“Heart Was Never in Formula 1, Just a Marketing Thing”: Horner Slams Ex-Renault Boss for Providing Red Bull Incompetent F1 Engines

Published 05/24/2021, 4:11 PM EDT
SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE – SEPTEMBER 20: Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner (L) and Renault Sport F1 Managing Director Cyril Abiteboul (R) look on in the Team Principals Press Conference during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Singapore at Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 20, 2019 in Singapore. (Photo by Lars Baron/Getty Images)


It is no secret for F1 fans that Red Bull carry a certain degree of animosity towards Renault. That is despite their successful four-year title run together from 2010-2013. But that was just before the onset of the turbo-hybrid era which began in 2014. And it all unraveled from there.

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Renault‘s V6 unit which powered the Red Bull F1 cars was nowhere the class of its competitors. Mercedes had taken a clear advantage in that department, which they have gone on to retain even until now.

So, Team Principal, Christian Horner, had to step in to prevent their slide. Appearing on ‘The High Performance Podcast’ he revealed the extreme lengths he went to, but to no avail –

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“I must have gone to Paris three or four times to sit down with Carlos Ghosn, the Chairman at the time (of Renault) to say, ‘Look, if you are in this business and you are spending a hell of a money, but you might need to spend a little bit more and a little more wisely, otherwise you are wasting what you’re currently spending and not getting any return from that.’

Formula One F1 – Emilia Romagna Grand Prix – Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola, Italy – April 16, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during practice REUTERS/Guglielmo Mangiapane

“But his heart was never in Formula 1. It was just a marketing thing to tick the box off. That passion and drive were never a part of it. If he didn’t have it, how can you expect that to flow through his organization?”

Red Bull finally gave up on Renault and joined hands with Honda in 2018

Horner didn’t just try to personally convince Mr. Ghosn, Red Bull also began a public campaign of criticism against their engine suppliers in order to get a reaction. But, it all fell on deaf ears.

“We tried every possible tactic to push, motivate them into a more competitive position. We were able to win races and we could grab opportunities, but we couldn’t put a sustained campaign together,” explained Horner.

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Since Mercedes were not willing to provide them with their class-leading engines, Red Bull had to look for other avenues. They took the brave decision of partnering up with Honda at the end of the 2018 season despite their doomed McLaren spell. It was because they saw “the same passion and desire in them.”

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And he can say that it has now paid off for them as Red Bull are not behind Mercedes on the engine front, currently. In fact, they are leading the championship by a single point after the Monaco GP.

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Bharat Aggarwal

753 articles

Bharat Aggarwal is a sports analyst for EssentiallySports, covering Formula 1 and NBA. A Delhi University graduate, Bharat has multi-year experience in sports writing, having closely worked with the content strategy aspect as well. Bharat Aggarwal supports Manchester United, Lewis Hamilton, Cristiano Ronaldo, Rafael Nadal, Dirk Nowitzki, Sachin Tendulkar, Ayrton Senna, Kristaps Porzingis, and Dallas Mavericks.

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