Red Bull Team Principal, Christian Horner, compared Mercedes’ dominant years in Formula 1 to a prison sentence.
Following Red Bull’s four-year rule, Mercedes dominated from 2014 to 2020, until Max Verstappen’s victory in 2021 ended their run.
Since then, Red Bull has regained its position as a leading force in F1, with Verstappen winning his second title in 2022, and the team securing the Constructors’ Championship well before the season’s end.
Horner discussed the long-awaited comeback of Red Bull during an interview with ESPN’s Unlapped podcast.
“Seven long years, that’s a long time. You get less for crimes!” said Horner.
“We had to wait to get back into a competitive position. We had to do a lot of watching of a lot of Mercedes winning. But we never lost sight of our target, we were still winning races every single year at circuits we could excel at.
“We never lost that target, it was just about putting the missing pieces into place. Then when we got a competitive power unit, we were able to go toe to toe with Mercedes.”
Red Bull’s RB19 package has emerged as an unprecedented force in Formula 1, showcasing exceptional speed and unwavering reliability.
Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have capitalized on this potent combination, achieving a remarkable feat by securing victories in all 12 Grands Prix and three Sprint races during the season’s opening half.
Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, expressed astonishment at the team’s flawless performance, acknowledging that even the most optimistic members of Red Bull could not have foreseen such an outstanding record. The RB19’s dominance has undoubtedly elevated Red Bull’s status and set a new standard in F1 history.
“We could never have imagined in our wildest dreams that we’re heading into summer break unbeaten in both Grand Prix and Sprint races,” said Horner.
“[During pre-season testing] in February, we knew we had a good car, but we expected Ferrari to build on last year and we expected Mercedes to be there also.
“It completely took us by surprise how competitive we were compared to our opponents.”
After a glorious run where Red Bull claimed all available titles from 2010 to 2013, their fortunes took a sudden downturn in 2014. The emergence of Mercedes as the dominant force in F1’s turbo-hybrid era pushed Red Bull to the backfoot, relegating them to fight for occasional victories whenever favorable circumstances arose.
Christian Horner, the Team Principal of Red Bull, emphasized that these lean years were instrumental in shaping the team’s present dominance. The challenging period tested the team’s resilience and dedication.
Despite the setbacks, they used these experiences as a foundation to build upon, learning from their struggles and striving to improve.
Overcoming adversity, Red Bull focused on enhancing their car’s performance and strengthening their team dynamics.
As a result, they reemerged as a formidable force in Formula 1, reclaiming their spot at the top of the grid and competing fiercely for championships once again.
The lessons learned during their lean years paved the way for their current success and reaffirmed their position as one of the sport’s powerhouses.
“[Those years] were hugely important, because they galvanised the team. We came off a winning streak and suddenly we had no chance,” said Horner.
“We were turning up at races and had no chance of success. I think that tested the team in many respects, it would have been very easy for a lot of people to have left the team at that point.
“The races we won we had to scrap hard for, we had to be super sharp because we were running with a handicap, effectively. If you look at the races we won in those years, many of them were opportunistic wins or wins at circuits where power didn’t play a pivotal focus.
“I think 2021 was probably the most epic season in the history of the sport. But we were ready for that challenge, we were battle hardened from those intervening years.”