Ecclestone backs Horner to survive rumours

Jun.26 (GMM) Bernie Ecclestone has thrown his weight behind Red Bull’s embattled chief Christian Horner.

Briton Horner, as well as team official Dr Helmut Marko, have this week been moved to rubbish speculation that Horner, 41, faces expulsion at the hands of Red Bull mogul Dietrich Mateschitz.

“I spoke to Dietrich at length in Austria,” F1 supremo Ecclestone told The Times newspaper, “and I know for certain that Christian is not in any danger.

“He is one of the best, if not the best, team principals formula one has had. He brought Red Bull from nowhere to world champions. Why would anyone sack him?”

Red Bull has struggled notably since winning its fourth consecutive world championship at the end of 2013, and has pinned the blame squarely on engine supplier Renault.

Marc Surer, a former F1 driver turned broadcaster, told Speed Week: “I don’t think Christian Horner should be blamed for Red Bull’s current situation.”

Horner himself has said the reason for Red Bull’s struggles is 80 per cent engine, 20 per cent chassis.

Surer commented: “I do have the impression that, of the past five years or so, the 2015 Red Bull car is certainly not the best.

“I don’t understand how Red Bull, with its resources, can build a car worse than Toro Rosso is able to.

“From the outside, I think the only explanation is that Adrian Newey is no longer working 100 per cent for Red Bull,” said Surer.

Horner disagrees with that, saying it will even be visible at Silverstone and Hungary, the next two grand prix venues that should be ‘strong’ for the RB11.

“According to our calculations,” he told Auto Motor und Sport, “we have one of the best chassis in the field. Mercedes is maybe two or three tenths ahead of us.”

However, Swiss Surer also thinks the very public spat between Red Bull and Renault at present is not helping the situation.

Rumours suggest the two sides are heading for divorce, with Renault possibly buying Lotus and Red Bull linked with a shock switch to customer Ferrari power.

But Surer thinks Red Bull and Renault need to come together.

“With the regulations we have now, and development of the power units limited from year to year, it does raise the question: ‘If it’s not good now, why should the situation be better in the future?’

“On the other hand, we are talking about a company like Renault. We can see from the example of Honda that these engines are very complicated, and the Japanese are struggling more than any of us would have thought,” he added.

“So it might take some time but I think it is possible Renault will eventually have a good engine,” said Surer, “even in 2016.”

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