Horner, Verstappen and Perez speak out about Red Bull team boss’ investigation for first time

Max Verstappen, Christian Horner and Sergio Perez all addressed Horner's Red Bull investigation

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There was one topic dominating the conversation ahead of Red Bull‘s 2024 car launch even more than its predecessor dominated the 2023 Formula 1 season – the internal investigation into team principal Christian Horner after complaints of ‘inappropriate behaviour’.

Horner denies the allegations made by a female Red Bull employee and the launch event for the RB20 was the first he’s spoken publicly since the investigation started – run by the team’s parent company Red Bull GmbH.

Media were restricted from asking Horner, Max Verstappen or Sergio Perez directly about the investigation but all three alluded to it in their interviews, with one message coming through loud and clear.

“Inevitably there has been a distraction, but the team are very together and everybody’s focused on the season ahead,” Horner told the press including Total-Motorsport.com. “So it’s been very much business as normal. And yeah, the support has been fantastic.

“My focus is very much on the season ahead, it has been business as normal. Obviously there is an investigation that I’m complying with and working with fully. So that is very much going on in the background whilst preparing for the season ahead.”

“I think that the team are gearing up for the season ahead and we’re in good shape. We’re fully focused on going racing, looking forward to being in Bahrain next week and seeing the RB20 run. And the one thing that focuses everybody’s attention is the car, we’re very united and together in that focus,

“We’ve always had tremendous support from the shareholders since Dietrich‘s passing, the shareholders have been incredibly supportive. It’s business as normal, my focus is very much on the year ahead and the racing ahead of us.”

Verstappen: Relationship with Horner unchanged

Helmut Marko talks to Max Verstappen and Christian Horner | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Verstappen has been with Red Bull for virtually his whole racing career and will be entering his ninth F1 season working directly with Horner if the team principal survives this investigation.

However, he was first spotted by team advisor Helmut Marko, who’s reportedly been locked in a power struggle with Horner since the death of Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz in October 2022. Verstappen was asked whether his relationship with Horner has changed over the off-season.

“It’s the same as always, I can tell you that,” Verstappen said. “I don’t know who likes to write these kinds of things. But to me with Christian it’s like always.

“From my side, I am very focused on my own performance to get ready, to be fit, to be ready to drive the car, discussing things with the engineers. Plus my whole my life is not only F1, when I’m at home I prefer not to think about F1 too much outside of my scheduled training.”

Perez hopes Red Bull stay together

Sergio Perez talks to his engineer Hugh Bird and team principal Christian Horner in the garage | Mark Thompson / Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Perez spoke more than his teammate about the Horner situation, with the investigation still ongoing just a week before pre-season testing and a fortnight before cars hit the track for the first race of the 2024 season.

It’s been an off-season of reflection for Perez that he hopes will lead to a resurgence in 2024, after a 2023 season that saw a positive start including two race wins but eventually finished with him runner-up in the championship at a record 290 points behind Verstappen.

However, Horner backed his charge throughout – in stark contrast to Marko who was forced to apologise for commenting that Perez‘s Mexican culture and heritage made him less focussed and competitive than Verstappen.

“Obviously there are some things out there but the most important thing is that we sit together as a team, we work well,” Perez said. “And the main goal is remembering that we are here for racing, that we love it and we just go racing together.

“We know that Christian is a key player in our organization, Christian plays a massive part in our team, he’s been involved and he’s been looking at ways to help my side, and see how we can make better race team together.

“Well I think we just want to go racing, we are a race team. And we want the whole team to stay together, because we’ve been so successful and it will be ideal just to keep the whole team together and just focus on racing.”

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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