Christian Horner
Christian Horner, OBE

Christian Horner OBE, Team Principal at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, today (14 June) received an honorary degree from Cranfield University, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to motorsport.

The Formula 1 boss, who became the youngest-ever team principal when he took on the role in 2005, also launched the University’s new Advanced Motorsport Mechatronics masters course.

On receiving his degree, Christian Horner said: “Being awarded an honorary degree from Cranfield University is a great honour and privilege, one which I am delighted to accept.”

Originally a racing driver, Christian competed in Formula Renault, British F3 and Formula 2, before stepping back to focus on running his own team, Arden International.  Over the subsequent six seasons, he built Arden into a racing powerhouse, achieving three Drivers’ and Team Championships in succession.

During his 13 years at Aston Martin Red Bull Racing, Christian has led the team to 57 grand prix victories and eight World Championship titles.

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, said: “Throughout his career, Christian has inspired future generations to take up a career in motorsport with his passion, drive and innovation.

“There is no more appropriate person for us to both honour and to have launch our new masters course. Motorsport is a significant part of Cranfield’s past, present and future, with our alumni regularly working in pit lanes, garages and laboratories across the globe.”

The Advanced Motorsport Mechatronics masters course, which is due to welcome its first cohort in September this year, aims to provide students with a sound understanding of the fundamental scientific, engineering and managerial principles involved in motorsport. The focus is on the “mechatronics” aspect of the discipline, which is the engineering of advanced control systems, multi-domain computer modelling, in-vehicle communication networks, electromechanical and embedded systems, hardware-in-the-loop validation and systems integration

Students on the course will regularly engage with motorsport practitioners through guest lectures, group design work and individual projects supported by industry. Their studies will be underpinned through access to motorsport related facilities which the University operates.

This relationship between Cranfield and the motorsport industry is an essential part of creating the next generation of engineers, according to Christian, who added: “Aston Martin Red Bull Racing and Cranfield have enjoyed a long-standing relationship, which has proved mutually beneficial.

“We have been fortunate enough to employ a number of top-level graduates from the University and while they get to further develop their skills in Formula One, we get to work with driven, determined and ambitious engineers.”

Christian Horner, OBE at the graduation ceremony
Highlights from Christian Horner's graduation

About Cranfield University

Cranfield is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.

Transport Systems at Cranfield

Cranfield has over 50 years’ experience in transport, including the aviation, automotive, motorsport, military and marine sectors.

We are the only university in Europe to own and run an airport and to have airline status.

Our education and award-winning research covers all modes of vehicles and transport across technology, engineering and management, including sustainable transport and intelligent mobility.

In an increasingly interconnected world, we specialise in understanding the whole environment in which transport operates: the vehicles, infrastructure, businesses and logistics, as well as the human aspects of operating, managing and using transport.

Our world-class facilities include high-performance wind tunnels, an off-road vehicle dynamics facility, a crash impact test centre (one of just three FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) approved test centres in the world) and our Accident Investigation Laboratory, which is dedicated to our work in aviation, marine and rail safety and the only accident investigation laboratory of its type outside the United States. We were awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our world-leading work in aviation safety through research and training in air accident investigation in 2011.

Completed in 2017, our latest facility, the Multi-User Environment for Autonomous Vehicle Innovation, is a £19 million ‘smart’ roadway test environment for the development of intelligent and autonomous vehicles, making it a UK first. It includes the associated systems needed to integrate emerging technologies into our day-to-day lives.

A new £65 million Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre will also be built at Cranfield to spearhead the UK’s research into digital aviation technology, and a new state-of-the-art digital control tower, which replicates what can be seen through the windows of a traditional air traffic control tower via a live feed using HD cameras and sensors, is being installed at Cranfield Airport.