Christian Horner

Red Bull reveal nothing as investigation clears Horner to stay in charge

Formula 1

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Red Bull intends its statement announcing the completion of its Christian Horner investigation to be its final word on the matter.

Whether that will prove to be the case remains to be seen. But there is no doubt Red Bull has avoided destabilising its championship-winning team on the eve of the new season by keeping Horner in place.

Over three weeks had passed since Red Bull’s Austrian owners confirmed it had begun what it described as an “independent” investigation, involving an “external specialist barrister” into the claims made against Horner. Today it announced only that “the grievance has been dismissed” and gave no further details on what Horner had been accused of.

“The investigation report is confidential and contains the private information of the parties and third parties who assisted in the investigation, and therefore we will not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned,” Red Bull stated.

Christian Horner
Profile: Christian Horner
However some publications had made claims about what Horner had been accused of, and many in F1 did not like what they saw. “The allegations are extremely serious,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown. “We need to handle it swiftly because I don’t believe these are the type of headlines that Formula 1 wants or needs at this time.”

Formula One Management also indicated it wanted to see a quick resolution. “We hope that the matter will be clarified at the earliest opportunity, after a fair and thorough process and we will not comment further at this time,” it said.

But the publication three days ago of a report of a letter from Ford, Red Bull’s 2026 engine partner, to the team indicated how seriously they took the matter and how concerned they were at the length of time being taken to resolve it. Ford CEO Jim Farley said they were “increasingly frustrated” by the “lack of resolution or clear indication from you about when you anticipate a fair and just resolution of this matter.”

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The stakes were high on both sides. While facing significant pressure from outside, the importance of Horner to Red Bull can hardly be understated.

He is in his 20th year running the team he founded with Dietrich Mateschitz. During that time he has taken them to the top of Formula 1 and back again, entering the new season seeking their third consecutive world championship.

He has also laid out ambitious plans for their future, embarking on an engine development programme with Ford which he intends to end the team’s reliance on customer engine supplies. They have also branched out into road car development with the ambitious RB17 penned by chief technical officer Adrian Newey.

To the surprise of many, Horner was not suspended from his duties during the investigation. He denied the allegations he faced and made his first appearance before media at the team’s launch where he admitted the ongoing probe was a “distraction”.

Inevitably, some will look at the timing of Red Bull’s decision and the lack of information supporting it and conclude that Horner was considered too big to lose. But the team has pointed out the steps it took to ensure the independence of its investigation and said today it is “confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.”

It also indicated the matter may not yet be over. “The complainant has a right of appeal,” Red Bull noted.

Throughout the investigation Horner stated he considers it “business as usual” in the meantime. That appears to be the case for now, but time will tell if this is the end of the matter.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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37 comments on “Red Bull reveal nothing as investigation clears Horner to stay in charge”

  1. Good. Always seemed like nonsense. Now let’s get back to racing.

    1. hear hear

    2. +1 lets talk about racing!

  2. Sure. All internal investigations are always unbiased. File this one under “Foregone Conclusion”.

    1. That’s why the actual investigation was done by an external party.

      1. @sjaakfoo who paid this external party? There is always a level of bias.

        1. who paid this external party?

          The Thai shareholders, backing Horner, explicitly requested an “independent barrister.”

          1. I wonder where people get their sources. No reputable source and no, Erik van Haren isn’t one at this point given he already went one step behind yesterday had made any such claim.

            It’s quite interesting how misinformed people are.

        2. It doesn’t matter who paid them, honestly, what matters is that the report provided is objective and clear so that if the aggrieved party decides to sue you, you have an undeniable basis for the position you’ve taken.

          It doesn’t serve Red Bull to have a biased report that would get destroyed in any legal procedure, it would just open them up for a world of hurt, to, what? Protect one single individual?

          1. good point there Sjaakfoo.

            Also, if we can believe there is SOME truth to the things about somewhat of an internal struggle about power in the background where the Austrian part of the company might not be aligned with the Thay owners, then it makes even more sense to accept the notion the investigation really was independent, because neither of these “sides” would want to accept anything less.

            Given that the person who made the complaint has also been said to consider taking the issue to court, that gives another reason for all involved to make sure their investigation can withstand scrutiny.

  3. Judging by the reaction of the media and people trhat call themselevs fans, Horner was quilty regardless.
    >If external party had ruled he was guilty: “Aha, you see!”
    >If external party rules not guilty: “Yeah of course, white man, victim forced to withdraw”

    We’ve gone from an ‘innocent until proven guilty’-society to ‘guilty regardless’, and the media are more than happy to cause damage without being held accountable for. I hope Red Bull sues outlets who poured oil on the fire set by The Telegraaf, because it had nothing to do with journalism. This outlet including.

