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

Teams looking to F1 and FIA to intervene over Horner allegations

Formula 1

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Formula 1 and the FIA have been told they must satisfy Red Bull’s rivals that the team have handled the allegations facing Christian Horner correctly.

Red Bull Racing owner Red Bull Austria announced on Wednesday it had concluded an investigation into claims made by a female staff member about Horner’s behaviour and cleared him. However rival team bosses said the sport’s authorities need to verify Red Bull has handled the matter properly.

“It’s the responsibility ultimately of the organisers of Formula 1, the owners of Formula 1, to make sure that all the racing teams and the personnel and the drivers and everyone involved in this sport are operating in a manner which we all live by,” said McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown yesterday.

“I don’t think it’s the teams’ roles and responsibilities. It’s up to FIA and Formula 1 to ultimately decide, and to ask what they feel gives them the level of transparency that they need to ultimately come to their conclusion and we just have to count on them that they fulfil that obligation to all of us.”

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff said F1 “cannot afford to leave things in the vague and in the opaque on critical topics like this, because this is going to catch us out.

“We are in a super transparent world. Eventually things are going to happen and I think we have the duty, or the organisation has the duty, to say ‘we’ve looked at it and it’s okay’ and then we can move on.

“I think it’s sometimes very short-sighted to try and suppress it, but not saying this has happened, we’re standing from the outside and looking at it, but just looking at statements or press releases or timelines, it just seems that it’s not as modern as things go in this world, in the real world out there. But maybe in Formula 1, we just have a little bubble and we think that’s okay.”

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Later on Thursday, after the pair had spoken, a collection of images purporting to show message exchanges between Horner and the team member were leaked. The alleged revelations sparked enormous international attention and appeared on the front pages of some newspapers this morning.

Horner has repeatedly denied the allegations and stated he intends to focus on the team’s start to the season in Bahrain. However during Friday’s final practice session he was seen leaving the Red Bull pit wall to meet with FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem.

Brown and Wolff said their teams have the correct policies in place to handle complaints against staff members.

“I’m very confident,” said Brown, “at McLaren, I think like most companies, we’ve had issues that we’ve had to deal with, and we deal with them in a very transparent, fair, and swift manner. And that’s all I can say is, on behalf of McLaren, yes, we’re well-equipped.”

Wolff said Mercedes “maybe have a different starting point or different benchmark because we are Mercedes, we are one of the 10 most important brands in the world and compliance, good governance, transparency, [diversity and inclusion] is all part of what we do every day.

“Therefore, sometimes for us, it’s difficult to understand another world. In our organisation, it’s just we keep the finger on the pulse all the time because it is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also where you need to stand in terms of your values as a company today. And this is where Mercedes and the Formula 1 team stand.”

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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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58 comments on “Teams looking to F1 and FIA to intervene over Horner allegations”

  1. Horny Spice.

  2. I still don’t see how this would be anyone’s business other than Red Bull’s and their various stakeholders.

    Zak Brown is beginning to look pretty sus in all of this. Not a good look in his constant meddling in the affairs of others. Perhaps he should spend his time managing his own team instead.

    1. It’s about the “value” of F1. And sticking it to Horner. But mostly the first.

      Nobody in F1 wants “their” sport on the front-page of mainstream press in this context.

      1. The front-page headlines are mostly quoting team bosses saying how they don’t want those headlines. I guess it’s how the press works?

        1. True, but those quotes were responses to questions on that subject. The press was always going to run with it. It could have been anything from ‘Rivals urge FIA to clarify situation’ to ‘F1 bosses tight lipped about Red Bull affair’ – a pun is always nice – depending on the responses given.

          1. They could have reacted like vasseur did. ” focus on our own”.
            End of story.

    2. Ultimately it’s about brand reputation, for better or worse.

  3. So when Toto&co are investigated it is misogyny to even state there is an investigation, when Horner is investigated everything needs to be ‘open’ and ‘transparent’ and F1 are ‘role models’ etc.

    Really the hypocrisy is vomit inducing from these two.

    1. Toto is the most hypocritical guy in f1

      1. In a circus of fakes, he’s top of the pops!

    2. And how many drivers are in legal proceedings against McLaren for not honouring contracts?

      1. Please list the drivers that McLaren hasn’t honored a contract with and is in legal proceedings because of said inaction.

        1. It’s impossible to say for certain exactly what happened in each situation as McLaren haven’t been very transparent with it. They should publish a full list for the sake of the sport.

