We know the manager, the embodiment of Red Bull Racing since the beginning. Less well known is the driver who studied at the Winfield Racing School in Magny-Cours before making his way to the F3000, the top feeder series to Formula One at that time.

He is one of the most emblematic managers Formula One has ever produced! One hundred and twenty victories, six constructors’ titles and seven drivers’ titles with Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing’s success has never wavered since that day in 2005 when Christian Horner pushed open the door of the Jaguar factory in Milton Keynes, which had just been bought by energy drink magnate Dietrich Mateschitz. It was a day that would change the face of F1 and the life of the man who, as a youngster, dreamed of being a Grand Prix driver.



“It was in the early ’80s, I must have been about 9 or 10 years old,” he confides. “I had this desire to become a racing driver. My father worked in the automotive industry (supplying components to engine manufacturers, e. n.) but didn’t have any particular interest in motorsport, let alone any connections in the business. I started out in karting, then won a Renault UK scholarship to attend the Winfield Racing School in Magny-Cours. That was in 1991. I was 18 and making the transition from karting to single-seater racing. Attending the Winfield course was my guarantee of obtaining the required qualification on my license, the grade needed to make my Formula Renault debut. I still look back on that period with happiness. Those were the days. The competition was fierce on the go-kart tracks, where I happened to bump into Max Verstappen’s mother (Sophie Kumpen) more than once (laughs).”

He also has fond memories of Magny-Cours. “It was the very first time I’d slipped into a single-seater,” he recalls with the same sparkling eyes as then. “I remember it all the more because there was a photo stuck next to the steering wheel in the cockpit. In fact, the guy who had used the car before me had put a photo of his whole family there and had forgotten to remove it. It was quite strange but, at the same time, it showed how important the moment was. I often think about that photo!”.

Mike Knight remembers well this respectful, attentive youngster who showed interesting dispositions. “He was at ease quite quickly, despite the fact that it was a totally new world for him”, recalls the youngest of the Knight siblings.

Christian Horner during his time at the Winfield Racing School


Having completed his studies and been declared fit, he took part in the 1992 British Formula Renault Championship with Manor Motorsport, finishing the season with a win and the title of best rookie. “That allowed me to move up to F3 with the sponsorship of Team Lotus,” he continues. “We weren’t yet talking about Academies or F1 Junior Teams at the time, but the principle was the same. I even tested the Lotus 107B when Johnny Herbert and Alessandro Zanardi were the official race drivers. That was in 1993 in Norfolk, on the Lotus test track at Hethel. Between 1993 and 1995, I tried to find my way into Formula One…”

Runner-up in the 1993 British F3 B Championship with P1 Motorsport, he joined the Fortec and Alan Docking Racing (ADR) teams in 1994 and 1995, then the TOM’S team in 1996.


“It was at the end of that season that I set up the Arden F3000 team with my father (Garry Horner), because I thought it was the cheapest way of achieving my goal,” he explains. “In 1998, Kurt Mollekens joined the team, leading the championship at one point in the season, and I came to realize that, although I had a little talent for driving, I wasn’t part of the closed circle of “top drivers”. I loved the sport, I’d created Arden and I thought this was where I belonged. I decided to give up driving at the end of the season to concentrate on developing the team. From then on, I concentrated on running the team from the driver’s point of view. I ran the team the way I would have wanted it to be run if I had been the driver.” The timing was right. Six years later, at the end of the 2004 season, Dietrich Mateschitz acquired Jaguar Racing and turned to the young manager to help launch the Red Bull Racing team. History was in the making!

Christian Horner as an Arden driver


Photo credits: ©Getty Images