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Formula 1

I’m an F1 supremo worth millions but I can pinpoint the exact moment I knew I couldn’t be a Grand Prix driver

RED BULL boss Christian Horner is one of the most recognisable faces in Formula One today – but he never fulfilled his dream of being a Grand Prix driver.

Horner, 49, can pinpoint that day 24 years ago where the realisation that he wouldn’t make it to F1 hit.

Christian Horner can recall the moment he realised he wouldn’t make it in F1

The Red Bull principal – 25 at the time – was driving in Formula 3000 for a team he was also running in Arden.

Speaking to The Times, Horner recalled: “Pre-season testing in Estoril.

“coming out of the pitlane. There used to be a very fast double right-hander at the end of the straight.”

Horner continued: “Exiting the pits, Juan Pablo Montoya passed me and came into this high-speed right-hand turn.

“I could see the wheel rim trying to burst through the sidewall of the tyre, he was totally committed with the right foot.

“The guard rail was only metres from the outside of the circuit there.

“It was at that very point that I thought: ‘I can’t do that.’

“It was the talent that he had. And the commitment was way beyond my capability. I just knew in my heart.


“The problem was I was too aware of the danger.

“You get to the higher echelons of the sport and it is very clear that you could get hurt and there is a self-defence mechanism built in and you then can’t disconnect brain from right foot.”

After that, Horner spoke with his family and vowed to see out the season before stopping – but he wasn’t sure that was the right decision.

Horner said: “It was then a matter of being honest with yourself.

“With hindsight I should have stopped at that point. I shouldn’t have done the season.

“Why take the risk? Once you’ve made that decision, psychologically, you’ve checked out.”

Horner – worth a reported £41million – became the front man for Red Bull in 2005 becoming the youngest team principal at the time.

He guided Red Bull to their first Constructors’ Championship in 2010 – the same season Sebastian Vettel won the Drivers’ Championship, becoming the youngest World Champion.

Red Bull dominated between 2010-2013 with Sebastian Vettel

 In 2011, the team won their second Constructors’ Championship with three races to spare.

Vettel at the same time became the world’s youngest double-champion.

In 2012, the team won their third Constructors’ Championship with one race to spare.

And again, Vettel kept his world crown, becoming a three-time world champion.

Red Bull and Vettel dominated again in 2013 and made it four Constructors’ and Drivers’ championships in a row.

It then took eight years for Red Bull to reach the summit of F1 again when Max Verstappen won the Drivers’ Championship on the final race of the 2021 season.

The following year, Verstappen retained his world crown and Red Bull also swept up the Constructors’ Championship.

The 2023 season has got off to a good start for the team too with Verstappen winning in Bahrain with team-mate Sergio Perez coming in at second.

Complete F1 2023 race calendar – details on every Grand Prix this year