Christian Horner, Jim Farley, 2023

Ford urge Red Bull to reveal progress of Horner investigation – report

Formula 1

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Ford CEO Jim Farley has reportedly directly expressed the manufacturer’s “frustration” over Red Bull’s handling of its investigation into team principal Christian Horner.

The American car manufacturer is due to join forces with the reigning Formula 1 world champions on their engine programmes for the 2026 season.

However the Associated Press reports Ford wrote to the Red Bull team at the end of last week voicing concerns over its ongoing investigation into Horner. It published extracts of a letter from Ford CEO Jim Farley to the team in which he said the manufacturer was “increasingly frustrated” by the “lack of resolution or clear indication from you about when you anticipate a fair and just resolution of this matter.”

“We are likewise frustrated,” Farley continues, “by the lack of full transparency surrounding this matter with us, your corporate partners, and look forward to receiving a complete account of all findings.”

The strongly-worded letter adds further pressure to the Red Bull team and their owners, who have launched the investigation into Horner. Last week, both Formula One Management and the FIA issued similar calls for a swift and fair conclusion to the independent investigation.

Almost three weeks have passed since team owners Red Bull Austria confirmed it had initiated an independent inquiry after receiving complaints about his conduct from a member of staff. Horner has denied the allegations against him.

Despite being under investigation, Horner has continued to operate in his role as team principal, telling media including RaceFans that it was “business as usual” for the team. He attended last week’s pre-season test at the Bahrain International Circuit and is expected to attend the season-opening round at the same venue this week.

During the test Horner said he “can’t comment on the process or the timescale” of the investigation. “I think obviously everybody would like a conclusion as soon as possible but I’m really not at liberty to comment about the process.”

The partnership between Ford and Red Bull was announced a year ago and will see the American motoring giant support Red Bull’s own powertrains department to develop a power unit for the new regulations due to arrive after the next season.

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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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58 comments on “Ford urge Red Bull to reveal progress of Horner investigation – report”

  1. if horner and ford survive austria and porsche i will be surprised.

    given the rb19 looked like a 919 on the straight, i would have to think porsche are looking for a net return.

  2. Wonder why he hasn’t even been suspended.

    1. Maybe if he was suspended – and subsequently cleared – he might be able to sue Red Bull in court.
      In such a hypothetical case, I would imagine any awarded damages for defamation could be very substantial.
      I’m just guessing, obviously. Innocent until proven guilty.

      1. Maybe if he was suspended – and subsequently cleared – he might be able to sue Red Bull in court.

        It is normal practice, in large organisations, to send the subject of the complaint off on a bit of gardening leave.
        It’s also customary to inform all parties that it is confidential and that failure to observe the restriction could lead to disciplinary action up to and including immediate termination.
        I think Ford want to know why that hasn’t been the path taken, as well as wanting to know, as “corporate partners” what the accusations are.
        The concern at Ford is likely due to the investigation taking a number of weeks, as that implies some degree of substance to the complaint – whatever that may be.
        Ford want, at minimum, the executive summary.
        What they don’t want is to spend time gleaning information from media reports

      2. @murasamara300 as others have noted, there are situations where it may be deemed appropriate for a business to temporarily suspend somebody from serving in their post under UK law. For example, if an individual is in a position where they could potentially influence the investigation, such as being able to influence witnesses or other participants in the investigation, or if they could have a significant detrimental impact on other members of staff, or on the property, customers or interests of the business, then it could be considered appropriate to suspend that individual.

        The advice does seem to be that suspension is a measure that should be considered carefully and not to be imposed automatically, and that an individual could claim compensation if it were to be shown that the suspension was done on unreasonable grounds or if other employers in that sector who had similar information would consider a decision to suspend somebody unreasonable.

        Nevertheless, whilst it would be more of a last resort, suspension is not necessarily unlawful and, even if he was subsequently cleared, Red Bull wouldn’t necessarily be liable for damages if they could show that such a decision was reasonable, based on the evidence available at the time, and would be in line with industry practice.

        In the case of Horner, an argument could be made that his seniority within the company could place him in a position of being able to influence individuals due to his potential ability to influence their subsequent careers in the team. However, using an independent legal firm does help counter that point, since the investigatory team is outside of Horner’s managerial control.

        If they did decide to go down that route, I suspect Red Bull could provide grounds to justify temporarily suspending Horner from his position. However, Horner could challenge any such suspension as unwarranted, and it is not guaranteed that Red Bull would necessarily be able to win in court if it was challenged.

