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Horner saga continues


Launch of its 2024 contender set to be overshadowed as Red Bull continues its investigation into the conduct of its team principal, Christian Horner.

The Briton spent most of Friday being questioned by the independent investigator handling the probe which was instigated not by the Red Bull F1 team itself but by its parent company Red Bull GmbH.

Almost a week after the investigation was announced, there is no clear indication of what precisely Horner is being accused of, which only serves to fan the flames of speculation.

What is known is that the allegation comes from a female member of the team staff, and while social media and the tabloid press immediately jumped to one conclusion, it has since been revealed to be about Horner's "controlling and coercive" behaviour.

While news of the investigation has stunned the sport - and certainly knocked Lewis Hamilton's move to Ferrari off the back pages - the fact is that there has been talk of unrest within the team ever since its owner Dietrich Mateschitz passed away in 2022.

Last year Helmut Marko's position within the team was said to be under threat, and paddock speculation suggests that the Austrian, with help from Jos Verstappen - father of three-time world champion Max - and Oliver Mintzlaff, CEO of Corporate Projects and Investments at Red Bull, is involved in the ongoing drama.

Following Friday's questioning by the external specialist barrister, Red Bull would only say that "it would not be appropriate to comment before the investigation is completed", while Horner continued to deny the allegations to the Dutch newspaper that revealed the investigation in the first place, De Telegraaf.

Horner has been with the team since the outset, and while there is some dispute as to how much his 'removal' might impact the team, claims that such a move could see Adrian Newey depart along with other key personnel, especially at a time there is talk of an exodus of top level staff from Mercedes, would no doubt rock the team and indeed the sport.

This Friday sees the launch of the team's 2024 contender and while the media is going to be keen to know the details of the allegations the subject is likely to be officially off the table.

However, with talk that the investigation could last several more weeks it is possible that pre-season testing and even the opening race of the season, could take place with the axe hanging over Horner and a dark cloud over the entire team.

At a time many have been fearing Max Verstappen and his team strolling to a fourth successive title, this latest drama, coupled with the Hamilton move, has more than a hint of Turk Thrust about it and will certainly pique the interest of the team behind Drive to Survive as it looks ahead to Season 7, while Horner's marriage to a former Spice Girl has already guaranteed the full attention of the tabloids.


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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 14/02/2024 12:01

"@Pawsche I was quite careful not to say they actually were "tough" - my point was that they tried to promote \ present themselves as being tough (forceful if you prefer) by being unnecessarily confrontational & chose to fight the wrong battles with the Unions.

When foreign companies, with more modern managements took over from the entrenched old boys, they engaged effectively with essentially the same workforce without making damaging concessions to the Unions that reduced production or profitability."

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2. Posted by kenji, 14/02/2024 0:22

"The longer this rumbles on the more intriguing it becomes. I must say I'm glad to see that Horner has not folded and that he appears to getting on with it all. Lack of any decision incites further speculation which can't be all good. Quite frankly I'm surprised that there haven't been any leaks appearing in the media? This is not like the Brits......."

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3. Posted by kenji, 14/02/2024 0:13

"@ Pawsche...Good post. Your recollections are very memory. "

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4. Posted by Pawsche, 13/02/2024 19:37

" @14. Posted by Spindoctor, 11/02/2024 12:21

Management attitudes in the 1970s based on being "tough" are
pretty much what killed-off the native British car industry

I'm not going to comment on whether the problem was directly due to management or unions. However, I have direct experience of British Leyland at Longbridge during its nadir... Basically "management", far from being "tough", was neutered to the point of not being allowed on the shop-floor without permission from, and escort by the Shop Stewards' Committee. "Tough" it wasn't. The place was a bloody shambles that, when they weren't on strike, produced some of the worst cars in British motoring history and it was no surprise that it went bust."

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5. Posted by BrightonCorgi, 13/02/2024 14:54

"Daily Mail has an article where Bernie had told Horner to resign before it gets ugly. I guess there is meat to those bones. Does Eccelstone know something we do not? I am sure he does."

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6. Posted by equator180, 13/02/2024 11:42

"The law firm who is heading up this hearing, who are they? Is it one man or woman or other doing the interviews or is it two or three and a combination of male female or other? Knowing this would be an important step forward to the inquisitive F1 sporting fan audience."

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7. Posted by Dudley Pope, 12/02/2024 17:43

"Having been in a similar position to Mr Horner there is always one employee who has a grudge and wants to get rid of you and not necessarily for reasons you assume, in fact you have probably done nothing wrong, but in today,s society you are still perceived to be the guilty party.
Do I seem to remember many years ago a certain F1 driver known as 'Jos the Boss.'
Watch your back Mr Horner and good luck you deserve it."

