Christian Horner now the longest serving Formula One team principal has developed over the years a canny ability to dodge a bullet or two. His relatively calm public demeanour when compared to the notable fiery outburst from his arch rival Toto Wolff Bourne from nigh on two decades of life in the ‘Piranha club’ where one controversy after the next is often the order of the day.
The Mercedes boss famously smashed his team radio headphones into the desk live on TV when he learned the race director Michael Massi was about to restart the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix rather than allow it to finish under the safety car.
Horner phlegmatic after F1 experience
Horner by comparison was relatively phlegmatic when facing the media following what appeared to be a deliberate attempt by Lewis Hamilton to take Max Verstappen out of the race at the 180mph Copse Corner during the same season’s British Grand Prix.
Verstappen was rushed to the medical centre having suffered an impact in excess of 50G after Hamilton clipped his rear end in Silverstone.
Yet when questioned about the huge crash Horner remained calm and related his view on the matter to the assembled media.
“It obviously got pretty tasty down the Wellington Straight and then, of course, the accident. It was a massive accident, 51G. [It] broke the seat, I think it knocked him [Verstappen] out, and it was, for sure, the biggest accident of his career.
“That was tough for him and he was disappointed that he let the team down, that it was within the budget cap world that we are, [so] that’s a huge amount of accident damage as well.
Angry but calm in Austin
At the time Verstappen and Hamilton were locked in a titanic struggle for the 2021 drivers’ championship.
Following last year’s cost cap row, Horner organised a press conference to be held in Austin before the US Grand Prix. Whilst visibly angry about accusations of cheating and threatening legal action, the Red Bull boss remained measured in his explanation of the spending dispute with the FIA’s auditors.
Yet it appears the speed of events following the British Grand Prix has caught F1’s “ice man” on the back foot as the timeline of Ricciardo’s “incredible” testing laps and the sacking of Nyck de Vries have become clear.
Christian claimed to the F1 Nation podcast this week that Nyck de Vries was always a “stopgap” in his opinion and never fitted the AlphaTauri profile of an inexperienced junior driver.
Horner PR not confused
Yet in the next breath the Red Bull boss explains Daniel Ricciardo only has a deal to drive for the Red Bull junior team for the next twelve races and is hoping to impress the management enough he becomes the successor to Sergio Perez in 18 months from now.
In his own words, Ricciardo is now the very definition of a “stop gap” driver for AlphaTauri.
Further, Christian Horner wants the F1 world to believe that come the end of the season, Ricciardo will sit out for another year before becoming the natural successor to Checo and be promoted to drive alongside his old friend Daniel Ricciardo.
Even the most rookie of fans realise this is a highly unlikely scenario in the ever changing world of Formula One.
AlphaTauri 3 year claim
There has been plenty of fallout and comment on the De Vries sacking which in itself failed to live up to the mantra touted year in and out by the AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost.
Tost claims a driver new to Formula One needs “THREE years” before they can be judged against their peers and recently explained this over speculation last season that Tsunoda would be released after two years with the team.
The De Vries sacking caught most F1 observers by surprise and spawned a number of stories purporting to claim they have quotes from the Dutch driver.
However, his manager has now reacted furiously to the series of comments attributed to De Vries threatening legal action against those who have posted the content in the public domain.
Italian media misrepresent De Vries
There has been no official comment from De Vries or his management until now yet he had been attributed in the Italian press with claiming he had a multi year contract and been promised the Red Bull drive in 2025.
Further another article suggested De Vries had accused Red Bull of stealing Lewis Hamilton’s title in 2021 and subsequently denied him unfairly the record eight title that would take the British driver ahead of Michael Schumacher’s record seven.
Guillaume Le Goff, de Vries manager, denies his client ever issued these comments and is threatening legal action against those who claimed they were the source of such rumours.
“Fake” F1 news
“Nyck has not spoken to anyone since the news about his AlphaTauri seat. The news is fake and defamatory,” Le Goff informed F1 Insider.
“In the course of the week there will be an official statement from Nyck. Until then, we still have a few things to arrange,” added Le Goff.
De Vries a future at Williams?
De Vries future in Formula One hangs by a thread but his remaining hope lies with Williams whose rookie Logan Sargeant has faired no better than the Nyck and compared to his team mate Albon is arguably worse.
Team principal James Vowles was senior Management at Mercedes when de Vries was part of their driver programme winning the Formula E championship for the Stuttgart based auto motive brand.
Vowles was believed to have thought highly of the Dutch driver and may consider him as a replacement for Sargeant come the end of the year.
De Vries has many friends in Formula One and ws spotted the day after being dismissed having lunch with Toto Wolff in Monaco and swimming off the Cote D’Azur with Lando Norris and Max Verstappen.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 18, 2023