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Christian Horner

What next for Horner and Red Bull?

Red Bull team principal and CEO Christian Horner has been cleared of inappropriate conduct but is this the end of the matter?

Horner Bahrain 2024
Analysis
To news overview © XPBimages

After staring into the blinding spotlight of adverse publicity of late, Christian Horner has now been cleared of 'inappropriate conduct' following a lengthy investigation into the Red Bull team principal and CEO.

In a statement, parent company Red Bull GmbH said the "grievance" against Horner, made by a female employee, had been dismissed following a "fair, rigorous and impartial" review that resulted in the 50-year-old being grilled by a specialist lawyer of King's Counsel repute.

Although the story only emerged three-and-a-half weeks ago, for Horner and the woman concerned, RacingNews365 can reveal it has been an eight-week ordeal since she first made her complaint.

Is this the end of the matter?

Red Bull GmbH said in its statement that "the complainant has a right of appeal", so there may yet be a twist should she wish to pursue the matter further.

It is understood the lawyer involved presented a comprehensive 100-page document addressing the detailed statements of both parties and relevant supporting testimonies of co-workers.

It now remains to be seen whether any avenue is open for an appeal. If not, there is the possibility the complainant could pursue a civil case in an attempt to seek damages if she feels there remains a case to answer.

The downside is that civil cases in the United Kingdom are, as a general rule, open to the public, which would lay bare the facts of what took place, and which have so far remained private, something she may wish to remain so.


So what really happened?

We may never know, and that is likely to remain so unless a civil case is opened.

Red Bull GmbH has made clear it will "not be commenting further out of respect for all concerned", which not only includes Horner and the woman involved, but also the "third parties who assisted in the investigation".

Horner is due to speak post-race, as is customary at every grand prix. Red Bull Racing's communications department may deem it prudent that Horner speaks in advance of that meeting to address the matter. If left until after the race, the focus of any questioning will undoubtedly centre on the case.

Horner will, of course, be bound by confidentiality agreements, although there remains the prospect for the media in attendance to ask questions around the periphery, as was the case at the launch of Red Bull's RB20 when he addressed the matter to a certain extent without divulging details.

Will Horner opt to continue anyway?

At this stage, there is no reason to suggest that will not be the case.

You can imagine the matter will have taken a considerable toll on him personally, as well as on his family, notably Spice Girl wife Geri who has stood by him, although it has been reported elsewhere that she has apparently been deeply affected.

At the launch, whilst Horner responded to questions throughout various rounds of interviews, it was noted that he appeared drawn, perhaps unsurprisingly so.

The intriguing aspect of the situation is the alleged behind-the-scenes divide in the Red Bull camp, with Horner apparently firmly supported by majority shareholder Chalerm Yoovidhya, the Thai mogul who owns 51% of the team.

Reputed to be in the opposing corner is Oliver Mintzlaff, the head of Red Bull's sports division, and Mark Mateschitz, the son of late founder Dietrich. Horner has previously insisted there is a unified front but it remains to be seen if this is true.

Additionally, there has been considerable conjecture and speculation from other outlets, but nothing concrete has ever been divulged. If there is no appeal, Horner will have firm grounds to pursue legal redress given the comments made against him.

			© XPBimages
	© XPBimages


What of the overall impact on Red Bull?

Horner has long maintained a 'business as usual' approach, and that certainly appears to have been so on the technical front when you consider the work put in on the RB20 that indicated in testing last week it will be the car to beat this season.

Behind the scenes, there will be relief from Red Bull's vast array of partners the issue has now been resolved, pending any appeal.

Automotive giant Ford, sharing a technical partnership with the team ahead of the introduction of new power unit regulations in 2026, was the only senior partner of the plethora involved with the team to express any concern as the investigation dragged on.

For the likes of Ford, title partner Oracle, and Visa, that is now supporting sister team RB, their combined £280 million investment was on the line pending the outcome of the case.

Again, providing there is no appeal or civil case, as far as they are all concerned, there will be little damage to their reputations as global companies, and business life moves on.

And what of the drivers?

Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez have previously played a straight bat as to whether there had been any impact on them, and it is difficult to see why they would be affected, particularly on those occasions when the visor comes down and then all focus switches to being behind the wheel.

It was noticeable, however, when Verstappen was asked on Wednesday whether he "100% supported" Horner, there was no ringing endorsement, but this was also understandable.

At that stage, with the outcome still to be made public, Verstappen would have been mindful of leaning too far towards Horner and the headlines that would have followed if the decision had gone against his team boss.

For Verstappen and Perez, it will now be full steam ahead into the opening race weekend, with the team behind them fully focused on delivering a result on track to leave behind the unrest that has unfolded off it.

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