Christian Horner won’t apologise for dominating this year’s championship, after all Red Bull did their time in the Formula 1 jail as Mercedes went on a seven-year streak.
Winning every championship title from 2014 to 2020, Mercedes emerged as the dominant force as the sport introduced all-new V6 hybrid engines.
Although Red Bull did grab race wins in all but one of those seasons, 2015, second was the best result they achieved in the Constructors’ with third in the Drivers’ standings. That was until Max Verstappen came to the fore in 2021.
Christian Horner: You get less time for crimes!
That season he raced Lewis Hamilton for the World title with the two protagonists going wheel-to-wheel and Dutchman coming out on top at the season finale.
He had a much easier path to his second title in 2022, the first year in F1’s new ground effect aerodynamic era, while this year there’s no stopping him with Verstappen recording 10 wins. With the team on 12 for 12, Red Bull are cruising toward a second successive championship double.
Horner has no sympathy for their rivals.
“I mean, seven long years is a long time,” he told ESPN of Mercedes’ heyday period. “You get less for crimes!
“We had to wait to get back into a competitive position, and we have to do a lot of watching of a lot of Mercedes winning and so on you know.
“But we never lost sight of our target. We were still winning races, pretty much every single year we still won races. So we never lost that target.
“It was just about putting the missing pieces into place. And then once we got a competitive power unit, bang, we were able to go toe-to-toe with Mercedes.
“So they were lucky they had it easy all of those years when we were running one-legged.”
Red Bull never thought the RB19 would be so ‘potent’
With 13 wins in a run that extends back to 2022’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Red Bull set a new record for the most wins in succession when they broke McLaren’s 1988 record at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Horner says no one at Red Bull saw that coming when the car completed its first laps in pre-season testing.
“I don’t think any of us thought that the car we had was actually as potent as that,” he explained. “We could see from the race rounds that we looked competitive.
“The Aston looked like it was the closest to us, and the Mercedes didn’t look in great shape – they pioneered on with their concept.
“So we could only really tell our own performance and of course having been in Bahrain the previous year and losing out with reliability issues, we were determined to put that right.”
The team boss, though, is not jumping on the whitewash bandwagon.
“I think you’ve got to be in the here and now, and every session, every qualifying, every race, and just take it one at a time,” said Horner. “That’s been our approach and that’s been our mantra so far this season, and what’s what we do.
“There’s so many variables that can go wrong, it’s just focusing on the things that you can control, reacting to the conditions, making sure that we’re reliable and as competitive as we can be with the car.”
Red Bull are leading the Constructors’ Championship with 503 points to Mercedes’ 247.