No career in racing
Racing must be in your blood, that's an expression you hear often when you talk to someone about what it takes to go places in the world of Formula 1. Christian Horner certainly meets that requirement but found out relatively quickly that a career as a driver wasn't going to be his fate. Through karting (where he said he was defeated by a certain Sophie Kumpen, the mother of Max Verstappen) the British driver moved on to the Formula Renault championship.
In 1993, Horner entered the British Formula 3 championship and after a few years also drove in British Formula 2, before moving to Arden in Formula 3000 in 1997. A year in which the foundation would be laid for the future after a strange but later extremely important encounter with Helmut Marko.
From racer to team manager
Two seasons in Formula 3000 later and Horner thought it was enough: the Briton went on to manage the team instead of taking driving himself. Successes were immediately achieved with Horner as manager from 2000, and the link with Red Bull Racing would only become stronger in 2004.
Antonio Liuzzi drove for Arden together with Robert Doornbos, with the former placed there by Helmut Marko as part of the junior program of Red Bull Racing. The Italian dominated the season and got a (small) role in Formula 1 the next year at Red Bull, which had taken over Jaguar and were now on the F1 grid.
Christian Horner, who initially attempted to buy Jordan in order to be on the F1 grid, was appointed by Helmut Marko as team principal of the brand-new side, becoming the youngest team principal ever. At first, Red Bull Racing wasn't taken seriously ('It's just an energy drinks manufacturer, we make cars'), but within a few years that would no longer be the case.
Disappointment followed by years of success with Sebastian Vettel
In his first year, Horner and his team already outperformed Jaguar from the previous year, but the Brit knew it would take more than that to make it to the top. Adrian Newey was appointed designer (Horner got part of the credit, another part goes to Helmut Marko who managed to lure him away from McLaren) and in 2006, the Bulls take their maiden podium in Monaco.
The Achilles' heel of Red Bulls has always been the engine, it seems. In 2007, they switched from Ferrari to Renault power units - not exactly known for their reliability either. No podiums and therefore no jump in the pool in Monaco for Horner. But from 2009, a young German would soon change that.
In 2008, Sebastian Vettel was proving himself time and again in his Toro Rosso, amazingly taking pole position and winning at the Italian Grand Prix (meaning Toro Rosso had won a race before Red Bull!). One year later, the Heppenheimer was promoted and stepped into the RB5 next to Mark Webber, who played second fiddle from that moment on. Seb just misses out on the title in 2009, but wins four titles on the trot from 2010 onwards. Christian Horner, who just turned 36, became the youngest team principal ever in the history of Formula 1 to celebrate a title in the pinnacle of motorsport.
Wrestling with Renault and Max Verstappen
Together with Helmut Marko, Horner celebrated the titles exuberantly, but after four years it stopped abruptly: the engines change drastically and Renault struggled massively with the more complex turbo-hybrid V6 power units. Sebastian Vettel leaves for Ferrari in 2015 and leaves Horner with a headache.
Daniil Kvyat is placed next to Daniel Ricciardo (the Aussie out-scored Sebastian Vettel in 2014), but the Russian has to make way for the next Vettel after three races in the 2016 season. His name? Max Verstappen! It was a big risk that Horner and Marko were taking together, but the Dutchman had shown enough in the lower classes to convince them. Verstappen amazingly won his very first race in Red Bull overalls in Spain (Hamilton and Rosberg taking each other out on lap one) and Horner proved once again that he is good at making difficult decisions.
A few years later, another impactful change was made as Renault was cast aside and Red Bull joined forces with Honda. A huge gamble but one that would pay out immediately in 2019 when the Bulls won three Grands Prix. 2020 was another quiet year for Red Bull Racing, but a Max Verstappen win at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix would prove to be a foreshadowing of what was to come. The
In 2021, Verstappen and Hamilton engaged in a heated duel. Horner fought tooth and nail for his team in the battle with Mercedes. He would often oppose Toto Wolff's view, and the two team bosses endured a war of words lasting most of the season. It all came down to the final lap in Abu Dhabi 2021, and Verstappen made the overtake on Hamilton.
Horner's team then created the best car compared to the rest of the competition when the 2022 rules and regulations were introduced.