Red Bull Racing F1 Boss Wins Mercedes Factory Tour In Charity Auction

In F1, if you want to find out your rival’s secrets, you’re best off buying a tour of their factory in a charity auction.

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A photo of Christian Horner at the Abu Dhabi grand prix.
Don’t let this man near your factories.
Photo: Mark Thompson / Staff (Getty Images)

Formula 1 is a sport shrouded in secrecy, where teams keep all their greatest innovations under wraps and away from prying eyes. So if you’re the person in charge of the Red Bull F1 team, you’re unlikely to get a glimpse inside the factory at rival team Mercedes. Unless a tour of said factory is up for sale at a charity auction.

Well, that’s exactly the position Red Bull team principal Christian Horner found himself in this weekend.

Horner was attending the Autosport Awards in London where, as well as a glitzy awards ceremony, a charity auction was taking place. The auction offered up a host of bougie automotive prizes for attendees to bid on. One of the items up for grabs was a behind the scenes tour of the Mercedes AMG F1 factory in Brackley, United Kingdom.

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Bidding for the VIP tour of the facility reached £4,000 ($5,420) during the swanky awards do, with Horner placing the winning offer. Speculation ran rampant on Twitter during the awards ceremony, as the bidder was actually named “Chrisrian Horner,” making it unclear if this was truly Red Bull’s boss or just someone stirring up controversy.

A photo of the whole Red Bull Formula 1 team.
Christian Horner showing up to the Mercedes factory with a few mates.
Photo: Alex Pantling / Staff (Getty Images)
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According to news site RacingNews365, Horner did win that bid and said that he “wants to take ‘about 20’ people with him for the tour.”

The site reported:

“‘Adrian [Newey, chief technical officer], myself, Pierre Waché [technical director] and probably Paul Field, our director of production,’ he smiled, off the back of a hard-fought 2021 title battle with Mercedes.

“Horner then quipped that ‘it’ll be interesting to go and see how they’re spending their budget cap’, before underlining that his successful bid was all for a ‘great cause’.”

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There’s no word on when Horner might be able to cash in his purchase and visit the Mercedes factory. But if I was him, I’d do it after F1 teams test in Bahrain ahead of the season opener.

That way, he might sneak a glimpse of any updates the Silver Arrows plan on taking to the track at the first race of the new season. That is, of course, if they haven’t hidden everything away before he arrives.

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But the auction wasn’t just about stealing trade secrets. All the funds raised at the Autosport Awards Charity Auction are donated to the Grand Prix Trust, which offers help and support for F1 personnel.