CHRISTIAN HORNER: Oracle Red Bull Racing’s ‘biggest threats this year would have to be both Ferrari and Mercedes’
With the 2023 F1 season ready to drop this weekend, Pokerstars Casino caught up with Oracle Red Bull Racing CEO and Team Principal Christian Horner to take a look at the year ahead and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for his team.
How would you sum up the 2022 season from an ORBR perspective – any major learnings?
“2022 was the most incredible year for us and the most successful season in our history. To retain the drivers’ championship and to reclaim the constructor’s championship after an 8-year absence was a monumental performance by the whole team.”
What are the Team’s goals for the 2023 season based on the above learnings? How do you improve on a Championship Win?!
“I think it will be very difficult to beat the season we had in 2022 but of course you must always try to do better. You’re always learning in this business, applying the lessons that you learnt from last year and implementing them into the following year.”
Can you tell us a bit about the level of work that has gone on behind the scenes since the end of last season?
“A lot of work has gone into adapting the car to the new regulations trying to improve the car. Of course, we know our opponents are fiercely competitive and they won’t be standing still so you never have time to rest on your laurels.”
Is there a particular race track that stands out as most memorable from the 2022 season?
“For 2022, one of the races I most enjoyed was actually Imola. Achieving our first 1+2 finish for quite a few years was something I am really proud of as a Team.”
What are your thoughts on the potential level of competition from the other teams this season?
“The competition will be very stiff from the front running teams. I think the grid as a whole, in this second year of these new regulations, will start to converge and I’m expecting some really competitive racing”
Will the new rule changes on car specs (e.g adjustments to reduce porpoising) have any effect on the performance of the cars?
“The core specifications will inevitably have an effect and of course it is whichever team manages to deal with those regulation changes. The best will prevail.”
“The US is such a key market for us and indeed all of Formula 1. With such a growing support and following for F1 we want to be the team that is front and centre”
Which team/driver do you see as posing the biggest threat to you securing the Constructors and Drivers World Championships this season?
“Our biggest threats this year would have to be both Ferrari and Mercedes. They are going to be fiercely competitive. With the quality of their drivers, both of those teams are always dangerous.”
What is going to be the stand out race for fans this year do you think, based on location, atmosphere etc.?
“The race that will generate the most interest in 2023 is unquestionably Las Vegas. The introduction of Vegas to the calendar made a lot of noise, it is a big venue and everyone has immense expectations.”
With Las Vegas added to the calendar this year and the announcement of your partnership with Ford, how else is ORBR planning to show up in the US market?
“The US is such a key market for us and indeed all of Formula 1. With such a growing support and following for F1 we want to be the team that is front and centre. We have a variety of Showruns throughout the year globally too – more than we’ve ever had previously. These events give fans a rare chance to get up and close to an F1 car, listen to the old V8 engine fire up and potentially fall in love with the sport. There are a couple of new Showruns on the calendar in the US this year which we’re particularly excited about. It’s great to see the enthusiasm from the American public.”
What is personally your favourite track to visit, and why?
“In terms of my favourite track, it’s difficult to put your finger on one because there are so many great circuits in and around great cities. I would say one I particularly enjoy is always Montreal. It’s a great town and always a great race there so that certainly sticks out as one of my favourites.”
At what point at a race weekend are you most anxious?
“5 minutes to 2pm is when I feel most anxious!”
Red Bull Racing has two of the best drivers in F1, but it’s difficult to win races all on their own. How much of a role does strategy play in any given race weekend? Would you base a race strategy for one of your drivers by targeting a particular team/driver or do you plan based on your cars strengths at each track?
“The strategy is very dynamic. There are so many variables and so many things that can change over the course of a race – there might be inclement weather, or an issue for one of your competitors that you need to keep an eye on. So strategy plays a crucial role and of course all the algorithms and simulations that we run help us to predict the best possible outcome. There are always certain variables that you can’t simulate.”