Christian Horner

Horner: Others exploiting Red Bull controversy show “not-so-pretty” side of F1

Formula 1

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner accused others of trying to exploit the controversy surrounding the company’s investigation of him last week.

Horner was cleared following an internal investigation over allegations he had behaved improperly towards an employee. No details of the findings have been made public, but last week material purportedly used in the investigation was widely leaked.

It emerged today the member of staff who made the allegations against Horner has been suspended. Speaking in an FIA press conference today Horner repeatedly said he could not offer any further details regarding the case.

“I can’t comment on anything that’s confidential between an employee and the company, so I can’t offer you anything on that,” he said.

While Red Bull has faced criticism for issuing minimal details about the investigation and outcome, Horner said any company would handle a similar matter the same way.

“It’s a complicated issue because each company, and these companies will be exactly the same as with any other major company, there is a grievance process that takes place in any company. And that process is confidential between the individuals and the company itself.”

He said he could not shed further light on the matter “due to those confidentiality [requirements], and out of the respect to the company and, of course, the other party, we’re all bound by the same restrictions.

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“So even if I would like to talk about it, I can’t because of those confidentiality restrictions. Now, there’s a reason for that.

“The only reason that this has gained so much attention, obviously, is because of the leakage and attention that there’s been drawn, in the media and which has been very, very trying in many respects. Particularly for my family because it’s all been focussed very much in one direction.”

During last week’s Bahrain Grand Prix some team principals called on the FIA and Formula One Management to ensure Red Bull go further to answer the questions surrounding the case. Horner believes they are trying to find an opportunity to weaken Red Bull.

“Of course what has happened then, after that, is others have looked to take advantage of it. Unfortunately, Formula 1 is a competitive business and there’s been obviously, elements have looked at to benefit from it, and that’s perhaps the not-so-pretty side of our industry.

“There are always lessons, but there’s a process that is governed within the company that it’s not an FIA issue, it’s not a Formula 1 issue, it’s a company employee issue. And that would be the same in any major organisation.”

Following the allegations about his behaviour towards a female member of his staff, Horner’s wife joined him at last week’s Bahrain Grand Prix. He said the investigation and publicity surrounding it had been a strain on his family and said the sport should “move on” from it.

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“It’s obviously been a very trying period. I’m married and have three children and when that intrusion includes your children and the scrutiny that it’s placed on my marriage, I’m very fortunate that I have a beautiful family and a very supportive wife. And I’m the only one that has been named in this.

“So of course it’s very trying, it’s very challenging because when there’s children involved, when there’s families, parents, et cetera involved, it’s not pretty.

“The reality is that there was a grievance that was raised, it was dealt with in the most professional manner by the group – not by Red Bull Racing, but by the owners of Red Bull Racing, Red Bull Gmbh – that appointed an independent [King’s Counsel] that is one of the most reputable KCs in the land. He took time to investigate fully all of the facts.

“He interviewed all of the people involved together with others of interest. He looked at everything. He had all of the facts, and he came to a conclusion where he dismissed the grievance. As far as I’m concerned, as far as Red Bull is concerned, we move on and we look to the future.

“My wife has been phenomenally supportive, but the intrusion on my family is now enough, and we need to move forward and to focus on what we’re here for.”

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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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47 comments on “Horner: Others exploiting Red Bull controversy show “not-so-pretty” side of F1”

  1. But the ticket, take the ride.

  2. Why is it so hard to condemn the content of the leaks and say he never did that? Saying that would not breach confidentiality. Crazy that he doesn’t understand the issue has transcended the sport.

    This is just about the dumbest thing he could be saying, who on Earth is advising him to play the victim here?

    1. Maybe we saw different leaked material? I cannot comprehend how this is even a story anymore.
      It is these armchair expert differences of opinion that keep the clicks coming and hence keeping the story very lucrative for media outlets. I for one am looking at a barrage of ads as I type this.

      1. Support the site? Hosting isn’t free, let alone the work that goes into it, that clears up your click dilemma.

        As for your lack of comprehension, I’ll leave that for you to think about. Defending those leaks is wild. The only valid defence is if they didn’t happen.

