, Red Bull’s top designer, is engaging in “well advanced” discussions with Ferrari, hinting at a possible high-profile switch.

Horner reportedly sees Alex Albon as a suitable replacement for Verstappen at Red Bull, according to Bild, noting Albon’s Thai heritage aligns with Yoovidhya’s background.

Regarding rumors of Verstappen considering a move to Mercedes, Dr Helmut Marko, a senior consultant for Red Bull, kept his cards close to his chest. “That’s internal information. You can’t seriously expect an answer from me,” he told the Austrian newspaper Osterreich.

It was revealed that Horner was unaware of the addition of a ‘Marko clause’ in Verstappen’s contract renewal in 2022, which would allow Verstappen to leave should Marko be forced out or resign.

Marko, when questioned about his presence at all 24 Grand Prix in the upcoming season, remarked, “I’m booked, but that doesn’t mean much yet,” leaving room for speculation about his future involvement.

GMM

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