        1. Red Bull Austria are playing a game that will end up burning them for 2026. All because they thought they could me-too Horner out through the Dutch press.

          1. All because they thought they could me-too Horner out through the Dutch press.

            NO
            we will not minimize and trivialize the pain and suffering of those who were victimized and came out against stacked odds to make their voices heard. The me too movement and campaign absolutely had and has valid critiques but it does not provide you with carte blanche to trivialize it.

            “me-too horner out” is such an ugly phrase especially when we still know so little about the ongoing investigation
            you’re better than this, be better than this

          2. Very well said!!

          3. It really does raise questions, who is on the other side of this power struggle.
            It also bears to keep in mind, these may not even be accusations of any sexually inappropriate behaviour. But rather that Horner, as a boss, is too demanding, strict and too focused on performance.

    2. Red Bull have just discovered that getting rid of Horner is quite challenging.

    3. Because if he’s done nothing wrong he’s unfairly been forced to miss work.

      1. He blocked Porsche. Thats why this is happening.

        1. Lol, nice theory.

        2. Porsche wanted to take over everything that is why the deal was shot down.

    4. I accuse you of, well, anything. (actual hypothetical deleted because free speech is mostly gone, even for that)

      Should you be suspended from whatever you do?

      1. Yes, and if I didn’t do anything wrong, the company should simply put a public apology to me and move on.

        Right now all it results in is confusion and unwarranted rumors. If there’s a complaint of a serious nature, then both the person making the complaint and the person who’s being accused in the complaint should be suspended as long as the investigation goes on.

        I feel like RBR takes more hit by not suspending Horner than by suspending him.

        It is also entirely possible that if Horners suspended there’s no way back in for him and he’s just doing his best to stay in his position regardless of whatever is going on.

        1. Problem is that you still are damaged even cleared that is how people work. But in every country have their different ways. Even suspended and cleared very often the parties have to part of the damage every party suffered.

      2. Yes, exactly…
        The principle of “innocent until proven guilty” must be defended. Horner has not been found guilty of anything at all at this point. Loose accusations inflated through media hype is not evidence.
        I personally think there’s something else going on behind the scenes.

  3. Ford have a reasonable concern at the time it is taking.

    What can be taking so long, I am not alone in wondering? Are the lawyers dragging it out maximising their fees? Is the report from the lawyers causing political problems between RedBull bosses – a power struggle at the top? Is there a negotiation going on to pay off the complainant? Is the heart of the complaint proving to be evidence of an historical trend in Horner’s behaviour? How serious is this anyway? Pretty serious to take so long you might think?

    The longer it goes on the more such speculation there will be and the more damaging the whole thing is to those associated with the main players in the drama.

    1. It’s launch season and testing, and now first race. Everyone in the organization is working overtime to make sure the RB20 is as successful as the RB19. The investigator has to not only interview Horner and the complainant, but as many people who’ve worked directly with both people, as possible. Some of those people are in Milton Keynes, some are in Bahrain, and some are probably somewhere in between.

      I would expect the report to come out the week of March 4th, personally.

    2. Ford have a reasonable concern at the time it is taking.

      Perhaps they have forgotten the Ford Pinto”.
      I hope they give a copy of Unsafe At Any Speed to all employees or are given access to it at their library. Even better make part of staff training so they truly understand the real importance of transparency & ‘speed’.

  4. First and foremost, if a person shows inappropriate behaviour towards a co-worker, he/she should be punished. In recent years there where horrible stories like the Weinstein saga etc. and that man can’t be punished enough. But lately people are getting cancelled for raising their voice or sending an inappropriate text (or photo) when a little intoxicated.
    Not to talk things right, but if someone has a powerful position in a company, the company is very successful, as head of that company you will start to believe in yourself. You start to believe in yourself maybe a little bit too much and start acting like it. It is human behaviour. And if that happens, there needs to be correction.
    But this cancel culture is simply ridiculous. A man has to be fired, put in a dungeon, and never talked to again.
    Everybody makes mistakes. If Horner is guilty, he already is punished enough. The whole world is judging him and talking about him. Give the woman compensation and get on with it. The world is getting far too soft.

    1. There also have been so man false claims and social media lynching which damages the character of an otherwise innocent individual. In the world of big business, all kinds of plots take place. I’m no fan of horner but I’d rather a slow and deliberate investigation than for hasty decisions. Once you are out, there is no coming back.

  5. You’d think that people at that level have a bit more sense.

    1. I agree. This should not be a media discussion. Shows ‘less than optimal’ leadership imho.

  6. When there’s no news after this long, something smells.
    I’m not saying necessarily that Horner is guilty, it could be anything. But there is something underhand, somewhere.

