Horner: Lauda’s Liberty criticism ‘unfounded, unfair’

Date published: November 15 2017

Christian Horner disagrees with Niki Lauda’s assessment that Liberty Media are driving Formula 1 in the wrong direction, saying it is “unfounded” and “unfair.”

The Mercedes non-executive director hit out at the sport’s owners in an interview where he said they could ruin the very “DNF” of Formula 1.

“I’m worried,” he told Italian newspaper Gazzetto dello Sport.

“It was right that the American owners needed time to understand what F1 is – but that is about to expire.

“And what they think about the future is worrying me.

“The FIA, Chase Carey and Ross Brawn repeat that we need to level off the performance, but the DNA of F1 is the opposite.”

Horner, though, has defended Liberty Media.

The Red Bull team boss has supported Liberty’s proposed 2021 engine regulations which are aimed at reducing costs and levelling the playing field.

“I think Niki’s comments were… a little unfounded, unfair,” he told Autosport.

“For once Formula 1 has recruited some specialists in Ross Brawn and the team he’s put together. And it’s doing proper analysis.

“Too many times there’s been decisions made from the hip. And perhaps it’s not going fast enough for Niki’s liking, but I think the approach they are taking is the right approach.

“It’s unfair to be giving them a hard time, when they’re only nine months in and actually haven’t presented their complete plan yet.

“It’s inevitable that they’re going to take time to understand the business, do the analysis, and then present what the future of Formula 1 is going to look like.”

As for the fall in prize money, which has gone down by 13 percent, Horner says that is not on Liberty Media.

“I think that would have been the effect whether Liberty would’ve been there or not,” he said. “It’s circumstances.

“Obviously they’re building an infrastructure, they’re investing in the business, it’s just a different model to what it used to be. It used to be a small structure with Bernie [Ecclestone] and a couple of aides.

“Now, they’ve put a marketing team together, they’ve put a proper business structure behind it – which is of course going to incur cost.

“But if you don’t speculate and invest in the business, you’re not going to accumulate.

“And the world is moving on quickly, and it’s important that Formula 1 put that structure in place.

“Red Bull does not have any issues with what they’re doing, their approach.

“And we’re watching with interest to see what their plans are for 2021 onwards.”