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Christian Horner’s Investigation Could Spell Disaster for Red Bull in the 2024 Season

Sports Writer, Will Black, provides an insight into the current controversy and allegations surrounding the Red Bull team boss.

On Friday, Christian Horner, team principal of F1 giant Red Bull, was grilled at a secret location by the Red Bull parent company Red Bull GmbH following alleged ‘controlling behaviour’ of a female staffer. The meeting was planned to take place at the F1 team’s headquarters in Milton Keynes but was moved following intense media interest.

Horner is one of the sports longest reigning team principals, as well as one of the most successful with six constructor’s championships and seven driver’s championships under his belt. 

Red Bull’s owners first declared an internal investigation would be taking place on Monday. The female staffer took the complaint up separately from the F1 team, instead going to the Austrian sports drink brand directly. 

A third-party barrister has taken up the role of interviewing Horner, hired by Red Bull GmbH. The interview itself started at 8:45am, carrying on all day. 

Horner has emphatically denied the claims, stating they are ‘nuts’ when commenting to the MailOnline. At a meeting of the F1 Commission in London, Horner is said to have told fellow attendees that there was no truth in the allegations.

His wife, spice girl Geri Halliwell, whom he married in 2015, is ‘devastated’ by the allegations according to a friend speaking to MailOnline.

British racing driver David Coulthard, who previously raced for the Austrian team between 2005 and 2008, said regarding Horner, ‘I’ve seen all sorts of overreaction on social media, you know, people calling for Christian to resign, and for him to be suspended’ when speaking on his ‘Formula for Success’ podcast with former Jordan owner Eddie Jordan. Coulthard went on to say, ‘everybody deserves their moment to be able to explain their position.’

Williams team principal James Vowles said the allegations should be taken with utmost sincerity and that F1 teams must ‘make sure we are posing the right questions internally and acting in the way we can only be proud of, not today but in the next 10 years’ in an interview with Bloomberg following the reports.

The question remains as to whether the 50-year-old will keep his job at the F1 team, but Sky Sports reporter Craig Slater says it is likely Horner will have to wait till next week to find out. The BBC has reported that insiders say it is unlikely he will stay on at Red Bull coming into the 2024 season.

While it is unclear as to who may replace Horner if he is axed BBC sources say it is likely for an executive from the Austrian side of Red Bull to take his place. 

The allegations have created a cloud over Red Bull’s upcoming car launch, scheduled for February 15, as well as Red Bull’s recent success with driver Max Verstappen having just won his third consecutive driver’s championship. 

Red Bull do not have time to spare when deciding Horner’s outcome, with testing beginning on February 21 and the first race of the season starting February 29. 

According to the DailyMail, supporters of Horner argue that he has been placed into a growing power vacuum following the death of Red Bull’s founder and owner Dietrich Mateschitz in 2022. Mateschitz was also a strong supporter of Horner. 

Taking on the mantle in 2005, Horner is the sports longest serving team principal and received a CBE after appearing in the New Year Honours List.

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