          1. Not that hard, @w0o0dy said “drivers are in legal proceedings” meaning there are public court cases. So list the diriver in these court cases.

      2. How many are? Palou was sued by McLaren, and he admitted he broke their contract – not the other way around.

    3. Was that the one where there was literally no proof?

      1. No proof and no accuser, it seems it spontaneously appeared in the FIA without any team being the team that allegedly raised the complaint.

      2. Craig, not only was there a conspicuous lack of proof, the magazine is also the subject of a 20 plus year ban from all FIA events due to continued malicious harassment of people in the motorsport industry and the FIA, repeatedly admitted in court that it would completely fabricate stories, repeatedly abused the bankruptcy laws to avoid paying libel bills after losing court cases and is run by an individual who currently holds the record for being sued for libel in the UK due to how many defamatory stories he has published about people.

        When an individual has the dishonour of having even been publicly named in the UK House of Commons as one of the most notoriously dishonest, incompetent and fraudulent publishers in the UK, perhaps some here might want to rethink just quite how much trust they want to put into a figure that makes the gutter press say “hey, at least we’re not as bad as him”.

  4. I wonder what the purpose is of leaking the alleged information to such a large number of people in the paddock during the first Grand Prix and only one day after the formal conclusion?

    If you’re on the victim side, this is not the right way to appeal. So I get the feeling this is only an attack on Red Bull and Horner.

    1. Whether the original allegations were true or not, at present I think the only thing we can be certain of is something’s going on at RBR.

  5. I love how the headline is written as if all the teams are involved but without reading the rest of the article, you already know it’ll be two teams or more specifically, two individuals.

    The FIA should absolutely step in here but perhaps not in the way the Toto and Zac are expecting.

    1. Typical for how titles are made here

  6. I don’t see how Horner is going to keep his position. He had an emotional affair with an employee, and he lied repeatedly.

    I would bet that the messages shared are real, and there is actually more damaging messages not shared. The bigger question is what trouble is in Red Bull in. Did their independent actually find for Horner or did RB sweep the issue under the rug?

    1. @blueruck if he had an affair with an employee, it’s up to Red Bull internally to consider that a breach of conduct within its organization, not FIA, F1 or Toto Wolff.

      If Red Bull says it’s fine (and they know all the details), ltets not turn this into a Tiger Woods-esque public cruxification over an intra-marital issue.

      1. The FIA & F1 also have a say, and as soon his “internal” issues leaked out into global media they now have a voice.

        From an article on the subject
        There are specific articles relating to offences that “shall be deemed to be a breach of the rules”, initially article 12.2.1.c that is “any fraudulent conduct or any act prejudicial to the interests of any Competition or to the interests of motor sport generally”.

        Additionally, article 12.2.1.f cites “any words, deeds or writings that have caused moral injury or loss to the FIA, its bodies, its members or its executive officers, and more generally on the interest of motor sport and on the values defended by the FIA”.

        There is also 12.2.1.g where it is deemed an offence if there is “a failure to co-operate in an investigation”.

        The FIA could deem its reputation as motorsport’s world governing body has been harmed by the ongoing saga, in particular as Ben Sulayem and other members of the FIA were recipients of the anonymous email.

        1. Also Red Bull sponsors are going to have a big say if Horner’s actions are acceptable and if they will remain on the car if Horner stays.

          The leak moved the issue out of Red Bull’s court, it is now in FIA, F1 & Sponsors court and of course the court of public opinion.

        2. @blueruck I suspect the bar to actually get any of those listed charges to stick, especially if it was appealled, is pretty high.

          Also I suspect the charges by definiton would require the claimant to prove that they had suffered a genuine, tangible loss, not simply saying that it had.

        3. You are right. Both articles fit exactly on toto and zak.

  7. As I said yesterday, would Toto and Brown urge the FIA and F1 for more transparency if Horner had been removed from his position following the investigation? because if you want clarity it, you want it both ways.

    1. It’s not about transparency, it’s about there not being any lingering questions.

      Or, as was supposedly said over 2000 years ago; Caesar’s must be above suspicioun.

      1. That is, Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.

        A lot of people are paying a lot of money to be associated with F1. They don’t want any of this overshadowing it.

        1. Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion.

          And yet, it was a bunch of men with knives who killed him. So that didn’t really work out so well for Julius, did it?

