Christian Horner recalls nudging Guenther Steiner towards Red Bull exit door
Christian Horner has recounted the time he orchestrated Guenther Steiner’s exit from Red Bull, when he was technical operations director at the team.
Steiner was in the role from Red Bull’s formation in Formula 1 after the company bought out the existing Jaguar team, with Horner placed into the team principal’s role after productive meetings with Helmut Marko and Red Bull co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
Horner had founded and run the Arden Formula 3000 team in the late 1990s, driving for them before the end of his on-track career – taking on ownership and team principal duties aged 25.
Horner revealed he had been in discussions with Eddie Jordan over buying his eponymous team at Silverstone as he looked for a way into Formula 1, but those talks did not progress and it coincided with Red Bull confirming its future involvement in Formula 1.
“I was looking to see how I could take Arden into F1. Bernie [Ecclestone] was pushing me towards the Jordan team,” Horner told the i.
“Helmut invited me to meet Dietrich in Salzburg in the summer of 2004. The Jordan deal didn’t happen and Red Bull bought Jaguar. Dietrich invited me back at the end of 2004 and asked me to be team principal.”
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Horner became the youngest team principal in Formula 1 at the time, and has been the only person at the helm of Red Bull in its entire time in the sport.
But with Steiner in post in Red Bull’s technical team, he ended up leaving their Formula 1 operation a year later to make way for the arrival of Adrian Newey – who had already designed six Constructors’ Championship-winning cars in his illustrious career at that point.
This was a deliberate move from the team principal, as he acknowledged he wanted to push the team forward in no uncertain terms.
“Guenther was and is a character but it was obvious he was not a technical leader,” Horner said.
“I identified what the team really needed was technical leadership and direction. So from a very early stage I made a point of bumping into Adrian.”
Steiner moved on to head up the then-newly-established Team Red Bull NASCAR team after Newey arrived into Formula 1, before taking the reins as team principal at Haas while they were preparing to enter the sport in 2014.
He has since become one of the most popular figures in the Formula 1 paddock, in no small part due to his starring role in Netflix docuseries Drive to Survive, with Haas taking their highest Constructors’ Championship finish of fifth back in the 2018 season.