Now that Christian Horner is leading the dominant team in Formula 1, getting one over on rival Toto Wolff will have the team boss “probably rubbing his hands together” with glee, according to Damon Hill.
Horner and the Mercedes team principal have been at loggerheads on a number of occasions in recent years, coming to a head throughout the 2021 season as both Red Bull and Mercedes fought it out for top honours.
And when Mercedes’ pace dropped off in 2022 with the switch to ground effect cars, Red Bull flew to the top of the tree and in one of the most memorable soundbites of the season, Horner loudly told Wolff to “change your f***ing car” if he wanted to eliminate its issues.
Christian Horner likely to be revelling in dominant form at Red Bull
Red Bull took a record haul of victories in 2022 through Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez, and the team has moved its benchmark even higher this time around, winning every race in 2023 so far – with the RB19 looking like one of the most dominant cars the sport has ever seen.
Discussing the year to date on the F1 Nation podcast, former McLaren and HRT driver Pedro de la Rosa said the main issue facing Horner now as team boss will be how to keep motivation high, when they know they have the strongest package on the grid and should be able to win every race this year, without extenuating circumstances.
Alongside that, with Mercedes having taken all eight Constructors’ titles since the move to the turbo hybrid era before Red Bull’s success last year, Hill added that Horner will be taking a sense of pride in wrestling back the “stranglehold” Red Bull once had on Formula 1.
“It’s very difficult. I think this is the most difficult thing that Red Bull is doing right now, it’s not only winning, but keep winning, keep maintaining the gap to the rest and developing the car,” De la Rosa explained.
“So it’s very difficult, but it proves that they are a great team and that depth in that team, it’s incredible.
“It’s not easy, and possibly this is the biggest challenge any Formula 1 team faces.”
Hill added that Red Bull’s dominance bears resemblance to the dominant years of teams in eras gone by in Formula 1, and now having seen his rivals be at the front for years on end, there will be an element of him revelling in being able to make Wolff do the same – with Red Bull having gone through the first 12 races of 2023 unbeaten.
“It’s similar in a way to in the ‘80s when it used to swing backwards and forwards between McLaren and Williams, you know, there were two teams and no-one else could get a look in,” said the 1996 World Champion.
“Of course, McLaren are on the way back and you might even argue that Williams are, but to actually be sitting there as Red Bull watching Mercedes mopping it up for eight years, and now the boot is on the other foot.
“It’s so interesting seeing how these teams managed to get the right formula, and then dominate, and then the others are then struggling to try and crack that stranglehold they have on it.
“And it’s a real pressure, can you imagine being the boss of a team like that?
“So Toto has had all the success and now he’s sitting there and Christian is probably rubbing his hands together, you know, even considering how Toto now knows how it feels to watch the other guys winning all the time.”