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F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Final Practice ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - NOVEMBER 19: Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner talks in a press conference during final practice ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi at Yas Marina Circuit on November 19, 2022 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Horner shows sympathy for Binotto whilst taking aim at Vasseur

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner sheds light on the recent changes in the Formula 1 community, speaking on the shake-ups at Ferrari and Williams

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Red Bull Racing team principal, Christian Horner, has expressed his sympathy for former Ferrari team principal, Mattia Binotto, who was let go ahead of the 2023 season. The Brit also took his chance to have a subtle dig at the Italian’s replacement, Frédéric Vasseur.

Ferrari did well when tasked with adapting to the 2022 F1 regulation shake-up, running away from the opposition in the opening races. However, their title hopes came crashing back down to earth when their F1-75 engines needed to be turned down in order to maximise their reliability. Several strategy mishaps also didn’t help the Scuderia with multiple bad calls leaving the rest of the grid scratching their head.

Binotto spearheaded the team’s ascent, and although the Italian didn’t quite revive the days of dominance with Michael Schumacher, Ferrari were once again a respectable racing team in Formula 1.

In an interview with Motorsport Magazine, Horner spoke on the team principal merry-go-rounds, expressing his sympathy for Binotto.

“It has been interesting to watch the movement [of the team principals],” said Horner.

I have sympathy for Mattia, because ultimately he’d done a good job.

Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner talks with Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Mattia Binotto on the grid ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Monaco at Circuit de Monaco on May 29, 2022 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco.
(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

“Last year, that was a big step forward from where they had been, so that must be tough for him after such long service that he had given to Ferrari.”

Horner also spoke about the new Ferrari team principal, Fred Vasseur, who has arrived from Alfa Romeo. The Englishman took his chance to have a subtle dig at the Frenchman, pondering whether Vasseur will still be complaining about the same things whilst leading Alfa Romeo.

“Fred, it’ll be interesting to see if he’s still arguing about the same points that he was for Sauber in upcoming meetings,” said Horner.

“But again, he’s a very capable guy. So yeah, it’ll be very interesting. I’m sure they’re all very capable people. So we’ll get to see what the dynamics are at the next Formula 1 Commission meeting.”

Another Mercedes masterclass?

Horner also shared his thoughts on the new Williams team principal, James Vowles. Commenting on the speculation that Mercedes is sending their former Chief strategist Vowles to Williams in order to craft a future Toto Wolff replacement. Horner said he believes Williams are making the leadership switch for their own good.

“I don’t know James particularly well, but he’s obviously a very capable guy,” he said.

“Williams will have done their due diligence and research and I think it’s great that they’re giving him the chance to make that step up. So I think that can only be good news for Williams.”

Finally, Horner spoke on his new challenges regarding the new Red Bull venture, Red Bull-Ford Powertrains. Red Bull will be taking on well-established automotive manufacturers by creating their own engines for their Formula 1 cars. Ford will be joining the team in a partnership when the F1 regulations change in 2026.

“I think [what’s next is] to keep delivering, to keep developing the team and the business here,” he said.

“I think the next massive challenge for us is the powertrains. I mean, we’ve got a start-up engine company taking on Ferrari, Mercedes, Alpine, VW Group… And so that is a massive challenge.”

“We’ve got 150 weeks left before we have an engine driving out of a pitlane for the first time in the back of a Red Bull car. So that focuses the mind, it’s a big challenge.

It’s a ballsy undertaking, to think that an independent team can take on those types of manufacturers.”

“But again, it comes down to the same culture, the same approach that we’ve had to going racing on the chassis side, and ultimately having everything under one roof and the benefits that brings long-term is significant.

“So that’s taking quite a bit of my time and attention just to make sure that we’re hitting our targets in that area.”

Horner and his crew will be laser-focused on the Bahrain testing on February 23-25, where the teams get their first chance to flex their muscles on the track in front of the opposition.

Feature image credit: Getty

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