EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Red Bull boss Horner on the rise of F1 in America

EXCLUSIVE: ‘New York? Why not!’: Red Bull boss Christian Horner on the rise of F1 in the USA, dealing with the threat of Ferrari and Mercedes in 2023 – and why he’d LOVE to see a race on the iconic streets of the Big Apple

  • Red Bull will launch their 2023 car at an event in New York on Friday morning 
  • DailyMail.com sat down with team boss Christian Horner just hours before 
  • Click here for all your latest international sports news from DailyMail.com 

As Christian Horner strolls into the room, flanked by Netflix’s Drive to Survive camera crew, he exudes an air of calm. And what reason is there to be stressed?

His superstar driver, Max Verstappen, is heading into the 2023 season having won back-to-back drivers’ titles, and the F1 constructors’ trophy is sitting in a cabinet back home at Red Bull’s Milton Keynes base. ‘Where it belongs,’ Horner says.

He is in New York for his first visit in years, hours away from fronting Red Bull’s launch of the RB19, their car for the new season. Yet again, they are breaking new ground – this time becoming the first F1 team in history to launch a car in the States.

Their choice of location is far from random. The US is Formula One’s biggest growth market, with American owners at the helm, the Las Vegas Grand Prix about to become the third US race on the calendar, and an American driver in Logan Sargeant ready to take his place on the grid.

The Netflix generation of fans have arrived in their droves, and Red Bull are among the first to properly embrace their presence, spreading their Wings across the States.

Max Verstappen ran away with the F1 drivers’ title last season, winning an incredible 15 races

Christian Horner was also celebrating after Red Bull won the constructors’ title by a landslide

So what next? Could there even be a fourth US race on the horizon? Perhaps a street race in New York City?

‘It would be amazing,’ Horner says in an exclusive chat with DailyMail.com, Times Square’s constant glow clearly visible from his hotel room window. ‘Racing in big cities in the US is really exciting. A race here in the Big Apple, for example, what a spectacle that would be.

‘You can never say never [to a fourth US race]. We’ve got other North American races as well, with Montreal, and there’s certainly demand for it, so why not? It’s great that there’s that much interest in Formula One in the US. 

‘We’re fortunate to race in great venues, whether it’s the street circuit of Miami, or the track in Austin… Vegas this year is going to be an absolutely insane event too.’

For Horner more than most, the steep rise in F1’s popularity has been strongly felt. For years, his wife Geri took the spotlight when they went out, fans stopping to ask the former Spice Girl for photos while he waited patiently alongside.

Now, though, things have changed, and it was him being recognized as they arrived at US immigration on Thursday afternoon. He is a main character in one of Netflix’s biggest shows, and now a household name to many across the world.

F1 is heading to Las Vegas later this year, becoming the third American race on the calendar

Geri Horner (R) is used to being stopped for photos, but it’s a new phenomenon for Christian

Horner says a race through the streets of New York City would be ‘amazing’ and a ‘spectacle’

‘The sport is growing exponentially, globally, but particularly in the US,’ he adds. ‘You feel it when you arrive, the guy at immigration knows who you are. It’s a step change from where it was previously, and the more we build on that and use that momentum the better.’

As reported by the Mail on Thursday night, Red Bull will this morning also announce a collaboration with Ford, in a move that sees the US car giant return to F1 for the first time since 2004.

Ford will partner Red Bull Powertrains, the team’s in-house engine division, meaning the famous Blue Oval badge will return in 2026, when Formula One shifts to fully sustainable fuel in a major revamp of the regulations.

It is an intriguing move amid the backdrop of Ford’s biggest rival – General Motors – also trying to squeeze their way into the crowded F1 market, alongside Andretti Autosport.

The group, led by racing legend Mario, are bidding to become an 11th team on the grid, but have been met with strong resistance from the likes of Red Bull, who believe the addition of another constrcutor will dilute the value of the existing 10.

Horner believes that a fairer way of bringing the US giant in would be to take over an existing team, rather than tagging another garage onto the end of the paddock. 

Christian poses with his wife Geri at the FIA’s Prize Giving Gala in Bologna in December

Verstappen celebrates the 2022 title with girlfriend Kelly Piquet, but now all eyes are on 2023

Horner has spoken out against Andretti becoming an 11th team on the Formula One grid

‘Red Bull Racing was Jaguar, which was Stewart Ford,’ he explains. ‘You look at Mercedes, that goes all the way back through Honda to British American Racing to Tyrell. Aston Martin go back to being a Jordan team. That has been the procedure for many years. 

‘There’s absolutely nothing against Andretti, they’re great people and Cadillac is a wonderful brand, but we need to come up with a criteria for 2026 that doesn’t diminish the value of, particularly, the smaller teams, and deals with the elephant in the room of: who is actually going to pay for it? 

‘In terms of a new entrant, putting down a down-payment that doesn’t devalue the 10th franchise, and at the same time, Liberty and the teams accepting that inevitably compromises need to be made. 

‘There is, of course, also the practical elements of: are there enough garages at some of these new venues that we go to, to accommodate an 11th team? It needs to be dealt with in the right way. 

‘Andretti is a great team, Mario Andretti is a name synonymous with Formula One… Cadillac, GM, is one of the biggest car manufacturers in the world. So it would be great to see them in the sport, but it’s just got to be done properly.’

Formula One headed to Miami in 2022, too, and there are now three US races on the calendar

Mario Andretti is a name synonymous with F1, but Horner says the right decision must be made

Amid all the off-track, close-season drama, though, it is clear that Horner’s main concern surrounds events on it, with focus fully on the new season as Red Bull try to continue where they left off in 2022.

While the livery of the RB19 is unveiled in New York on Friday, the actual chassis is being kept under wraps, and the team have been working tirelessly throughout the winter in a bid to improve their performance even further.

Last season they ran away with it, winning the constructors’ title by 205 points, while Verstappen was 146 points ahead of his nearest rival in the drivers’ standings.

Perhaps Horner is trying to add to the drama that Netflix strives so hard to create, but he is insistent that 2023 won’t be such a walk in the park. 

‘I think it’s going to be much more competitive this year. I think Ferrari and Mercedes will have, for sure, made progress, and I think we don’t actually know the full impact that the [cost cap] handicap will have on us yet. 

Red Bull are constantly wary of the threat posed by Lewis Hamilton (left) and Mercedes

Red Bull boss Horner poses with his wife, his two drivers and their partners at the end of 2022

‘The team are doing a phenomenal job in trying to maximize the time that we have in the wind tunnel, they’ve responded to that challenge admirably, but only time will tell what effect it has on track. 

‘This time of year is always the important bit… it’s the planning and the build-up that dictates how the rest of the year will run, so there’s a lot going on. It’s always full of nervous anticipation.’

So there it is. All eyes are on Bahrain for when the lights go out on the first race of the season on March 5. If you miss that, though, you’ll be able to catch it via those Netflix cameras a few months later. 

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