Netflix Drive to Survive’s motorsport icon Christian Horner speaks at Cambridge Union

The Drive to Survive crew also filmed the talk

For those of you who don’t spend every other weekend glued to your screens watching twenty cars whizz around a tarmac oval, Christian Horner is the team principal and CEO of Red Bull Racing.

Red Bull is one of the most successful Formula 1 teams in the sport’s modern era, and is one of this year’s favourites for championship victory, after their driver, Max Verstappen, won the championship in 2021.

One 2017 race Horner spoke about was documented in season one of popular Netflix show Drive to Survive, which covers the sport in great detail. He said the show has repopularised Formula 1 by helping to introduce new, younger audiences to the sport.

Abu Dhabi

One of the most controversial moments in recent F1 history was the closing race of the 2021 season, held in Abu Dhabi. The race saw Verstappen snatch victory from Lewis Hamilton during a final lap of racing after the safety car came out to deal with a crash by Nicholas Latifi, a Williams driver.

Horner recalled that during the period of the race dominated by Mercedes, he commented that they needed a “miracle” to win, which of course they got. He joked that he didn’t realise he had “a direct line” to “the racing gods” and that he needs to make more use of it in the future.

Image credit: Nordin Ćatić

Horner also commented that he has pondered whether the ending of the race would have been quite as controversial if it had been Hamilton who had won on the last lap and whether he would have been seen “as a hero, instead of a villain.”

Sebastian Vettel, Monaco Success, and the era of the Honey Badger

Horner fondly reminisced on the many victories under his belt, saying his favourite is the 2012 season-decider, which saw Sebastian Vettel snatch the championship from his rival, Fernando Alonso, by only three points.

He also discussed his time working with fan favourite Daniel Ricciardo, who is affectionately known as the Honey Badger, and all that the team had achieved with the Aussie driver. He particularly mentioned the iconic 2018 Monaco Grand Prix, which saw Ricciardo reach the top step on the podium, despite losing 30 per cent of his power in the final laps.

Red Bull’s success at the track was recently reconfirmed when Sergio Pérez, Verstappen’s teammate, took victory there only two weeks ago. One member of the audience asked whether Pérez is considered the “second driver” of the team, to which Horner quickly responded, “Ooooo I wouldn’t say that!” which was met with laughs from the floor.

Of course, not every race at Monaco has been as successful as in 2018. Horner also described how the 2017 race, in which the two Red Bulls collided while racing each other, was the “most frustrating thing in the world.”

Image credit: Nordin Ćatić

He made Verstappen and Ricciardo visit every department in the team to apologise for destroying the team’s cars after the race. Horner cheerfully described how he announced to the team that the drivers would be paying for the Christmas party that year as a way for them to make amends for the damage they had caused.

Drive to Survive: Cambridge Edition

The 2017 race was documented in season one of Drive to Survive, the popular Netflix show that covers the sport in great detail. It discusses team rivalries, the personal conflicts between drivers, and the financial challenges some of the teams face.

Image credit: Nordin Ćatić

During the talk, Horner discussed how Drive to Survive has repopularised Formula 1 by helping to introduce new, younger audiences to the sport, as well as by broadening its global following, particularly in the USA.

The crew for Drive to Survive actually filmed the Union event, meaning it could likely feature in season five – so make sure to check it out when it’s released next year!

Feature image credit: Nordin Ćatić

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