  8. Just more tabloid nonsense thats been blown up out of proportion and the way it’s been dealt with by everyone in/around F1 is doing far more to bring the ‘show that used to be a sport’ into disrepute than anything Horner seems to have done based on the messages & stuff i saw posted around yesterday.

    The guy seems like he may have had an affair which is a matter for him & his wife. It seems like the other person was a member of the Red Bull team which is a matter for the team.

    I just don’t really see any reason for the FIA, F1, Liberty or any other teams to be getting involved in this as none of what seems to have taken place seems like it concerns any of them.

  9. How come these two teams, basically two competitor companies, feel they have the right to demand complete transparency about an internal investigation within another team/company that has nothing to do with the sporting activity itself?

    1. They are not competitors as such, they are all in the same group (which, they’ll be happy to remind everyone, is not a cartel).

      1. We’re not a cartel, we just block Andretti.

  10. “I’m very confident,” said Brown, “at McLaren, I think like most companies, we’ve had issues that we’ve had to deal with, and we deal with them in a very transparent, fair, and swift manner. And that’s all I can say is, on behalf of McLaren, yes, we’re well-equipped.”

    So McLaren had issues? Which ones, who touched who, where and showed what, at which occasion? Were the findings and learnings sent to all other teams? Maybe I missed the news.
    I only remember Mike Coughlan touching a ‘copy’ button somewhere in 2007, but that’s hardly relatable to this case.

    The public chase for ‘openness’ reminds me a bit of the eagerness (voyeurism?) everyone was displaying trying to find out how Michael Schumacher was doing. Good that storm settled down eventually, but that took a while.

    1. We’re still asking that, it didn’t settle down, we’ve just reached a probable conclusion, seeing as they don’t want to reveal anything.

  11. Teams must mind their own business.
    It’s not a competitive issue that the FIA or F1 has any jurisdiction over.

    By ‘other teams’, I can only assume the loud-mouths are again Toto the crime-boss and Zac – who is working the F1 political sphere hard to try get Red Bull to sell their second team to his buddy Andretti.

  12. Toto and Zak always feel they have to be in someone’s business

    Having seen FP3 this morning they would both be best served worrying about their own teams.

    1. If you can’t beat ’em… break ’em up!

  13. this is like Microsoft and Google demanding that the CEO of Apple to be publicly investigated by the SEC over some leaked internal messages. Apparently that would affect the entire NYSE.

    1. If Microsoft and google and apple were all in a consortium involving all of their respective capital and goodwill, yes, they would have a stake in the investigation.

  14. I see what you did there with the choice of title photo @keithcollantine

  15. WhatsApp messages are now on the internet based on this information I can understand CH is cleared. I assume a Lawyer looks at it from a legal perspective in reference to the law and work ethics code as stated within the RB company. It’s embarrassing for CH but not really shocking so far. I don’t see how the FIA or F1 should be involved in this.

  16. The whole thing is a mess: tabloid sensationalism, internet voyeurism, genuine issues of professional care owed by companies to employees, probable ‘third parties’ seeking to cause problems for a range of possible reasons, including potentially huge financial interests, two people (and their respective families) in the middle.

    1. Absolutely this – also the modern day rabid tribalism of some fans simply adds fuel to the fire.

    2. Absolutely, could not have said it better. COTD.

  17. I do not like Horner at all but if he hasn’t broken any laws, this matter should not be anyone’s business except for his employer. Other teams can dictate personnel policies for other teams? Do they dictate salary as well?

    1. It’s more like a sports league. More like how other owners had the right and ability to force Snyder out of the Washington Commanders.

      1. Exactly; they’re one big club and they’re all invested in this scheme. Nobody cares about Horner on a personal level, not really. But what you can always trust people in F1 to care about is money. Anything that has the potential to influence that immediately becomes their top priority. It’s just business.

  18. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    1st March 2024, 17:05

    Should have settled…

    1. It is quite possible this is about blackmail. Horner refused to pay up so the woman went ahead and made a formal complaint and then leaked these emails which now many people have seen but they are still not in the public domain.

  19. I’m not even remotely a fan of Horner but I will admit I will have more than a good chuckle if a personal/professional issue would come to light at Mercedes or McLaren in the coming months or so. Karma, do your worst please

    1. And then red bull would ask for more transparency ofc, and toro rosso too (how I chose to call them).

  20. Despite all that is being said the leak came from within Redbull. It was Redbull that made it a public affair by announcing an investigation.

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