Christian Horner, Red Bull

Horner investigation unlikely to be resolved before team’s launch

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In the round-up: Red Bull began a hearing on the conduct of team principal Christian Horner on Friday but says its investigation is continuing.

In brief

Red Bull’s Horner investigation begins

Red Bull is due to launch its new car, the RB20, at its headquarters on Thursday. However it remains to be seen whether it will have decided the future of team principal Christian Horner by then.

The team’s Austrian owners confirmed on Monday it was looking into allegations relating to Horner’s conduct. It began an investigation yesterday which Horner was pictured heading to.

“As already stated, it would not be appropriate for us to comment before the investigation is completed,” a spokesperson for Red Bull Austria told RaceFans.

F3 field almost set as Bedrin takes PHM seat

PHM has become the latest F3 team to complete its line-up for the coming season. It has signed Nikita Bedrin to partner Tasanapol Inthraphuvasak and Joshua Dufek. ART is the only team left with a seat to fill for the new season.

Bedrin said his deal was “very last minute news and very unexpected, so a lot of hard work will have to be done.”

Larson surprised by IndyCar’s similarity to NASCAR

NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Larson said he was surprised by the similarities an IndyCar has to his usual machine after testing in preparation for his Indianapolis 500 debut.

The 2021 cup winner, who will race a fourth McLaren at the Indy 500 this year, said he was “really kind of surprised that it feels a lot like a Next Gen Cup car” after running at Phoenix this week.

Kyle Larson, McLaren, Phoenix, IndyCar, 2024
Larson hopes similarities will make transition easier
“The way that just the grip of the tyre felt when I turned to the wheel to a point, get past the slip of the tyre, the sidewall, I felt like it all felt really similar to the Cup car. You’re just going faster.”

He believes recent changes to NASCAR’s stock car design have narrowed the gap between it and IndyCar racing. “The first change I think they raised the back of the car up, that made me loose in, that would have made me loose in the Cup car. Next they raised the front up to match the rear, that’s when I said I had less grip, I’m pretty sure that’s what that adjustment would have felt like in a Cup car, as well.

“Between the underbody and all that, the mechanics of the car, I feel like our stock cars are much similar. I guess what I’m getting at is that I hope it makes the transition between the two simpler than what it would have been four or five years ago.”

Barnard wins FRMEC opener in Yas Marina

Recently-confirmed Formula 2 driver Taylor Barnard won the opening race of the Formula Regional Middle East round at the Yas Marina yesterday. The PHM driver beat points leader Tuukka Taponen by less than half a second, the pair five seconds clear of Costa Toparis in third place.

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Comment of the day

RB’s new look for 2024 has one thing to commend it, says MichaelN:

Red Bull shouldn’t have four cars.

But that said, this is at least a proper livery. It might not be too everyone’s tastes, but it’s much better than all these bare carbon shenanigans. So at least on that front, nicely done.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Aqeel!

On this day in motorsport

  • Born on this day in 1923: Theo Fitzau, one-time German Grand Prix starter


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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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40 comments on “Horner investigation unlikely to be resolved before team’s launch”

  1. Will Horner be given a typical Red Bull high rake suspension, and will that be a newey or an oldie solution?

    1. Perhaps neither – they might “diffuse” the situation

      1. That’s assuming the diffuser isn’t being blown

        1. Nah, they are pretty flexible

  2. Lewisham Milton
    10th February 2024, 1:51

    We won’t know until the unnamed alligator reveals whether it was pushrod or pullrod.

    1. notagrumpyfan
      10th February 2024, 7:51

      It appears to be open season on Christian Horner at the moment; even a single picture leads the online tabloid press to make it the headline for the daily news update.

  3. I completely agree that people, press included, should not be pillorying Horner at this time, and that he should be considered innocent unless proven otherwise.

    However, unfortunately, that’s not the way the court of public opinion works, or the world in general. We hold this ideal up in our justice system, but even there it’s barely upheld. I have one closer friend and one acquaintance who were born punished for crimes they didn’t commit: one just by way of the costs and effects on his and his families life of the investigation and court case, and the other because games played by the prosecution nearly bankrupted him, leading him to plead guilty to stop it all from destroying him.

    Personally, I’ll wait for the results of the investigation. However, to expect people, especially the press, to do so it asking a hell of a lot in this day and age.

    1. It’s shocking, I reckon those Sun photos are disgusting and they should be deeply ashamed. There’s no justice in the court of public opinion. They only do it because people eat it up and are quick to judge and gossip.

      The only people that should be judging are those who are paid to do so with years of legal experience, on the balance of evidence, and or juries verdicts.

      None of this investigation is any of that, it’s as preliminary as it comes. The attention it’s getting would be very strange in a reasonable society.

    2. You’re right. Whatever one’s opinions of Horner, it’s not a great look to pick up on an issue and immediately jump to outlandish conclusions and make up everything in between to satisfy one’s dislike. Now it might be understandable that not everyone thinks very highly of Horner given the way he has previously acted in his private life, but that’s really something between him and said women. It doesn’t mean it’s okay to just make up stuff on the basis of a vaguely worded statement.

