“There was an opportunity…”: Christian Horner hints at some regret as Red Bull let Oscar Piastri through their fingers
To say that the Australian F2 World Champion Oscar Piastri created ripples in the 2023 F1 drivers’ market would be an utter understatement. What Piastri actually did is set off a giant tsunami in the market as he had teams grappling with each other to sign a deal with for the upcoming season. But there has been one team, which is quite famous of recruiting young, talented racers from their academy, that has stayed silent through it all–and that’s Red Bull.
In a recent interview, Christian Horner, the Team Principal at Red Bull Racing, revealed that a few years ago, their team had had the “opportunity” to sign Piastri, but they had let him go. Had the 21-year-old been taken up by the British team, he would have been under the obligation to serve as a driver for Red Bull. And given his talent and Red Bull’s superb efforts, there is no telling how far the union between the racer and the team could have reached.
But that is all speculation now as Piastri has already been recruited by McLaren, after the team went to great lengths to prematurely terminate their deal with Daniel Ricciardo to take up the young racer. And then there has been the entire fiasco with Alpine officially confirming Piastri as their newest recruit after Alonso left for Aston Martin, but later Piastri confirmed he has not finalized a deal with the French team yet.
Christian Horner says he “regrets” passing up the chance to hire Oscar Piastri
Seeing the huge clamour amongst the teams for hiring Oscar Piastri, Christian Horner could not help going back to the day when Red Bull was presented with the option to take the Australian under their wing at the Red Bull Academy. But at that time, he was not invited into the programme and Horner did agree that the lost opportunity is something that he regrets.
Speaking of the huge splash made by Piastri in F1 even before he entered the Championship, Christian Horner said, “There was an opportunity for Red Bull to look at him at the time and we didn’t take up that option, which is something that I regret.”
But Horner also remained cautious as he said Oscar Piastri will have a lot to prove in the F1 2023 season as he is being paired against Lando Norris, one of the most talented racers in the grid at this moment. And he also has to live up to the expectations of the McLaren executives who risked losing eight-time Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo for Piastri.