        1. When you say defending the leaks in wild, you mean, defending someone compromising privacy at such a large scale is wild? I agree, no excuse for such childish behaviour. Especially when the content was so boring.

        2. A better solution would be using browser extensions to not see ADs, I never had issues with AD before on here.

          1. Support smaller independent sites like by disabling ad blocker… or support by becoming a site supporter.

      2. @David

        I think that this is the classic case where you have people who are holier than thou in condemning others versus those that are not the witch-hunt type.

        It’s so classic that even thousands of years ago, Jesus advised people to focus on their own flaws because condemning others for their minor flaws (“First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye”).

        1. The Witch-Hunt is on, whether right or wrong, which is what I meant by now transcended the sport.
          There is a clear wave of support for the alleged victim.
          It might pass, but it’s not a good look for a series that holds women rights in high regard.

          1. Bowing to the unreasonable woke people is never a good idea. They are never content until they have achieved total destruction. So sooner or later you will need to take a stand anyway. It’s better to do that when the damage is minimal, rather than harm the organization by bowing to them, which will only give them more power over you.

            See Disney where it is now official policy to hire the incompetent (they literally demand that new hires either lack experience or are not white men). And if you look at their choice of directors, they obviously do both, putting non-white women who only ever did very minor things in charge of big budget movies, with predictable results.

            And their writing is awful activist slop, abandoning all rules of good screenwriting, as well as rewriting beloved characters like Indiana Jones as sad demented drunkards (because white man). Again with predictable results.

            But their activist workers and the activist media now feel entitled to this, so pivoting back is now a lot harder than if they had never bowed to the totalitarian woke people in the first place.

            And even though most of the media are woke and they thus have a way bigger megaphone than people with more sensible beliefs, most people are actually not radicals. So if you believe the woke people about what people will buy/support/watch, you will go very wrong indeed.

            Again, see Disney where women somehow are not turning up in droves at the superhero movies that are targeted at women, which the executives are now blaming on the male audience because their politics dictate that men are always to blame, even though it makes zero sense in this case.

            Of course Red Bull can open themselves up to multi-million pound/dollar lawsuits by violating the law as the woke demand, but it is just one self-destructive step to a path of ever increasing damage to the company.

      3. Their ads literally crash my browser every single time.

    2. Yellow Baron
      7th March 2024, 21:21

      Asking for transparency is exploiting? Transparency can at the very least mean with the FIA and FOM.

      1. Ok, where is the transparency on the side of Toto being investigated dor financial fraud? Where are the findings from the investigation into Toto receiving confidential information through an ex-employee that joined the FIA? Or from his own wife? Where are the documents in the whole contract saga at McLaren?

        The people inside F1 screaming loud3st are hyprocrits and Toto and Zak are definitely playing a filthy game here.

    3. If you want a fair amount of information, without salacious details, I suggest you go read Joe Saward’s blog.

      It’s probably the most level-headed summation I’ve seen yet.

    4. I do not agree. It is rather ‘Crazy that the media/F1/FOM doesn’t understand the issue has zero to do with the sport because it was an internal matter that is (adequately) dealt with and is only kept alive by the media and those wishing to stop the success of RedBull Racing’.

  3. Coventry Climax
    7th March 2024, 19:30

    Red Bull team principal Christian Horner accused others of trying to exploit the controversy surrounding the company’s investigation of him last week.

    Given the sheer number of articles on something that no actual information is made available of, let alone details, which means they’re all just speculation, and the way subsequently everyone, including rival teams, jump on that, that’s not an accusation, but a rendering of the truth.

    The other party has the right to go to a court, as far as I’m aware. When that happens and a judge convicts hem, he’s guilty, not before.

    1. I’d like to have a ‘debates and polls’ article on this exact media coverage. Don’t journalists get tired of creating headlines and fake controversy out of thin air?

      1. I don’t think you understand the role of journalists. Laws allow things to be covered up. Things can occur which are legal, or reported to be legal, which are not. Whistle-blowers rely on the media to expose things which would never come to light if we only relied on the law.

        It also offers protection in a weird way. If the person who has accused Horner now disappears tomorrow due to an accident, questions would be asked. Late last year? Nobody would have cared or noticed.

