Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Christian Horner Hints at ‘Thinning’ of Red Bull Junior Team at end of 2023 Season

Oracle Red Bull Racing Team Principal Christian Horner has hinted that the Red Bull Junior Team roster will be reduced at the end of the current season.

There are currently six drivers backed by Red Bull racing in the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2023 – Dennis Hauger, Ayumu Iwasa, Jak Crawford, Isaak Hadjar, Enzo Fittipaldi and Zane Maloney, while Sebastian Montoya also has their support in FIA Formula 3

Outside of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship support paddocks, Liam Lawson remains a part of the programme racing in the Japanese-based Super Formula championship, while Red Bull also have a presence in Italian Formula 4 with Arvid Lindblad, the GB3 Championship with Souta Arao, F4 Spanish Championship with Enzo Deligny, and in karting with Enzo Tarnvanichkul.

Horner has praised the work the Junior Team programme, led by Dr. Helmut Marko, has done in bringing through a lot of drivers to Formula 1, but he believes the end of 2023 will see a number of its current members released, possibly surrounding some of its six Formula 2 racers.

“I think that look, I mean, things go in waves, it produced Sebastian Vettel, it’s produced Max Verstappen,” said Horner on the ESPN Podcast.

“Daniel [Ricciardo] is a graduate of it. Carlos Sainz is a graduate of it. Pierre Gasly is a graduate of it. There’s so many drivers it’s given opportunity to and got to Formula 1. Alex Albon being another.

“And yeah, it’s focusing a bit more on youth I think going forward as well. We have a lot of drivers in Formula 2 this year, I think that will be thinned out moving forward and perhaps a refocus on perhaps some of the lower formulas as well.

“But you know, a Max Verstappen or a Sebastian Vettel, they don’t come along every season. So, it’s just making sure that you identify that talent when it does come along.”

Iwasa and Lawson are the drivers most likely to remain a part of the set-up beyond the current season, with both in contention for the title in their respective championships.  However, the other drivers may feel more nervous about their status within the programme.