Red Bull boss Christian Horner said that if any driver is to pass comment on the team’s current dominance, then Lewis Hamilton is the last person it should be coming from.
Formula 1’s return to ground effect aerodynamics has triggered a fresh era of one-team dominance, Red Bull this time the outfit setting the incredible standard.
The F1 2023 Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles have long since been wrapped up, marking back-to-back double title successes for Max Verstappen and Red Bull, Verstappen having claimed 17 of the 20 grand prix victories on offer so far in F1 2023.
Christian Horner calls Lewis Hamilton out on “selective memory”
Hamilton and his Mercedes team find themselves in the chasing pack searching for a way to quell the Red Bull onslaught, Hamilton having described their challenger, the RB19, as the most dominant he has seen in his Formula 1 career, while stressing to Formula 1 and the FIA that such dominance is not healthy for the sport.
Horner takes issue with that though, given such a belief comes from a driver who won six World Championship titles with Mercedes during their record run of eight Constructors’ titles in a row between 2014-21.
With Horner describing Mercedes’ margin of dominance “obscene” at times in that period, he does not believe Hamilton should be speaking out.
“I feel like he’s got selective memory,” said Horner of Hamilton on the ‘Eff Won with DRS’ podcast.
“So you know, some of the winning that they did in that period was just obscene. We’ve had a good run for a couple of years, but the one guy that shouldn’t be saying that, I would think, is Lewis.”
Red Bull’s rise to the F1 summit came after the epic 2021 title tussle between Verstappen and Hamilton, won by Verstappen on the final lap of the season in Abu Dhabi as he got his World Championship account up and running.
Horner, perhaps understandably after the ordeal of 2021 which “aged me physically”, is happy to now hoover up some less stressful title successes, but the point has been made that this is not exactly great for F1’s entertainment value.
Nonetheless, Horner offered encouragement by saying it is a certainty that the grid will converge in the coming years, with McLaren, Mercedes, Ferrari and Aston Martin jostling for position in the ‘best of the rest’ pack.
Asked if these outside concerns over Red Bull dominating ever comes into his mind, Horner replied: “Well look, my job is to make sure we’re winning, that’s my job.
“And ’21 was the biggest fight in the history of the sport. It was just heavyweight from the first race to the final in Abu Dhabi, where the two drivers ended up [with the] same points. Unbelievable.
“And that year aged me physically! So, the last couple of years have been kind of pleasant that they’ve been slightly less stressful, but what you can guarantee is that the field is going to converge, and it’s only a matter of time. And you can already see that happening.
“So what will happen is ’24/’25, you’re going to see the field come much closer, you’re starting to see it.
“And the cars, there’s things that we see on the McLaren and think, ‘Okay, we recognise that, it looks a lot like our solution’, but that’s the way Formula 1 works. And next year, a lot of the cars will look the same I’m sure, because there’ll be that convergence.
“Now, it’ll spread again in ’26 when the new regs come out, but for the next couple of years, it’s going to converge.”
Part of the reason why some fans are not seeing the appeal in Red Bull dominating is because Verstappen faces little challenge from his team-mate.
Sergio Perez may have won two Grands Prix in the opening four rounds of F1 2023, but any hopes of a title challenge faded fast from there, with a record run of 10 grand prix victories in succession among Verstappen’s current tally of 17.
However, with this anticipated converge in mind, Horner says it would make no sense for Red Bull to have two “alphas” driving for them, even if it would potentially create a closer intra-team battle and greater entertainment value.
“Therefore, for us, sticking two alphas in the car, you take a Verstappen and a Hamilton, that is never going to work, because then you kill your own team,” Horner continued.
“You need to have a dynamic in the team where the drivers are driving for the team, not just themselves. Otherwise, it can become so, so divisive.”
Verstappen could well set the final standard for victories in a single campaign at 19 with the first Las Vegas Grand Prix approaching, before the season concludes in Abu Dhabi.