In the ultra-competitive world of Formula 1 racing, teams will take advantage of every opportunity at their disposal, even those that aren’t intended for them. This week, Mercedes came a cropper to the oldest trick in the book, losing sight of their goals and unknowingly opening the door for an eagle-eyed competitor to slip into their ranks. At the Autosport Awards in London, the F1 team was auctioning off a behind-the-scenes tour of the Mercedes AMG F1 factory in Brackley, United Kingdom. However, while the auction was initially designed to put one lucky fan in the box seat, the winning bid did not belong to avid Mercedes devotee but instead went to Christian Horner, the principal of rival team Red Bull Racing. Whoops.
According to reports, the VIP charity auction, which was held to raise funds for the Grand Prix Trust, which offers help and support for F1 personnel, offered up a host of incredible and often difficult to obtain automotive prizes. Horner, however, rightly identified one lot that was more valuable than all else. Bids slowly rolled in for the tour of the Mercedes facility, with Horner’s winning bid reaching £4,000 (AUD$7,500). The result could spell an unprecedented look at the competition for the Red Bull Racing boss.
A sport so shrouded in mystery that drivers are sworn to secrecy, the F1 has become a competitive landscape with near soap-opera style charades. The battles between drivers bubble to the surface, however, fans will recognise that the real animosity festers far deeper, with teams constantly at each other’s throats in an attempt to gain a competitive advantage. Stepping into your rival’s ultra-secret facility is one way to do just that.
As soon as the bid ended, speculation circled through Twitter when many questioned if it really was the Red Bull Racing principal behind the bid. The winning entry is titled “Chrisrian Horner,” which led many internet sleuths to suggest it was all just a clever farce, but RacingNews365 is reporting that Horner not only won the bid, he’s planning to head to Mercedes HQ as soon as possible.
“‘Adrian , myself, Pierre Waché and probably Paul Field, our director of production,’ he smiled, off the back of a hard-fought 2021 title battle with Mercedes,” the site wrote. “Horner then quipped that ‘it’ll be interesting to go and see how they’re spending their budget cap’, before underlining that his successful bid was all for a ‘great cause’.”
Sure, charity auctions are always a good way to raise some much-needed funds, but getting a VIP tour of your rival’s most secretive facility? Who could put a price on that?