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After a successful career on the track Christian started his own racing team only to be approached shortly afterwards to run the new Red Bull set-up. As new entrants to one of the most technical and competitive sports in the world, within five years they’d won both drivers’ and constructors’ champions, and repeated the feat for each of the following three seasons. Christian reveals what it’s taken to build and maintain success in the face of rivals with more money, resources, and political power in the sport. He considers what makes the culture of Red Bull special, the human and the technological elements vital to success.
Christian Horner is the Team Principal of the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team. He has led the team from its early days and turned them into champions in arguably the most competitive sport in the world.
Starting out as a driver himself, Christian rose through the racing ranks from karting to Formula 2, the level below Formula 1. Faced with trying to find a team, he started his own and won two championships. Feeling he was better suited to the commercial and strategic parts of the sport, he focused on leading a team. When the drinks giant Red Bull bought the Jaguar F1 team they approached Christian to run it.
Now faced with bigger budgets, more pressure, but also with leading the new players in the sport, Christian set about creating a team. As the newcomers, and with fewer resources than the more established likes of McLaren and Ferrari, he established a culture of focusing on innovation, people and collective achievement. He lured the man rated are arguably the best car designer ever in the sport, Adrian Newey, acquired international sponsors, and signed exciting young drivers like Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. Within just five years Red Bull had won their first constructors championship and followed that up by winning in each of the next three seasons. Those four seasons also saw Vettel win the drivers’ title. After their unprecedented success, and under pressure from the bigger teams, rules were changed and Red Bull struggled in subsequent seasons.
Red Bull have competed in one of the most technical, competitive sports in the world, proving that their involvement was more than a branding exercise. Christian considers the vast array of business lessons he’s learned in his career. How he’s built a team of the best engineers, designers, mechanics, businesspeople and drivers in the world. The commercial and cultural challenges of an organisation of almost 1,000 employees, based around the world, working week-to-week in search of millisecond advantages. Competing in a world where the pace of change on and off the track requires collaboration, leadership and robust testing.
Taking in everything from the cutting-edge technology and vast amounts of data now vital to the sport to the logistics of moving a 100 people and tonnes of equipment around the world, Christian reveals the demands of modern Formula 1. With insights like how they use data transmitted from tracks the other side of the world to the UK and back again to make split-second decisions. How Red Bull find and retain the best talent in the face of the greater money and resources of rivals. And, whilst the cars may represent the peak of engineering, the teams are human and the most important rule is to understand individuals and their goals.
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