Red Bull Racing principal Christian Horner has said he has unfinished business with his world-beating team and is therefore not thinking of replacing Bernie Ecclestone as the head of Formula One.
Ecclestone, 83 and currently beleaguered by legal actions which could place his future in jeopardy, said: “Christian would be ideal for my job. We could have a transitional period. It needs someone who knows the sport. If someone comes in from outside, a corporate type, I don’t think I could work with them. It wouldn’t last five minutes.
“People deal with me because they know me. I’ve known them for a long time and they trust me. They know I’m straight with them. That’s how it is with Christian. I hope we can do it.”
Ecclestone and Horner dine together at every race and enjoy one another’s company, but the latter responded that he is happy with Red Bull, who have just won their fourth consecutive drivers’ and constructors’ world championships.
“First of all it’s flattering,” Horner said of Ecclestone’s view. “But I think Bernie is going to be here hopefully for a long time to come and it’s for the benefit of the sport that he stays in the rude health that he is in. It’s unimaginable that any one single person could replace him. He’s still in great shape, and still doing some massive deals for F1. You only have to look where he’s taken us recently.
“So though it’s very flattering that he has mentioned me as he has, my focus is very much on this team and the job that I’m performing.”
That is to continue Red Bull’s current level of domination when the regulations undergo a sea change next year. He is not even sure about a change of direction in the longer term, either.
“In this business it’s difficult to look too far into the future but my goals are to achieve a lot more with this team,” he said. “We have achieved so much in a short space of time and my ambition is to continue that momentum as long as we possibly can. I’m committed to Red Bull Racing for the foreseeable future and I feel responsible for the team. I have no intention of doing anything else.”
Horner has just turned 40, and his partner Beverley recently gave birth to their first child, Olivia. He admits that there are parallels between giving up being a racing driver in order to manage a race team and making the transition to parenthood.
“It’s a whole new responsibility. It puts things into a different perspective, to see the entire dependency children have on you,” he said.
“When you’re racing and achieve success it’s a very selfish thing. What I recognised as soon as I stepped out of driving the car is that you have a responsibility for all the people who work for the team and have to pay their mortgages every month. It’s a different kind of challenge. Therefore when you win a race in many ways it’s more gratifying because it’s a culmination of everything coming together and the reward for that is tremendous.
“I’m delighted I had the education through the racing that I did. It informs you so much more. I raced in Formula 3000 in the period of Juan Pablo Montoya and Tom Kristensen, some big names. It gave me insight into what’s important. And the thing about the good teams, it was all down to the people, the quality of the personnel and how they interacted, the confidence they gave you as a driver.”
Red Bull employ 620 people, and Horner is not yet ready to surrender the buzz he acquired in managing them when he stopped racing. Not even for Ecclestone.
Yesterday he had more pressing things to consider, however, after Nico Rosberg and Mercedes topped both practice sessions for the Brazilian Grand Prix, upstaging his drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.
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