Ahead of another season of expected dominance for Red Bull, the entire Formula 1 career of the team’s long-serving boss Christian Horner is in tatters.
“It’s all nonsense,” Blick newspaper quotes the 50-year-old Briton as saying as he emerged from the F1 Commission meeting in London, where the tweaked ‘sprint’ weekend format for 2024 was agreed.
Horner is accused of inappropriate behaviour by a female team member at Milton-Keynes, with owner Red Bull’s Austrian parent company ordering an independent investigation some days ago.
It is believed he is being accused of sending photos to the team member, amid rumours an entire dossier of evidence has been compiled. Auto Bild claims the whispers first emerged from the recent ski event in Kitzbuhel, which was attended by the likes of rival bosses Toto Wolff and Zak Brown.
The first media report then surfaced in the pages of the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, with a Red Bull spokesperson confirming that an investigation is underway.
“This process is being carried out by an external specialist barrister,” the energy drink company said. “The company takes these matters extremely seriously.”
Dr Helmut Marko, whose own position in the team was recently in doubt amid a rumoured power struggle with Horner, told motorsport-total.com: “I’m not saying anything about this.”
That German publication believes Red Bull executives, including new CEO Oliver Mintzlaff, have recommended that Horner voluntarily resign – but he has refused.
Former F1 driver Christijan Albers, however, believes Horner’s position is now very much in doubt.
“Whether this has happened or not, his head will be cut off,” he told De Telegraaf. “Horner has some enemies in the paddock and it is certain, especially as a winning team, that this is going to be a difficult story for him.
“It’s good that things like this are now being discussed in the world, and that people are not afraid that it will damage their own career if they say something.
“On the other hand, you also have people who abuse these kinds of things with bad intentions. It can completely destroy someone’s career, especially with all the press.
“It is very difficult to turn it around once it is announced that an investigation is taking place. The big problem is that it’s now being picked up everywhere. So even if he’s done nothing, he still has a problem that cannot be stopped.”
Albers speculates that Horner, who is married to Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, will currently be in frenzied talks to limit the damage.
“There’s only one option for him,” said the Dutchman. “Try to make an agreement with the victim as quickly as possible to cover it up. That is the only way to keep his career afloat.”