Former Formula 1 godfather, Bernie Ecclestone, has reportedly told Christian Horner to hang up his headset and step down as the team principal of Red Bull Racing as the 50-year-old is under investigation for inappropriate conduct towards an ex-employee.
Ecclestone effectively ran the sport between 1977 and 2017, before selling the rights to Liberty Media who are also very interested in the developing situation and are putting pressure on Mark Mateschitz, the majority owner of Red Bull GmbH, the holding company of the racing team, for more information.
But, on Friday, February 9, Horner survived an hours-long enquiry by an external lawyer in London and is expected to be at Red Bull’s car launch on the 15th as Red Bull GmbH have permitted him to continue in his duties as they probe the matter.
“Meanwhile, ex-Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone,” F1 Insider reports. “A confidant of Horner, has also intervened and advised his friend to resign from the post of team boss to avoid further damage to himself and his family. “
Horner is said to be refusing to do so after professing his innocence and denying any allegations against his name, which relates to coercive and controlling behaviour connected to, according to The Associated Press, his management style at the F1 world champions.
Horner backed by Red Bull shareholders
The team principal could be losing support of his own team in the absence of Dietrich Mateschitz, the Red Bull founder who died in 2022, as Motorsport-Total.com claims Jos Verstappen leaked the news of the investigation to Dutch press, whilst Helmut Marko didn’t back his colleague when asked to comment. Even his relationship with Adrian Newey is said to be on the rocks.
For now, he is thought by F1 Insider to have the support of Red Bull’s shareholders from Thailand. Collectively they own 51% of the company, whilst Mark Mateschitz is the largest single holder at 49%.
Jonathan Wheatley, Red Bull’s sporting director and F1 rules guru, is said to be the replacement should Horner leave either by jump or push. Wheatley joined the team in 2006 after previously working for Benetton and Renault.