        People think it’s all about clicks or views, but there is an inherent importance to the role journalism plays. It’s not just about reporting the outcome of court cases and what is determined to be legally true.

        1. I’m not talking about revealing the investigation in itself, that’s great journalists work – even if that work was maybe only getting one source presented who needed a Red Bull confirmation to blow this open for some reason.

          My issue with this entire few weeks has been with creating dramatic headlines out of hardly anything, while the investigation was ongoing and nothing new had come to light.

          To me the interesting question would be who leaked the fact that there was an investigation to the press, but instead all the focus has been on opinions on something that hardly anything to have an opinion about. Plus complaining about that there’s nothing to have an opinion about.
          I feel that it’s a journalist’s role to dig, present all the facts, then leave it to us have something to have an opinion on.

          1. To me the interesting question would be who leaked the fact that there was an investigation to the press

            The accuser worked with Van Haren who broke the story. Red Bull then announced an investigation.

            My issue with this entire few weeks has been with creating dramatic headlines out of hardly anything

            I agree with that, but unfortunately here we are.

            I think reporting direct statements like this is fine, but it would have been wiser for Horner not to make one.

            Playing victim is not going to go down well if it’s picked up that way.

          2. The accuser worked with Van Haren who broke the story. Red Bull then announced an investigation.

            From what I read it was slightly different: there was an investigation ongoing which Red Bull only confirmed after questions from Van Haren. Who tipped Van Haren about that investigation is unknown to me. Journalists have to protect their sources, if there were any hints about the tip I missed them.

            I think reporting direct statements like this is fine, but it would have been wiser for Horner not to make one.

            Agree. And to be clear: it would’ve been wiser for Horner not to start any flirtatious relationship with an employee to begin with – I’m not defending him there. It’s sad that out of other balanced answers (Wolff and Brown) only the most divisive make it into headlines. I suppose that’s what generates the clicks.

            Playing victim is not going to go down well if it’s picked up that way.

            I feel that he had no right playing the victim whatsoever until the leak of the screenshots. After that the tables have turned, slightly.

        2. I so want to believe you.

          1. But the truth seems like there’s just 1% of journalists left actually having these kind of values and acting accordingly. In the meantime who is watching the others? Who is watching the guards? How does society solve its massive media problem? How do we solve the disappearing (or rather trading for revenue) of truth?

  4. People should finally put this matter to bed for good.

    1. I believe Horner tried to put it to bed…

      …but she said no.

      1. lol, I thought it was Christian saying ‘no more Jos’? In a controlling way obviously, according to the expert

      2. Adrian Hancox
        7th March 2024, 21:18

        Bazinga :)

      3. I would suspect HE said no.

        There is some evidence, and I do not say this lightly, that this was a trap created specifically to remove Christian Horner from Red Bull.

        Some of the material, according to Joe Saward, includes screenshots of conversations happening in real time as much as a year ago. You don’t take screenshots of questionable whatsapp conversations with your boss unless you intend to use them as evidence at some point in the future.

  5. we should definitely stop posting about it!! But it’s too much fun, the idea of a 3-way with millionaires Jos, Christian and a mystery woman, secret whatsapps, leaks, conspiracies, rivalries, foreign owners, private jets, a Spice Girl, and all kinds of online craziness.

    So Jos is out, is Helmut around, anyone seen?

    1. The ones who benefit the most financially from DTS series is just salivating with this whole months F1 drama. They’re probably getting so much juicy stuff from this for their F1 soap opera show that a lot may end up on the editing floor.

      There’s probably too much to show but I guess that’s a problem for them worth having? DTS is going to need more film crews and extend the series. I wonder if they’ll even show any racing?

  6. Still not denying the veracity of the leaked chats, then. And he can’t say anything but then goes on a lengthy ‘woe is me’ speech about his poor children. Maybe he should have thought about that before pestering an employee.

    It’s almost charming that they’re seemingly going out of their way to go through each single step that so many #MeToo sagas did before. No self awareness whatsoever.

    1. Yep, big Mitch vibes from The Morning Show from Horner. It’s never their fault.

      1. That’s a highly unfair comment I wish I could delete. I apologise for saying it.

  7. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    7th March 2024, 21:15

    Well, we know he would have not hesitated to exploit that if the shoes on the other foot.

