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Red Bull Advent Calendar 2024

Christian Horner allegations: Alleged messages leaked causing further Red Bull F1 concern after investigation

Max Verstappen and Red Bull’s preparations for the start of the 2024 Formula One season have been overshadowed by allegations of “inappropriate behaviour” against team principal Christian Horner.

Oracle Red Bull Racing Advent Calendar
Oracle Red Bull Racing Advent Calendar

Red Bull said it took the claims, which emerged at the start of February, “extremely seriously”. Horner completely denied any wrongdoing.

Verstappen stormed to a third consecutive F1 Drivers’ Championship in 2023, as Red Bull won 21 of the 22 races on the calendar.

Oracle Red Bull Racing Advent Calendar
Oracle Red Bull Racing Advent Calendar

On the eve of the Bahrain Grand Prix race weekend beginning, Horner was cleared after an independent investigation, meaning he is free to continue in his role.

However, later that day, it transpired that an email had been sent to hundreds of journalists and F1 staff purportedly containing images of messages Horner had sent to the individual who first lodged the complaint.

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Christian Horner back in spotlight after alleged messages, Google Drive leaked online

Less than 24 hours after the investigation into Horner had cleared him of inappropriate behaviour, the Red Bull team principal found himself back in the eye of the storm.

An email containing images saved via a Google Drive link is said to have been sent to various journalists and key figures in F1 shortly after the investigation’s findings were confirmed. The images in question are purportedly of messages exchanged between Horner and the female employee who lodged the initial complaint. Many of them have apparently been leaked on social media.

According to The Guardian, the email was sent three times from two different addresses under the subject “Christian Horner investigation evidence”. The email also stated: “Following Red Bull’s recent investigation and statements you will be interested to see the materials attached.”

The veracity of the email’s content has not been verified and Horner himself insisted he would not comment on “anonymous speculation” after having been cleared of wrongdoing by the independent investigation, which was carried out by an English barrister.

Horner added, however: “But to reiterate I have always denied the allegations, I respected the integrity of the independent investigation and fully cooperated with it every step of the way. It was a thorough and fair investigation, conducted by an independent specialist barrister, and it has concluded dismissing the complaint made. I remain fully focused on the start of the season.”

What were the allegations against Christian Horner?

Red Bull’s parent company, which owns the F1 team, opened an internal investigation into Horner after allegations of inappropriate behaviour were made against him by a female colleague. 

Further allegation emerged via Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf. The Sun reports that Horner is understood to be taking legal action against the publication.

“After being made aware of certain recent allegations, the company launched an independent investigation,” Red Bull GmbH said in a statement.

“This process, which is already underway, is being carried out by an external specialist barrister. The company takes these matters extremely seriously and the investigation will be completed as soon as practically possible. It would not be appropriate to comment further at this time.”

What was the Christian Horner verdict?

On February 28, a spokesperson for Red Bull GmbH said: “The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete and Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed. The complainant has a right of appeal. Red Bull is confident that the investigation has been fair, rigorous and impartial.

“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 will continue striving to meet the highest workplace standards.”

According to Sky Sports, the barrister’s report ran to more than 100 pages.

Horner was at an F1 commission meeting when the verdict was released. He was not suspended during the course of the investigation and was present at both Red Bull’s 2024 car launch and pre-season testing in Bahrain.

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What has Christian Horner said about the allegations?

Speaking at Red Bull’s season launch, Horner reiterated his denial and said his team had been “tremendously supportive”.

“I deny the allegations that have been made but I’m going through a process and respect that process,” he said.

“For me, it’s business as normal, focused on the season ahead. Of course it is a distraction for the team. 

“The team is very together, very focused on the season ahead and have been tremendously supportive.”

Horner’s Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff said the case was “an issue for all of Formula One”.

“If it is done in the right way with transparency and rigour, we need to look at the outcomes and what it means for F1 and how we can learn from that,” Wolff said in Bahrain last week.

“We want to talk about sport rather than these kind of very, very critical topics.”

Wolf added: “F1 and the teams, we stand for inclusion, equality, fairness, diversity. And it is not only talking about it, it is living it day in and day out. These are the standards we are setting ourselves. We are a global sport, one of the most important sports in the world, and we are role models.

“But there is a lot of speculation happening over the last weeks — speculation we have heard of, and lots of things that are going on. It is not just a team issue. It is an issue for all of F1.”

Ford, which will partner Red Bull from 2026, criticised the team for a “lack of transparency” over the Horner saga.

In a letter seen and reported by the Associated Press, Ford CEO Jim Farley said the automotive giant 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.”

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Who is Cristian Horner’s wife?

The allegations against Horner garnered the sort of tabloid interest you would not normally associate with a story concerning a motor racing administrator.

The reason is the 50-year-old’s marriage to pop star Geri Halliwell, a former member of the Spice Girls.

Coverage in the showbiz and entertainment pages of the media has focused on Halliwell’s experience of the saga.

Prior to the alleged exchange of messages being leaked, a source purportedly close to the singer was quoted as having told the Sun newspaper in the U.K.: “Geri has been in floods of tears. She is insisting Christian has done nothing wrong.”