    3. However, unfortunately, that’s not the way the court of public opinion works, or the world in general.

      You are acting as if this is some force of nature, but in reality it is just people with broken morals, like Will Wood, who make the choice to spread rumors, non-news and the like.

      1. This way of thinking of widespread, and I doubt any of us are completely innocent of it. We hear accusations, especially of someone we already dislike, and we will often jump to conclusions. Just look at how people behaved when the Wolffs were accused of improprieties over sensitive data recently: many of those now calling for Horner to be considered innocent unless proven guilty were calling for both Susie and Toto to resign, even after the investigation showed they had nothing to answer for.

        I know I’m having to fight against this myself. It’s much easier for me to believe Horner has done something wrong than it was that either of the Wolffs had, because I dislike him and like them. It is part of human nature and takes conscious effort to work against it.

        1. Of course we all have human weaknesses, but it is still a choice whether to do what you feel like doing or to resist it.

          Many journalist organizations uphold (at least in theory and occasionally also in practice) a code of ethics to help them act more morally, even when market forces and/or the pleasure center of their brain rewards yellow journalism. It would be interesting to know what this site considers it’s limits, at least in theory.

        2. There is a difference though, we have absolutely no idea what Horner did or did not do. We do know that the Wolffs have positions that are susceptible to conflicts of interests and are a risk factor that companies need to keep in mind. In this case though, the F1 Academy is rather irrelevant to serious F1 issues, but it’s still an issue where people can have honest disagreements over how appropriate this arrangement is.

          1. We do know that Horner is in a position to do any of the things he’s rumoured to be being investigated for. Heck, I’m in a position to do various illegal things if I wanted to. That doesn’t mean he has done them, doesn’t mean I have done them, doesn’t mean the Wolffs have done anything wrong. If we’re going to stay punishing people for things they could do if they wanted to, we’re all going to be imprisoned.

          2. @drmouse

            You are comparing apples with oranges. Of course a position of power allows for more shenanigans than not having that power, but someone has to be team principal, so it is unavoidable for someone to have that power.

            In contrast, it is not necessary to have a husband be a team principal governed by F1, while his wife works for F1. That produces avoidable risks of nepotism and such.

            You can already question to what extent Suzie’s career benefited from nepotism, as a bunch of her career steps and choices she made, are ones that Toto would have the power to influence or decide, or where the decision makers would be dependent on Toto or such.

            And one can of course have the opinion that the conflict of interest is itself wrong/immoral, regardless of whether there is evidence that it was explicitly taken advantage of. Suzie or Toto can also have benefited from it unknowingly and without doing anything. For example, because someone feared Toto or wanted to (consciously or subconciously) get in the good graces of Toto and thus helped Suzie where they wouldn’t have done so if she hadn’t been married to Toto. Or vice versa, where someone in F1 helped Toto/Mercedes F1 because of their professional relationship with Suzie.

    4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      10th February 2024, 23:41

      @drmouse oh the legal system is the biggest joke – some of the biggest crimes committed in the US have been committed by Supreme Court Justices in the name of justice. One example is the number of women who are forced to bear children from rape who are not allowed to have an abortion.

      I went to a court where a contractor stole my money and I lost, apparently he could have finished it whenever it pleased him, if ever (the exact words of the judge)… It took me 5 years to recover mentally from the Kafkian episode but if I were accused of a murder and I happened to be in a different continent on TV at the time with 1,000 witnesses, I would still be afraid to go to court in the US because it’s a clown-fest of beyond imagination proportions. Until you experience it, you have no clue how fragile justice is.

      1. Yeah, I’ve seen this in the UK, too.

        The one thing I learned from my friend’s experience was that I shouldn’t blindly trust the police to investigate impartially. Before he went through what he did, I would have just been open and honest with them, whereas now they’d get nothing without a lawyer present, and I’d be very careful with what I told them. I don’t like it, but my respect and trust in the police and the justice system took a major dive.

  4. From what is swirling around in a strangely tight-lipped press: Once this “independent” barrister completes his investigation, it will be turned over to the CEO of Red Bull GmbH, one Oliver Mintzlaff, who will decide the next steps. It just so happens that he would quite like Horner’s job and he is supported in that ambition by Jos Verstappen and Marko.
    Mintzlaff holds all the cards.

    1. Presumably Horner could appeal.

      1. I’d be surprised if there’s any sort of Red Bull mock court process. It’s all internal so it’s not likely to be able to appeal an internal outcome.

        I imagine next steps are to start proper legal proceedings though, if he believes he was unfairly dismissed or not provided proper compensation if he is dismissed.

        1. Then there’s also the defamation side of litigation if he isn’t dismissed. I think some publications that have eluded to photos will have some questions asked of them in that case. (not to be outdone by Toto cheekily.)

