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Horner: Red Bull would consider ‘significant’ offers for Sainz

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Red Bull would consider releasing Carlos Sainz Jr. from his Formula 1 contract if the price was right as speculation about the Spaniard’s future continues to circulate the paddock.

Sainz said over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend that a fourth year with Toro Rosso in 2018, Red Bull’s B-team in F1, was unlikely, only for his bosses to snap back and confirm he remained under contract for next season.

With Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen locked in at Red Bull for the foreseeable future, Sainz appears to be stuck at Toro Rosso, leading to suggestions he could be set for a move up the grid.

A report in the German media over the Silverstone weekend even suggested he could be in line to replace Jolyon Palmer at Renault for the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of the month, but Horner was quick to rebuff this.

“I don’t know where these rumors come from, but I cannot believe that these rumors are out there for the Hungarian race,” Horner said, as quoted by Reuters.

“Carlos Sainz has a contract with Red Bull Racing. There are two years left on that contract.

“If somebody was prepared to make an offer, of course, we’d consider it.”

However, Horner stressed that it would need to be an impressive offer given Red Bull’s investment in Sainz, having funded his career from Formula BMW right the way up to F1.

“It would have to have a significant value attached to it because we’ve invested in Carlos significantly,” Horner said.

“You’re not just going to give an asset away.”

Should Sainz depart Toro Rosso at the end of the season, 2016 GP2 champion Pierre Gasly, who currently races in Japan’s Super Formula series, is next in line on Red Bull’s junior program to get a shot in F1.

Horner: No performance escape clause in Verstappen’s F1 contract

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Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner has denied there is a performance clause in Max Verstappen’s contract that could allow him to leave the team at the end of the season.

Verstappen is currently on a difficult run of form that has seen him suffer five retirements in the past seven races, leaving him seventh in the F1 drivers’ championship with less than half the points of teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Speculation quietly emerged in the paddock over the Austrian Grand Prix weekend that Verstappen could consider leaving Red Bull for 2018 via a performance escape clause in his contract.

Sebastian Vettel was able to get out of his contract for 2015 in order to join Ferrari due to a performance clause that Red Bull failed to meet, but Horner said there would be no repeat of this for next year.

“No. Both the drivers we’ve already confirmed for next year,” Horner told NBCSN.

“There will be no changes in our driver line-up for 2018.”

When directly asked if Verstappen had an escape clause in his contract, Horner said: “No. Contracts are very straightforward.”

Verstappen’s DNFs have been a mix of on-track incidents and technical issues, but Horner does not feel that his aggressive driving style is the cause.

“It’s nothing to do with the way he drives the cars, that’s for sure,” Horner said.

“He’s just had rotten luck the last few races. It will turn, hopefully this weekend. And when it does, he’s driving so well, hopefully he’ll get a good result.”

Horner calls McLaren ‘mad’ to let Alonso enter ‘nutty’ Indy 500

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Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner believes that McLaren is “mad” to let Fernando Alonso race in the 101st Indianapolis 500, saying he would not let his drivers miss a grand prix to do another event.

McLaren announced on Wednesday that it would be entering Alonso into the Indy 500 as part of a joint entry with Honda and Andretti Autosport, meaning the Spaniard will skip the Monaco Grand Prix.

The news has split opinion in the F1 paddock, with a number of drivers saying that although they would like to enter other events, they would not do so at the expense of existing commitments.

Speaking on Friday in Bahrain, Horner – in a somewhat expressive mood, it must be noted – made his feelings about McLaren’s allowance to let Alonso enter the ‘500 clear while sat next to its executive director and the man who brokered the deal, Zak Brown.

“It’s difficult one for Fernando, he’s having a tough time. Zak’s got the problem he’s got a depressed driver on his hands, he’s trying to keep him motivated,” Horner said.

“He’s come up with this idea, send him to Indianapolis. He must be barking mad, it’s the nuttiest race I’ve ever seen. No testing, he’s just going to jump in the car. Turn 1 there is a proper turn as well, it’s not just easy flat all the way around. I think he needs to see a psychiatrist personally.

“Would we let our drivers do it? No. I believe if a driver commits to a team, it’s a bit like disappearing with another girlfriend halfway through the year and then coming back. It doesnt’ seem the right thing to be doing.

“Perhaps if the races didn’t clash or at the end of his Formula 1 career, but obviously McLaren has got this approach which is different to ours, but good for them.”

Asking for the right to reply, Brown defended the decision, putting his faith in Alonso.

