Horner sweeps new broom at Red Bull

Shock swept through Red Bull Racing yesterday when, as predicted, Christian Horner was appointed sporting director, and team principal Tony Purnell and managing director David Pitchforth were relieved of command.

Shock swept through Red Bull Racing yesterday when, as predicted, Christian Horner was appointed sporting director, and team principal Tony Purnell and managing director David Pitchforth were relieved of command.

Horner, 31, took Arden International to victory in the 2003 and 2004 Formula 3000 Championships, with drivers Bjorn Wirdheim and Vitantonio Liuzzi. His appointment at Red Bull Racing is good news for Liuzzi, who signed to drive for Red Bull Racing shortly after Christmas.

Horner had been negotiating to buy Jordan in order to graduate to Formula One, but withdrew when talks with Eddie Jordan broke down.

Horner will jointly manage Red Bull Racing with technical director Guenther Steiner, who held the role through 2002 until the Purnell/Pitchforth regime was introduced by Ford's Richard Parry-Jones. Steiner will be confirmed next week.

Former Jaguar driver Eddie Irvine said of the German: "I think he was the best thing to happen to the team, because of his approach. He gave people confidence in themselves, and didn't deserve what happened."

"Tony [Purnell] and David [Pitchforth] were popular and ran the team in a democratic manner," a Red Bull insider said. "But as Jean Todt, Flavio Briatore, Frank Williams and Ron Dennis have proved, democracy doesn't work in Formula One. There is a strong opinion that they were naïve at times." Critics say the team, running as Jaguar Racing, should have achieved better on-track performance. Engineering problems affecting reliability were never satisfactorily addressed.

Tensions developed between Purnell, Pitchforth and Red Bull's management after they purchased the team, particularly over driver choice. Pitchforth said yesterday: "If there is a situation where I can do things the right way, I would like to stay in Formula One."

Elsewhere, British American Tobacco and Honda are expected to complete the purchase of BAR today. This follows the race team being put on the market as a means of bypassing minority shareholders Gerry Forsythe and Craig Pollock, who objected to a new structure in which Honda have bought 45 per cent of the shares.

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