Horner cool on Ecclestone succession

22 Nov 2013 14:16

Red Bull team chief Christian Horner on Friday distanced himself from the prospect of taking over Bernie Ecclestone's role as the lynchpin of Formula One management.

Speaking on the opening day of the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, he said it was flattering to be connected with the role, but he did not foresee himself leaving his team.

Horner said: "It's very flattering what Bernie has said, but he is going to be here for a long time to come. He's in great shape and is still doing some great deals for the sport.

"My focus is fully on this team and it is for the foreseeable future. I can't see how any one individual can replace Bernie.

"What he does is unique and it will be a sad day for the sport when he's no longer here."

Ecclestone, the commercial boss of the sport, revealed earlier that Horner was his choice to succeed him and run the sport.

Ecclestone, 83, currently facing legal challenges to his grip on the business he has built and guided over four decades, named Horner, 40, as his preferred successor for the first time, according to British newspaper reports.

"If someone comes in from outside, a corporate type, I don't think I could work with them. It wouldn't last five minutes," Ecclestone told reporters at Interlagos.

"I think Christian would be ideal... I would be happy to hold his hand. We could have a transitional period. It needs someone who knows the sport."

For years, the secretive Ecclestone has shunned all questions about his retirement and the long-term future for F1, often joking that he wanted to die, and be laid to rest, in the paddock.

Ecclestone faces a damages claim in the London High Court over allegations that he undervalued the F1 business in 2005 when the private equity firm CVC became the controlling shareholder.

CVC bought out banks, including BayernLB.

In a separate case, a German court will decide next week whether to put Ecclestone on trial for corruption over a payment he made to former chief risk officer at BayernLB, German banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, who was jailed last year.

Ecclestone denies any wrongdoing and said he was a victim of coercion by Gribkowsky. He said the German was threatening to make false claims about his tax affairs.

CVC said this week it would sack Ecclestone if he was found guilty of any criminal charges.

Horner, like Ecclestone, is British and has risen to eminence in the motor sport industry through his management skills. Just as Ecclestone was successful with the Brabham team in the 1980's, so Horner has been with Red Bull since 2008.

Horner has guided the team and their German driver Sebastian Vettel to four consecutive world championships.