    1. That smell is the rotten nature of the 3 guys who have replaced Dietrich in Red Bull Austria, who want to make their egos bigger by replacing Christian too and are using this as a reason, and an unnamed Austrian that wants Horner sacked.

      If this was a simple case of a guy sexually harassing a female employee he’d would have been instantly suspended, sacked and replaced whilst his office chair was still warm. There is far more to this story.

      1. I don’t buy the conspiracy theories. If they wanted him out, they’d just buy him off. They wouldn’t drag the companies name through the mud like this – it doesn’t make sense.

  7. “lack of full transparency”

    Eeeek!! This is pretty strong. But at the same time quite mild, considering there’s no transparency what so ever

    And now what can the drinks company possibly do or say that everyone will believe?

  8. Looks like they chose the wrong “corporate partner”. How do we even know the contents of their letter to Red Bull? Smells like Ford acting pious to me.

    1. You can swap your Ford Prius… for a Ford Pious!

      1. Good one!

        If they want to communicate with Redbull, fine. I get the impression that they’re more trying to communicate with the public, instead. I’m happy to wait for the investigation to complete and hope everyone gets treated fairly in it. I don’t want to see firings merely for “optics” and am not part of any group of witch hunters Ford may be trying to impress. There are many things that can happen between Horner being a villain and him being attacked. Hopefully there can be a resolution that will allow all to go back to work together.

        In my mind the reputation of Ford and F1 suffers if all they are interested in is a sacrificial lamb to satisfy an impatient mob. Otherwise, they can question any potential shortcomings of the investigation when it concludes. That said, posing is very much a part of the F1 circus and contemporary corporate politics. Their reputations as sycophantic posers would be at stake if they didn’t do it! I’ll put my order for a Ford Pious on hold!

  9. Ford send a letter to Red Bull. After eleven days, and no reply, Ford write another letter.

    Have they not heard of phones?

    1. XV, the point of sending the letter is to create a verifiable record that Ford could potentially draw on in future that wouldn’t be created with a phone call.

      1. I would add to this that contracts and MOUs (like angreements to afree) can often include morality clauses which can be used to blow them up for situations exactly like this. Also good faith clauses may be being tested via sending of written communications.

        1. Meaning ford could get out of their partnership with redbull just on the back of this?

    2. phones are not a thing in formula 1 apparently.

      Redbull needs to check their spam folder

  10. Ford send a letter to Red Bull. After eleven days, and no reply, Ford write another letter. Have they not heard of phones?

    I’m sure they have, but for some reason people tend to dislike the idea of being recorded, and then seem to forget or misremember to content of the call, unless…

    “Dear Red Bull F1,

    As per our telephone conversation of Tuesday Feb…”

    Business formality and traceability. Quite likely what they are doing.
    The leaked/released letter content suggests they are getting annoyed with the lack of response, but want to ensure the world ‘knows’ that Ford “have standards” etc. etc.

    1. Ford and Horner need to sue RBR.

    2. Ford has standards? I think they have enough ‘secrets’ to hide.

  11. To quote Raj from Big Bang Theory
    ” My my, the plot like my gravy thickens ” :)

  12. Ford laying the groundwork for voiding their agreement.

  13. Coventry Climax
    26th February 2024, 0:05

    An independent investigation is independent when a couple of conditions are met. Some of them are:
    – noone interferes until it’s done
    – no stone is left unturned
    – the investigators are not related to their subjects in any way and hence have no stakes in whatever the outcome.

    I can understand there’s third parties like sponsors and other business associates to Red Bull that would want the outcome to be known sooner rather than later, but they can not put pressure on things if they want the investigations to still be independent and thorough.

    What I can not understand is ‘partners’ venting their impatience and playing things through the press.

    1. That’s an interesting angle that you’ve taken here.

      It would all reek of power struggle and this being a set up to get Horner to quit.

    2. What I can not understand is ‘partners’ venting their impatience and playing things through the press.

      Yeah this is the weirdest part. Why would they not want to keep any grievance behind closed doors?

      the investigators are not related to their subjects in any way and hence have no stakes in whatever the outcome

      This is where any group running an “independent” investigation on itself doesn’t hold water. If the investigation was run by the FIA that would be sensible. Red Bull hiring a lawyer? Far less so. It reminds me of Activision hiring the union busting firm to investigate the harassment allegations there (I can’t be bothered looking into the firm Red Bull hired but there’s some journalism to be done there.) There is an outcome Red Bull are seeking.

