Christian Horner has spoken about the potentially destabilising rumours that a ‘power struggle’ between himself and Helmut Marko occurred at Red Bull.
Following the summer break, as Helmut Marko made headlines by himself for controversial comments focusing on the nationality of driver Sergio Perez, an onslaught of negative rumours embroiled the runaway Champion team as suggestions of in-fighting at the top level emerged in the media.
Following the death of team founder and owner Dietrich Mateschitz in late 2022, the rumours suggested that Horner was looking to oust Marko from his role as team consultant – and the link between the race team and the parent company – with CEO Oliver Mintzlaff also part of this supposed coup.
Christian Horner: Important to take rumours ‘with humour’
The rumours failed to destabilise Red Bull too much, with both Marko and Horner taking to the media to outline the importance of their long-standing partnership that stems back over two decades.
Horner acknowledged that there had been some “small differences of opinion” between himself and Marko about Red Bull’s direction sans Mateschitz, but that “everything is fine”, while Marko himself said that “Mr. Horner” will not be the person to tell him when his F1 time is up.
“The division of labour looks like this,” Marko said at the time.
“Christian does the operational stuff, I’m more into the strategy. That’s good. It’s worked so far and we’ll see that it works in the future too.”
Speaking in an exclusive interview with PlanetF1.com, Horner reflected on the tumultuous time that the rumours had caused – pitting himself and his colleague on opposite sides of an imaginary conflict.
“Something like that you have to take with a great deal of humour because, I mean, they’re so far wide of the mark,” Horner laughed.
“But, unfortunately, the world that we live in, somebody writes something on an obscure Brazilian website and, by the time it is translated into four different languages, it suddenly becomes… it takes a traction of its own and, quite often, there’s absolutely nothing to these stories.
“I think we’ve been around long enough and ugly enough to know not to believe everything you read.”
Asked whether rumours like that result in tension and paranoia, or whether it’s something that the two men were able to smirk across the Red Bull garage at each other about, Horner said both are canny enough not to pay much heed to media rumour.
“Helmut and I have known each other for 27 years,” he said.
“We’ve always had a very strong and open relationship. So, on that, nothing has changed.
“The thing about the relationship is that you don’t have a relationship through the media.”
But, with his team sweeping all before them through 2023, Horner said he suspects part of the legs behind the rumours could be down to rival teams looking to stoke the flames of potential discontent.
“The problem is there’s probably not a lot for you guys to be writing about,” he said.
“On something like that, and probably some of our competitors are looking to fan the flames on anything that could destabilise the team.
“That’s normal practice in this paddock.”