Christian Horner reveals surprise choice for most fiery team boss not called Toto Wolff

Jamie Woodhouse
Toto Wolff and Christian Horner at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Red Bull principal Christian Horner

In a world of Formula 1 where the type of team principal is changing, Red Bull boss Christian Horner chose from the old guard when it comes to fiery characters.

Horner is the longest-serving team boss in Formula 1, having led the Red Bull team since it joined the grid in 2005, and a year behind him is Franz Tost, principal of Red Bull’s sister team which debuted in 2006.

But, while Horner is set to continue at Red Bull for a good while to come yet, Tost will retire from the series at the end of the 2023 campaign.

Christian Horner cannot mistake a Franz Tost ‘Tosting’

Horner was asked to name, other than himself and Mercedes frenemy Toto Wolff, who he thought was the most fiery and outspoken team boss on the grid?

And Tost got Horner’s vote, who went on to explain how the character of a team principal has evolved during his time in Formula 1.

“Franz Tost. You know when you’ve been Tosted,” Horner told ESPN.

“When I look around the room now, there’s very different personalities. When I first came into the sport, there’s Ron Dennis, there was Flavio Briatore, there was Eddie Jordan, there was Jean Todt, there was Bernie Ecclestone running it, there was Max Mosley there, Frank Williams, some really big characters and personalities.

“And of course, now you look around the room, and maybe it’s me just getting older, but there’s more managers there and it’s gone much more technical than the entrepreneurial side.

“So I suppose Toto and myself are perhaps two of the more dinosaur type of characters compared to some of them, even though I’m still on the younger side of the team principals.

“But the dynamic and the definition of what a team principal is these days, is very different to when I first came into the sport.

“I think that many of them are now sort of morphing from technical backgrounds where they’re very focused just on technical and sporting regulations rather than actually thinking about the business and the bigger picture and the sport as a whole.”

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Christian Horner talks Drive to Survive influence on Formula 1

The series is currently enjoying a popularity boom beyond anything experienced before, with the United States a key market for growth as the upcoming debut of the Las Vegas Grand Prix marks the increase to three F1 2023 rounds based in the nation.

Horner could not pick a certain character from the crop he mentioned for who would be a Drive to Survive cult hero if the series had come about a few decades ago, but did lift the lid on their individual personalities within the F1 team bosses’ meetings, and explained that Ecclestone could never have imagined this kind of impact from Netflix if it had arrived when he was running the show.

Asked who would be the Guenther Steiner-style Drive to Survive cult hero a few decades back, Horner replied: “I mean, they’re all massive characters.

“Ron Dennis was a big character. He was passionate about what he would argue for.

“Bernie would carve up the room, he’d have everything nailed up with Max before the meeting had even started.

“Flavio, a huge character. If Ron Dennis said it was black, he’d say it was white. Jean Todt would just be ruthless in his protection of Ferrari and all things Ferrari, totally uncompromising.

“They were all huge characters and personalities.

“Bernie would have never dreamt of doing Netflix, because the money involved would have been nowhere near what he would have expected.

“But when you look at what Netflix has done for the sport, it’s transformed the sport, it’s taken it into the households that it would have never been in previously, being a niche sport.

“It’s now made drivers and some team principals household names, and it’s engaged America, we now have three US races. The biggest market in the world, we’re now flourishing in.

“And it’s brought millions and millions of dollars of revenue into the sport of sponsorship and advertising revenues and so on. So it has been a game changer.

“But part of that changing has also been the way that it’s been perceived, because Formula 1 as a sport, you’ve got your original and your diehard fans that follow all the action, and then Netflix will have turned it onto the Kardashians on wheels.

“So it brought a whole new audience, a young audience, a female audience and it changed the dynamic massively compared to where the sport was…10 years ago, arriving at the hotel in Budapest, you’d be lucky if you found 25 people out there, now we have to go through the underground car park and go through kitchens, because you can’t get in the hotel!”

Horner’s Red Bull team are schooling the field when it comes to on-track action in F1 2023, the team having gone into the summer break off the back of winning all 12 grands prix so far.

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