Red Bull’s Max Verstappen won the Formula 1 driver’s championship this year, in a season that will be debated for ages, and also the last one before major rule changes go into effect next season, intended to help level the playing field. One thing is for sure: Red Bull team principal Christian Horner will be there, too, hoping to spoil things for Mercedes again.
And not just 2022, but until at least 2026, after Horner, who has been with Red Bull since 2005, recently extended his contract off-season, according to MotorSport.com’s sources. Helmut Marko, who also has a hand in running the Red Bull show, was very Helmut Marko about it.
“[Red Bull owner] Dietrich Mateschitz said, ‘Christian who?’ in the beginning as Christian had zero experience in Formula 1. But I already knew him from Formula 3000 and other junior categories and I knew about his ambitions and skills. Now that has developed into something great.
“He is a charismatic team boss who, by the way - even before you [Verstappen] - was in the process of extending his contract until 2026.
“Within the whole team, or at least the top positions, we want to have stability for the transition years coming up, when the new engine regulations come in and when the new chassis regulations come in, so that we have a solid team for that.”
Senior Red Bull sources confirmed to Motorsport.com that Horner’s contract extension has already been signed, committing him to the team for the long-term.
Horner is a proven winner, and this is good news for Red Bull in the long-term, and for Verstappen, who will hope to build on his first title with a second one, or even a third or fourth. It is also good news for fans, because anyone who watches Drive To Survive, or watches the press conferences, or even just the races, has probably picked up on what a good foil Horner is for his chief rival and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, in that neither of the two are likable in any traditional sense, which only adds to their entertaining nature as competitors.
Horner comes from money but also still comes off as a striver, while Wolff, who doesn’t come from money, comes off like a guy who has always belonged at the top. This is part of what made Verstappen’s win so satisfying, the feeling that the underdog peeled one off, no matter how true or untrue that really is. And maybe it will be over, almost as soon as it started, with Ferrari trying to steal the show next season, but for now, we know for sure that Horner will be in the mix for years to come, scrapping with someone. I can’t wait to watch.