Christian Horner on team’s ‘blame culture’ and how he turned it around

Christian Horner believes that Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey was key to the team's change in fortunes.

Turning a faltering midfield team into title contenders is not an easy task, and is not often done without a stroke of genius.

Looking back at his time in charge of the Milton Keynes-based outfit, Christian Horner sees the appointment of Chief Technical Officer Adrian Newey as the aforementioned masterstroke that lead to the change in the fortunes of the team.

Red Bull have become a symbol of success around the sporting world with successful football teams in the USA, Austria and Germany, and in 2005 they entered the F1 world by purchasing Jaguar, who had been struggling to compete at the time. 

Horner claims that the difference in the team’s atmosphere is night and day compared to when the takeover first took place seventeen years ago.

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“There was this blame culture within the business where the drawing office blamed aero, aero blamed the wind tunnel, R&D blamed production, the race team were blamed by everyone,” explained Horner when speaking on the ‘Diary of a CEO’ podcast.

“There was no accountability or collective responsibility, so it was then a question of ‘How do we unpick that and create the glue to bring this together?

“We just put in clear leadership into a structure and starting to instil a culture.”

This leadership came in the form of Adrian Newey who had previously had great success at Williams and McLaren.

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With the new team on the block starting well, scoring more points in their first season than Jaguar did in their last, Red Bull were keen to capitalise on the positive start and appointed Newey who at the time already had six constructors’ championship winning cars under his belt.

“I thought ‘I’m going to go after the best in the business’, and that was Adrian Newey,” Horner explained.

“There had been a couple of years where McLaren hadn’t been delivering at its potential and you could see that business was changing. It just felt like there was a window of opportunity.”

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Christian Horner believes this appointment was exactly what the team needed, going on to say: “People woke up and thought ‘Wow! If Adrian Newey is prepared to come here, he must see something that he believes in’, and we set off from there.

“And that galvanised the team because if Adrian says that’s the direction we’re going in technically, that’s the way that we’re going.

“It then put a sense of purpose into the design office and that enabled me to attract more talent to supplement what was there, to weed out the few bits that needed tidying up. The core basis of the team hadn’t really changed from what had been underachieving at Jaguar,” he added.