Eddie Jordan believes Christian Horner shouldn’t be looking over at Toto Wolff’s ownership stake in Mercedes with any degree of envy.
Horner, despite his hugely prominent position as Red Bull F1 CEO and team principal, does not have any ownership stake in the team he oversees – in stark contrast to Toto Wolff’s 33% ownership stake in the Mercedes F1 team, ownership he shares with Daimler and INEOS chairman Sir Jim Ratcliffe.
But, despite Horner not having any “skin in the game”, Eddie Jordan believes the Red Bull man has the favourable arrangement and shouldn’t view Wolff with any envy.
Eddie Jordan: Christian Horner shouldn’t feel bitter about Toto Wolff
Speaking about the different arrangements that Horner and Wolff have with their teams, Jordan reflected on how the pair differ in terms of that dynamic.
“It is just the way the work is, the contract that [Horner] sought,” Jordan said on the Formula For Success podcast.
“Some people like to have share options in their contract, but that could never apply to this, because Red Bull is a private family-owned and run business. And that’s how they operate.
“Toto is different. He has invested money, he sold part of the team to Mercedes (sic). So he kept some of the shareholdings in there. It was with Niki [Lauda] as well. I don’t know what’s happened to Niki’s share, but I think it’s probably quite a split.
“Therefore, I think that they are both different. Christian should not feel in any way bitter, because I think he’s earning particularly great money. I think the thing that he doesn’t have to worry about the finances too much has been a benefit to him, and a benefit to Red Bull Racing, because Christian can devote all his time to the areas that he feels can improve the team.
“I’m not sure if it’s well known but Christian, before he started with Red Bull, came to Jordan with an effort to try and buy Jordan with money from Hong Kong. It didn’t materialise for him.
“But he had, in his mind, a view to actually taking over the ownership of a team with other outside source investments. I think that was a benefit that he is now glad that he didn’t do because what he’s doing is achieving!
“I mean, this is one of the most biggest purple patches for a race team in motor racing history, what Red Bull are doing.
“We saw that with Michael [Schumacher], of course, in Ferrari, but, as soon as Todt left and Michael left, Ferrari has been nowhere. That won’t be the case with Red Bull.
“Christian is part of that, and he gets the glory from that. I don’t think he is, or should be, in any way discouraged by the fact that he doesn’t have skin in the game, because that doesn’t mean, naturally, that you’re going to be successful and Toto could lose money as part of the investment just as easy as he could gain it. I’m sure that’s not the case, but that’s how business works. And I think probably Christian is better off where he is.”
Eddie Jordan elaborates on the benefits, and drawbacks, for Christian Horner
Jordan, who ran his own eponymous team from 1991 to 2005, had direct experience of having to worry about the financial side of running the team while bearing direct responsibility for servicing the deals he signed.
He explained that surviving that before selling up to the Midland group during the mid-2000s was his biggest source of pride – one that no team boss on the grid can now identify with.
“To survive Formula 1 as a private, single, individual family – Maria and I – that was it,” he said.
“We took the risks. We went to see the bank managers, we made promises that we knew we couldn’t fulfill, but we managed to get through it. Yes, it was fun now looking back, but, Jesus, it was far from fun at the time.
“The great thing about the teams at the moment, if you look at the likes of Ferrari and if you look at Red Bull, and you look into everyone else, they have a different structure. The structure is coming from big-time investment, big institutional investments, and those 10 teams that are there are likely to be there forever because they have the funding necessary to bring them there.”
As a result, he said there is a direct difference in the level of risk Horner and Wolff are taking. While Horner won’t feel any personal pain if he makes a misstep with Red Bull, Wolff will. But the flipside to this is their reported respective net worth.
While Horner is reported at a personal net worth of around $50 million, Wolff is a billionaire thanks to his canny investments over the years – the Austrian is reported to have a personal net worth in excess of $1 billion, perhaps even as high as $1.6 billion.
“Christian has a massive machine behind him, with accountants, planners, programme people who control the budget,” Jordan said.
“He says what he needs, he has to justify it, of course, and he would have somebody who prepares that document with him in consultation at board meetings, etc. But he doesn’t have to pay for it. He doesn’t have to take that risk. He knows his salary is safe and stuff like that. He’s doing a sensational job.
“So I think there is a benefit there for him over Toto, whereas Toto owns a chunk of that team. So, therefore, he has a financial implication in there. So the less amount of money that the team makes, means the less money that Toto earns. So Toto’s investment in Mercedes fluctuates. For example, Guenther [Steiner] and Christian don’t have that problem, but they don’t have the upsides. So, if it’s very successful, they’re not partying apart from the normal bonus system that they would have within their contract.”