“Fernando’s not scared! He’s going to get some testing in,” Brown explained. “He’s studying Indianapolis. It’s obviously going to be a challenge but he wants a challenge. A rookie driver won it last year, not that we’re going to set any expectations.

“I think he’ll have a car capable of running at the front. I think he’ll be extremely prepared. I think he’ll put on a good show. He’s very smart, that’s what you need to be around Indianapolis. I think it’s going to be good, everyone’s going to be watching.”

Brown then took to Twitter to respond to Horner’s psychiatrist line, reminding the Red Bull chief of the time he jumped into the team’s pool at Monaco wearing nothing but a superman cape after losing a bet.

Horner keen to see return of Procar-style series for F1 drivers

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Red Bull Formula 1 chief Christian Horner would like to see the sport’s new owner, Liberty Media, revive a one-make series for drivers similar to the Procar championship that ran in 1979 and 1980.

Procar saw a number of F1 drivers go head-to-head in identical BMW M1 sportscars on a number of race weekends, supporting the grand prix.

The series only lasted two years and was followed by a one-off event at the Nürburgring in 1984, but has remained a fond memory for many in F1 who relished the chance to see elite drivers be separated by nothing but their ability behind the wheel.

Following its takeover of F1 in January, Liberty is working on plans to make the sport more entertaining, and Horner thinks a Procar-style series would help make drivers more active on race weekends.

“I’d love to see drivers more active over a race weekend,” Horner told Sky Sports.

“Years ago there was the Procar series. Get them driving in a different discipline. Why not get them involved in something like that with a one-make formula? Porsche Supercup, why not put the drivers all in that?”

Horner was asked about a possible clash between manufacturers, with the likes of Ferrari and Honda perhaps unwilling to field their drivers in a rival company’s car, but the Red Bull team boss thinks a solution can be found.

“Well if you moved it around, you could have them all in Aston Martins one weekend, Ferraris the next, Hondas the next. Or find a manufacturer that’s acceptable,” Horner said.

“But I think something like that, something to see the drivers’ skill and personality. They’re pretty quiet over a grand prix weekend.

“The sessions used to be longer, there used to be Sunday morning warm-ups, they used to be a lot more active and they have a lot of time on their hands now.”

Horner favored the return of a Procar-style series over the addition of a sprint race or reverse grid event to grand prix weekends that may offer half-points for the championship.

“I hate that idea, I think grand prix racing, the grand prix is the main event on a Sunday afternoon. Anything gimmicky like that is just WWF,” Horner said.

“Let’s just create great content and have great racing on a Sunday afternoon, and get the drivers racing wheel to wheel and them be the heroes.

“Then we don’t need gimmicks like reverse grids.”

Horner hopes Liberty uses Ecclestone ‘constructively’ in F1 management

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Red Bull Racing chief Christian Horner believes that Formula 1’s new owner, Liberty Media, should continue to work with former CEO Bernie Ecclestone in a constructive manner to help grow the sport.

Liberty completed its takeover of F1 back in January, with Ecclestone losing his position as CEO and receiving the honorary title of ‘chairman emeritus’.

American executive Chase Carey has taken over the day-to-day running of F1, but Ecclestone is still set to attend around half of the grands prix on the 2017 calendar.

Last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix marked the first race in several decades that Ecclestone was not in overall charge of, and was regarded as being the start of a new era for F1.

However, Horner believes that Ecclestone’s knowledge and influence within F1 means that he should still play an integral role in the sport’s management, and that Liberty should work with the 86-year-old accordingly.

“What Bernie’s done for Formula 1 has been amazing. The sport is what it is today because of what he created,” Horner said.

“I think in the role that he has, he’s still going to be in a position to contribute, he still has a huge amount of historical knowledge, respect and relationships around the world and I think that harnessed and used in the right way is an asset to Formula 1.

“I’m sure he’ll be at some forthcoming events and yeah, I think hopefully the new owners can use him constructively and beneficially to build on the good work that’s already been done.”

Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene echoed Horner’s thoughts, saying the strong base which Ecclestone put F1 on must be respected and recognized.

“I think that Bernie deserves all our respect because if we are here and if the sport grows it is thanks to him,” Arrivabene said.

“I think that the new group that is owning Formula 1 is here to make this sport grow even more so there is no future without the good historical base.

“If we have a good historical base then I think the new owners are looking forward to continue to grow and that’s thanks to Bernie for everything he’s done and now we need to look forward.”

Ecclestone is due to make his first appearance back in the F1 paddock over the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend on April 14-16.