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8. Posted by Ricardo_sanchez, 12/02/2024 17:35

"@spindoctor - your recollection is better than some others, it seems! Yes, trade union intransigence certainly played a role in the demise of the UK car industry but fault equally lay with management and with successive governments. There was a failure of leadership in all of those areas.

The German car industry, for example, was heavily unionised at the time but business leaders and unions worked collaboratively to modernise and adapt to the changing landscape in the ‘70s. So management style and vision was indeed a factor here.

The idea that it was all (or even mainly) the fault of the unions overlooks: criminal lack of investment by companies and successive UK governments, short-sighted and uninspiring management teams, dreadful designs (unreliable & uneconomical) and much more besides.

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9. Posted by Spindoctor, 12/02/2024 14:43

Maybe we can agree on intransigence all round.
I'd say it's instructive that BL's old Cowley plant where BMW make some "Minis" has had excellent worker relationships & productivity. Having said that BMW are now offshoring more & more production for various geopolitical rather than labour relations issues."

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10. Posted by ancient70!, 12/02/2024 5:10

"I have not got a clue as to what is really going on with this saga, but some questions immediately come to mind.
1 Why did Red Bull announce the investigation? They could have done it internally and then presented the outcome. A lot less noise and speculation, plus there is now damage done, ie Horner could have done something wrong.
2 Why an independent barrister? Does this imply there is strife between Horner and RB HR? Normally such matters would be handled internaly by the HR department.
3 Why is the gender of the “victim” important? Yet it seems this is not an sexual offence, but where that piece of information comes from is uncertain. Perhaps it racially based or are we moving into the realm of gender based violence?
4 The coercive actions attributed to Horner, again where does this come from? Surely bosses can be coercive, I suppose it depends as to what level.
5 Lastly who benefits from this saga? I am sure somebody is rubbing their hands in glee about this. I still have the suspicion this smells like a hatchet job!"

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11. Posted by flyinglap, 11/02/2024 20:11

"@ Dirt
It is my understanding that Horner did nothing "worthy of prosecution" otherwise the matter would not be the subject of an ongoing internal investigation, it would have simply been reported to the police authorities. Therefore, certainly the female employee was not "coerced" to do anything, because we can safely assume as per the above that there was no "fait accompli" of any sort.

So, it is a question of interpretation of what constitutes "controlling" behaviour on behalf of a CEO of a highly complex, ultra competitive and highly strung 1,600-strong organization such as Red Bull Racing, towards any employee. Was Enzo Ferrari "controlling"? How about Colin Chapman? Or Frank Williams? Or even an Army General? I cannot think of any person in a position of great responsibility in charge of any number of people who is not "controlling" of their subordinates when trying to extract the maximum of their capabilities for the benefit of the organization towards the accomplishment of their ultimate objectives. I can imagine that this may not be always easy for a (presumably) young woman working in the motorsport industry possibly with ideas of grandeur straight out of university and infused with the latest "diversity, equity and inclusion" teachings in the best case, or "out for blood" (money and attention) in the worst case. Anyway, let's see how things evolve. "

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12. Posted by Dirt, 11/02/2024 19:16

"@Editor: I agree, which is why, for the first time in my adult life, I have no plans to watch F1's upcoming season. I've threatened as much for years now, but the straw that broke the camel's back was the announcement of the Madrid street circuit. I canceled my F1TV subscription that day."

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13. Posted by Editor, 11/02/2024 19:04

"@ Dirt

Trust me, I don't know a thing.

I'm just sick to death of all the bollocks that is dominating the sport these days... God knows what Black Jack, John Surtees, Denny Hulme and the like would have made of it all.

I don't watch any reality TV or any soaps... yet this is what our sport is rapidly becoming."

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14. Posted by Editor, 11/02/2024 18:59

""I would also add that my recollection of the demise of the British Car Industry was mainly to do with the demands of the Labour controlled unions whereby the industry became overpriced and and unreliable."

This ^ 100%"

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15. Posted by Dirt, 11/02/2024 18:51


Re: "What else is there that would warrant such an alleged full frontal attack on Horner's integrity by stating there were [ alleged inappropriate ] dealings with staff?"

Perhaps it's as simple as it looks on the surface and there really *was* something inappropriate that occurred, and there really *isn't* any ulterior motive? For sure Mr. Horner is innocent until proven guilty, but there's always the chance that, after all the investigations are finished, he really did something worthy of prosecution.

I'm sure our editor knows more than he's written, so I'll be interested to find out the real facts as they come out. I'm guessing it's more complicated than my supposition above, but you never know."

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