Formula1, Motorsport

Christian Horner denies allegations ahead of opening race in Bahrain

For the first time since accusations of inappropriate behaviour against him were thrown out, Christian Horner has spoken.

Following accusations made against him by a female coworker, Horner was placed under investigation by Red Bull GmbH, the Austrian parent company of Red Bull. Horner is entitled to an appeal of the decision.

Throughout the process, the 50-year-old has refuted the accusations, and last week, he was present at the pre-season testing and launch of the 2024 vehicle, the current constructors’ champion, in Bahrain.

“I’m just pleased that the process is over,” Horner said.

“Obviously, I can’t comment about it, but we are here very much to focus now on the Grand Prix and the season ahead and trying to defend both of our titles.”

He added: “Well, I can’t give you any further comment, but the process has been conducted and concluded.”

Less than twenty-four hours before the cars hit the track for the first time at the Bahrain Grand Prix to kick off the season, Red Bull GmbH issued a statement on Wednesday confirming the investigation’s result.

When the question was posed to Horner, who has led Red Bull since the team’s founding in 2005, he was asked if he regretted the situation being public knowledge.

“Again, I’m not going to be able to give you I’m afraid any further comments on it, but I’m pleased to be here in Bahrain and then with the team focused on the season ahead,” he said.

Asked if the team is unified, he added: “Within the team it has never been stronger.”

Since the team’s founding in 2005, Red Bull Racing has been managed by Horner, who has guided the group to seven drivers’ titles and six constructors’ victories over the course of 19 seasons.

On February 9, he went to an interview with the outside specialised barrister conducting the investigation, but at that point, no agreement was made on the topic.

Six days later, at the team’s Milton Keynes base for their car launch, Horner spoke to the media for the first time since the accusations went viral, restating his denial.

During preseason testing on February 23, he also addressed the media alongside the team managers before Horner was cleared by Red Bull GmbH following accusations of inappropriate behaviour levelled against him.

“The independent investigation into the allegations made against Mr Horner is complete, and Red Bull can confirm that the grievance has been dismissed,” the company said in a statement.

“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.”

Before Saturday’s inaugural 2024 race in Bahrain, the inquiry had been the talk of the town, with calls for a speedy conclusion coming from both Formula 1 and some of Horner’s peers.

Lewis Hamilton became the latest prominent individual to weigh in on the topic at the drivers’ meeting on Wednesday, before to Red Bull GmbH’s declaration. He called the situation “a really important moment” for Formula One.

“I think it’s a difficult one to answer, naturally,” seven-time world champion Hamilton said.

“We always have to do more to try and make the sport and the environment that people get to work in feel safe and inclusive and any allegations have to be taken very seriously.

“Obviously we don’t know everything that’s gone on, but it does need to be resolved as it’s hanging over the sport. It will be really interesting to see how it’s dealt with moving forwards and the affect that it may or may not have on the sport moving forwards.

“I think it’s a really important moment for the sport to make sure that we stand true to our values.”

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was behind Hamilton at the press conference, and he emphasised that the incident had no bearing on his preparations for defending his title.

“It doesn’t,” Verstappen said when asked if the saga was impacting him. “I’m very focused on just the performance of the car and myself. Hopefully it will be resolved very soon.”

Despite turning down the opportunity to give his backing to Horner remaining with the team, Verstappen said that the 50-year-old is “very important” to Red Bull’s success.

“I think he is very important otherwise he wouldn’t be in that position for such a long time,” Verstappen said.

“Let’s say if your team boss disappears for whatever reason for one or two races, not much is going to happen because everyone is in their role and they know what they have to do in the short term.

“But it’s all about people management over time. And then of course things will start to be different if one of the leaders starts to not be there anymore.

“But we are not thinking like that. Like I said before, we just trust the process that we are in as a team to see what the outcome will be and besides that, at the moment, everyone is just very focused on the performance here at the track and everyone is in a good mood and just excited to get going again.”


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