    1. I hope Red Bull sues outlets who poured oil on the fire

      That would force Red Bull to open up about the investigation in court if they are to prove libel. We all know that won’t happen because not only Red Bull but anyone within their sphere wants this swept up as quickly as possible. Also, the victim that came forth is one who deserves our empathy as well.

      1. We don’t know anything of the sort. Why won’t they disclose those details in court? The fact that court will know the details doesn’t mean the public will know. In fact most cases of such nature remain under closed doors. You may think they’ve swept it under the rug but it’s only your opinion not some universal truth. Lastly, no one automatically deserves empathy. Not Horner and not the alleged “victim”. And yes, the word “victim” must be in brackets, since we don’t know who of the parties is the actual victim in this case. Unless you have some insider information you’d like to share

        1. Lastly, no one automatically deserves empathy.

          Everybody automatically deserves ‘empathy’.
          You don’t have to agree, but some empathy never hurts.

      2. >Also, the victim that came forth is one who deserves our empathy as well

        Proving my point exactly. They don’t and you’re the problem with society nowadays.
        The investigation cleared Horner meaning the ‘victim’ made false claims. Meaning they aren’t a victim of anything and the only thing they deserve is to be sued into oblivion for trying to ruin someones career because they didn’t get a promotion or something along those lines.

        By your logic, anyone that gets accused of anything is guilty by default and even when proven innocent by a third party, it’s obviously a false outcome and they are guilty regardless. I can only hope you encounter a similar situation to realize how incredibly ignorant you are. I suggest you watch the movie The Hunt to get some idea.

        1. The investigation cleared Horner meaning the ‘victim’ made false claims.

          As countless of much more public cases have shown, it’s extremely difficult to reconstruct situations that happened even just a few months ago. People also have pretty lousy memories, and when two people recount the same event it’s entirely possible to get two very different versions. There is also a gap between what is legally a problem, and what can be a serious concern for people involved.

          That external parties find no reason for Red Bull to further pursue this does not mean the person involved was deliberately making false claims, nor does it mean nothing happened that some – or even many – people would find distasteful. It also doesn’t mean this is a giant cover-up by shady folks. It’s just very hard to make claims about these matters months or even years later.

          There is a huge world of nuance between ‘he did it’ and ‘she made it up’. There is no need for such absolutes.

          1. There is and you failing to understand that makes your the problem. Either he did or he didn’t. If she claims he did did and he claims he didn’t, either one of them is right and the other isn’t. Get it through your head.

          2. @duuxdeluxe – That’s not how life works. Rather than getting something into my head, I’d instead have to remove lots of things like the ability to see that they are grey areas… What one person views as inappropriate, another may think is completely fine. The woman may have felt something inappropriate was said but the investigation found that in context, it was just a misunderstanding. Maybe it’s something Horner has always said to people but one person took offence?

            It’s not as simple as “Horner said ______” – yes or no.

            I feel empathy towards the victim – I just don’t have enough information to say who the victim is. It could be the accuser, it could be Horner or it could be both.

        2. you’re the problem with society nowadays

          I can only hope you encounter a similar situation to realize how incredibly ignorant you are

          I’m not sure what it is I said that triggered you so badly. Regardless, the world is not as black and white as you see it; things are rarely so simple.

          1. >triggered

            Yeah okay, as I said, I can only hope you get accused of the same thing and end up in deep trouble trying to prove your you didn’t do it. You deserve that trouble.

          2. Seek help, Steve, and work through your trauma instead of trying to hurt those around you. I wish you well.

        3. This. Absolutely.

        4. @duuxdeluxe it could be pointed out that, in turn, you appear to be making a series of libellous and false claims against all of the parties involved.

          Unlike yourself, Red Bull have not, at any point, said that there was any intention of malice when the claims were raised, that the claims were false or indeed said anything that supports any of the accusations you are making against the person who raised the claims – in that sense, not only making claims against the person involved that appear to be intentionally malicious on your part, but also making false claims about what Red Bull have also said in turn.

          As a matter of law, if the complaint was raised in good faith by the person involved – and, so far, everything Red Bull have said indicates they believe that the person raising the complaint did act in good faith – then, in advocating for extreme retaliatory and punitive action, you are advocating a course of action that would be considered a criminal offence (since you are advocating a course of intentional harassment).

          1. As always by anon. Lots of statements but little fact.
            Nobody said “she”(?) Actrd in good daith.
            Redbull has some protocols to deal with these kind of acusations . Its not about who is right or wrong, they simply have to investigate every possible wrongdoing.
            Horner is not guilty as proven by the investgation. Its very wellicht possible the accuser had some mental problems and to avoid damage they do not charge the accuser.

