Red Bull Formula One team boss Christian Horner attended a hearing on Friday to answer allegations about management style. He was not fired on the spot, so it must not be too egregious.
Red Bull Racing and the Austrian energy drink parent company, who have not detailed the nature of the complaint, remained tight-lipped with representatives not responding to calls or emails.
F1 insiders told Reuters they understood the hearing was held in London at an undisclosed location rather than the team’s Milton Keynes factory.
Sky Sports television reported the meeting with an independent barrister lasted almost eight hours.
Sky Sports Craig Slater gave an update on Christian Horner’s ‘meeting’:
“Christian Horner has been in this interview situation since about 10 o’clock this morning. I expect it to come to an end at about 6pm, so in about 40 minutes or so from now.”
“This is the first interview he’s had since we learned about this case. A female employee and colleague at Res Bull Racing has accused Horner of controlling and coercive behavior.”
“I don’t expect an outcome or resolution by the end of today. I have been lead to understand that this could be a long process.”
One informed source told Reuters that Briton Horner, 50, denied the allegations ‘in the strongest possible terms’ at a meeting this week of the Formula One Commission.
Sources cautioned there might not be any outcome until after the scheduled car launch next Thursday, with the barrister possibly needing to carry out further hearings.
Former F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone told Reuters he spoke to Horner on Thursday evening.
The pair have been close for years and Horner, who is married to former Spice Girls singer Geri Halliwell, was best man at Ecclestone’s wedding to Brazilian third wife Fabiana Flosi in 2012.
Ecclestone was also close to Red Bull’s late co-owner Dietrich Mateschitz.
“I spoke to him yesterday and it was the normal Bernie and Christian conversation about things in general,” he said. “We had a chat about what’s going on in the sport.” Source: Reuters
February 8, 2024
(GMM) Crazy rumors persist as another candidate to potentially replace Red Bull’s embattled team boss Christian Horner has emerged.
An independent lawyer commissioned by the team’s Austrian parent company will be in Milton-Keynes on Friday for a crunch meeting, with Horner facing expulsion over alleged inappropriate behavior with a female staff member.
While there had been speculation and even assumptions about the nature of the allegations, sources have told The Sun the investigation is set to center on a female employee’s concerns about the Red Bull Team boss’s strict work regime and does not relate to any sexual impropriety.
James Vowles, Horner’s counterpart at Williams and close to well-known Horner nemesis Toto Wolff, thinks the troubles reflect a culture shift in Formula 1.
“Wind back 20 years ago – the sport was male-dominated without question. White, more than likely male, more than likely 40 years old,” he told Bloomberg TV. “That’s changing, and it’s only a positive.
“But these allegations? I don’t know what happened.”
Following his recent obvious power struggle with Horner, Austrian Dr Helmut Marko has been conspicuously quiet amid the new scandal. When asked by motorsport-total.com’s Christian Nimmervoll, the 80-year-old said only: “Horner has done a great job over the years.”
Bernie Ecclestone is very close to Horner, 50, and Sport1 believes the former F1 supremo has been gently counselling his fellow Briton behind the scenes.
Horner, though, is refusing to simply resign.
It is rumored that Horner may also have fallen out with Max Verstappen’s father Jos, with the Dutch camp already much more aligned with Austria and Marko.
And Horner may also have lost the personal and contractual backing of Adrian Newey. Eagle-eyed social media users noticed that Newey’s wife Amanda ‘liked’ a post on X linking her husband with a sensational move to Ferrari.
“Now’s your chance to tick off those regrets, Adrian,” the comment that Amanda liked read. Sport1 reports that Newey and Horner’s friendship is “broken” – with F1’s most respected technical mind committing to Red Bull irrespective of Horner’s position.
Critically, Horner may still have the support of Red Bull’s non-Austrian ownership camp, the Thais, who control 51 percent of the energy drink brand.
“I have the feeling that the Austrian side really wants to get rid of Horner, especially with this issue,” Erik van Haren, a Dutch journalist for De Telegraaf who has been very close to the story, said on the DRS De Race Show podcast.
“I think the Thai owner is still on Horner’s side at the moment. Ultimately, he has the most important voice.”
Long-time Red Bull Racing team manager Jonathan Wheatley is strongly linked with Horner’s post should he be ousted, but another fascinating contender has also emerged.
London’s Times newspaper said the post-Horner team could, in fact, be run by Oliver Mintzlaff, who together with Mark Mateschitz is in charge of Red Bull’s Austrian operations in the wake of founder Dietrich Mateschitz’s late 2022 death.
Horner has denied the allegations, whose precise nature remains unclear, calling them “nuts” when asked by the Daily Mail.