This is largely due to the contrasting fortunes of two teams – the resurgence of Ferrari and the struggles of Mercedes – making the outcome of this year’s championship impossible.
Just six points separate these two teams in the constructors’ standings, while Mercedes – triumphant over the past eight seasons – find themselves uncharacteristically in third place.
“Charles Leclerc is doing a great job, Carlos Sainz is also a top class driver… We know Mercedes will sort out their problems. It’s great for Formula 1 to have another team in the mix.”
For Horner, this season feels like a changing of the guard; Verstappen and Leclerc are both 24 years old with years of racing potentially still ahead of them.
“It’s a great competition between this young generation that is coming up,” he adds.
“Charles and Max have raced against each other since they were kids. The races between them at every Grand Prix so far this year have been fantastic.”
After a dramatic and controversial conclusion to last year’s championship – which saw Verstappen win his maiden title against Lewis Hamilton at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – Red Bull appear set to embark on another streak. iron this season.
New regulations introduced at the start of 2022 have forced teams to completely redesign their cars. The changes have seen Ferrari prosper, Mercedes struggle and Red Bull surpass the team’s initial expectations, according to Horner.
“Having put so much effort into last year’s car, to comply with these new regulations, we chose to take that risk because we had an opportunity to win last year and we have to go for it,” he explains.
“It put huge pressure on the team heading into the second half of last year that we needed to catch up. Personally, I didn’t expect us to start the year as competitively as we did it.
“Being on the front row in race one, winning race two, winning and getting a double at Imola was an amazing start for us, and I think a testament to the whole team for doing such a phenomenal job in so little time.”
“A Whole New Audience”
The sport has seen a resurgence in popularity in North America recently and saw a 58% growth in TV viewership in the United States last season compared to the previous year.
“Netflix has done a great job of opening it up to a whole new audience,” said Horner.
“It’s explained how the sport works, it’s shown who some of the drivers are, what some of the dynamics are.
“But the sport still had to deliver, and last year was just an epic one – competing from race one to race one was like a heavyweight fight over 22 different rounds. was a phenomenal championship last year…a producer’s dream.”
And if this season’s Championship can deliver the same levels of drama – albeit with new protagonists – the viewership numbers should continue to grow.
“As long as we continue to have Grands Prix on Sundays and it remains a competition of men and machines on the edge, that’s what it’s all about,” says Horner.
“Of course it’s going to evolve… everything evolves in life. I think Formula 1 is going through that evolution right now.”