    3. It’s American wokeism at its finest. They don’t want to be associated with anyone who might have anything to do with sexual inappropriate behavior. They feel so strong about this that they don’t even feel the need to consider the possibility it might be baseless accusations (hence the need for a proper investigation…)

      1. if it was cut and dry, Horner would have quit before the season started. And there would be no theater going on in the press about the allegations. It was alluded to, before this year, that he had been pressured to quit. They were losing, then they got the press involved, now they might lose quite a bit more if Horner stays on and Ford backs him 100%.

      2. It’s American wokeism at its finest.

        Contrary to the opinions of a collection of red necks, “woke” is not a bad thing.

        BTW. The existence of the allegations is a known fact (Horner denied whatever) the complainant is, apparently, female.
        Beyond those two items, it’s all hearsay.
        Ford, I assume, is looking to be supplied with some clarity; that would be clarity on whether the gutter press coverage has any relationship with fact, because if there is no evidence for the more scurrilous comments, then Ford can relax somewhat.

  14. Is this Ford signalling that they don’t want to continue if the current Team Principal is no longer in that position I.e. putting pressure on to ensure nothing changes at RBR?

    Very strange otherwise as they would know, with the millions of dollars at stake, that outcomes and decisions will have to be reviewed and agreed by all the parties concerned. Any rushed decisions or indeed leaking of details would almost certainly result in long, protracted and very expensive legal actions.

    With the media these days, there’s no such thing as transparent, so their only option is to make sure no information is released or discussed before things are completed. As it is some outlets are indulging in rumours etc – can you imagine the rubbish things we’d be seeing if they even attempted to be transparent.

    1. It would be Porsche-Red Bull if the guy in charge of the team would have let Porsche run the show. Thats really all anyone needs to know about what is going on. Also, its kind of strange how the RB18/19 is so fast in a straight line, …. Gleam anything from Porsche maybe ? Hmmm. I think whats going on is Porsche got screwed, and they want Horner gone so they can get a ROI. Better yet, Ford might actually be getting a good chance to see what IP RBR have gleamed from the past two years from whomever, and that is quite an opportunity for Ford and their racing brand.

  15. Those are strong words from the company who’s founder was awarded the Nazi Germany’s Grand Cross of the German Eagle, a medal given to foreigners sympathetic to Nazism.

  16. They’ll probably change his job title to appease Ford.

  17. Mark in Florida
    26th February 2024, 19:14

    Horner should get his case investigated thoroughly to prove or disprove any evidence brought against him. Instead people think this is the middle ages and that accusation equals guilt and immediate execution. Come on people, if you were in Horners position would you roll over like a shivering dog and just take whatever was piled on you? He deserves his day in court.
    Ford needs to shut up and be silent. I’m sure they don’t want any investigations into they’re integrity. Worry about it in 2026, but I’m pretty sure it will all be decided by then.

    1. As far as we know — and I do agree that we don’t know much — there’s absolutely nothing requiring the intervention of courts here. There’s no criminal complaint, and Horner hasn’t been fired so it’s not like he can sue for wrongful dismissal.

      Ford can do whatever it wants, as long as it’s within the purview of the agreements it signed with RBR. Capitalism baby.

  18. So much misogynistic uninformed/ignorant commentary here; apparently shocked that a man in power would abuse that power.

  19. Always found it surprising how Redbull attracted so many big name & £ sponsors. Then again a lot of them are Americans who are naturally thick as planks when it comes to F1/wider European business world. Redbull for years have been a dodgy company long ran as the personal outfit of 1 Austrian man who whilst he shunned all PR, certainly wasn’t short of controversy. Culture runs from the top & it was always the case through all RB entities. So many red flags.
    Reason Ford CEO is speaking out is cause he can see the writing on the wall. Classic RB stunt of brushing it under the carpet & burying it with PR & usually playing the victim. Something Horner excells at & is clear to anyone who has watched for some time. Horner was best pals with Mastershitz & is one of few dying old guards left in that structure. He learnt from the best.

  20. Mark in Florida
    26th February 2024, 23:02

    No, you are prejudiced to the fact that any person should be allowed to speak in their own defense. All sides should be heard, all sides. Not just the accuser but also the accused. When the conclusions are made based on (the facts) not any persons (feelings) whatever that judgment is that is the judgment. If I went by my feelings I wouldn’t go to work but the facts state otherwise.

  21. This is all a plot to get their deal with Ford broken so that they can go back to using Honda engines for 2026.

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