        2. Sorry, yes, that’s what I meant. Ultimately he could contest any dismissal in court, or like you say seek damages for defamation anyway. If this is an attempt to lever him out, it would seem somewhat high risk.

    2. I hadn’t heard of Oliver Mintzlaff, but anything going bad around Jos Verstappen is no surprise is it. Getting above himself, would be quite in character.

      But all this secrecy, I don’t see how it helps anyone apart from building up the drama. And I don’t see how one person making one complaint about controlling behaviour from the person who is actually supposed to be in control has got to be so huge! The investigation has just blown it right up, in the off season.

    3. You work for the sun?

    4. Maybe they can call in another favour from Uncle Masi.

    5. I hadn’t heard of Oliver Mintzlaff, but anything going bad around Jos Verstappen is no surprise is it. Getting above himself, would be quite in character.

      But all this secrecy, I don’t see how it helps anyone apart from building up the drama. And I don’t see how one person making one complaint about controlling behaviour from the person who is actually supposed to be in control has got to be so huge! The investigation has just built it up more, in the off season.

  5. A barrister to investigate a workplace alleged incident?
    Talk about controlling coercive behaviour.
    Anyway it’s only one legal opinion that will be presented to RB.
    Horner has every right to face his accuser, in court, both under oath. With both giving evidence and facing cross-examination .

    1. So far this is an internal investigation, which means that no court is involved. Whatever they do has to obey British law.

      1. That’s precisely what I was attempting to say!

  6. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    10th February 2024, 15:00

    Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, I believe that Horner is not going to stick around with Red Bull after what happened. Clearly, his authority has been called into question by Red Bull and the fragility of the relationships may have surfaced.

    There were rumors of crazy comments by Max and if they are half-true, Horner is no longer going to offer genuine support for Max and will probably rue the day he allowed Max to win in 2021.

    He’s going to be resentful whether he knows it or not and feel that he was not treated the way he deserved. Of course, we really don’t know what happened but it doesn’t sound to be of a sexual nature but that’s speculation too.

    I don’t believe the public will find out what exactly took place and that will always carry a stigma on Horner’s reputation.

    1. rumors of crazy comments by Max

      ?! I’m not really asking to know. I’m with @drmouse about being wary of saying anything until all the parties are properly heard and adjudications reached. However if that’s true about MV, it seems like a total meltdown at Red Bull.
      Not as shocking as Hamilton’s switch to Ferrari, and completely negative rather than positive, but wow. What an unexpected preseason.

      1. Max said he doesn’t like change and wants everything staying the same. So everything said that Max wants Horner to leave is nonsense.
        I find it also strange how Jos Verstappen could do anything at Red Bull he doesn’t work for them.

  7. Maybe the Red Bull could change the rules at the last minute to have him reinstated, I know it would be unprecedented but improve the spectacle for all of us

    1. Cotd

    2. With new boots on.

  8. Does anyone that posts on this site work at companies? Companies have codes of conduct so you don’t have to break a law to be sanctioned by the firm you work for. They may have a hearing or something less formal. There isn’t a trial. There could be a trial later on if the company finds that Horner violated a company policy and that violation is a breach of his contract and they dismiss him without pay. I will wait to hear from the company. and probably still not believe what is in the press release.

    1. I think people do forget this is an internal matter for Red Bull who seem to be acting as a company as a whole rather then just the F1 team. It’s response could be biased by anything, including protecting reputation and petty political wranglings.

      1. An internal matter that could break Red Bull (Racing) apart. If this is part of a power struggle – with rumours flying about a rift between Horner and the Verstappen clan – then it’s difficult to see how this can be limited to a company ‘code of conduct’ issue. Horner made RBR the team to beat – twice. If he goes, it’s difficult to imagine their current level being sustained. And the actual garage/factory side will be mostly behind Horner not the larger company. Perfect time for Newey to accept a huge amount to move to Ferrari? Leaving aside whatever Horner did or did not do, the Horner-Verstappen rift leaves me bewildered. It would be like Hamilton wanting to get rid of Wolff at the height of Mercedes domination. Bizarre. Whatever the truth, the damage is already being doing to Red Bull as a racing team.

        1. This isn’t what Max want it’s more a certain CEO wants….

    2. two facts,

      1. there are pics of Horner, which are publicly available
      2. there are ways to hack people’s email accounts, especially if they are in the cloud or behind a grab *** firewall, or even spoof them, if there are people who don’t take certain precaution to provide means of authentication.

      yes, there are weirdos who send pics out there, BUT, there are also toxic personalities who try to stab people in the back, and worm their way in between other people’s relationships, having worked with these narcissistic types, I completely sympathize. This smells like a PR hit job all the way. Red Bull corporate should be ashamed of themselves, and find out who is leaking the information to the press AND dismiss them immediately, and if his last name is Verstappen, get rid of the golden boy. The only way Red Bull looks good in this mess is if Ferrari are masterminding the whole plot, … And in today’s IT work place, ANYTHING is possible.

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