    However, I have to say I don’t like to see him exit the sport this way. I still don’t understand why they didn’t settle and he didn’t personally apologize to the person and put this to rest. The last thing to be done is to try and sweep this under the rug.

    I still believe they should settle and move on. This will follow Horner for all his career and if they pay some money, Red Bull will try to avoid a repeat by ensuring that this doesn’t happen again. And the person will at least receive decent compensation to move on and retain her anonymity.

    Again, we are assuming that what happened was unprofessional but optics sometimes can also alter that and make it look worse.

    1. Yellow Baron
      7th March 2024, 21:24

      Asking for transparency is exploiting? Transparency can at the very least mean with the FIA and FOM.
      Surely being transparent at least worth the FIA and FoM about it will settle it. Maybe in his favour maybe not but who ha I guess

      1. It can’t. It’s an internal investigating within a corporation bound by very strict privacy rules…. That situation is governed by laws, you cannot simply share the evidence and names in public. You wouldn’t except your employer to throw your private information in the media pen would you?

    2. At this point, some journalists have seen roughly half of what actually happened.

      She declined to appeal the KC’s verdict. Horner may actually be the victim here– it would explain why she’s been suspended.

      1. Stephen Taylor
        7th March 2024, 21:53

        Or she may have been too scared too appeal.

        1. Unlikely. If she was that scared, she wouldn’t have filed the complaint in the first place.

          By all accounts, she had a number of legal people advising her, and this isn’t the thing where you can file the sort of allegation she did, and NOT pursue it. So the fact that she didn’t appeal (although I suppose it’s possible she did, but I haven’t heard about it) suggests that she was advised she had no case.

          1. What kind of logic is that? The accuser has no obligation at all to appeal the outcome of an internal investigation.

            That suggests nothing.

            Red Bull have been very smart to involve a lawyer in order to make everything look as though there’s some legal legitimacy to their internal process. But there importantly isn’t.

            There’s a reason there are 2 lawyers in a courtroom to argue both sides.

          2. This may not be over yet, but it looks like she may have been put up to it, possibly by Jos, and possibly others too.
            Horner is paying a heavy price for a few cheap thrills! WhatsApp should display a warning when screenshots are taken of the conversation …

          3. A lot of people don’t pursue wrongs despite it being an option for them. That doesn’t mean they think everything is okay, but that they want to move on. And this stuff happens super bland cases, imagine it involving an audience in the tens of millions.

            For all anyone knows the person simply filed a complaint with HR because she wanted Horner to stop pestering her, stop asking her about her outfits, among other sleazy things the leaked images show.

            Somehow – and nobody knows how – word got out that this was an issue, and it became a huge deal in the media. It’s understandable that someone doesn’t want to be a part of that, even if it’s just to protect themselves. A quick slap on the wrist to Horner would have solved much of the issues, but having everything out in the open is a very different situation.

            Some are now letting their inner Dan Brown out, but despite the creativity of some of these theories, there really isn’t much known other than that nobody at Red Bull is denying that the leaked images are real, and that they paint Horner as an even sleazier guy than he already seemed based on his previous conduct.

            Should he be dumped for getting so involved with a younger staff member? At most companies, probably yeah. But at Red Bull? That’s another thing entirely.

    3. Oh really? Can you provide evidence that Horner has tried to benefit from the investigations into Toto Wolff’s, Susie Wolff’s and Shaila-Ann Rao’s behaviour? Or the financial fraud that authorities are investigating Toto for? Can you provide evidence that Horner has tried to damage Zak Brown with the huge driver contract mess at McLaren?

      Feel free to post actual evidence.

  8. Can someone ask Horner if this is less annoying, more annoying, or the same level of annoyance as when the other teams were making completely false statements about Red Bull exceeding the spending cap a few years ago?

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      8th March 2024, 0:47

      lol, good one!

  9. Horner is the ugly side of F1. biggest hypocrite in the sport. just leave.

    1. You seem to have forgotten to include Toxic Toto in your list of hypocrites in F1.

Comments are closed.