Christian Horner offers cash to cover up sexual misconduct claims against Red Bull boss

Christian Horner is under investigation for complaints of inappropriate behaviour ahead of the 2024 F1 season

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Christian Horner has reportedly offered a settlement of £650,000 to a female Red Bull employee before claims of sexual misconduct from regarding the Formula 1 team principal were made public, according to Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf.

Horner denies the allegations made by a female Red Bull employee as an investigation into complaints of ‘inappropriate behaviour’ continue ahead of pre-season testing which begins on Wednesday, February 21 in Bahrain.

De Telegraaf, who first broke the news about the Red Bull team boss, also report that Horner was accused of sexual misconduct in December 2023.

The Dutch media outlet say they have seen the sexually suggestive messages from Horner to the employee that were made over a considerable amount of time and stories were circulating the F1 paddock during the 2023 season.

Horner has denied all accusations since news of the independent Red Bull investigation was revealed.

Since then, Motorsport-Total.com reported Jos Verstappen leaked the information to the Dutch press, whilst Helmut Marko has yet to back his colleague when asked to comment. Even his relationship with Adrian Newey is said to be on the rocks.

It’s reported that Horner has the support of Red Bull co-owner Chalerm Yoovidhya, who owns 51 percent of the company, amid potential disagreements within the racing team between Horner, Marko and other key figures including Red Bull GmbH director Oliver Mintzlaff.

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

Horner: Business as normal

Horner was present and conducted media duties at Red Bull’s car launch in Milton Keynes on Thursday, along with the rest of the team, including Newey, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez.

The 50-year-old, who has been in charge since the F1 team formed in 2005, insists he’s being well supported since allegations emerged in early February.

“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.”

Who would replace Horner?

Horner plans to be at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on February 29 to March 2, with the opening two races of the year on a Saturday due to Ramadan.

Should Horner leave his position, voluntarily or not, Jonathan WheatleyRed Bull’s sporting director and F1 rules guru, is said to be in line to replace him. Wheatley joined the team in 2006 after previously working for Benetton and Renault.

Three-time world champion Max Verstappen says he’s been unaffected by the Horner allegations and is looking ahead to the defence of his title.

“It’s the same as always, I can tell you that,” said Verstappen. “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.”

Sergio Perez added: “Obviously there are some things out there but the most important thing is that we sit together as a team, we work well. 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.”

John Smith
John Smithhttps://total-motorsport.com
Editor at Total-Motorsport.com and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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