      3. The “victim” isn’t clear at the moment – it may be that Horner did something and there’s been a coverup but it’s just as possible that Horner did nothing wrong and someone has lied in the hope of getting a pay out. In that case, Horner is the victim and deserves empathy. Of course, as much as you pretend to care for the “victim”, all you really want is Horner to be guilty because you don’t like Red Bull. You want this woman to have gone through what she has claimed because then maybe Horner will be gone and your favourite driver will win some races…. Not great when it’s put that way is it?

    2. To be fair, this has always been the case. An accusation on its own can destroy a life, cost them their family, friends, home, job… Horner has probably been treated far more fairly than a lower ranking person might. They’ve kept the accusations under wraps, and spent huge sums on an independent investigation. I doubt they’d have done that for an unknown mid level engineer…

  4. Just puts the ball back in the court of whoever is making the accusation.

    Either they take legal action or we’ll never find out… I’m looking forward to comment from all who were seeking transparency. I wonder if they’ll receive it privately.

    I’m amazed no details at all have been leaked so far.

    1. HR is a joke, you only use them to file complains before you get a lawyer, and never believe a company gives 2 expletives about its employees, its only interested in it’s brand and ability to keep the flow of money coming in. Me2, political correctness, are political devices and actually have no bearing in reality with respect to the common person.

      The real offenders never get fired, they get promoted, and the subjects of abuse are always discarded, this is how things really work, and I don’t contribute to this model of use and abuse, but you will never see an outfit that values money to the degree most do these days, valuing their employees.

      Whether Horner did or did not do anything, I do not know, he might have been bated in to a bad convo, all most people know is what someone puts in front of their faces.

    2. There was no mention of the sum offered to the accuser to drop the case and go back to normal. If we want it or not, money can still solve many issues nowadays especially if no-one else than the party involved knows anything.

      Anyway, hard to really make a proper opinion on the case based on facts as there are hardly any available.

    3. I’m amazed no details at all have been leaked so far.

      They kept it under wraps. That’s why they involved outside parties bound by law to keep it quiet and discussions were not held in office. The HR folks will get huge bonuses over the next few years and they probably have already signed NDAs

      Obviously it’s a pretty serious allegation to warrant that type of immediate reaction. Horner lawyered up big time and you could tell he was exhausted when the car launched.

  5. Perfect headline <3

  6. Red Bull show these kind of cases should be handled, regardless of outcome.

  7. Red Bull may sound like it’s sorted. But if this does go to appeal or goes to the courts, or leaks in a big way, the company will be in a far worse position in terms of negative publicity and the impact on Formula 1 will escalate dramatically – no longer just one employee but the entire team and company under scrutiny. They’ll be hoping the ‘investigation’ has called it right, obviously. Something about ‘the complainant has the right to appeal’ makes it sound not over: it doesn’t have an ‘all parties have agreed’ tone to it.

    1. Giles Richards’ article captures some of the unease about Red Bull announcing an ‘issue’ (which wasn’t necessary, as all those saying it was an ‘internal’ issue might agree) but then saying absolutely nothing about it in their final decision. Weird.

    2. Yeah, they would never allow it to reach the courts unless the allegations read as follows.

      Mr Horner didn’t say hello to the complainant and she was deeply offended
      Mr. Horner tripped and accidentally put both hands on the defendant as shown in this camera footage from 4 different angles

      Anything else of any inappropriate level, they would want to prevent from reaching the court because it would look bad and force them to fire Horner.

      Red Bull have a brand and sponsors and their hands would be tied the moment this became public. They obviously hired the best team that money could buy to make the issue disappear and keep it quiet.

      They were probably gently advised (as in instructed) by the F1 and the FIA to avoid courts at any cost.

  8. “Red Bull reveal nothing as investigation clears Horner to stay in charge”
    This is exactly how all internal investigations should be handled. Never apologise, never explain – it’ll never be enough.

  9. Well, the report was masterfully crafted to avoid any discussion of behavior and to do so without anyone questioning that.

    They also made that lovely statement about the complainant having the right to appeal which was awkward given the fact that they provided no other details and it adds nothing to it but to state that Red Bull are so confident in their innocence that they would love to go to court. A brazen statement that would only be offered in the case where the allegations were completely fabricated or they have been resolved through a settlement.

    Here’s my opinion. The complainant knew the alleged perpetrator and obviously had a high position within Red Bull. Filing this complaint over fabricated statements is the end of your career so we can safely assume they are not fabricated. Given the pockets of the organization and the stakes involved with their sponsors and the sport, I’m pretty sure the amount offered was low 8 figures (20,000,000) pounds.

    Horner is not out of it. There’s definitely damage done within the organization and within his relationships as those must have been tested. We won’t know the impact for a while but body language will tell us a lot. If he avoids Marko or doesn’t laugh when Newey cracks a joke etc. He also has to deal with Geri and potentially the damage it caused there and that could be as draining as anything else.

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