Mohammed Bin Sulayem, Christian Horner, Bahrain International Circuit, 2024

Horner controversy “damaging” for F1 says FIA president Ben Sulayem

Formula 1

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FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem believes the furore surrounding Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is “damaging” for Formula 1.

Ben Sulayem and Horner met today during the final practice session at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Red Bull Austria confirmed on Wednesday that Horner had been cleared following an investigation into allegations made by a female staff member. But the situation escalated yesterday when a large quantity of information allegedly relating to the matter was leaked online.

The story has been the focus of considerable worldwide media attention and overshadowed the start of the new season this weekend. Ben Sulayem is unhappy with how it reflects on the FIA’s most popular motorsport series.

“It’s damaging the sport,” he told the Financial Times. “This is damaging on a human level.”

Horner has denied the charges and refused to comment on yesterday’s leak, which he described as “anonymous speculation.” Red Bull stand by their investigation which they insist was “thorough and fair.”

Yesterday team bosses from two of Red Bull’s rivals said it was up to the FIA and FOM to verify whether Red Bull has handled the matter in a manner which reflects well on the championship. Ben Sulayem said the FIA would was prepared to “look into any complaint that comes through our compliance officer.”

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Red Bull driver Max Verstappen said today he believes the situation has been a distraction for Horner. But the reigning world champion, who claimed pole position for tomorrow’s season-opening race, said he and the team around him are not paying attention to it.

“From my side, and I think what I can see also from the mechanics and the engineers, we are fully focused on the car and the performance here during the weekend,” he said.

“That’s how it should be, I think. And that’s what we continue to do because it’s not our business. We are not particularly involved in that. We are here, we are paid to do our job, and that’s what we are doing and that’s what we love doing. So that’s what we focus on.”

“When I look at how Christian operates within the team, he has been an incredible team boss,” he added. “So absolutely, from the performance side of things, you can’t even question that. So that’s what I’m also dealing with.

“I speak to Christian a lot and also, of course, throughout the weekend here, he’s fully committed to the team. He’s also here for the performance, of course, probably a little bit distracted. But like I said before, we just focus on the performance side of things and that’s how we all work together.”

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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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29 comments on “Horner controversy “damaging” for F1 says FIA president Ben Sulayem”

  1. Hahaha. Ben, Google the word Hypocrite.

  2. We are well and truly through the looking glass here!

  3. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
    1st March 2024, 21:56

    Better remove yourself from the position then.

  4. Media fueled controversy on unproven ALLEGATIONS is damaging for F1?

    1. Bingo. The media really wants to blow this up…

    2. I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking this way……

    3. If your boss was accused of impropriety by another member of staff, everyone at work would be talking about it. That’s human nature.

      If your boss was then found ‘not guilty’ by an internal investigation, only for the rest of the staff to receive full details of the messages he had sent to your colleague, most people wouldn’t talk about anything else and would want to know what was going to happen next.

      Multiply the above by several million and that’s the scenario with Horner.

      F1 wants to pivot and become a sport for the masses, and it’s doing that by attempting to attract a younger audience of all races and genders. Allegations against the boss of the sport’s number 1 team – which, if the email/WhatsApp dump are genuine, look very serious indeed – are not a good optic for the sport. Yes, the media loves a good feeding frenzy, but Horner/Red Bull are giving them plenty of meat to chew on.

      1. Not sure what kind of schocking info you found. But even if those WA messages are true (and thats not sure at all) it shows a relationship between two adults . Thats a problem for the marriage but not for f1.
        If you are looking for mud, read daily mail and sorts. This is an f1 site.

        1. @Osnola
          Regarding your last statement: I have increasingly more doubt about that one. The way this ‘story’ is being reported on is one reason. Other news sources are just more nuanced, more balanced.

      2. You should listen to the tabloids and social media less …

        You are jumping to a lot of conclusions there with zero facts.

  5. I don’t really care at this point. Has he broke any laws? Nope… And we can’t even prove this leak is real to start with. I’m sure some people would love to see Horner kicked out of his job and I guess that was the intention of the leak once the case against him was dismissed. Meh. I’d rather focus on the racing tbh.

  6. It’s called the F1 circus for a reason

  7. Not as damaging as refusing to allow Andretti to join the sport if you ask me!

    1. He probably agrees, the FIA approved the entry and if they hadn’t conspired with FOM and the teams via the Concorde Agreement, their say would have been final.

    2. +1 for this. Let’s talk more about the Andretti situation and less about Horner.

  8. Poor piece of journalism here. Lots of more balanced info on other outlets.

  9. Never mind Horner, Ben Sulayem is bad for F1

  10. I’m sure that this Ben Sulayem has higher standards when it comes to treatment of women as equals and all that (although that’s not even entirely legal in his country).
    But true, F1 is one huge piranha nest. It’s funny how we don’t get to see Horner in official broadcasts anymore, like he doesn’t exist. I mean, whatever he did or didn’t do, that’s censorship.

    1. Fred Fedurch
      3rd March 2024, 12:02

      “I’m sure that this Ben Sulayem has higher standards when it comes to treatment of women as equals and all that “

      I’m just here for the comedy, like this, for example. —-^

  11. Damaging?
    More damaging than a new entrant being refused?
    More damaging than the 2021 final race debacle and subsequent sacking of the race director?
    More damaging than bringing in a rule change and reversing it 24 hours later?
    More damaging than allowing participants in crashgate to be in the paddock?

    Probably the most damaging stuff is a couple of team principals piously making statements about something that is none of their business in an attempt to disrupt the current WDC/WCC team.

    1. Only one of those things happened since Ben Sulayem has been in charge, to be clear.

      I don’t really care about what Horner did. But, the issue is that if the messages are genuine and having read them all, they read very much as if Horner is very guilty of coercive and controlling behaviour, which was attempted to be hidden by Red Bull.
      Apart.from anything else, can you imagine walking into a team briefing knowing that the entire team has read this stuff?
      Maybe he is just so sure.of himself that that doesn’t bother him, but none of his team will have much respect for him now.

    2. * “More damaging than allowing participants in crashgate to be in the paddock?”
      * “More damaging than the 2021 final race debacle and subsequent sacking of the race director?”

      Those two cases were what I directly thought when I read this “damaging” baloney.

  12. if Jos is really the one behind the scenes, pulling strings and needling previous relationships … I feel terribly for Max. Jos needs to really consider what and who he is threatening with this kind of stuff, if that is the case. Children deserve to succeed their parents, not become consumed by them. (speculation).

    1. Jos is a piece of human excrement. A brief review of his past behaviours confirms that.

      Red Bull is the perfect place for him.

      1. You are very discriminating now.
        Its very possible you dislike this person, but keep things a bit tidy here.

        1. Google him.

          And I’ll do whatever I want, thanks.

    2. Jos needs to really consider

      That’s going to be a challenge for Jos.

  13. Nowhere near as damaging as say … excluding an American team with heritage, proven results in other championship all over the world, and huge backing from being on the F1 grid, with a farcical selection process and laughable reasons for the exclusion.

  14. The level of unprofessionalism of people involved in F1 is staggering these days. Worrying to see these characters run associations, teams, companies. Much similar to the world’s political leaders at the moment. We (the people) are surrounded by idiots so it seems. The media meanwhile loves it and is not considering an ounce of integrity or taking any responsibility.

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