Christian Horner has revealed how Red Bull passed up the chance to sign Oscar Piastri to their junior programme several years ago, admitting that it remains “something I regret”.
Piastri recently made the headlines amid a dispute between McLaren and Alpine over which team held the right to hand the Australian his F1 debut in 2023 – with the Contract Recognition Board ultimately ruling in favour of McLaren.
It came after Piastri climbed the junior ranks with Alpine – winning the Formula 3 and Formula 2 titles along the way – and acted as reserve driver behind full-time racers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon.
Asked for his take on the situation in the latest episode of F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast, Horner revealed that Red Bull could have snapped up Piastri’s services in the past, when the youngster was progressing through Formula 4 and Formula Renault with Arden – the team founded by Horner and his father Garry.
“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. What he went on to achieve is phenomenal, in Formula 3 and Formula 2,” Horner commented.
Asked for his take on the tug of war over the young driver between McLaren and Alpine, Horner said: “Now, if he’d have been a driver here, there is no way that he wouldn’t have been under lock and key for a period in time. I wasn’t party [to the situation], it’s difficult to judge what was promised or reneged on and so on, but it certainly was unexpected – probably from several areas.”
Horner added that he will be watching on with interest when Piastri makes the step up to F1 and races alongside Lando Norris, whom he “very much” rates after four competitive seasons in the sport.
“[Piastri is] a great driver. The only problem he now has to deal with is [that] the expectation on him will be immense,” added Horner.
“He’s going to have to get in and deliver against Lando, which is no mean feat. But you either sink or swim in this business. He’s a very, very capable driver, [so] I’m sure he’s going to do very well.”