Christian Horner: Liberty Media underestimated challenge of running F1
‘It’s harder than they thought’: Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says Liberty Media underestimated the challenge of running Formula One
- Formula One owners Liberty Media took over from Bernie Ecclestone in 2017
- They want a more level playing field, seeking changes such as a budget cap
- But there has been resistance from wealthy teams accustomed to privileges
- Red Bull chief Christian Horner believes Liberty underestimated the challenge
Formula One owners Liberty Media have underestimated the task of running the sport and must be firm in setting out a vision for the future, according to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.
Speaking to reporters before the 2019 cars are unveiled next week, Horner was also scathing of technical changes he said had been expensive to implement but would change little on track.
US-based Liberty, who took control two years ago, want closer racing and a more level playing field.
Liberty, led by chief executive Chase Carey, took control of F1 from Bernie Ecclestone in 2017
They have sought to make a more even playing field but have faced resistance from teams
‘I think they probably thought there was some very low hanging fruit there and I think it’s proved an awful lot harder than they perhaps thought,’ Horner said of Liberty’s initial approach to the sport.
‘You can window dress and promote a movie as much as you like, but if the movie has not got the substance and isn’t an exciting movie, people won’t watch it.’
The agreements between teams, the rights holders and governing body expire at the end of 2020 and Liberty’s ambitions include a budget cap and distributing revenues more equally, as well as technical changes so that cars can follow at close quarters and overtake more easily.
The detail has yet to be defined, however, with resistance from wealthy teams who have historically enjoyed special privileges.
Horner said Liberty had taken positive steps in areas such as esports, digital platforms and promotion, but they needed to set out a clear post-2020 blueprint.
Red Bull chief Christian Horner believes F1 owners Liberty underestimated the task at hand
Formula One car launch 2019 dates
- Toro Rosso
- Racing Point
- Red Bull
- Alfa Romeo
- 7 February
- 11 February
- 12 February
- 13 February
- 13 February
- 13 February
- 14 February
- 15 February
- 18 February
- London, UK
- Enstone, UK
- Toronto, Canada
- Silverstone, UK
- Barcelona, Spain
‘As the owner of the sport they need to take a position of ‘this is what we want Formula One to be, here’s the set of regulations and here’s the financials’, and go with it,’ declared Horner.
Promoters representing a majority of the tracks on the calendar last week voiced concern about Liberty’s handling of the sport.
Horner said former commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who ran the sport for decades with an iron fist until 2017, would have had a firmer response to that.
‘The problem is the way that Liberty are operating, trying to operate in a democratic way,’ he said.
‘Bernie ran a really tight and hard ship. A dictatorship. If you didn’t like it, than you wouldn’t have a race the following year.’
Horner (right) also said Liberty need to set-out a clearer post-2020 blueprint
Formula One cars will have wider and simpler front wings this season, but Horner was sceptical about the changes improving racing.
‘They’ve cherry-picked something in isolation off a future concept for 2021 and rushed it through onto the current car. There’s no silver bullet,’ he said.
‘It has to be everything working in harmony with everything else. Just taking the front wing and saying that will make racing better, it’s quite a naive and ultimately expensive approach.’
Red Bull’s motorsport consultant Helmut Marko has put the cost of developing the aerodynamic changes at an extra €15million (£13.2m) for the team.
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