Christian Horner responds to email leak of WhatsApp messages

Christian Horner reiterated he denies any wrongdoing after a Red Bull investigation

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Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner during 2023 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner during 2023 Japanese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Christian Horner doubled down on his denial of any wrongdoing at Red Bull after the news that he’s been cleared by the investigation into his ‘inappropriate behaviour’ was overshadowed by a leak of alleged evidence.

The investigation into Horner by parent company Red Bull GmbH was launched after a female team employee made a complaint against the team principal, but he was cleared ahead of cars hitting the track to start the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix weekend.

However, a Google drive folder allegedly containing messages and photos sent between Horner and the employee was then leaked to Formula 1 journalists after the end of free practice 2 in Bahrain.

“I won’t comment on anonymous speculation, but to reiterate, I have always denied the allegations,” Horner said in a statement.

“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.”

Horner saga unfolds on stunning day in Bahrain

Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner at 2024 F1 Testing | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner at 2024 F1 Testing | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Even at this stage, very few things are certain about the Horner case. None of Red Bull‘s official communications have shed any light on the specifics of the investigation or the allegations, though it’s widely understood to be accusations of controlling and inappropriate behaviour from the team figurehead towards a colleague lower down the food chain.

The images and messages leaked first to media, then to the public would appear to be damning but are yet to be verified, with Horner refusing to be drawn into addressing them directly.

There’s been allegations of sexual misconduct, of a £650,000 settlement, of a power struggle between Horner and team adviser Helmut Marko in the vacuum left by the death of company founder Dietrich Mateschitz in 2022.

Yet Red Bull‘s statement closing the investigation simply stated: “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.”

What is certain is that it’s hard to think of a more damaging stage for events to play out on for Horner. The Bahrain GP would’ve had all the eyeballs on it even without the offseason storylines, with F1 fans not yet dulled to Max Verstappen‘s dominance as was the case for much of the second half of 2023.

It’s rare that a season-opening race has attention concentrated more off the track than on it but whatever happens in Saturday’s grand prix will be secondary to whatever further fallout has spilled by then.

Adam Dickinson
An international multi-award-winning journalist, Adam Dickinson has written for Total-Motorsport.com since June 2022 and also contributes to TNT Sports, Eurosport and the Rugby Paper. He's also had articles published in the Daily Telegraph and several local newspapers, previously worked for Last-Lap.co.uk and FeederSeries.net in motorsport, and graduated with a First-Class Journalism Degree from the University of Sheffield having also studied in Oklahoma. Adam started watching F1 by accident in 2007, catching the last race in Indianapolis, and attended his first race as a journalist at the 2023 British Grand Prix.

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