The Verstappen clan has supposedly leaked to Dutch and German press that Christian Horner is being investigated by Red Bull for “cross border” behaviour after Jos Verstappen has appeared to fall out with the British team principal.
The Formula 1 grid was rocked by the news when it emerged that Horner was being probed by an external lawyer hired by the Austrian Red Bull GmbH company, which is above the racing team, on February 5 after receiving allegations against the 50-year-old from a former employee.
The Associated Press later said that it relates to his management style and further developments have suggested he engaged in “coercive and controlling behaviour” towards a female employee, although at one stage it was even suggested by BILD that it was related to photos he sent towards the unnamed woman.
But now Motorsport-Total.com reports that the Verstappens could be behind the links by suggesting it is “no coincidence” that the story emerged out of the Netherlands via De Telegraaf. It further adds that the relationship between Jos and Horner is badly damaged.
And in the event of a Mexican stand-off between Horner, Jos Verstappen and Helmut Marko, Red Bull‘s star driver, Max Verstappen, would not side with his team principal, despite their eight-year association, as the power vacuum in the wake of Dietrich Mateschitz’s death continues to cause tension.
Horner survives Friday’s enquiry
The rumour is that Jonathan Wheatley, the current sporting director at Red Bull Racing, would be the natural successor to Horner if he was forced to resign or voluntarily did so, but at the moment he is said to have no intention of doing that.
Red Bull have already confirmed that he will continue in his full-time job until the conclusion of their investigation and he is expected to appear at the launch of their RB20 2024 car on Thursday, February 15, especially after navigating an enquiry on Friday, February 10.
Horner was interrogated for hours by a lawyer on claims relating to the female employee and the hearing ended without resolution. According to Sky Sports’ Craig Slater, the hearing lasted for eight hours and concluded at 19:00 GMT, and a long process is expected to begin with no short-term resolution in sight.
“My understanding is this will operate to the timescale which the investigator sets, not to a Formula 1 timescale,” Slater said on Sky Sports News. “It means there’s every likelihood it could still be ongoing, this process, even as Red Bull are launching their car next Thursday, which is the 15th of February.
“It could even still be ongoing as we enter F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain on the 20th of this month. It may be carry on towards the first Grand Prix of the season on the 2nd of March.
“It’s awkward for the team but paramount in all of this is that there is fairness to the parties involved and that’s why they employed this independent investigator in the first place.”