Christian Horner case goes beyond Red Bull as FIA receive formal complaint

The employee who made the accusations against the 50-year-old has taken it one step higher to F1's governing body

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The Christian Horner scandal is now officially a problem involving the FIA as the female employee accusing him of misconduct files a second complaint with the Formula 1 rule makers.

The sports world was rocked when news that Red Bull GmbH was investigating the team principal of the world champions for misconduct and had hired an external lawyer in order to do so at the start of February, as he denied all claims against his name and stressed his innocence.

Then news went quiet other than media speculation, before the company announced that the “grievance” had been dismissed and Horner would continue in his role as the boss of Red Bull Racing for the 2024 season.

But then, just 24 hours later, a Google Drive containing the alleged evidence against Horner was leaked to top F1 personnel and around 150 journalists, breathing life back into what the seven-time world champion boss had hoped was finally behind him.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and Geri Halliwell-Horner hold hands in the paddock ahead of the 2024 Bahrain GP | Clive Rose/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner and Geri Halliwell-Horner hold hands in the paddock ahead of the 2024 Bahrain GP | Clive Rose/Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Nobody knows who actually leaked the documents, but the pressure has not eased up as the female employee has sent a formal complaint to the FIA to investigate the matter which was dated March 6. The whistle-blower warned they would inform the media next.

Meanwhile, Red Bull have refused to comment on the matter and Horner is yet to be asked about the formal complaint as F1 entered a two-week break between the Saudi Arabian GP and Australian GP, but the FIA have actually responded.

“Enquiries and complaints are received and managed by the compliance officer, and the ethics committee where appropriate,” a statement from the FIA said. “Both bodies operate autonomously, guaranteeing strict confidentiality throughout the process.

“As a consequence, and in general, we are unable to confirm the receipt of any specific complaint and it is unlikely that we will be able to provide further comment on the complaints that we may receive from any parties.”

Red Bull suspended the employee on March 7. BBC Sport reported that the reason was she had been “dishonest”, according to the Austrian energy drinks company. She is thought to be disappointed at how the organisation has handled the matter.

Horner still maintains his innocence and refuses to add any further comment.

The FIA already received one complaint

Mohammed Ben Sulayem, the president of the FIA, has already been linked to inappropriate behaviour towards female employees, related to sexist remarks he made, discrediting women’s intelligence compared to men.

Then in April 2023, he was accused of failing to deal with sexism and bullying in relation to Shaila-Ann Rao, the FIA’s interim secretary general for motorsport, who quit in 2022 after claiming that the organization did not investigate claims properly.

And then when Ben Sulayem met with Horner at the 2024 Bahrain GP prior to Stefano Domenicalli, he was spotted shaking the under-fire boss’ hand in visible public which is perhaps not the best optics for someone with those claims connected to his reign.

What definitely isn’t going to help the situation is that the FIA allegedly already received a complaint from the female employee in question at the start of February, but that Ben Sulayem had not responded to the initial letter.

If that is true then it could explode into a major problem for the president to handle in what would be the latest instalment in a series of claims that the Emirati has views and attitudes to women that are not consistent with the modern standards of the FIA

Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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