Christian Horner claims Red Bull F1 contribution should be ‘applauded’ amidst A/B team criticism

Thomas Maher
Max Verstappen on track for Red Bull in Bahrain testing.

Red Bull has responded to the criticisms meted out by Zak Brown about the relationship between their two teams.

Red Bull’s Christian Horner and RB’s Laurent Mekies had plenty to say about Zak Brown’s comments on their relationship as teams.

For 2024, Red Bull and RB – the former AlphaTauri squad – will work far more closely together, with as many components shared between the two teams as the technical regulations allow.

With the synergy between the two teams evolving to a more collaborative effort, there have been murmurings of discontent about their shared ownership – the most vocal of the complaints coming from McLaren’s Zak Brown.

Zak Brown: The FIA needs to address A/B team rules

Speaking to media, including, during the press conference on Thursday in Bahrain, McLaren team boss Zak Brown re-iterated his desire to see the relationship of so-called ‘A and B teams’ delineated in a clearer manner.

“The sport continues to evolve,” Brown said.

“We now have a budget cap in place which I think was intended, and is working for the most part, to bring a level playing field to the sport, fiscally and in every other manner.

“No other major sport, to my knowledge, allows co-ownership of two teams that compete against each other.

“So I think the sport, as we’re now in the budget cap era, has moved on to where we’re trying to have 10 independent teams from the sporting and the political, [and] from a technical point of view.”

Brown emphasised that he has no complaints about Red Bull and RB obeying the regulations as they are written, but the regulations shouldn’t allow for such synergy in the first place.

“Simply, I think they’re very much playing by the rules, I have an issue with the rules,” Brown said.

“I believe the FIA needs to address this. As Helmut [Marko, Red Bull motorsport advisor] has stated, he’s going to maximise the opportunity, which is what you would do if you owned two teams and the rules are what they are today.

“But I think we’re going to find, if the intent of the cap and in all sports is to have an equal playing field in the way the rules are currently written, aren’t the same for everyone.

“You have pockets of teams, also the whole A/B team situation – that doesn’t have that level playing field.

“So I think we now need to address it, and the FIA needs to address it for the rules.”

Laurent Mekies offers a considered retort on behalf of RB

With both Red Bull team bosses present in the press conference alongside Brown, new RB team boss Laurent Mekies outlined his position on the topic.

“Undoubtedly, there are regulations. Our job is to maximise things within these regulations,” he said.

“I think it’s also good to remember why we have these regulations that allow us to share some of the components.

“There are two major reasons for that. The first one is that, as a sport, we wanted to have a closer field, and less lap time difference between the guy who is winning, and the guy who is 10th.

“It was felt that, by allowing some components to be shared, it would avoid having too much spread between the top and the bottom of the grid.

“If you look at the results of the championship last year, and if you add up the points scored by the bottom four teams, we don’t even make it up the points that the team made in the sixth position.

“If you look at the face of the championship results, there is still quite a large spread between the guys struggling at the back to get a few points and what is happening in the midfield.

“The second reason why the regulations were sought in this way is to offer to whoever wants to take it, a more sustainable business model.

“Yes, we are in a very good string of years now, commercially, and it’s fantastic.

“Before removing what is a more sustainable alternative, we need to have a bit of a long-term view on what it’s going to do for the sport in the next few years.”

Christian Horner: Red Bull should be applauded, not derided

With Mekies having made his point, attention turned to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner, who stressed the point that the two teams are completely separate entities and are competitors in every way.

Horner pointed out that Red Bull owns two teams competing in football’s Champions League, and went into some detail about the history of the Faenza-based squad – outlining how Red Bull invested significantly into the former Minardi team in order to create the team that exists today as RB.

“The commitment that Red Bull has made to F1 and these two teams is outstanding and should be applauded, and be grateful for, rather than derided and tried to compromise,” he argued.

“The two teams are totally separate. One is based in Italy. One is based in the UK. The one based in Italy has a far larger turnover of staff that ends up in Maranello [at Ferrari] than ends up in Milton Keynes.

“They have different personalities, they have different characters, and they comply continually with the regulations.

“Indeed, the relationship is far less tight than some of the teams that enjoy very tight relationships with their engine manufacturers.

“I would take it as a compliment, if I was Laurent, that this issue is being raised now, because of the change of stewardship.

“The team had the opportunity to get its act together, they’ve got two quality drivers, and they’re introducing quality people into that team.

“We expect them to be a competitor, not just of the rest of the field but, indeed, of Red Bull Racing.

“We’re a team of racers. There are no preset rules, and there are no agreements between the teams.

“So I don’t understand the fuss about it. I don’t understand the noise that’s been created about it. I think Red Bull should actually be applauded for the support and the commitment and the jobs that they provided through the good times, and particularly the bad times.

“So, for me, it really is a non-issue.”

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