Red Bull boss Christian Horner said heads drop when a successful team hits hard times, so advises Mercedes principal Toto Wolff to inject some fresh motivation into his team.
Wolff arrived at Mercedes when he bought into the team back in 2013, that season the preview for record-breaking success to come.
Between 2014-21, Mercedes would reel off an incredible streak of eight Constructors Championship titles in a row, with seven Drivers’ titles also claimed in that time.
Christian Horner says Toto Wolff must motivate Mercedes
Recent years have been far tougher going for Mercedes though, the team having claimed only one grand prix win since the introduction of ground effect aerodynamics for 2022, while Red Bull has schooled the competition in their return to the top spot, winning 21 of the 22 grands prix in F1 2023.
Horner knows that heads will drop at Mercedes as their baron spell intensifies, having failed to win in F1 2023 for the first time since 2011, as Horner explains that Wolff has to motivate his troops for this recovery mission far different to the experiences of sitting atop the F1 mountain.
“It’s a massive challenge,” said Horner on the Sky Sports F1 podcast regarding the Mercedes task on Wolff’s hands.
“He came into the sport on the back of a winning team and enjoyed a huge period of success, serial success for seven or eight years and then suddenly, it’s a big adjustment to not be going to grands prix…and I think Mercedes have won one race in the last two seasons.
“And that will hurt and people start questioning things in the organisation, heads drop and as a leader, you have to motivate them, you have to pick them up.
“It’s a totally different challenge, being at the top of the field to striving to get back there.”
Horner speaks from experience, having seen Red Bull’s run of four Drivers’ and Constructors’ title doubles between 2010-13 lead into an extended period away from the title scene.
Switching to Honda power from 2019 provided the platform for Red Bull to rebuild though, Horner expressed his pride at how the team has climbed back to the F1 pinnacle after that frustrating period that led to the end of their Renault power unit deal.
Asked to explain how the challenge differs between managing a winning team and one fighting to get back there, Horner replied: “I think that it’s making sure that people believe in themselves and trying to instil a confidence.
“And it’s inevitable that when you’ve been winning for a long period of time that, when suddenly you’re not winning, then that’s when fingers start getting pointed and the team gets truly challenged during that period.
“And that’s where I’m particularly proud at Red Bull. During the period that we weren’t able to be in a winning position, which was largely out of our control, we were still winning races in every single year, two or three races. Bar 2015, we won a minimum of two or three races every year. At the places that we could do so, where the engine disadvantage was nullified.”
Mercedes finished a distant runner-up to Red Bull in the F1 2023 Constructors’ Championship, while their seven-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton claimed a ‘best of the rest’ P3 result in the Drivers’ Championship behind Red Bull pair Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.